blood

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I Can Be Your Herooooooooo

Published June 1, 2013 by ia84

Today as I was driving to work, I realized that I have not updated this blog in nearly a month.  I had a few posts I started writing, but it was all awkward and slightly disjointed.  Mostly, I just haven’t felt like I’ve had much to write about.  Lately, my days consist of getting up, exercising, going to work, coming home, exercising, and going to bed.  My weekends replace going to work with puppet rehearsal and errands.  Oh, yeah, I’ve also been having mini-panic attacks.  I guess I’m becoming a grown-up.

Y’know, part of being a grown up is dealing with things.  Things like failures and screw-ups.  The counselor I saw last fall told me I have an adjustment disorder.  In case you’re wondering, that’s fancy talk for “doesn’t like change or accept it gracefully, if at all.”  It’s pretty much true.  Weirdly, I remember a time when I really enjoyed change.  Every time my  family would move, I’d be excited (unlike normal kids who pitch a fit about their lives being ruined).  I was convinced that each move was just another adventure.  I loved adventures.  I loved seeing new things, and meeting new people (I still love seeing new things, but not so much the whole meeting new people).  I’m not sure when this optimism melted into terror.  I just know that somewhere in the last ten years, I began to fear change.  Change was never good, nothing good could come of it.

I’m a vet tech.  I’ve even got a license from the state of Nebraska to prove this.  This means that I clawed my way through an associate’s program.  Sure, I attended a for-profit school.  I know a lot of people look down their noses at this.  However, I wasn’t just handed a degree.  I had to learn and prove I could do things like run anesthesia on a living animal (and successfully keep it alive during surgery), take radiographs, pill a cat, draw blood from a horse, assist in surgery, perform manual CBC’s, memorize more parasite’s than House ever mentioned, and a pile of other things that involved a lot more poop, pee, and blood and a lot less playing with the cute kitties and doggies.  On top of that I had to take classes.  And pass tests.  And do a 56  hour ward care week every 10 weeks (this was frequently included holidays, and I couldn’t always get the week off from my job).  Not only did I do all this, but once I did finally graduate (test anxiety helped push my 18 month plan out to being almost 3 years), I had to face the board exam.  The board exam was 225 questions covering all aspects of being a veterinary technician.  200 of the questions were scored, and 25 were thrown out, and of course we weren’t told which were the magic questions that were getting tossed.  I passed it.

The job I mentioned above?  I hated it.  I really, really hated it.  (However, I met some amazing people, and met some pets that will forever have my heart).  Not at first.  At first I loved it.  I was working in a vet clinic, and that was fantastic.  I started as a receptionist, with the understanding that I would gradually be worked into a tech position as I got further in my education.  At least, that’s what I thought.  There were a lot of things that went wrong (and most I can’t talk about, because the clinic would probably hunt me down and send dementors to suck my soul out).  I can say that the little confidence I had was destroyed by that place.  In the early days, when I was actually enthusiastic about learning to be a tech, the doctor blew me off more than once when it came to helping.  She regularly chose to have anyone but me lend a hand.  I know I wasn’t the best tech (but believe me, I’ve seen worse).  I struggled.  Lack of feeling in my fingers made blood draws next to impossible.  Emergencies made my mind go blank.  Asking people for money while they were saying good-bye to their best friend set off nuclear explosions in my heart, and  by the time I left I was completely heartless.  There was just a void.  (And yes, I know that medicine is all about the money.  Believe me there is nothing like having to ask someone in the throes of grief  and waiting for the euthanasia med to be administered, for over $100.  And when you get someone who explodes and tears you apart for something that’s killing you inside, it’s too much.  I especially hated how everyone around me acted like I was being too melodramatic.  “Sure, we hate it too.” They’d say, as I’d get ushered in to do the unpleasantness.)

I kept telling myself that I couldn’t quit.  I needed the money.  I had to pay my bills.  I think God knew I’d stay there until I had a stroke.  The job came to a painful end, but it was truly for the best.  I’ve never regretted my decision to leave.

