Work Stuff

Here We Go …

Nearly 200 staff members at a Houston-area hospital were suspended for not following a policy that requires employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Their suspensions followed a protest by dozens of workers on Monday night against the policy.

The hospital, Houston Methodist, had told employees that they had to be vaccinated by Monday or face suspension. Last month, 117 Houston Methodist employees filed a lawsuit against their employer over the vaccine policy. Source

The Houston Methodist Hospital deadline has arrived and 117 employees were put on a two-week suspension without pay – they have two weeks to “come to their senses” and get the experimental injectable …. or else.

I feel like healthcare across the country is watching this case. I know I certainly am because I’m QUITE sure that the hospital where I work is watching it very closely as well. And why wouldn’t they? If Houston Methodist wins it will only embolden hospitals across the country to pull the same stunt.

Including the hospital where I work.

On one hand, I get why they would require vaccines – their argument is to protect the patients. And I get that. They already mandate the yearly flu vaccine though the percentage of effectiveness is pretty low most of the time because it’s a crap shoot whether the drug companies “predict” what that season’s strain will be. And of course, I have a huge problem with this but I’ve gone along to get along for years. I don’t like it, but it was necessary to keep my job.

And now, here we are with COVID. Again, it makes ZERO sense to me to get an experimental injectable, that hasn’t been fully tested for a disease that has a recovery rate of 99% for most people. Not to mention, the really weird incentives that states are throwing out there to encourage people to get the vaccine. You mean, people are not scared enough of the disease? Shouldn’t the disease itself be motivation enough for people to get the vaccine if they so choose? Why do officials feel the need to bribe us to get the vaccine?

Is risking my health really worth a donut? Or a beer? I truly don’t understand how people can be so easily bought.

But whatever. Get the vaccine, don’t get the vaccine, I could give a shit, but DO NOT make me inject God knows what against my will. I’ll take my chances with the disease. (If I haven’t already had it).

Which by the way, health care workers have been not only exposed to COVID this past year, but likely a whole slew of diseases and will continue to do so while working at a healthcare facility. Just because you mandate a flu vaccine or an experimental injectable does not guarantee you will not contract the disease and take it to work with you. All you can do is take every precaution not to infect the patients you take care of and believe me, the hospital takes PPE VERY seriously. (Personal protection equipment). Not only to protect the employee, but the patients as well.

My point being, getting a vaccine does not guarantee anything. And since we don’t know what the long-term repercussions of this experimental mRNA can and/or will do to a body, I’m not willing to play that particular game of Russian Roulette.

The comments on this news story, and on Twitter, are alarmingly hateful. But then again, what did I expect? As with most issues, people are not seeing the big picture here. I daresay Houston Methodist is not seeing the big picture, either. Here’s why – we have been SEVERELY short staffed for a while. Even before COVID hit. Healthcare demand is going up but the supply is way down. I just don’t think a lot of people are going into healthcare right now, for a number of reasons. Can these hospitals really afford to lose 1/8 of their staff by mandating an experimental injectable? Or any other injection, for that matter. And if hospitals lose staff, that means the people that remain will be overworked to compensate.

When does it end?

All I know is, I DON’T want to lose my job. I love it, I love the people I work with, I’m confident in what I do but I’m mentally prepared to walk away if backed against a wall.

Let’s see what happens.

Work Stuff

College is Not Necessarily a Pre-Requisite to Success

I have a college degree. I graduated from college in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Technical Writing and a minor in creative writing.

I went to college for two big reasons:

— I wanted to prove to myself that I was smart enough to finish it. And I’m proud to say, I graduated Cum Laude. (Contrary to popular belief, I’m not that smart when it comes to book smarts. What saves me is I have LOADS of common sense).

— And I wanted to set a good example for our boys, to show them that you’re never too old to go to college, (I was one of those annoying, overachieving older students you see sprinkled throughout campus), and that if you wanted to make something of yourself, you needed to go to college.

I have since changed my mind on that.

College nowadays is not really about educating you and/or preparing you for the real world, it’s about indoctrinating you into a specific mindset and teaching group think. And for that completely worthless lesson you get saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of debt.

Whee!

When our boys graduated from high school, we didn’t really discourage them from going on to college but we certainly didn’t encourage them, either. We didn’t have to worry about that, actually, as both boys were firmly against going to college, primarily because they didn’t want to start life off in debt.

Smart kids, I wonder where they get that mentality? (*cough*)

At first, we were like, “but you’ll never get a good paying job without a college education! How will you be successful?” but now, I’m SO GLAD they didn’t go as I wouldn’t want them to be brainwashed to believe the sh*t that’s being taught now.

True. If you want a job in a specific field, accounting, law, medicine, you’ll need a formal education to pursue that goal, but it’s totally possible to be successful without a college education. And if the boys want to go to college at some point, we’ll certainly support their decision, (with some financial counsel, for example, take it slow, pay as you go, don’t take out loans and CERTAINLY don’t expect someone else to pay your bills for you). In fact, I think going to college later in life, when they are more mature and serious about what they want to do is preferable as opposed to right after high school when they are impressionable and easily manipulated – kids need to learn to navigate the real world first, get to know who they are as people first, before encountering pressures to learn and/or live someone else’s ideals.

