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25 June 2002

"Hello. My name is Bev. I'll be filling your bladder with water this afternoon."

Certainly not something I ever dreamed I'd be saying--or doing. And yet, that's precisely what I was doing this afternoon.

It was my first "procedure" since I started this job. I've kinda gotten used to getting rather intimately acquainted with most patients, as I stand nearby while Dr. G takes a Pap smear and then puts the little "broom" that he uses into the bottle I'm holding. I'm getting acquainted with the infinite variety of appearance of women's various parts. But this was something different.

This was an MMK, a Marshall-Marchetti procedure, which is used to test for bladder problems. I'd typed about MMKs for years, but had no idea what it involved. This may come under the heading of TMI.

First all the exposed parts and dangly bits are cleansed thoroughly, then a catheter which is, I kid you not, about 3' long, is inserted into the urethra. To this is attached a huge syringe--the kind you'd give an elephant an injection with. That's when I get to shine. I take this huge bottle of distilled water and begin pouring it into the syringe, slowly filling the patient's bladder. As the level in the syringe begins to drop, I add more water until the patient lets us know that she can't hold any more.

Then, with all this water in place, Dr. G does a lot of interior manipulating, then has her stand up and see if anything leaks out, while he does more manipulating. Quite an experience--I suspect for the patient as well. She finally gets to go to the bathroom to get rid of all that water.

I'm left with something that looks like a dishpan, which is filled with a cup of urine, the syringe, the catheter and all the wet chux pads onto which the patient's urine and/or water has leaked during the 15 minute procedure. It's my job to clean up.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself doing this. And enjoying it. It's kinda like exercising and bike riding. You just never know what kinds of changes you can make in your later years.

When I was a young sprout, hanging out at the public library, reading everything I could get my hands on, I had a special affinity for books about girls going into nursing. I imagined myself as Sue Barton, going through nursing school, working on Henry Street, being a private office nurse, etc., etc.

I toyed briefly with going into nursing, but there were two things that made me realize it was not the career path for me: math and bedpans.

I discovered I'd have to actually figure things out mathematically (and as I have explained  before, I am mathematically challenged). If I couldn't envision passing the math component of nurse's training, I wasn't even going to start.

But it was really bed pans that made me realize I wasn't cut out for this sort of job. Bed pans. Vomit. Pus. Smells. When I thought about actually dealing with stuff like this, the very thought of it was enough to turn my stomach and though I loved the idea of standing at the side of a surgeon and peering into someone's insides (blood never bothered me), I knew I would have to earn that right by starting with bed pans, and I figured there had to be a better way to have a career.

One of my big fears when I planned to join the convent after high school was that I might end up being in the nursing wing. The Daughters of Charity are both teachers and nurses and since you are bound by obedience, I felt I would have no input as to which path I'd follow and I feared it would be nursing.

So instead of entering nursing school, or joining a nursing order of nuns, I settled for being a secretary and reading medical novels, and watching all of the medical programs from Ben Casey to E.R.

When I discovered medical transcription, I knew I'd found my niche. I could be in and around medicine, but I didn't have to deal with all the messy bits. I could watch one of the nurses testing urine samples, watch exam rooms being cleaned up, and nibble around the edges of medicine without actually getting my hands dirty. In the meantime, I typed about cholecystectomies and Sjogren's syndrome, and other fancy sounding words--and enjoyed learning what they meant (as well as how to spell them).

But now I find myself becoming a medical assistant. "I'll make a medical assistant out of you after all," Dr. G told me today, with kind of a proud smile on his face. To my surprise, things that I thought I would find distasteful I don't even think about twice now. I didn't even put on rubber gloves to clean the urine out of the basin today. (Urine is sterile, you know.)

I continue to surprise myself every day with the changes I am making in my life, and how with each one it seems to get easier and easier. Obviously you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Quote of the Day

When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it too seemed immovable. As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas they would have none of it. And now as I lay on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only chaged myself first, then by example I might have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and who knows, I may have even changed the world."

~ written on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop (1100 A.D.)
in the Crypts of Westminster Abbey

Picture of the Day

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I took this in Eureka, with my old camera


One Year Ago
We Can Stand with Pride

Two Years Ago
(No entry this date--
I was at Pride Weekend without
a computer)

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Pounds Lost:  62.6
(this figure is updated on Tuesdays)

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Created 6/24/02