Healthcare

All posts tagged Healthcare

If you can’t make neurotransmitters at home, store bought is fine.

Published June 15, 2021 by Malia

How long does it take a heart and mind to heal?

Since 2001, I have been filled with pain, anger, depression, anxiety, and an overall strong sense of doom.  There have been blips of happy during this time, but overall it’s been 20 long years of misery.

I remember mentioning to someone that I felt as though I was living under a curse.  They thought I was being dramatic.  All I knew was that everytime I came close to finally getting a grip on life my world would fall apart.  And it was always in super strange ways.

About 10 years ago, I added apathetic to the laundry list of things I struggled with.  Everything felt so pointless, and I was so tired of always being in pain.  I think that’s when my dissociating began to get really bad.  I spent my days watching myself making decisions that were typically unhealthy.  It was a bit like watching a movie or a dream.  I felt like I was living my life in 3rd person.  My body and mind were on autopilot.

So much of the last two decades has passed me by, and I just let it. I have been ambivalent, apathetic, and I let my heart grow hard.

My undiagnosed depression, anxiety, and ADHD shredded my brain.  I remember when I started college on 2003, and discovered my memory was deteriorating.  It was frustrating and scary.  Growing up my memory had been ok.  I know that towards the end of high school I sometimes struggled to remember things when I was taking a test.  But I wrote that off as just being a busy teen.  I was heavily involved in extra-curiculars, and being a pastor’s kid came with it’s own set of responsibilities.  Then when I started an actual job my senior year, my plate was beyond full. 

Feeling your memory deteriorate is terrifying.  When you know that you know something, but it’s locked behind so many doors in your brain, and you can’t access it; it’s overwhelming and frustrating and angering.

In 2018, I began getting serious treatment for things.  It’s not been an easy road.  Therapy dredged up so many things that I had locked deep, deep, deep, DEEP inside.  So much anger and pain.  It was hard.  It’s still hard.  The guilt and shame of every mistake, every pain I’d ever caused others, overwhelmed me, drowned me. 

My promise to you, my readers, is that you get the honest, genuine version of me.  I’m still not ready to share with y’all the nightmare that was March 2020 through this past February.  But I will tell you, that I’m not exaggerating when I tell you it was the final straw.  It nearly destroyed me completely.  I spent months having people close to me watch me break apart.  I had my own healthcare providers encourage me to quit my job.  But I was so determined to stay.  I had a bad habit of walking away from jobs when they started to feel a little too hard to handle.  I was adamant I was going to break that cycle.  That, no matter how hard the job got, I was going to stick it out. 

Looking back, I now know that I should’ve left my job in May of 2020.  It wasn’t until the end of this past January, when faced with the reality  of partial hospitalization, that I finally said, “Enough.” I knew that if I went back I was going to find myself in some sort of serious health crisis, maybe a heart attack, maybe a diabetic coma, or just completely and permanently losing all touch with reality. I had this sense that if I went back, I would be dead before the year was out, because I could feel my body telling me it was ready to shut down. No amount of money was worth completely destroying myself.

In April, I was running some errands, and suddenly my brain shifted into autopilot. Before I knew it, I was driving to my old job. I hadn’t been near the building since January. I could feel the panic build as I got near, and when I saw it, I broke down. I was torn between missing my friends, and the rush of memories filled with fear and pain.

When Tom had surgery in May, it was the first time I’d been back in a hospital in months. I briefly wondered if I’d find myself second-guessing my decision to leave my job. The short answer? No, I didn’t. I remember watching the medical professionals doing their jobs, and not even the tiniest part of me missed being a healthcare worker. Instead, all I could feel was relief that I was out of working in the world of medicine.

Last Friday, Tom put on Sweet Tooth. Overall, it was a really awesome show, but it was an incredibly hard watch. The first episode and seventh episode hit especially hard.

MINOR SPOILER ALERT

Watching a fictional hospital deal with a pandemic hit a little too close to home. It was a little too real seeing a disease that progressed fast and overwhelmed all the healthcare workers. I stuck it out, but I also texted and warned my friend who is still working in the lab. Just in case she was going to watch it, I didn’t want her to be caught off guard. That night, I prayed and took the meds I usually avoid, in order to help me sleep, cause I was scared that the nightmares that plagued me throughout last year would be back.

A few weeks back, I wrote about starting a new med that was giving me all the side effects. When I contacted the doctor, she asked that I try to stick it out for two weeks, because she thought it might settle down and the med would start working. Last week, I wrote about how mentally I was feeling loads better than I have in a long time. The side effects are definitely better now, I’m glad I agreed to stick it out the two weeks. My body, once it finally adjusted, has been feeling good and my blood sugar numbers are slowly getting lower and steadier.

I’m a bit of an odd duck, because I believe in Jesus and in science. I firmly believe that God gave us science, and if anything the miracle taking place in my body reaffirms this belief. My body doesn’t make neurochemicals or regulate my sugars like it should, but science has created medications that help with all these things. Over the last several days, I’ve been feeling really good. Everything has been working the way it should in my body. And I’ve made a shocking discovery.

I like myself.

I’ve despised myself for so long. All I could see were the bad parts, the mistakes. Am I perfect? NOPE. But I am silly, smart, kind, funny, generous, and phenomenally gifted (especially in music). The me that has suddenly woken up after decades of slumber, is actually pretty awesome. I would want to hang out and be my friend.

