Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Orientation tomorrow......

Tomorrow I will be playing hookie from work (calling in sick) and going down to Phoenix for orientation at SPS. I'm really looking forward to it because I will get a better idea of what is ahead of me. We will meet some of the instructors, go over course syllabi and order our scrubs. I am most looking forward to meeting some of my classmates. I am guessing they will be all over the map as far as age and life experience goes. I would guess that my age, 26, would probably be the average, roughly, but we shall see.

I am also finally meeting the guy I will be living with for the first 8 months of the program (before I start my externships). He's a dermatology resident and a friend of a friend. He owns a house in Scottsdale and is nice enough to rent out a room to me. I have emailed back and forth with him and talked to him a few times on the phone, so it will be nice to meet him in person and also see the house I will be living in.

Then Friday is the big day. I will be quitting my job. I have been looking forward to this and dreading it for some time. I am hoping it goes well. I have worked here for over a year and I am pretty close to my boss, so I think it will be a big shocker for her. She has no idea how miserable I am here. I have told a friend of mine, who used to work here, that I will be quitting and she is convinced that my boss is going to cry when I tell her. God I hope she doesn't. I really have no idea what to say to her if she does. Its hard to tell someone that you are quitting because you hate the same job that they have devoted their life to for 2 decades, without offending them. I will have to pick my words carefully. I plan to do it at the end of the day and then just leave afterwards. I am sure I will tell you all about about after it's over.

SPS = Some Phoenix School

I thought it better not to reveal the name of the school I will be attending, in case I feel the need to complain about it in future posts, so I will just refer to it as SPS, meaning Some Phoenix School. Got it? :-)

Hilarious blog...

You have to check out this blog I found, if you haven't already. It's called Ah Yes, Medical School. It's written by a medical student who writes about his experiences as he does different rotations at various hospitals. He is hilarious. He has a very interesting and funny way of looking at life. Give it a read.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tom Cruise and a sonograph machine

Don't even get me started on Tom Cruise. Not only is he a certifiable nut, but he is completely over stepping his bounds with all his comments about post-partum depression being unreal and his not considering psychiatry a real science. I wont even tell you what I think about the "religion de jour" he follows, scientology! Now he thinks he is a sonographer, too. Check out this article about him actually buying a sonograph machine for his own personal use. Presumably for viewing the spawn he has placed in Katie Holms poor womb. Who does he think he is. Again, over stepping his bounds. At least he says he will donate it to a hospital after the baby is born.

the Back Situation......

I finally made an appt to see a doc about my back.......again!! I haven't seen anyone or been treated for about 2 years now. I had gotten pretty frustrated with my other doctors so I stopped seeing them. They were unable to tell me what may be causing my chronic pain and their treatment didnt seem to do much for me. I was on Bextra for a while, but after that was discontinued I just went back to taking Naproxen Sodium (Aleve) for my lower back pain. The thing that motivated me to finally make an appt is that my mid and upper back had started to hurt too. We had determined that my lower back pain was from a chronic inflammation of my Sacroiliac joints (or SI joints), although the cause was unknown. Anyway, I had figured out a way to somewhat control the lowerback pain with just Naproxen Sodium and light stretching, although I would frequently have "flare ups". Then, co-incidentally not long after starting my present job at the museum, my mid and lower back started to become stiff and painful most of the time, too. I was pretty sure that it was muscular rather that joint pain, and probably from sitting hunched over a computer all day. I tried acetaminophen (Tylenol) to control the pain, but that only worked marginally and I usually felt like I had been hit by a truck by the end of the day as well as when I woke up in the morning. So I decided I couldnt live with it anymore and made an appt with a Physcial Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist.

I had the appt yesterday and it went pretty well. He actually LISTENED to me!! Can you believe that!! Most of the docs I had seen up to that point conducted the patient interview with one hand on the door handle, at least mentally if not actually. So it was refreshing to have someone at least pretend to listen to my symptoms and concerns. After telling him everything, he suspects that it is either a form of sacroiliitis or possibly early onset of arthritis. He ordered several tests including a CBC and CMET to see if my having been taking NSAIDS for so long has started to effect my liver and kidneys, an X-ray of my thoracic and lunbar back (which I am actually kind of excited about since I will get to talk to an X-ray tech during it), another steriod injection to the SI joints to decrease or eliminate the pain so that I can start physical therapy soon. Also, he determined that my mid and upper back pain was indeed from muscle tightness and strain from sitting and doing repeated motion at the computer and he gave me some muscle relaxants for that, which are working well so far.