I have a college degree, but I haven’t done anything with it, I’m ashamed to say. Primarily because

  1. I’m too scared to try
  2. I don’t think I’m good enough
  3. Technical writing is BORING

I know Kevin is disappointed in me. He has never come right out and said that, but I can see it in his face at times when it comes up.

Like now.

We had a “huddle” at work the other day, and my manager mentioned that she heard a “rumor” that the hospital was going to mandate the experimental injectable, i.e. COVID vaccine, this coming Fall. It will likely coincide with the annual flu vaccination, which, for the record, I HATE and don’t believe it and only get it to keep my job fully convincing myself that whatever poison they are injecting is not affecting my long-term health, at all.

Anyway, I was disappointed and sad, but not surprised. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to deal with this issue for at least another year, but it doesn’t sound like I’m going to get the luxury of time here. And it’s only a rumor at this point, maybe I won’t, but I think it’s going to happen, largely because I hear the hospital is requiring new hires to get the “vaccine” before starting.

So, it’s coming. I need to stop holding out hope.

I’m not going to lie, I have been waffling back and forth on whether to get it, or find another job. Let’s real talk here, I’m not getting any younger. I have about … ten working years left in me before retirement and do I really want to start over? Start from scratch? Learn something new and deal with the stress of that?

And the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is one jab and it at least resembles something like a normal injection in that it has a little bit of the virus in it as opposed to the Moderna and the Phizer which is the mRNA technology that is still …. pretty experimental.

The thing is, the hospital will make me sign a consent, (even though I technically DON’T consent), thereby releasing them from any liability if I have any sort of adverse reaction. And I know that according to OSHA guidelines, an employer could potentially be liable for any adverse reactions if they mandate the vaccine, though that wouldn’t apply if I’m forced to sign that damn consent, but it’s food for thought.

And I LOVE my job, I really do. It’s stressful and exhausting, but I’m good at it and the people I work with are pretty amazing, but is all of this worth my health? Remember, I never, IN A MILLION YEARS, thought I would find myself working in healthcare – I never wanted it and quite frankly, I could walk away from it without losing much – I don’t have a dog in this fight.

However –

There’s already talk of an annual COVID “booster” and where do I draw the line? I have to put my health and freedoms first.

I. HAVE. TO.

So now what? What are my options now?

I have my degree. Perhaps it’s time to pursue something in that field. What do I have to lose? I’m going to have to find another job anyway, I might as well see what’s out there. And honestly, NOW is the perfect time to look for a job since employers are practically begging people to come work for them.

That may not be the case in the Fall when people lose their unemployment checks and have no other choice but to get back out there and find work.

This situation is TEARING me up inside. I’m reaching a crossroads in my life and I don’t want to make the wrong decision.

Luckily, it’s only me and Kevin on my insurance now but quite frankly, when the boys dropped off my insurance, they found some pretty sweet deals on health insurance, which wasn’t an option ten years ago when Obama stuck his nose into the whole business, so I know we CAN find affordable health insurance (and quite frankly, it will likely be better than what we have now because contrary to popular belief, health insurance is not that great for healthcare workers).

So. I think I need to move forward. I need to think ahead and prepare myself for the very real possibility of not having a job this Fall. Where do I start? I haven’t been on a job interview in ten-plus years. I’m a bit rusty, to say the least.

I need to start with my resume. I will put that together and then I will dust off my LinkIn account and post my resume to my Indeed.com account. I’ll cast my line out into the employer waters and see what I can catch. Who knows what will come of that, if anything.

If that doesn’t work, then I’m not too proud to apply places like Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby … whatever I can get. And quite frankly, I’ll likely make more money because again, contrary to popular belief, healthcare workers don’t make that much money.

Which is sad and wrong considering all they do for the public, but it’s just an unfortunate fact.

I haven’t made it a secret at work where I stand on this issue so if anyone from work reads this post they won’t be surprised to learn how I feel about this, but I definitely feel like someone turned an hourglass over and now my time at this hospital is running out.

To say I’m bitter and resent the HELL out of having to make this choice would be putting it mildly. Once again, I’m being forced to adapt to a situation not of my making and THAT PISSES ME OFF TO NO END. But I will NOT conform to something I don’t believe in. I just won’t. And if that means that makes my life harder, or I have to rearrange my life to accommodate the madness, so be it.

I don’t know. Won’t it be ironic if my college degree ends up saving my ass after all?

Life, Work Stuff

My Days as a Healthcare Worker are Numbered

Well. It has begun. The threat to fire people if they don’t get the jab. I think this might be the beginning of the end for me.

A hospital in Houston Texas has made a line in the sand – get the jab on or before June 7th or lose your job. The article states that 4 out of 5 employees have gotten the jab and “One hospital administrator said that getting vaccinated is a part of the sacred oath healthcare to do everything possible to keep patients safe and healthy.”

On one hand, I totally get that. You don’t want to inadvertently make someone in the hospital even more sick by introducing a virus to an already compromised immune system. Also:

“As the first rule of the Hippocratic Oath is: do no harm, vaccine safety must be guaranteed. That has not yet happened. More studies of the vaccine’s safety and efficacy should be conducted and published and more transparency about possible risks provided to the public before Americans enter the largest experimental medication program in our history.” Source

But on the other hand, I have a lot of questions. And the fact that we rolled this out, so quickly, with no trials, under Emergency Use for a disease that has a 99.5% recovery rate for a person of my age, seems … excessive.