So, am I healed/cured/completely fixed? I can’t really answer that. I know that I’m healthier. I know that it’s likely the dark feelings will be back, maybe tomorrow, maybe 5 years from now, but I’m okay with that. I know I can survive the storms, because I’ve already survived so many of them.

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At least this usually only happens once a month.

Published March 1, 2018 by Malia

If I ever don’t work in the world of healthcare, the one thing I will never EVER miss is working on the days immediately before, on, and directly following a full moon.

Full moons suck.

The boy honestly believes I’m just superstitious. I think he wouldn’t think that if he’d seen the weirdness that I’ve seen.

When I worked in the vet clinic, a full moon guaranteed that the worst, most bat-crap crazy pet owners and their even more insane pets would descend like a cloud of locusts. (Cloud? Herd? Flock? I can’t remember the right of term right now.) On top of that, downright weird stuff would happen. Awful phone calls, and things that were mind-blowing bizarre. It didn’t just happen once. I could depend on it happening Every. Single. Month. I would intentionally use vacation time, just so I didn’t have to work on full moon days. Looking back, my coworkers might have wondered if I was a werewolf.

Today, it was just reinforced to me how truly awful full moons can be. I can’t actually write about it A. Because I wasn’t directly involved, and more importantly B. I’m not willing to violate HIPAA just for a blog post. Let’s just leave it that it was sad and I was reminded, yet again, that I work with some amazingly strong, smart, wonderful humans.

Did You Actually Go To Medical School?

Published August 16, 2014 by Malia

When I was in elementary school, I remember classmates circulating a story about a man who had gone in for surgery, and when he woke up he was missing a leg.  Depending on the person telling the story, he either lost both legs, or an arm and a leg, or both legs and both arms.  I’m pretty sure that at some point, in some telling of the tale, he woke up as the Headless Horseman (and was probably missing all his limbs as well).  I learned two things from this, A. Kid’s imaginations are kind of a gruesome playground, and, B. Don’t have surgery, because the doctor will mix you up with another patient and you WILL die (sans all limbs).

When I was in vet tech school, I remember sitting in surgical procedures class, and having a teacher tell us that it was super important to count all your gauze pads-and anything else that came into contact with the patient-before the patient got stitched up, because you didn’t want Fluffy coming back in for having a sponge left inside her accidentally (and having a severe infection from the foreign body).

You always hear stories like this, and I think on some level I didn’t quite believe them until a few years ago when my grampa was staying at a rehab center after surgery.  Two days before he was due to be released, the nurse gave him another patient’s meds.  Turned out that the other patient was taking high levels of morphine.  I’ve always hoped no one got my grampa’s meds, because he was taking large quantities of Coumadin (a blood thinner, for those who aren’t familiar with it).  Grampa ended up back in the hospital for a few days, and his release date got pushed back another week.

All of these things were enough to make me a little nervous about healthcare, but it wasn’t until I started working at the lab that I truly got scared of healthcare.

Now, let me just point out that there are absolutely amazing and fantastic nurses and doctors out there.  My goal here is not to bash, or cast out a net and say, “All healthcare professionals are this way.”  There are people who truly know what they’re doing and do an excellent job at it.  However, in the last year and a half, I’ve started to wonder how many of them there actually are.

I really love my job.  The work is interesting, and I’ve learned far more in the last year and a half than I ever learned in school.  I work in a medical reference lab.  We’re responsible for running tests that doctor’s offices and hospitals can’t run in-house.  I don’t personally perform any of the testing (I’d need a medical lab tech degree for that, and all I have is my vet tech degree and training as a phlebotomist), but I work in the processing department.  Instead of a long drawn out explanation, just think of it as a combination of quality assurance and client care.  I seem to spend a fair amount of time on the phone with clients, and for every call that is smooth and easy to work through, there seem to be about twenty that make you wish you were having a root canal instead.

For example, recently, I had to call a stat result to a doctor.  Not only did this doctor have zero people skills, but when I told him what I was calling about, what the test was, and what the result of the test was along with the normal reference ranges, he said, “I don’t understand what that means.”  It was all I could do not to reply, “You ordered this test!  This is your patient!  What do you mean you don’t understand?!”  Fortunately, it wasn’t a very unusual test, and after about five minutes I was able to explain it well enough to him that he seemed to have grasped whatever it was he didn’t understand.  I hung up the phone and just sat there feeling pity for his patients.

The thing is, those kinds of calls are not out of the norm.  A few weeks ago, one of my co-workers had to call a nurse because a specimen was received that had to be protected from light and frozen within 30 minutes of collection.  The specimen arrived frozen, but unprotected from light.  The nurse didn’t understand the problem, because she had gotten the specimen in the freezer in the 30 minutes.  My co-worker then had to explain that the specimen also needed to either be wrapped in tin foil (not only does it protect the specimen from light, but it protects it from aliens as well), or put into an amber colored tube.

It scares me when things aren’t labeled, or they’re mislabeled.  It scares me when a medical professional doesn’t know that you use a lavender tube to collect a CBC, instead of a serum tube.  It scares me when they don’t know the difference between serum and plasma.  It scares me when they don’t know how to operate a centrifuge.  It scares me when I have to explain something basic to someone who supposedly has more education than I do.  It scares me when people are more interested in discussing their horoscopes, than they are in doing their job correctly.  I don’t care if you’re a Cancer, I care about making sure that the guy with cancer gets prompt and accurate treatment.

I know that mistakes happen.  I know that doctors and nurses are only human.  Sometimes, though, I have to wonder why some of them decided to work in healthcare.  Must be the great hours and the glamorous uniforms.