The struggle is REAL people

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So I meant to write about it last week when I was still upset about it, but I finally got a day off, so I’ll write about my frustrating day in the prep room. We got a case that had a very thick neck. I was in position 1 (the head) so I was in charge with finding the carotid arteries and the jugular vein for drainage. Everything was going fine up until actually raising the vessels. Washed and disinfected everything, eye caps inserted, hair combed, ready to raise some arteries!

This was only my second time on position 1, and they want us to be doing things basically by ourselves, so I got right on in there and started working. I made the incision in the correct spot and started blunt dissecting to find the right side. I started to get a little annoyed with how hard it was to find, and had to keep reconfirming that I was in the right spot. I’d line my guides up and, yep, right spot. Kept working at it until I came upon this hard, sclerotic artery that I could barely raise. I showed my instructor who said,”wow, lotta plaque in there” and I moved on.

Once I got to the left side was when my real frustration set in. I spent what should take 5 or 10 minutes TOPS on finding the left artery and worked on it for a good 20 minutes. Hell, it could’ve been a half hour by the time I surrendered and had to get the instructor in there to do it. I was beyond frustrated and felt completely defeated. I took breaks and would step back and take a breath, reset my guides and go back in, only to come up empty every time. When I finally gave it over to the instructor to help me, he spent a good 10 minutes searching. That made me feel a little better that it was difficult for a seasoned professional, but I was still upset. Once it was raised, I ligated it and we moved on to injecting.

My teammates had raised every artery at their positions that we have been taught (including practicing advanced ones) while I was struggling with the big ones. So now we’re getting to injecting very late in the period, and I started to feel a little better. I picked up the scalpel and started to try and fit the arterial tube in the right artery that I raised earlier. I made the cut, tried slipping it in, but it was fighting me. The instructor came over and told me that I may need a smaller tube for how little room these arteries were giving us. So I step back and let him try to figure out the next move when he says, “hmm, I don’t know if this is it” and starts searching around for the REAL artery! Turns out, sometimes lymph nodes can swell and look like arteries. He claimed that it’s common and that this happens, but I was done. Waving the white flag! I get it! I suck! (not really, but that’s what I felt like at the time)

He then searched in and around the area for another couple minutes and finally finds the correct artery. It was even HARDER to raise to ligate. Almost like it was pulling against me when I was trying to pull it out! I got some ligature on it and cleaned up. We couldn’t even inject because it took so long! I was so disappointed and it felt like such a set back. I was in the worst mood for the rest of the day (other classes were getting on my nerves, and they were exacerbated by my terrible morning).

Competencies are coming up, and I’m a little bummed I won’t get to get back to position 1 before the end of the semester. I don’t think this 1 time alone is going to stop me from passing my competencies, but it would be nice to show,”LOOK! I don’t always do this!” I got to do a Full McKue mouth closure without supervision and nailed that, so it shows I can do things. The last time I was in position 1, the case was extremely emaciated, and I ended up taking some time (because it was the first time), but I did it! Tomorrow’s lab, and I’m hoping to rock position 2 without asking for help or having instructors step in so I can prove, “LOOK! I can get things done correctly! I promise!”

I think they believe me whether I scream that or not, but I’m just so hard on myself when I don’t perform to my abilities. Everyone has their bad days, I understand that. I just hate it. I’ve always hated it. It’s in my nature to compete and succeed, so when I don’t I get very frustrated.

I do realize this whole post has been bitch-bitch-bitch, whine-whine-whine, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I’ll nail it next time.

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At least I’m not as creepy as a sex shop owner.

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So it’s been a few weeks since I posted last, and I wanted to make sure I’m sticking to my original pledge to jot down as much as I could throughout the semester. I don’t want to forget things and I want to make sure I have the experience written down.

I got the idea in my head that I needed to update on here this morning while I was watching the news. Apparently, there was a article written out there about the “Creepiest Jobs”. According to the news, they asked a bunch of people to vote for what they thought was the creepiest job out there.

  • #5 – taxi drivers (which I thought was weird)
  • #4 – funeral directors (thanks guys)
  • #3 – sex shop owner (well then…)
  • #2 – taxidermist (I personally like taxidermy, but I’m also on this list so…)
  • #1 – clowns (I suddenly and wholeheartedly agree with this poll)

I just thought it was pretty hilarious that so many people out there think that this profession is so creepy, but when they have a loved one that dies, they confide in us and turn to us as professionals and experts. I’ll let you all keep thinking I’m such a weirdo, because I think I’m awesome and I’m gonna be a kick ass funeral director and embalmer.

This dawned on me the other day, while we were eating ice cream I said to Henry,

“you know what’s funny? This time last year I wasn’t even in the program, and now I’m halfway through it.”

He told me, “and this time, a year from now, you’ll be so done with it, and this stress of ‘tomorrow’s a test and I need to study!’ will all be forgotten.”

That gave me such a different outlook on what I’m in the middle of right now. All of this stress that school is bringing me, won’t mean a thing in less than a year. I’m already halfway done with this program, come December, I’ll be a full fledged licensed funeral director and recent graduate! That kind of blows my mind.

This program is getting us ready for the stress and multitasking attitude we’re going to need in the business, but I have a feeling (and from what others who’ve done it say) that the stress of school will be nothing like the industry. I could be wrong, and that’s why there’s such a high drop out rate in the industry, but we shall see!

Another crazy thing happened: the last 2 Monday’s have been DECENT! I know, weird right? Law was an exam and then she actually attempted to teach us. This Monday was 2 exams with a “Jeopardy” type game thrown in between them. So far I’m doing OK in all my classes too! I think I’m getting straight B’s for once.

I told the mentor group a couple weeks ago that, for whatever reason, this semester has been easier and less stress than last semester when I had half as many classes. Another kid who was about to graduate last semester told me that this semester finally makes sense and gets easier, but I didn’t believe her. I’m taking 6 classes, twice as many as my stress inducing first semester, and yet, I actually feel like I have free time and a life this semester.

Thursday’s are still my favorite days. Embalming lab is so much fun. I hate to use the word fun, but I get such a thrill working with my team and raising vessels and mixing chemicals and injecting a body. It’s a “consensual mutilation” as my teacher has pointed out, so it does feel weird to have fun with it, but I can’t help it! It’s fascinating to learn and perfect. We have competencies coming up in a couple weeks, and I’m hoping I can knock it out of the park.

I’ve learned that I’m really good at RA too. We were making mouths last week, and my piece was used as a teaching tool for a couple other students. I can’t say it’s easy, because it’s really not, but it is a whole lot of fun! I really should go study for a couple tests that I have tomorrow and Wednesday, but I think I’m gonna relax a bit more. I still feel like all this coasting is going to bite me in the ass sooner than later (FINALS ANYONE?), but I’m going to enjoy it while I’ve got it.