Old Dog, New Trick

So, six months shy of my 50th birthday, i will embark on a totally new path that has me both excited and terrified.

Every career i have ever had has been one of interpersonal service. Face to face interaction with people who need my help. “Professions”, yes, but with that line-walking professionalism that one can only have when usual social barriers have been broken from the onset. You know, like nakedness and blood. And the people i have worked with share a kind of camaraderie that is only present when there are matters of utmost importance, like human lives, on the line. The uniforms i wear, not sharp and tailored, but chintzy and laundered in chemicals that are made to kill everything but the fabric. Terribly exciting, but also terribly taxing. Irregular hours and daily surprises. But i’m about to become a regular Joe. And i am scared.

Working in a hospital, especially in an area that performs invasive procedures, is rewarding. People come to you in pain, frightened, and sometimes one step shy from death. You get to comfort them. To fix them. To bring them back from death’s edge. It’s a powerful feeling in a multitude of ways. There is a physical power in knowing you have the ability to help save a human body.  There is an emotional power on the occasions where someone is literally brought back to life. There is a spiritual power in knowing you are an important tool for God/Goddess/Universe. But that power comes at a cost.

For every case that doesn’t go as planned. For every patient who gets the bad news that they are too much for us and require major surgery. For every person who we feel we have fixed, only to be proved wrong by GGU the very next day. For each one that we lose the race against the clock. For each time we know in our heart of hearts that the patient isn’t as invested in their health as we are, that they won’t make any changes in their lifestyle, and we know we will be seeing them again and again until there is no more to be done. These things take their toll. I work in invasive cardiology, but i promise you, these same things are true for my brothers and sisters in the emergency room, the operating room, the intensive care units, the paramedic force, and still others. Take a poll. The percentage of us with stress-induced disorders, hypertension, auto-immune issues… I promise you, it’s higher than national average.

But on the bright side, what it takes to do this, day in and day out, is a strength that also exceeds the average. Mentally strong, we have the ability to put our own issues aside when the shit hits the fan. Tho from the entire spectrum of faiths, we are spiritually strong individuals who know that GGU holds the winning cards. Emotionally strong, we can keep on working even when we know we have probably lost. And physically strong – Have you ever seen a size 6 woman do truly effective CPR on a man three times her size? THAT is strength!

All this, i leave behind. And, oh, how i will miss it!

But i am running out of reserve to pay the toll. My health, my life, is starting to wear thin in spots. Perhaps it is because, as i get older, i shed more and more tears as a woman, as a mother, as a human; and these, compounded with the tears that come from my work, are more tears than i have reservoir to produce.  Perhaps it is because each person only has a finite amount of strength, and mine is less than a lifetime’s worth at this pace. Or perhaps it is GGU telling me that it is time i helped humanity in another way.

One of the things that this new work endeavor will give me is the ability to see healthcare from a wider perspective. It will also give me an opportunity to use that insight in areas outside my work and maybe get involved in the issues that i have watched plague our hospitals over the years. I’m not Einstein, but i’ve got a good brain, excellent communication skills, and the anger and determination that is the hallmark of a peri-menopausal woman in the 21st century. I could be a force to be reckoned with, even without my terribly-unflattering scrubs!

But first i must adapt to desk life. To computer life. To Joe life. Hell, it’s been forever since i had a job where i could wear clothes! No more bodies. No more blood. No more fluids and drugs and devices. Just me and a screen and a bunch of tasks to sort. Well, that is, once i learn the language of medical life outside the lab. (Figuratively, i have 4 months to learn Klingon.) Eventually, i will have a baby composed of menus that i can be proud of. And with that baby comes a less zapped me to be momma to my actual babies (Who are no longer babies, but still…) It also comes with a future of unlimited opportunity. A chance to spend my Silver Years (You know, the last couple decades before my Golden Years) continuing to learn and grow and expand my passions in ways i never imagined. A chance to give a different part of myself. And a chance to refill my reservoir.

But this life is something i’ve never had before. I’ve never been a regular Joe. I’ve never been a regular anything. And this is what scares me. Moving my gypsy soul out of a caravan and into a building. Turning the stray cat into a house pet. Editing the R-rated movie for network television. I can’t help but wonder if i am able, you know? Can i do it? My weedlings think i can. My (awesome) coworkers think i can. My friends and family think i can. Obviously GGU thinks i can. I guess that means i should quit my whining and get on with it! Wish me luck! Not yap wa’ Hol !*


*(Klingon for “One language is not enough”)

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