Finally Finals

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I know I said I wasn’t going to post until I was a graduate, but it’s been a hell of a week, and there’s only one more left, so I wanted to get it all down before it’s too late.

Right now, it’s the Thursday before finals. The last week of test. The last week of school. I’m so BEYOND ready to be done with it all! I took 4 tests on Monday, 3 today, and then 1 everyday next week (2 on Friday), and then I’m DONE!

It still feels a little unreal. I’ve been doing countdowns to finishing semesters for over a decade now (I know, I know! I’m old and I need to get out of school already! I’m workin on it!), but this time it’s different. I’m going to be DONE done with school, and it’s probably not gonna feel like it’s over for quite a while.

I’m steps closer to completing my computer class. We register for the National Board Exam (NBE) on Monday and take the last of the practice tests. I finish my embalming lecture on Tuesday, and I finished my lab today! Wednesday is my restorative arts final, then Thursday’s Chemistry. Then finally, Friday morning is my Counseling final, and then I wrap it up with the capstone final in the afternoon

I wish I could go celebrate when I’m out on Friday, but I’ll have work that night and then early morning on Saturday. So after work on Saturday, I’ll go celebrate/schmooze potential new employer(!) at my friend’s company Christmas party. It’s gonna feel real like to get out and feel like a person again.

I’m gonna have to go back and see just how many tests/quizzes I took over the 18 month program, because I’m sure it’s stupid how many we took. I mean hell, I’m about to take 14 test over the last 10 days of school, so I’m gonna guess somewhere around 100 tests *dies*.

I just spent way too much time making paper cranes/stars and stringing them into a “wreath” for our memorial ceremony for our counseling class tomorrow. I just hope it goes smoothly and it’s not as stupid as I feel it’s about to be. I wish I had committed to paper cranes when I thought of it at Thanksgiving, that way I could’ve actually made one for every case in lab like I wanted to, but 149 paper cranes in a day and a half wasn’t happening. Oh well, the meaning’s still there.

Off to bed now, one week…one week…*sigh*

We’re in the home stretch now!

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I didn’t mean to keep putting off getting on here and writing about things, but I hit the busiest time of the semester and any free time went to sleeping and sanity. I have a couple papers due this week and a presentation next Monday, and that’s about all of the biggest stuff left besides finals! In just a week and a half, it’ll be Thanksgiving, and then, FINALS. I can’t believe this is it, it’s really ending. I never thought 18 months would feel so long!

Work is also ramping up (since the winter months is the “busy season” in this industry), and I’ve been working late nights and early mornings. I should know by now that this job was gonna come with funky hours, but I’m still getting used to it. Once this semester’s over, I’m debating whether or not I want to continue working where I’m at, or to go somewhere else. I think it might be in my best interest to go somewhere else now-ish since it is the busy season, and more places might be willing to hire. It also might be in my best interest to stay where I’m at and get the most experience I can, before trying to get my foot in the door somewhere else.

I will say (and I think I’ve said this before), that Saturday’s at work are my favorite days. I get to experience the most stuff and I’m usually out of the office the whole day. This last Saturday, I got to witness my first (Japanese) Buddhist memorial service full of chanting and incense, a Christian memorial service full of songs and hymns, my first Hindu dressing with the daughter and her 2 friends, and a witness interment (that finally went smoothly). I love the variety Saturday brings! I also say “finally went smoothly” because the last 2 witness interments I was apart of took way too long and we somehow ran of dirt and had to get the tractor to bring more *face palm*.

Tonight should be a slow night, Tuesday’s usually don’t have a lot going for them. Unless there was a viewing/visitation/rosary going on at night, I’m usually out of there quick. It’s really nice to be there by myself too, so I don’t have to keep checking on someone or making sure they did something. I do everything, and I get it done quick, and get the hell out of there!

I feel like these last couple of posts have been forced, or at least something I’m not going to care to read later on, so I want to try and recap maybe some small things from the passed week that I might not think of in the coming weeks/months/years.

Last Thursday, I went to my first “vendor night” dinner for the Orange County Funeral Directors Association (OCFDA). It was pretty cool, but smaller than I thought it was going to be. For whatever reason, the way people talked about it, it sounded like a huge event, but there was maybe 20 tables. It was mostly a drinking and talking to people I already knew. Plus, I couldn’t eat the dinner (GLUTEN FREE STRIKES AGAIN!), so that was a bit of a downer.