I’m not willing to be a human Guinea pig. I would prefer to wait and see what the long-term repercussions will be, if any, and would like to see some successful trials first before considering the “vaccine.” In addition, I’m not totally comfortable with the mRNA factor of this “vaccine” and the fact that it contains little to no dead Coronavirus is enough for me to say, “No thanks.”

If you don’t know a lot about the experimental injectable, and why would you? The media continues to do a bang-up job of keeping information from the public, I encourage you to read the white paper on experimental vaccines for COVID-19 published by the American Frontline Doctors. It has a lot of interesting, and informative, information about this injectable that everyone has a right know. It’s not called “informed consent” for nothing, folks.

From the American Frontline Doctors’ website:

“There have been many post-vaccination questions. We will keep adding Q/A to this list. The fundamental problem with releasing medications that have not been fully researched is we don’t know what we don’t know. AFLDS is highly concerned about what we don’t know!” Source

And that’s my biggest hesitation – WE SIMPLY DON’T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THIS TO ENCOURAGE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE TO GET IT.

Why are people like me being demonized simply because we have questions??

My being against this experimental injectable does not mean I’m an anti-vaxxer – in fact, I daresay MOST people who are refusing to take the jab are not anti-vaxxers, we, – I – am simply asking for more information and for the vaccine to be run through it’s normal paces and treated as every other vaccine that is out there and approved by the FDA. I am all for vaccines for polio, small pox, measles, etc., overall Those diseases are way more serious than COVID, at least according to research and statistics at the time of this writing, and it makes sense to stop those more serious diseases in their tracks. But this virus, though deadly to some, overall, is not as deadly to all.

And if I’ve learned anything at all in healthcare – there is no one size fits all answer when it comes to people’s health. Healthcare is a pretty shade of grey – it’s not black and white.

I am not criticizing people who have gotten the jab. I am not trying to scare people who have gotten the jab – you have made the decision that you think is right for you and your family. Awesome. That’s how it should be. I respect your decision – please respect mine.

And if this issue stopped there, you wouldn’t be reading this post right now. But, if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, I don’t tend to go quietly into the night on stuff that I’m passionate about.

I respect people’s rights to make their own decisions and live their best lives. I may not always agree with people’s decisions but who cares, I’m nobody. Ultimately, it’s none of my business what you do in your life – your decision, your consequence.

However –

Once you take my right to choose away, IT’S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG. And that’s how I feel about this whole vaccine passport and mandatory vaccines at work issue.

When you force people to do what you want and if they don’t you will penalize them in some way, that’s called coercion.

And I don’t respond well to this type of bullying.

Also, what happened to “my body, my choice?” Where are all the pro-lifers out there? Why aren’t they throwing a fit because the government is threatening lifestyle choices, (no cruises, no sporting events, no concerts – no job), unless you take the jab? So, it’s only my body, my choice under certain circumstances? That doesn’t make sense. You can’t pick and choose your definitions.

At least, you shouldn’t be able to – though to be fair, people do it all the time.

At this point in time, the hospital where I work put out a statistic that 56% of employees at my hospital have gotten the jab. I’m not too worried right now, however, if that percentage gets into the 80% range, I will start sweating. Because right now, there are too many employees that haven’t been vaccinated and don’t want to take the chance they could potentially lose them. They can’t afford to lose 40% of their staff, assuming most of the unvaccinated quit. But if that percentage of employees that get vaccinated gets to be 80% or above? Then my employer has more leverage.

Another factor in my favor – there is a pretty severe shortage of medical personnel out there. More and more people are NOT choosing to go into healthcare so the supply is low but the demand continues to go up, so I’m hoping that is another factor that will discourage my employer from issuing a “get the injectable or else” threat.

So what are my plans if/when we reach that point?

*sigh*

Depends. If it gets super nasty and I have very little choices, Kevin and I have talked about consulting a lawyer to find out what my rights are. The American Frontline doctors has a link on their site that will pair me up with a local lawyer for a small fee and we might start there. I can’t really fight this until I find out what my legal rights are.

And maybe I won’t really have any – especially since I work in healthcare and the rules are a bit different given the nature of the “business.” And if that’s the case, then so be it, I guess I won’t be a healthcare worker any longer. For if it comes down to either being coerced into the getting the jab to keep my job or having to quit in order to protect my body from God knows what, then I guess I’ll have to quit.

I don’t want to. I really enjoy my job and I feel I’m quite good at my job, and I wouldn’t draw that line in the sand solely due to principal, though that would be a big part of my decision, but largely because I don’t want to play Russian Roulette with my body. Sure. I could get the jab and it’s highly likely that I will be just fine, but considering all we DON’T know, no one can say that with 100% certainty and the fact that the disease has such a high recovery rate, I would prefer to take my chances on suffering through the disease and taking medications that we KNOW help the symptoms of the disease than stick my arm out for a technology that hasn’t been tested and “experts” really don’t know a lot about.

Not to mention, assuming life will go back to normal. Which I know is a big reason a lot of people are getting the “vaccine.” Not because people believe it in it or are scared of the disease but simply because they want life to get back to normal. And I get that. I want to burn these damn masks and be able to freely go where I want to go without people giving me the evil eye or work on the assumption that if they get too close to me they might die.

But life is NOT getting back to normal. We still have these stupid masks mandates, we still have to social distance, we’re still not allowed to do much outside of our jobs so … even if I was absolutely okay with getting the jab, got it and life remained the same, WHAT’S THE POINT?

