OLD DOGS AND NEW
25 June 2002
"Hello. My name is Bev. I'll be filling your bladder with water
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
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
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.