BUT what was nice was that I happened to sit at a table (or they happened to sit at MY table, whatever) with an owner and his partner who have a mortuary that he tries to hire students as much as possible. The only problem was that it’s in Torrance (which is NOT close), and they’re in the middle of moving, so it’s not a viable option for me right now.

I ended up getting tipsy and chatting with my teacher who was there promoting the school, and it was nice to freely talk about work and school just one on one with him. I sometimes feel I can’t express everything I’m feeling, mainly because of how candid (see: colorful language) I am with talking about work (he works there too). It felt nice be able to be around like minded people (my teacher and that owner) who are on the same wavelength as I am. I’m not in this for the business or money, I’m in it to move this industry out of the dark ages and focus on families and their healing through dealing with death.

We lost a member of our embalming lab team, so it’s down to just my one friend and I! While I miss our teammate, I kind of like the freedom we now get to have to do more and more things each week. I actually feel tired, like I DID something, each Thursday now. Competencies start this week, meaning it’s the start of making sure I actually know what I’m doing before I graduate. I think I have everything down pretty well, except for the selecting of fluids. There are so many varieties out there, and I’m just confused on what to do half the time. Hopefully the case we get next week isn’t too crazy when I have to pick fluids. Last week, my teammate and I were told that our aspiration and cavity treatment competencies were pretty much done, so if that’s already noted, I’m probably good on everything else.

I’m excited for Thanksgiving, it’ll be the first time I’ve hung out with my extended family in a long while (I think since July!? Yikes). Food’s going to be delicious, people are gonna be fun, I don’t have to work that night, it’s gonna be nice to have that small break. Once that break’s over though, it’s basically the end of the semester, so I doubt I’ll be posting before then!

…I’ll be a graduate the next time I post…holy shit.

Now we’re in the thick of it…

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I ran out of free time (or what free time I had was taken up with sleeping and trying to find a normalcy), so I didn’t get to post about the next to last group project I’ll EVER have to do for school, and the last couple of days at work. My presentation went well enough though. We got some feedback, but I also got some criticism from classmates on how we delivered our information. When you only have 45 minutes for your group to talk about all of the information that was covered over 3 semesters, it’s really hard to hit every single topic. It’s also funny that some people felt the need to say that we didn’t cover something or that we didn’t add something to our outline, but it was sitting right there IN the outline, so I don’t take it to heart. There’s obviously people not paying close enough attention in the first place, so I’m not gonna let it bug me.

My last(!) presentation isn’t for another couple of weeks, and there’s plenty of other shit I gotta get done before then. I managed to knock out a 24 page paper in 6 hours last week. I need to read a small book and be able to answer discussion board questions and discussion in class, so I need to get on that. I have a research paper for my embalming class due next week. I have 4 tests this week (technically 3 cuz I took the one this morning). It’s just all coming together all at once (like I thought it would be), and I’m so close to the end! Plus! We take our “class photo” next Friday, and day by day, I’m closer and closer to that graduation date.

Work has been going better too. I can tell that I’m getting more comfortable because I don’t have to ask about as much things as I did before. The one thing that kinda sucks though is that when I do ask, I get sighs and eye rolls and less than helpful help. BUT, I’m just gonna keep ignoring it and move on. I don’t see me being at this particular place for a long time, but I’m gonna soak in as much knowledge as I can while I’m there.

Highlight of my weekend definitely came on Saturday though. I had only been at work for about an hour or so, and I had a little old lady come in the front door. I’m expected to be the doorman in this place, so I made my way out there and greeted her with my usual smile and “how can I help you”. I immediately saw the anger in her eyes and she started on her, “I just have to tell you, someone needs to do something!” and proceeded to tell me that the children that were with the big group present for a graveside committal, were climbing on, jumping over, and running across the markers and the monument that we have in our veterans section. She was furious and I didn’t blame her. She kept saying that these kids were grabbing the flag chain and swinging it around and screaming and yelling, and said, “this is a sacred place for our veterans! This is NOT how you show respect!”

And then it happened. She said, “I can’t even hear myself try to talk to my husband…”, and her voice cracked, and the anger turned to tears. I couldn’t stop myself; I stepped forward and gave this poor woman a hug. As I embraced her, I told her, “I will do something for you”. She came out of the hug with a soft thank you, and I could tell she felt listened to and cared about.