Anyway. I’m nervous. I feel like this might be the beginning of the end of my healthcare chapter and I’m mentally preparing myself to make changes – the only question is when? I HOPE it doesn’t happen for quite a few years, I was HOPING we wouldn’t have to address this issue for quite a few years, but when I saw that article about the Houston hospital, I really think my days are numbered. It’s too bad I’m not closer to retirement age, I would just retire early, but I’m not there yet. I still have about ten years left before that makes financial sense.

*sigh*

Who knows what is going to happen. For now, I’m just taking one day at a time because really, what else can we do??

At the Moment, Life, Work Stuff

Punching Life in the Face: March 6th Life Update

(Tell me you don’t feel stronger looking at this graphic. Also, yes, I realize this is a bit aggressive but you know what? Life needs a punch in the face right now. I’m tired and just want to get back to normal).

Work has been crazy. Honestly, when is work NOT crazy.

I’ve been with this neurosurgery clinic for almost ten years – it will be ten years this September. TEN YEARS! This is crazy to me because I’ve ONLY ever been with a job for seven years: Seven years at fast food – seven years at banking – seven years at retail, heck, I’m pretty sure I was a stay-at-home mom for seven years.

I have a seven year itch, apparently. Actually, I’ve only had previous cars for seven years. (With the exception of my Vibe – I LOVED that car – had that for ten years). Apparently, there is something about me and putting up with something for seven years before I’m ready to move on or so sick of it I can’t stand it anymore.

And I won’t sugar coat it and say I’m not sick of this job – I am – THOROUGHLY. And yes, I could get another job, and I may still try and get another job, but there are two very big deterrents for me:

  1. My family is on my health insurance. Since Kevin is self-employed and purchasing insurance going that route is ASTRONOMICAL,  I got a job, (which I would have anyway – I can’t stay home – it’s just not in me). And for a while, our boys were on my insurance because we were those parents who allowed our kids to stay on my insurance until they turned 26. (Which I’m not sure was a good thing or not, to be honest). But now that Brandon, our youngest, is turning 26 this year (OUR BABY!) and will be off my insurance soon, it will only be me and Kevin. I’m looking forward to that because it will mean I get a bit more of my paycheck back. Yes, Kevin and I still need insurance, but it doesn’t seem AS required now, if that makes sense. Kevin is nearly retirement age (he’s planning on retiring in TWO years – what?!?) and he’ll be eligible for Medicare, if it still exists in two years the way we’re going, which means I’ll be free to do whatever I want with my job. So … I have a few thoughts. I’m throwing around a lot of options. I like options.
  2. But let’s be real – I’m also getting older and though there are some employers that don’t see older people as a liability and appreciate the life experience and maturity (and dare I say, work ethic) to a new job, it IS harder to get a job when you’re older. And do I honestly want to start over, from scratch, at a new place at my age? Not really.

But I’m not counting it out. I’m bored. I’m burned out. And I’m fed up.

Which leads me to the reason behind bringing this up.

Our clinic has been through some ROUGH patches these past ten years. We moved from cozy, (i.e. old and crappy) building to the hospital campus. We were no longer just “that neurosurgery group down the road” but now we were under scrutiny – we couldn’t do as much now that the hospital administration were watching this. Now, I’m not implying that we did anything wrong, or were breaking any rules at our old clinic, but it was nice not to be micro-managed like we are now. We miss that freedom.

Then we converted our old system to the hospital system. That took countless hours. But we made it fun, staying after hours, (wracking up the overtime), and jamming to music and eating pizza. But it was tough. Getting used to a new system. It wasn’t as hard on us, the employees, but it was torture for our doctors because they were completely lost for a while.

Then, me personally, I went through a HELLISH two years with a nurse from Hell which affected my health so much I ended up in the ER, TWICE, because I thought I was having a heart attack, turned out to be panic attacks, and I feel like that time period has permanently damaged my mental health – I still suffer from anxiety attacks from time-to-time.

We’ve endured painful staff changes. Crazy patients. Just the normal stuff that a group of people who see each other day-in-day-out experience when you’re around them for 40 plus hours a week.

But this. THIS has been rough. We’ve always been micro-managed. It’s always been a problem, but people have bitched, tried to make changes, were ignored and finally apathetic about trying to make things better. We settled for mediocre. Our turn over has been terrible. We just can’t keep people. Granted, the pay is not great, it really isn’t. I could make more working at Wal-Mart than I make right now, but that has only been a small factor in the overall dissatisfaction people feel with our management.

And then COVID hit. And the stress and craziness from that was enough to tip the scales and now, we’re a sinking ship.

We’re down five nurses, three MA’s, and one medical secretary. We are working with a skeleton crew and it’s putting tremendous stress on the employees left standing. Neurosurgery is not easy. There is A LOT to it. There are a lot of moving parts. You have to be a MASTER at multi-tasking for this job. It’s not preferred, it’s REQUIRED. And I feel like a lot of people, especially our young people today, are not equipped, nor are willing to try, to handle the art of working hard.

And if that’s not bad enough, our management continues to micro-manage and continue policies and procedures that (sort of) worked at our old clinic, seven years ago.

People are cracking and terribly unhappy.

Including me.

So. I took the bull by the horns and went to my director. The head honcho. My boss’s boss. And it went well. I wasn’t telling him anything he didn’t already know, he wasn’t surprised, but I felt HEARD. And that’s all I ever really want. That, and take my suggestions seriously and let’s either try my suggestion, or a hybrid of my suggestion, and see if things get better.

