Sunday, September 11, 2011

working blues

i don't talk a lot about my job for a few reasons, one of them being HIPAA.  some of the most interesting cases i get are interesting because they're specific, and i live in a small enough area that if you were an interesting case and i wrote about it (and you somehow read this little blog), you'd know it.  which is a shame, because even though i'm not a trained medical professional, i've learned a lot at my job at and seen some cool stuff.   it's exciting to see how the body works around supposed limitations and how inventive people can be when faced with a body part that doesn't want to work in the right way.  i tend to meet a lot of different people with a lot of different and remarkable stories, and for whatever time i get to spend with them, i get to hear those stories.  that part of my job is the best, and i've been fortunate enough to meet some really amazing people.

this week wasn't one of those weeks, though.  every patient was, i'm sorry to say, a downer. most weeks i do okay with my job; i see a fair amount of oncology patients on a regular basis and while i never feel like, "yay! cancer!" i can do my job and then come home and be fine.  it is an unfortunate thing to say (and feel) but cancer exists.  people get it.  people i love have died because of it.  what's important about my job is to not focus on the illness(es), but the patients.  making someone comfortable and explaining the test is the best i can do in the short time i spend with them.   so i do my job, i do the best i can, then i come home and try to leave that at work.  i'd say more than 80% of time that works for me. 

another aspect of working with MRI and not say, CT, i don't see a lot of emergency patients.  an MRI takes at the very least fifteen minutes, and usually over a half hour, so you wouldn't test someone for something where time is of the essence in treatment.  an MRI also isn't the test of choice when it comes to cardiac anything (thanks to the movement of the heart beating; makes a blurry picture unless you have a real fancy machine that can work around that), so we don't get patients having heart attacks, ever.  most of the time i see people who have thrown their backs out at work, or tripped and bonked their knee into something and maybe tore their meniscus.  i deal with a lot of worker's comp cases, as well as drug seekers who tend to have the most beautiful spines you have ever seen.  i would say 75% of my job involves ordinary people with joint issues, with some of them being whinier than others, but for the most part i just get them into position, my coworker takes some pictures, i get them out and that's the last i see or think about them.

i can't tell if i'm getting soft, just need a vacation, or if this last week was particular brutal.  i don't normally feel so bummed out about my job.  i guess what made this week different were a lot more inpatients than usual, and a lot of young people with serious illnesses.  there was the cutest elderly couple ever, who i actually saw kind of make-out before taking one of them back for their test. then of course, one of them got shipped off to a bigger hospital because it turns out they were way sicker than we could deal with.  there was a patient three years younger than me, who came in with a very simple, easy to treat illness, and then we found something that was neither "simple" or "easy."  i got a call from one of the employee health care workers too, to tell me i may have been exposed to meningitis and to watch to make sure i didn't get a neck ache that didn't go away.  i cleaned up vomit and had to run all over to retrieve patients who were less than excited to see me.  nurses were extra surly and grumpy because of the heat, and finding someone (anyone!) who was helpful was kind of a task. 

part of me knows that i shouldn't complain, that i should be happy to have a job in such a shitty economy, but honestly? i kind of hate my job right now.  i kind of hate that my boss doesn't take my very valid,  honest complaints with a co-worker seriously.  i kind of hate that after two and half years, i make only .50 cents more an hour than when i started. i feel like i'm wasting my time, wasting what talent i might have, working for jerks.  if i'm going to be in health care, i feel like i should get a degree and actually make some money if i'm going to have to deal with all the shit that comes along with not just working for the public, but working for the sick public.  (sick people are like hungry people! waitresses and nurses should make way more than they do.)  i'm tired of feeling emotionally drained when i come home.  i question what i'm doing and if it is actually the best i can do, or if i should be doing something else.  that's a normal conundrum, i know, and that's the only fact that makes me feel better about all of this.  i'm checking out help wanted ads on a daily basis, and thinking even going back into something mindless like retail might be a good idea for me.  if i'm going to make shit for money, at least i shouldn't have to clean up barf.    

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