That’s all I really want in this profession. I want to be able to help people, diffuse a situation, bring comfort to someone, do something to help them. I went back into the office (a little choked up myself), and my coworkers asked what that was all about. I told them, and they said that I needed to be the one to go tell the kids/family, but said it in a very “NOT IT!” kind of tone, but I was more than happy to do it myself anyway.

I also got a nasty comment from a coworker, that I need to go disinfect myself after touching people, because “that’s just disgusting” and shuddered. That alone confirmed for me that there’s some hardened people in this business, and I would hate for one of them to have gotten to her first, because they would’ve showed her zero sympathy. I’m sure they would have even been a little mean, and pointed out that the kids were no longer on the monument, and not done anything about it. Instead, I showed her compassion, and took it upon myself to drive the golf cart over to the graveside.

I stood by the monument for about 5 minutes, and no kids came running towards me. I did see them running around, but they were done messing around in the veterans section by the time I got there. The graveside service they were there for was ending, and I didn’t see a point in disturbing the family as they were hugging and leaving by saying, “hey, by the way, get your kids cuz they were doing something people didn’t like about 20 minutes ago”, so I just hung around until I saw cars start to pack up and the kids went back to their parents.

I didn’t actually fulfill the lady’s request by telling someone something, but I at least did more for the situation than any of my coworkers would have done. OK maybe not any of my coworkers, but definitely the couple of them that were in the room when I talked about what happened. I just hope that that woman came back, either later that day or the next day to have her time with her husband. And I really hope that no one disturbs her the next time she comes back.

So today is October 24th. Next week is Halloween. Then there’s a couple quick weeks full of projects and tests, then it’s Thanksgiving. And then before I know it, it’s going to be December and I’m going to be DONE. It still feels far away, but this is gonna sneak up on me so fast!

Another Day Closer…

Another day closer to graduation. To working more hours. To getting on with my life and never having to go back to school! One day at a time. Today (being my only day off) consisted of errands that I can’t get done during the week or at night, which included finally getting my car washed, buying new wiper blades, treating my dude to new blades as well, getting lunch with him because I feel like I never get to see him, and now I’m winding down my day by doing homework/presentation project for school.

This month started the ramp up of a bunch of shit I need to get done. Definitely need to get on my readings that need to get done too, that stuffs gonna take time that I don’t have a lot of.

Work is going well now too, I mean, as well as it can be. I got to take my first “first call” on Tuesday, and that was nerve wracking to say the least! I’m not the most comfortable with answering phones, and I’ve had a hard time sometimes when trying to hear people. I think it’s dependent on whether or not they’re on a cell phone, but I have a really hard time understanding them sometimes. Luckily, the hospice nurse I was talking to was calm, and I think that brought down my nerves just a little.

A little pat on my back, or a toot of my own horn if you will, but I think I’m making leaps and bounds at work passed other people that have been there a little longer than me. It’s nice to finally feel a little more comfortable too, and I bet if I worked more days in a week than I do, I would’ve been comfortable faster. This post was kind of a blah blah blah, word vomit, bored on a Sunday night, but I wanted to get on here and write something down. So I did πŸ™‚ SO THERE.

Just keep swimming…

3fe296fa7ec5d0d3f7b9b2f5e9748e46I worked my first (hectic) Saturday at work. My schedule before was Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday, but they moved me from Sunday to Saturday’s for the month for more experience. This Saturday I opened, next Saturday I close, so on and so forth for October. It was pretty exhausting since I closed on Friday and had to be right back there, but it was worth it. I helped assist in a viewing on Friday night, and then helped with the service on Saturday. I wasn’t technically the assistant on the service, but the director was pretty happy to have another set of hands for the day.

The chapel was packed and we were bringing in all of the chairs we could spare. I helped moved flower stands and vases out of the chapel when it was over because we had another service in less than an hour. The second service was much smaller, but still very rewarding to be apart of. I was a little more hands on with the second one since there was only one service director on it, and it was nice being apart of it. I like working mornings only for the fact that I can come home and have a night, but man I was worn out.

School is starting to catch up with me as well. We have a couple projects that are coming up that we need to get on. And by “we”, I mean me. I’m being very stubborn with myself and procrastinating more than I want to. The project should be something that I take very seriously, but I’ve got no motivation to start on it.