I spent the next year looking for a job.  Most jobs that I applied to, I got replies like this:

Thanks for your time last week.  I have hired an extern instead of a full-time tech for now.  If things don’t work out, I will keep your resume.  Again, thank you for your time and good luck.   (Yeah, because a ungraduated, unlicensed, unexperienced tech is always the better option.  I translated this e-mail to mean: We don’t have to pay them, and we’d have to pay you.)

And then there’s this little gem:

After evaluating all candidates for this position we have determined that another candidate more closely fits the requirements set forth for this position. Accordingly, you will not be considered further for this particular opportunity.  

Anyway, this has been a long meandering route to get to the heart of what I wanted to talk about.  Basically, the nearly 5 years of constant rejection did quite a number on me.  I’m not proud of this.  I should be made of tougher stuff, but I’m not.  Following leaving the clinic, I really struggled with the idea of ever working in animal healthcare again.

Today, I was at work, doing my usual thing, and as I worked, my brain started thinking about things.  Things I didn’t necessarily want to think about.  I founds myself wondering if I could ever do anything good in animal healthcare.  Then, something wonderful happened.  I got a phone call.  Well, not me personally, but I’m the person who happened to answer the phone.  On the other end of the line was a vet tech who was absolutely frantic.  (And this is about where I have to skip over a pile of details, because I’m not wanting to step on HIPAA’s toes).  Long, long story short, she had a problem, and I was able to fix it.  It was positive for her, her clinic, and the animal.

Now, no one at work got why I was excited about fixing the problem.  I had done good in animal healthcare for the first time in forever!  I got to be the hero of the story.

Embracing My Inner Weirdness

Published April 27, 2013 by ia84

I had an interesting moment this week.  I was standing at work, looking at a cup with an amputated toe in it.

That’s right.

A toe.

From a human.

Now, being a vet tech, I’ve been present for plenty of surgeries.  Working in a medical lab I see blood, and other things (I’ll call them sunshine, butterflies, and daises, to try to keep you all from completely losing your lunch).  However, this was the first time I had ever seen an actual body part that was separate from the body.

Standing there, looking at the toe, I found myself feeling overwhelmed with love for my job.  Seriously.  By far, that toe sighting was the coolest things that happened this week at work.

Now, “normal” people would not find this to be cool.  They wouldn’t think that it was a highlight of their week.  In fact, they would look at me and think, “What a freaky weirdo.”  And, you know what?  They’re probably right.

I’ve reached this point, though, where I’ve pretty much stopped caring what people think about me.  It’s too time consuming.  Besides, I like that I’m a weirdo.

As if loving my gross job, and being obsessed with geeky things doesn’t make me weird enough, I’m turning into the Crazy Puppet Lady.  

My mom started working with puppets before I was born, so I can honestly say I was born into this life.  When I was six, she and dad went to Sunday School Convention in Peoria, and they came home with my first puppet.  She was the ugliest little girl I had ever seen, and I loved her dearly.  I named her Jill, and she was the first puppet I used the first time I stepped behind the stage curtain to perform.  From there on, I spent my entire childhood and teen years puppeteering.  Sometimes we had big teams, and sometimes our teams were just made up of mom, dad, and I.

When I graduated from high school, I thought my days of working with puppets had come to an end.  It was one of those things that had been fun for the time that I had done it, but I just put it down as a part of my childhood.  For a while, it was the end of it.  I had a break for a few years.

Then, in early 2009 our church seriously approached our family about starting up a team.  So, we did, and even though the changes a bit every few months, it’s consistently a fantastic group.

I’ve noticed a change in me, since we started team again back in ’09.  When I left home back in 2003 and went to school, I really didn’t miss team or miss being a puppeteer.  When I moved away in 2011, I missed team and puppeteering almost more than anything else.  It really had become an intricate part of me, and not being able to do it every week was a misery.