Is that too much to ask?

Apparently. For you see, it’s not all about me. Sometimes, I wish it were, it would make life easier, (for me), but I have seven other MA’s to navigate through. And some of these MA’s are lazy, incompetent, or just flat out jealous.

I’m not sure what to do about that; I can’t do anything about that. But I can control what I do and my input and if these other MA’s don’t want to get on board, or don’t have suggestions of their own, then shut up and get out of the way.

I know that sounds harsh, and I don’t mean it to, but I get to the point where either offer some inputs or ideas or stop bitching. I’m done with the bitching and no progress. It’s toxic. And if these ideas are agreed upon and you’re resentful that you have to do more than pull your weight for a short period of time until we solve these problems, get over it.

Do you want progress, or don’t you? And it won’t be forever.

Anyway, I presented my training proposal to the meeting on Friday and it was met with silence. I get the impression the others weren’t really going for it but was it because they didn’t like the proposal itself or that I presented it and not them? At this point, I don’t care. We’ll have another meeting next week and I’m going to call them out on it – “hey, so-and-so, did you have any thoughts on this? What are your ideas?” Because again, if you don’t have anything to say or don’t offer any input of your own, then we’re moving forward with the plan. I had a short meeting, mano-e-mano with my immediate supervisor and she asked my thoughts on how I thought the meeting went. I was honest with her. I felt there was some resistance and she is going to bring it up in the meeting next week. We’re ALL sick of hearing, “this is not working and I’m sick of it,” and “but I don’t want to be the one who has to change her routine in order to fix it.” No. F that. Either get on this ship or jump overboard – Your dead weight is dragging me down and I’m a survivor.

In the meantime, I volunteered to revamp our training manual because it’s disorganized and terribly outdated. I did this for two reason:

  1. I LOVE that crap. I love putting stuff like that together. It’s fun, challenging and rewarding to see a fat book of MY stuff.
  2. I can use it for my portfolio if I finally chuck this job and look elsewhere.

I’ll keep ya’ll updated.

 

I don’t know if you know this about us, but we’re HUGE cruisers. We love to go on cruises. We plan a trip every year and every year, it gives me a light at the end of the hum-drum of working, home, sleeping, working, home, sleeping routine tunnel. It makes working so hard worth it – sort of. So now that COVID has become this monster that the world made it out to be, it doesn’t look like cruising is going to be on our schedules any time soon. I mean, sure we COULD go cruising, there are some options out there, but with caveats – you must get tested and/or you must produce your papers, erhm, documents, to show you’ve had the vaccine.

Neither of which Kevin nor I are willing to do now, or ever. (And we hope we’re not FORCED to get it – 666, anyone?)

But we would still like to get away, do something fun. LIVE LIFE FULLY. Especially while we’re still young enough to physically enjoy it.

We’ve gone camping as a family. Our first taste of camping was in a pop-up camper. We took the camper to Indiana for a Bible Camp when Brandon was just a baby. I remember heating up his formula in the camper. I also remember it raining cats and dogs when we were there and I was literally pushing a double stroller through ankle deep mud. I did NOT enjoy that. We then rented an RV the next year and went to the same Bible Camp – that was better, but still a lot of work. So the boys grew up camping. We didn’t go very often, but we went enough that they remember quite a few trips. We sold the pop-up and bought a hybrid – a hard camper shell with two fold-out tent beds. It was a comfortable camper but it leaked and it was a lot of work constantly water-proofing the tents. We finally sold it and thought our camping days were over.

Until COVID hit. And severely limited our cruising options.

We started throwing camper ideas around again. We wanted a traditional camper but we didn’t want to pay very much money. All I knew, I didn’t want the thing to leak. That was, and has been, my number one requirement. However, traditionally, RV’s leak. And they end up in the shop more often than not for various issues. And the RV’s we shopped around for online showed signs of water leaks. (The walls were “rippled” indicating they had leaked at some point). And we weren’t about to spend thousands of dollars on something that would bring nothing but grief or end up being a money pit.

Until … we thought about buying a cargo trailer. We’ve seen lots of videos about people who bought cargo trailers and converted them into a living space. Our reasons were:

  1. They are MUCH cheaper than a traditional RV
  2. They are made MUCH more study and will not leak.
  3. They will LAST much, much longer than a traditional RV
  4. Kevin can use it as a traditional trailer if he needs to buy large items for his thrift shop booth.

I was against the idea at first, not because I thought it was a bad idea, but because I knew it would be a MASSIVE project for Kevin to take on. I’ll be honest with you, and I was honest with him, I’m USELESS when it comes to building things. I knew I would be zero help. BUT, he has LeRoy and he would be a big help, so there’s that. However, Kevin loves a challenge and he’s really excited about the idea so ….

… we bought a cargo trailer.

It’s 20 feet long and seven feet high. It has a ramp back door, which is a bit disappointing as I we would have preferred double doors, but Kevin wants to put a door into the ramp door so if we need to get into it, we don’t have to lower the entire ramp, we can just open the door.