I did have a great time in lab on Thursday though! We had a full autopsied case! The embalming 1 students who started on him in the morning found the arteries and tied them off, and then embalmed the arms and legs. But all the “good stuff” was left for us embalming 2 kids. We embalmed up the head, and since there was a cranial autopsy, we had to make sure to stop any and all leakage for maximum distribution.

I got to be the one to put the organs, that were marinating in cavity fluid, back into the body! It was definitely a surreal feeling placing organs and absorbing chemicals back into the abdominal cavity. And just when I thought it was over flowing and it couldn’t take anymore, we sutured it all back together (I did anΒ amazing baseball suture if I do say so myself!) and it was like nothing was wrong. Well, besides the fact that the Y-incision was on their body, you would never have thought there was anything wrong with the internal organs.

Hypodermically injecting fluids into the splayed open flaps was a little unsettling as well. You wouldn’t want the body to be decomposing in one place and embalmed in another, so you gotta do whatcha gotta do! After they were put all back together and cleaned and wrapped up, I couldn’t believe it was the same person, and THAT is what gets me excited about my job! Being able to give someone the gift of a loved one as they remember them has got to be one of the most rewarding feelings. Granted, this person might never be reunited with their family, assuming they had some around, and I won’t be able to ever meet the family, but I hold in my heart that if that were to happen, they’d be happy with our work.

Moral of this post: I’m getting more confident at work, I need to take projects at school a little more seriously, and I need to make sure IΒ graduate in 2 months…2 MONTHS! I can and will do this…flat1000x1000075f

How is the weekend already over?!

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I really wanted to get on here on Friday night so I could’ve written about the experience when it was still fresh, but I was so exhausted and then Saturday and today were jam packed. So now that I’ve caught my breath, I’ll try and jot down my Friday to today.

First of all, I thought I was about to be late for work because my car’s oil light started yelling at me, so I had to turn around when I was only a couple of blocks away and take my boyfriend’s car to work. Luckily, I was there on time, and as soon as I walked into the office, I barely had enough time to put my purse down before a coworker was whisking me off to the chapel to help assist in a service.

I haven’t worked a service or visitation/viewing or anything yet, so my heart immediately started beating hard. I walk into the chapel and get told that I’m going to have to check on the service every so often for about an hour, and then it would be my job to open the side door (on cue) for the family to circle the casket and exit out the side (they were Hindu and this is a ritual they do).

I immediately thought “I’m going to ruin this”, but I took a breath and made it happen. I sort of thought it was weird that I didn’t stay in the room for the whole service, but we were a little short staffed, and I needed to go around and help out with a bunch of other things. I walked in and out of the chapel for most of the service, and once the eulogies started, I remained in the room and waited for my cue. Once the priest waved me forward, I stood near the front and waited till I had to open the doors.

I think the thing that made me most nervous was missing the cue or doing something wrong, but there was really no way to mess up opening a door when told to. Once I had them open, the family started the recessional, up and around the casket and out the side door to wait for the immediate family in front. Once the immediate family was ready, the funeral director and I were asked to come up and close the casket. After we closed it, the males of the family gathered around the casket and pushed it through the doors where the rest of the mourners were waiting.

I waked ahead of the cortege and made way to the crematory. Once they arrived, the funeral director and I stood on either side of the crematory door and waited for the prayers to be done so we could load the casket into the chamber. It felt so intimate to be surrounded by the whole family (around 50 people in all), and I thought I had it together until the husband went to say a final goodbye. When he went to say his prayer, his voice cracked and he started crying and I almost lost it!

I felt the love and sadness and I had to look away from their crying faces before I started bawling. I think one of the family members caught my eyes when I started to well up. Once we loaded the casket in, they waited for the burners to be up to the right temperature and they started the cremation process. The family loaded out and I had completed my first service.

Once that was over, I was then whisked away to help with a visitation we were having from 5-9pm. Everything went smoothly, not a big crowd came for the visitation, and I ended up chatting with the pastor that was going to help out with the service the next day. He was real nice and was asking me about why I chose this profession. I told him (in as quick of a way as I could), and he told me about when he was a kid, his dad helped with a local mortuary in Mississippi, so he likes to chat with us “morticians”.

I was shown some more things, and was let to do more things than I did on Tuesday, and I’m definitely catching onto the way things work around there. Small things like where certain things are or how they want certain things done will come in due time. Once the family was gone, we finished cleaning and got home later than I wanted to (but that’s the life, right?).