When I moved back home last December, I had not job and no clue about what was next for me in life, but I had team and I had my puppets and somehow I knew it was going to be okay.  In fact, the first weekend I was home, my parents helped me make the videos I posted at Christmas:

Now, the girl in the video is Penny, and she’s my girl.  She came into my life back in 2009, and I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with her, and what was worse was that I had no clue how to give her a voice.  It may sound silly, but there’s a lot more to giving a voice.   You have to figure out the personality and create this whole other person.  So, it was exciting  when Penny started finding her voice.  (Side note: Yes, I realize that Penny is a puppet, and this is not a delusional thing.  However, she’s become a part of me.  Hence, I refer to her as a separate individual.  It’s hard to explain without sounding slightly insane, which I’m pretty sure I’m not.)  Last December was the first time that voice really started to make an appearance.  Last weekend, though, that voice got put to the test.

Last weekend was Creative Ministry Festival.  We go every year and take our team members.  Since Creative Ministry Festival is all about Creative Ministry (Puppetry, Clowning, Illusion, Dowel Rod, etc…  for more info check out http://www.creativemin.com), I took Penny with me.  Last year was the first year I took her, and I had this adorable 1950’s poodle skirt outfit on her.  Well, a week before this year’s  festival, I realized that I couldn’t take her wearing the same outfit this year.  That’s when my Pinterest addiction kicked in (you may remember me referring to this addiction a few weeks ago in reference to a cake tragedy).  I remembered seeing a tutorial on Pinterest about taking a superhero emblem t-shirt and making a matching tutu for it.  The instructions for the tutu didn’t seem to difficult, so mom and I went on a last minute hunt for t-shirts and correctly colored tulle.  We found a Superman t-shirt and a Batman t-shirt.  Then, we found sparkly tulle in red, yellow, and black, and regular tulle in blue.

Thanks to my dad, I didn’t have to spend days cutting out 3 inch strips of tulle.  He has this really cool circular knife and quilting mat that I used to cut the tulle.  What should have taken me days took approximately an hour.

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As you can see, I had a lovely pile of red and blue, and black and yellow.  I then had to turn these piles into tutu skirts.  Since I’m not the world’s greatest at finishing craft projects, this was it’s own challenge.  However, by the day of the festival, I had created two unique tutus:

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Friday night, I took Penny in her Superman outfit:

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And on Saturday, it was time for Batman:

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The cool thing was, because she had these unique outfits, people were more inclined to come talk to me (which is good because I’m not exactly good at socializing with strangers).  Not only did people talk to me, but Penny was able to talk to them.  She had finally found her voice, and started getting pretty comfortable with it.

Then came Sunday.

Since this Sunday (April 28th) is our team’s spring performance, I asked the pastors if Penny could do the announcement.  I was given permission, and immediately freaked out.  It was one thing to talk to strangers, it was something completely different to interact with people I know.  What would they think?  Would I just make an idiot out of myself?

Well, when church started, Penny and I went into the sanctuary (and yes, she was still in her Batman outfit).  Even though I pretended I couldn’t tell, I could sense all the people staring.  It was the first time  that any of our puppet had been seen outside of the stage.  Now, the number one rule about manipulating a puppet in public is that the puppet has to stay alive.  This meant that I couldn’t put my arm down to my side, and Penny had to keep reacting like an actual person would.  We got through the first song without problem, and then came the meet and greet time (basically 3 minutes where people can wander around and say a quick hello to each other).  This is when something completely unexpected took place.

Penny and I were standing with mom, and I saw this little girl and her mom come walking over.  The little girl wanted to meet Penny, and so Penny and she talked.  Then, after she left, her dad brought her older sister over (these girls were about 5 and 7), and Penny talked with her.  Then, after she left, two little boys drug their Grandmas over.  One little boy reached out and started shaking Penny’s hand (thankfully, I had the quick reaction to grab the arm rod so Penny could actually shake hands with him).  What shocked me was watching these kids interact with Penny.