We have a LOT of plans for this trailer. Kevin has already put insulation into the ceiling and is now working on putting some thingies on the ceiling so we can put up nice looking shiplap, or… I don’t know guys, I’m so stupid when it comes to this stuff, I’ll have to get more information from Kevin, but he’s planning on insulating the walls next. He will also plan out the plumbing and the electrical as well. In essence, this is our plan:

  • When you walk in, there will be a closet where we put our shoes and clothes.
  • A “working” table to work on our laptops.
  • A small kitchen with a dorm-size fridge and a microwave on top. No oven – we might use a countertop conduction oven, maybe, but mostly a grill we use outside.
  • A double bed at the back
  • A fold down table to eat on
  • Two stools that can double as additional storage and a dirty clothes hamper
  • Drawers under the bed (we are going to elevate the bed) for more storage
  • A small walled in area in back for a toilet and cabinet (for those late-night pees)
  • A garage in the VERY back, just inside the ramp door and under the bed.

I know it’s hard to picture, but if you watch this video, it will sort of make sense. I would like ours to be quite similar to their layout, minus the shower and toilet in the front.

We plan on putting a window in the door (maybe a whole new door, we’re still talking about that), and three windows. But Kevin doesn’t want to put the windows in until we settle on a final layout.

Unfortunately, it won’t be big enough if the boys want to come along, but they are young men now, I don’t think they would really be interested in camping with us anyway.

I’m SO EXCITED about this new chapter in our lives. We are going to take this thing everywhere. Kevin is really pleased with how easy it pulls, too. He has a Ford F250 truck and it will easily pull the trailer. In addition, it’s not so wide that he has trouble seeing around it when he drives, so he’s pretty happy about that.

I’ll try and remember to keep you guys updated on this latest project. I can’t WAIT to go shopping for the stuff inside!!

 

Patreon

I’m making an account. *squeal*

I have NO IDEA what I’m doing but MAN, am I having fun with it.

There’s a YouTuber I follow and really enjoy her content and I’m going to join her Patreon for two reasons: 1. To support her and 2. to see how the heck it works on the inside.

I plan on offering three tiers. I’m also working on teaching myself, and setting up, a Discord server. I thought it would be fun to host writing sprints and maybe a virtual book club. I think I’m going to limit my top tier to 20 people, just so it won’t be so big we can’t really get to know one another. Ideally, I’d like the top tier to be writers who are interested in potentially starting a writing club – where we critique each other’s work and/or be beta readers.

I have NO idea if anyone would be interested in joining my little community, but I’m super excited to try it.

Here’s a sneak peek of what I have so far:

I’d like to get it up and running soon as the April Camp Nanowrimo is coming up fast! Ultimately, I want to create a positive and fun writing community. Interested? Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

Annoyances, Work Stuff

Things That Annoy Me #2

( I seriously can’t stop laughing at this little girl’s expression!!)

“Good morning. Welcome to our team. I expect you to work faster than your peers, update every little detail if older than six months, answer all calls live NO MATTER WHAT and you must have all rooms full so that our doctor is NEVER idle. You have to run everything through me – you are not allowed to think for yourself. I don’t trust you and no one is as smart as I am. You are not allowed to put orders in, even though your peers are allowed to. You can not schedule a patient unless you run it by me, even though your peers are allowed to. And by the way, I need you to be flexible because the way we do things on this team changes DAILY. Which means, the way you did it yesterday? Doesn’t apply to how we do it today. Why are you frowning? Aren’t you happy? I don’t understand why you’re miserable. Why is this job affecting your health? We’re the best team on this floor! We run efficiently and we do everything right! In fact, every team needs to run exactly like us because we’re PERFECT.”

I’m paraphrasing, of course. But this is an example of what our assistant manager thinks and it’s frustrating, unrealistic and insulting to insinuate we don’t know what we’re doing. Can we improve? Of course. But to imply that what we’ve been doing, what we have been doing for YEARS, is not correct, well, let’s just say insinuating this to the entire clinic was enough to nearly cause mutiny.

Here are some signs you’re being micro-managed: (Source)

  1. They avoid delegation. Since micromanagers can’t believe anyone else will do a decent job, the only solution is… to do everything themselves. While they might get the results they want at first, this can’t possibly last. Eventually, they’ll come to discover that there are only 24 hours in a day. Without assigning tasks to others with specialized skills, supervisors will inevitably take on work that they aren’t as qualified to produce. If your boss is a micromanager, they might also think it’s faster to revise your work than to give you feedback on what could be improved.

Oh my gosh, YESSSS. This is EXACTLY what is happening right now.

2. You’re not allowed to make decisions. If even the smallest tasks require sign off from your supervisor, it could be a red flag

3. They complain constantly. The funny thing about mistakes is, if they’re all you look for, they’re all you’ll find. A boss that doesn’t trust their employees is always going to look for evidence that validates their paranoia. And they’re going to find it, even if it’s a typo in a calendar reminder you only sent to yourself. This type of manager can find fault in anything, no matter how inconsequential. While they might tell themselves that they are pushing for excellence, they are only sapping the motivation of their staff.

Oh my gosh, YESSSS.

4. They won’t pass on their skills or knowledge. It’s inspiring to work for a boss that you feel you can learn from. Supervisors can act as role models for junior employees who are starting their careers. For a fresh new employee, finding out that your boss has little interest in mentoring you can be a crushing disappointment. To these micromanagers, knowledge is currency. If they share that knowledge, they’re depleting their own value.