I was so sore and tired by the time I got home, but mostly hungry. I made it a mission to get my boyfriend to go get food with me so we could chat and eat. We got home fairly late, and then Saturday was an all day thing with a 3 year old’s birthday party and hanging with my friend’s that I hadn’t seen in a while, and we ended up staying out till 3 in the morning!

I woke up “early” and ran some errands, got in a little homework, and then headed into work. Today was slow (it’s Sunday), and I was allowed to basically do it all myself. Since I was closing with my friend (who got me the job), and she wants me to be as self sufficient as possible, I basically closed up shop by myself. I did the things I could remember to do, and asked “do (insert thing) now right?”, and told, “yes”, so I figure I’m doing better than they expected me to be doing on my 4th day on the job.

The only part of today that sort of sucked was that we could’ve been out earlier had my coworker actually stepped in and helped do some things, but once I was done with everything, we were waiting on the crematory to be under a certain temperature before we closed that up anyway, so it didn’t matter. We only waited about 15 minutes before it was time to go, and we closed up the gates and I went home.

I just got done eating a late dinner and doing a little bit of homework, and now I think I’m gonna go to bed “early” (it’s 11pm), so I’m not crazy tired for tomorrow. I can’t believe I’m already in the 5th week of school. I should really be getting onto some of the projects and papers that I have due in the next month or two, but we’ll see. I know me, they’ll get put off until I’m rushing to finish them, ’cause that’s just how I roll.

I’ll conclude this long and drawn out post by saying, I really do love what I’m getting into. I can feel it in my bones that this is something that I’ll be good at. I get super tired and sore and come home exhausted, but it feels good. Plus, my new comfy shoes really help out πŸ˜‰

Busy, busy, busy, and it’s only Thursday?

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I feel like this week was such a whirlwind, and it’s only Thursday! It’s the first time in a long time that I actually feel worn out (but accomplished!). I started my job on Monday (!), and it was…underwhelming? I don’t mean it in a bad way, but I spent 3 of the 4 hours I was there sitting in a chair, twiddling my thumbs. I signed my paperwork and was given the employee handbook to read. Right there. In the office. *eye roll* No one reads the handbook!

To be fair, my manager’s mother was in the E.R. and ended up having to leave to go pick her up, and then come back to work. The problem was when he told me I was only going to be there for a couple hours, and then sent home, but he forgot about me and left shortly after returning from the E.R. The other girl that was on duty asked me how long I was supposed to be staying, and I told her, “I don’t know, ’cause he just left…so…”. So she sent me home without finishing what she was doing for the night.

Day 2 was much better. I ended up actually getting put to work! I helped shuffle some people around the prep room to make room. I helped file, answer phones, shut down the cemetery, vacuum, etc. etc. (you know, my job). I have my third day tomorrow, and I get to help out with a visitation. It’ll be my first time helping with a real service, so I’m actually kind of nervous!

School was a little harder this week since I’m working 3 days (it’s normally only going to be 2, thank the gods), but I managed to study and take 2 tests and get homework done, so I guess I can’t quit yet πŸ˜‰

Today was an eventful day in the embalming lab too. We come in after the embalming 1 kids raise vessels and proceed to inject and finish the process they started. I was on position 1 which had me doing the mouth closure with needle injector, which I’ve used before, but I was still a little fumbly with it. The nasal aspiration ended up being my main tool today because our case just kept purging! I’ve never seen so much continuously pouring out of the mouth and nose, and then the incisions at both carotids wouldn’t stop filling with fluid! We could barely dry it out enough for us to suture them shut, and ended up having to pack the incisions with cotton at least 7 times.

I feel like I’m getting better at my suturing. The inversion stitch is an amazing one to have in our arsenal, since it makes the incision practically nonexistent, but I’m still struggling with making that one smooth with the skin. I have the baseball stitch down, and I tried my first whip stitch on the radial incision point with success.

I also took the time to catch up with 2 of the girls from the new student orientation to see how their first semester is going. I sat down for a good 15 minutes and chatted with them, answered their questions, and gave them studying advice. They looked a little relieved after talking to me, and I told them to use my knowledge and ask me anything whenever they want. They seemed to appreciate me, so I did my good deed for the day πŸ˜‰

I haven’t had this sense of tired, accomplished, and motivated in a long time. I hope I can keep up the good vibes and continue to fall in love with my career πŸ™‚