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.