5. Feedback falls on deaf ears. While a normal boss-to-employee relationship should have feedback flow in both directions, a micromanager is more interested in a one-way conversation. Because they’ve put themselves under enormous pressure, they are more irritable and explosive when faced with criticism. They might respond to your critique with some variation of, “Well, that’s just how things work here.” Micromanagers aren’t interested in what they can do to improve–they only look for the weakness in others.

These issues are EXACTLY what we’re dealing with at work right now.

As with any job, you have your ups and downs, your hills and valleys. There are times things are going great and there are times things are definitely NOT great. I’ve been with my current employer for almost ten years – it will be ten years this coming September – and I can count on one hand the number of ups we’ve had. And by this I mean, everything is going great, we’re fully staffed, we’re all getting along, etc. On. One. Hand. All other times, there is some drama, people are quitting, a process is not working, or management is micro-managing us. In fact, I feel like we’re micro-managed, a lot.

I get why this happens. Medical assistants work under the doctor’s license – everything we do is on behalf of our doctor so any mistakes we make the doctor could potentially be responsible. It’s a big deal and shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, when you work for a management team that wants everything run through them, you can’t do anything without running it by them first, it’s suffocating.

I read somewhere that micro-managing is the number one reason why people leave their jobs. When a person is not given an opportunity to prove his/her worth, to live up to his/her potential, it’s suffocating. Our clinic right now, is definitely at an all-time low. People are dropping like flies and we all know what the problem is, but no one is willing to do anything about it. It’s like we’re all on the Titanic and we’ve hit an iceberg – now the question is – do we find a way to save ourselves or do we just sit back and wait for it to sink?

I’d like to figure out a way to save us, thank you very much.

It’s funny. I never really wanted a career in medical, I just sort of fell into it. But now that I’m here, (and I really do like the work I do and I feel like I’m good at my job), I just can’t sit back and watch our ship sink.

I need a plan. I need to convey my concerns, along with examples AND potential solutions and present them to my director. He’s the head honcho. The big cheese. The man with a plan. (I hope). I had a long talk with my nurse today about these problems and how to approach them and she gave me some really good advice. Now I just need to compile these thoughts into a nice, neat outline and present it to my director in my best “professional” voice.

Enough with the micro-managing. It’s time to take a stand and get off this hamster wheel. It’s insanity to continue to do the same things over and over again and expect a different outcome. We all agree there is a problem, now we need to get together and come up with a better plan, try different solutions. One is bound to stick, right?

Will they listen to me? Who knows. But if this ship sinks, at least I will know that I did all I could do on my end.

Don’t micro-manage me, it brings out my aggressive side. And let me tell ya, folks, it ain’t pretty.

Work Stuff

Welcome to My Work Office

Happy Friday!

Today, in the office, my office, not the TV show, I am furiously calling patients to prepare them for Monday’s clinic, making sure charts are compiled and ready for my doctor on Monday, returning phone calls and working flags (messages) from various sources from the week. I’d like to say Fridays are our quiet day, but alas, they haven’t been lately. I don’t know if that’s because people are freaked out because our office will be closed for two days and OMG, I NEED TO CALL MY NEUROSURGEON’S OFFICE, or if it’s just a coincidence, but I can assure you, there is no sitting around waiting for the phones to ring.

Actually, we don’t have a dedicated person answering our phones. We don’t have a receptionist whose sole job is to wait for patients to call. I wish we did. We do have a secretary, and she does answer our calls on clinic days, but we share her with another doctor so we only really get to use her on clinic days, off clinic days, it’s up to me. Patients don’t understand that. And I don’t blame them, that’s just the way our office is set up. The MA’s do the bulk of phone work. We triage the calls and the nurse returns calls she needs to, post op questions, medication questions, surgery questions, I do the rest.

Anyway. I thought you might be interested in where I hang out 40 + hours per week. I purposefully stayed late one night when everyone left so I could take this video. I had to film it several times because I would come across patient information and of course, we can’t have patient information displayed anywhere. I apologize for the quick turns but I was nervous someone would see me and it wasn’t so much I was filming that made me nervous but my “explanation.”

“Um, oh, hi. Yeah. I’m just filming for my blog.” *embarrassed smile*

Just feels weird.

Thanks for watching!

 

Work Stuff

The One Where I Embarrassed Myself in Front of a Patient

Did I ever tell you about the time I made a complete fool out of myself at work? In front of a patient?

I mean, it pretty much happens on a daily basis though not necessarily in front of a patient. I either say something stupid or I trip over my feet.

Does anyone else trip over their own feet? No? Just me?

Well, I AM old, cut me some slack. lol

The floors in our office are wood, though I think it’s more like fake wood, to be honest. You know the kind where it sort of snaps together? I could be wrong, but I think that’s more like the wood we have at work. Not that that matters, the floors don’t have parts coming up where it becomes a tripping hazard or anything. No, when I trip, I trip over my own two left feet.

Maybe that’s part of my problem, I have two left feet. (I’m kidding, though I feel like I have two left feet most times).

No. My problem is, I simply don’t pick my feet up when I walk. I sort of … shuffle. I have to consciously think about picking my feet up whenever I walk. And I get pretty nervous when people are walking behind me and I have to mutter under my breath, “don’t trip, don’t trip, for the love of God, don’t trip.”

OH – that reminds me of another time I embarrassed myself! I’ll save that story for another time.

Anyway. I wouldn’t say I have drop foot but Kevin tells me I do sort of drag my right leg and I develop a limp, especially when I’m really tired.

