Work is going well. I took two weeks of vacation off in May to go on our cruise. Our cruise was 8 days so I had nearly a week left of vacation when we came back and I spent that time doing whatever I wanted to. *snap* It was a time to recharge my batteries, Lord knows, I needed it.
I went way too long between vacations. By the time our vacation came around in May, it had been a year since I took any time off and I was going crazy, not to mention my attitude was BAD by the time April rolled around.
I won’t do that again. For my own mental health.
I love my job as a medical assistant. I work for neurosurgeons and there really is never a dull moment. You’re never caught up and there is always something to do and learn. Especially for me, since I didn’t come from a medical background, I just sort of fell into this job. (I was a scheduler and the hospital decided to eliminate my position and said, either become a medical assistant or bye Felicia).
It’s pretty much the same job, day-in-day-out, just the characters change. I think the biggest challenge is making people understand that ultimately they are responsible for their own health, that there is no magic solution, pill, or surgery that is going to fix them. It may help them on their way, but when push-comes-to-shove, people have to take responsibility for their life choices.
Another big challenge is reminding people to keep their expectations real.
For example: Dr so-and-so is going to cut you open, use surgical retractors to keep you open, move organs aside and expose your vulnerabilities to the surgeon working on you. He is then going to cauterize your vessels to keep you from bleeding out, drill and saw into your bones, move your muscles back into place, sew several layers of skin back together before closing you all the way up and stapling the incision closed.
Now you tell me, do you think you’re going to experience pain afterward?
Let me answer that question for you – DUDE, YOU’RE GONNA HURT.
Do you think the doctor prescribes muscle relaxers and pain medication because he thinks you might need it? Trust me, you’re going to need it.
It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who call us after major back surgery to complain of being in pain. I’m not talking unusual, something is wrong pain, THAT’S when you need to call, when something hurts so bad you can’t breathe and it won’t go away. I”m talking about people who call and complain of intermittent muscle/nerve pain. That’s completely normal.
These calls got so bad that our clinic came up with spine camp to help offset those calls. Whenever someone is going to have a fusion, meaning, something is going on with the back and it’s severe enough the surgeon feels like the patient will need hardware placed in their spine, we send them to spine camp. This is a two-hour meeting where the nurse teaching the class goes over everything to prepare the patient for the procedure. From getting things ready at home, to what goes on in the operating room to what kind of pain and experience they can expect in the hospital after the surgery.
Since implementing that class, the number of calls we’ve gotten has DRAMATICALLY decreased. It’s because we have done a good job of teaching patients realistic expectations.
It’s a fine line between being real and being … polite. Patients need to understand there are consequences for poor choices. If you smoke, you could get lung cancer, or COPD, where you are short of breath simply sitting down and trying to have a normal conversation. If you eat too much, you will become obese and suffer from the problems that come from that issue. And speaking of that, I have a “too fat for surgery” speech that I have to give some patients. That sounds crass and mean but it’s true. If your BMI is too high, which is doctor speak for too fat, then you can’t have surgery because the risks of surgery outweigh the benefits (pun intended). For example, you’re under anesthesia for longer because it take the doctor longer to get to the issue because there are layers and layers of fat to swim through first. This in turn, is stressful on the heart, which is already stressed because the patient is too large to begin with. It takes longer to heal and if you’re carrying too much weight, that puts too much stress on the spine and the surgery won’t if the spine continues to be under stress, the surgery will not be successful.
It’s harder to intubate a large patient. Wounds tend to take twice as long to heal on a large patient. And the list goes on.
And yet, I feel sorry for patients in that situation because sometimes, they really need the surgery but they have to get their weight under control first. When that happens, the surgeon recommends bariatric surgery to help kick start their weight loss journey. (Side note: my spell check does not like these medical terms).
Luckily, I’m a pretty good communicator and I can take my cues off the patient’s tone of voice and body language as far as how to handle them. Some patients are very no-nonsense, so I need to be no-nonsense. Some patients need to tell their story because it helps them understand and process what is going on with them, so I simply sit and listen to them. Some patients need some TLC because they are scared, frustrated, angry at their situation and just want someone to help them.
Being a specialty, we often times get patients that at their wits end. They have seen multiple doctors and have been told, repeatedly, they can’t help them. Sometimes, when patients find out our doctors can help them, they will burst into tears because finally, FINALLY, they see a light at the end of the tunnel.
I have to tell you, I didn’t go into healthcare with the thought it would be my career, like ever, not once did I even contemplate it. But now that life has thrown me into it, I have to say it’s SO SATISFYING whenever someone comes back in after surgery and they are doing well and so happy to have their life back. I can’t imagine how a doctor must feel when that happens.
Anyway, I got off topic.
The purpose of this post is tell you that when I’m at work, I’m there to work. I’m not there to play, to gossip, or sit around and watch the clock hoping that 4:30 will hurry and get here. I’m one of those people that give 150% and have little to no patience for whiners, complainers and people who like to make excuses. You don’t have to like me but if you are fortunate (!!) enough to work with me, then by gosh, you better get the job done. Am I a bitch? Depends. We all vent, it’s how we cope with stress and frustration, I do it as well. But if you have an excuse for everything and you are always asking for help when you can clearly do it yourself or you’re being friendly to my face but ugly behind my back, yeah, I don’t like you and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.
Will I be professional? Of course, but don’t expect me to care about you, or your life. The hospital is paying us to co-exist and give the best care we’re capable of giving to the patients, anything more than that is bonus material.
However, with that said, I am very fortunate to work with some pretty amazing people. They are professional, compassionate, knowledgeable have great senses of humor. We all have bad days, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t, but we all get along and that makes working alongside these people that much more enjoyable.
I think people are a little scared of me, if you want the truth. And since we’re being truthful, I’m going to say that I sort of dig it. If you’re scared of me, then you’ll take me seriously and think twice before crossing me.
I tell people all the time that you have to have a line when you deal with the public. I will allow you to push me, scold me, and get me in my face if that is what it takes to get whatever is bothering you off your chest, but there is a line – if you start cursing or getting hateful or disrespectful then all bets are off. I use my “professional firm voice” and trust me when I say, I don’t give a rats ass if I piss you off or “offend” you.
Enough is enough. Back off, check yourself.
And people are so self-centered and selfish nowadays. It’s amazing how often you have to steer a conversation in another direction and point out to people that there are two sides to a story. Just because you heard this way or want it this way does not mean IT’S THAT WAY. You know?
I”m awesome to work with, but don’t cross my line.