I can’t talk to kids.  I grew up and only child, and I had to exist in an adult’s world from birth.  Yes, I had a childhood, but I don’t think my brain was ever truly a kid.  Sure I liked to play and hang with friends, but I didn’t think like a kid.  This has made interacting with children a huge challenge for me.  I don’t want to talk down to them, but I never know what to say.  However, with Penny, I could talk to kids, and they talked to her.  It was my Grinch moment.  It was the moment my heart grew two sizes.  Each kid made me cry (which is next to impossible.  I almost never cry, unless I’m watching some manipulative movie or commercial).  It was the moment that I knew that I really have become the crazy puppet lady, and I’m completely okay with it.

Oh yeah, the announcement went well.  I think it’s the only time the statement, “You can’t say no to someone in a Batman t-shirt and tutu.” has ever been uttered in a church.

Hipaa

Published January 8, 2013 by ia84

So, it occurred to me tonight that while I get to see and handle a lot of cool and gross stuff at work, I can’t really talk about it for two reasons.  Reason #1: Most people don’t seem to enjoy thinking about blood and other things that come out of the body.  Reason #2: Hipaa.

If you’re not familiar with Hipaa, here’s a quick take on it.  Basically, Hipaa is something the government put into practice that’s supposed to protect patient’s and keep their information confidential.  This means that I can’t write and/or talk about specifics of the medical records I see, list people’s names/personal information, or disclose things I may have heard others saying.  Now, here’s where it’s a good thing my memory is so rotten.  I handle hundreds of samples a day, and look at the information for all of 10-30 seconds.  I couldn’t tell you, even if I wanted to, the names and other personal details.

I don’t think it’s breaking Hipaa to mention that I was super proud of myself for pouring urine out of a jug into a little container without spilling or splashing any.  I really didn’t think I could manage it, but I was successful!  (This is one of those gross things that I forget most people don’t really want to think about.)

Anyway, day two of my new job went pretty well.  I’m definitely learning, and will be quite glad when I can do things without having to ask for help.  Also, I’m super glad that my clinical pathology teacher in tech school got so in-depth in class.  What I learned in that class is starting to come back pretty clearly, and helping me to feel less lost.

Final positive part of my day: one of the gals at work asked me how old I was and she was really surprised that I was 28.  She was sure I was younger!  I love when people think I look younger than I am.  I certainly feel younger than I am.

New Year, New Job, New Me?

Published January 7, 2013 by ia84

I did it!  I survived my first day as a full time employee!  I don’t think I’ve ever been hired as a full timer (I worked full time for about 2 months in a previous job, but I don’t like to think about those days).  I feel odd.  I feel like I’ve achieved some step towards being an adult. Yikes!

I spent most of my first day reading a giant OSHA manual, and then doing loads of computer OSHA things.  OSHA is mostly common sense, but I feel that they write out things the most confusing way they can think of.  Anyway, after I learned all about how I can catch evil things from blood if I’m not properly handling it, and all about how to get electrocuted, I got to actually go in the lab!  I ended up doing chores, but I didn’t care.  I was in scrubs and a lab jacket, and I was in a real life professional lab!  Ever since I was in tech school, I’ve been fascinated by the lab side of medicine.  Getting to work in one has kind of been my personal Holy Grail.  I have many dreams, and I feel so blessed to actually be getting to have one come true.  Especially after so many years of heartbreak and disappointment.

Also, to document that my first day, I decided to take a picture of myself showing I was ready to head off into my future!  003

I’m not sure what expression that is on my face.  Unfortunately, this was the best of the crop of photos I took.  However, I really, really, love the scrub top I have on.  I’m so excited that I can wear fun and pretty scrub tops to this job.  There’s so many beautiful tops out there, and the last job I had that I wore scrubs for, I had to wear pretty blah ones all the time.  I now have a whole assortment of pretty tops that I’m excited to wear!