I feel like I’ve had this problem for years. My whole life, actually. I’ve always had something weird going on with my legs. I remember having to wear braces on my legs when I was little – I think I was pigeon toed? (Mom?) But I don’t think I had to wear the braces for very long, at least, I don’t remember having to wear them for very long, or it didn’t feel very long.

Remember, I’m old – that was a LOOOOONG time ago. lol

But I’m grateful for those braces because I walk straight now so they must have done some good. I’m digressing. (This is why I never really have a hard time blogging, because once I get going I just sort of keep ………………………………………………………………………… going).

Anyway. (Let’s see how many times I can say that in this post). Because I don’t fully pick my feet up when I walk, I am constantly tripping over myself. It’s like the toe of my right foot doesn’t quite lift off the floor, then hits the floor and the rubber on the sole of my sneaker adheres to the floor and stops me in my tracks so that I’m constantly stumbling forward. I do this about ten times a day and it’s always in front of someone, which is so embarrassing. I’ve caught some other people doing it too so it’s not all me. When you look at our floors at work, they are a bit warped.

But I digress, that’s not my embarrassing story.

(Focus Karen)

We have these chairs at work … I mean, what workplace doesn’t have chairs, duh, bear with me, but they have high backs and curved seats. Meaning, the sides of the chair are thick enough to grab and they sort of bend upwards. For some, this may be comfortable but for me and my child-bearing hips (i.e. big butt), it puts a strain on my back and by the end of the day, my back KILLS me. So, I avoid sitting in the chairs for that precise reason. Instead, I sit on stools. The same kind you see in exam rooms. Where the seat is juuuuuuust big enough to accommodate your butt. But I like them. They are comfortable (probably because there is nothing holding my side butt cheeks from overflowing) and it forces me to sit up straight and not slouch. (Though let’s be honest, I still slouch).

Side note: Have you ever sat on one of those fitness balls? I work with a nurse that has a big fitness ball in her office and she swears by it. I could never use a fitness ball to sit on all the time. I would want to bounce around like a child and maybe throw it at someone because I’m annoying like that.

(Focus Karen)

So, I sit on exam stools all the time. In fact, I have one stool I wheel around with me at all times – from my office to my desk I use on clinic days and back to my office, it’s like a puppy. (If that makes sense). The seat is nearly all black now and looks disgusting but that’s why I continue to use it because I figure I’ve ruined a perfectly good stool with my cheap black scrubs, there’s no sense in ruining any more.

My point being, I’m USED to sitting on exam stools. Keep that in mind.

Well. One day, back in the days when we actually saw patients in the clinic, pre-COVID and pre-Telemedicine days (oh how I long for the good-ole days of physically rooming patients), I showed a patient and his spouse back to a room. We have these little tables that we can adjust up/down that we put our laptops on whenever we show a patient back to an exam room and then we sit on the stool and type on our laptops as we’re interviewing the patient.

The patient and spouse take their seats, I pull the table around, put my laptop on it and pull the stool toward me. I’m talking to the patients, probably cracking a joke because for some reason, patients find me hilarious (they also feel like they need to tell me their life stories – I have one of those faces, I guess) and I’m in the process of sitting on the stool, not paying attention when it happens.

My butt cheek catches just the edge of the stool, it rolls away from me, hits the wall with a BANG, I lose my balance and fall flat on my ass, bumping into the trash can which makes a loud THUMP as it hits the wall.

In other words, I made a lot of NOISE when I fell. The patient and his spouse just look at me in horror. Their mouths gape open and I feel the tips of my ears starting to burn and I know my ears are going to be bright red in about five seconds. (They do that when I’m embarrassed, pissed or dehydrated – in other words, pretty much all the time).

In those split seconds, I run my options through my head:

  1. I could make the situation worse by acting embarrassed thereby embarrassing the patient and his spouse even more
  2. I could leave the room and re-enter, in essence, start the whole damn thing over
  3. I could act like nothing happened and awkwardly get on my hands and knees and attempt to stand back up knowing full well I would look, and sound, like a fallen hippo or
  4. Laugh it off.

Can you guess which option I chose?

Yep, I laughed it off. I simply took their folder (because I kept hold of my pen and the folder as I fell – impressive, I know), leaned back against the wall and simply said, “I’m just going to finish the interview down here, if you guys don’t mind.”

They laughed, I laughed and I fully intended to continue my spiel from the floor but I made such a racket going down, my nurse comes barging into the room. “Hey! Everything ok in here? I heard a crash.”

Perfect, I thought to myself, she will distract the patient just long enough they won’t really pay attention to me as I huff and puff my way back to my feet.

After I got back onto my feet, grabbed FIRM hold of the slippery stool, sat my butt down and placed my hands on my laptop did I look at my nurse and say, “Everything is great. Why do you ask?”

She just shook her head and left the room.

The patients thought I was hilarious and couldn’t stop smiling the rest of my time with them. I’m pretty sure I could have passed my little incident off as if I did it on purpose if given more time.

Yes people, I’m THAT good.

Anyhoo. My coccyx (get your mind out of the gutter, that simply means tailbone) was pretty sore the rest of the day because I wacked it pretty hard but I survived. And now, I am SUPER careful whenever I pull my stool around and sit on it though I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’ve had SEVERAL near misses since that day.

But no worries, I have a lot of padding back there, I’ll be fine.