So things are in motion, which is good. It would be great if I could get the healing process well on its way by the time I start school. It would be very difficult to coordinate doc and PT visits while being 2 and a half hours away. Wish me luck.

Car guy....

I love my car. I know it is silly to love an inanimate object, but I really do enjoy owning it. I recently bought a 2001 VW Jetta and it is great. Its silver and has a manual transmission. Here's a picture of it:

I had driven sticks before but never exclusively, so it took some getting used to thats for sure. I am not looking forward to having to drive it in stop-and-go traffic down in Phoenix once I start school though. One thing I love about it is that it gets great gas milage, especially for being almost 6 years old. It gets 30-31 mpg highway and 25-26 mph city. I just love to look around at all the people driving the big gas guzzlers and shake my head. I mean who needs a hummer to drive 1.87 miles to work in the city. It just doesn't make sense to me. I also really like the European style the Jetta has. Sleak and efficient. Those Germans know what they're doing!

Actually, I'm not really a car guy at all, I have no idea about anything under the hood, although I do know the basics (changing the air filter, rotating the tires, changing the break pads, etc). I just didnt grow up with it like a lot of guys did. I think that my generation was more interest in electronics. I could take a computer or printer apart and put it back together long before I would know what to do with a carburetor. My dad always did the servicing of our family cars himself and only took it to the garage when he didn't have the right tools for the job, and believe me that was not very often. Even my older brother (granted he is 15 years older than me) knows more about cars. I just never got into it. Sometimes I wish I did know more about how the internal combustion enguine works and when someone asks me why their car is making a funny sound, I can say with confidence "oh, that sounds like the strutts on the mounting head next to the Johnson rod {insert additional motor jargon here}....", but unfortunately I wouldn't know where to start. Maybe in my next life I can be a real car guy. Who knows!?


I guess it has been a while since I posted and a couple things have happened since then. I figured I would break the different topics up into different posts so it is easier to read.

The healing is going pretty well. I am back to a regular diet, solid foods and all. You don't realize how much you enjoy solid foods until you can't have them. I still can't open my mouth too wide without pain and there are 4 gaping holes where my teeth used to be. These are kinda gross and I am looking forward to them closing up soon. Right now everytime I eat anything, the food likes to hide out in the holes, so I have to use this little squirty thing (and yes that is its technical name, squirty thing), to clean out the holes so they don't get irritated or infected. I guess if I were food I would hide out in there, too. I wouldn't want to get smashed up by teeth and then swallowed down into a skin sack filled with acid. But, hey, that's me. I was pretty swollen for a few days but that was more of a cosmetic thing and it didn't hurt too much. I thought I would post some pics of what I looked like during the whole thing.

This is what I normally look like:

This is me right after the extraction with ice packs on my face. I don't really even remember this being taken I was still all looped up on the anesthesia.

This is me trying to eat ice cream. Our cat, Imara, was even trying to make me feel better. :-)

This is me during the high point of the swelling.

Anyway, I am glad to have it over and done with. And I know I never have to do it again! I have heard some nasty stories about other people's experiences and I think mine went very well over all. The pain only lasted a few days and I was able to control it very well with the meds they gave me. So I wish good luck to all those out there who still have to do it. It will be over before you know it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Image game

Here's a fun game. Type in a word in google search, do a search and then click on the "Images" tab and see what kind of images come up associated with that word. You would be surprised. I just did the game with the work "x-ray" and this is what I got:

Some expected images:

And some not-so-expected images:

Try it yourself and see what you come up with.

Friday, November 18, 2005

I survived....

I survived my wisdom teeth removal. Everything went smoothly and I am presently in the peak period for swelling...(i.e. I look like a chipmunk collecting nuts for the winter). They have me on some pain meds which are nice, because not only does it control the pain in my teeth, but for literally the first time in about 6 years I don't have any back pain...NONE!! I can't believe. I feel like a normal person again. And even when my teeth do start to hurt, at least the pain is in a different place for once. A nice change of pace. My wife has been great at taking care of me and keeping me on a strict schedule of meds. It's almost like she is a nurse of something! :-)

I need to go back in to see the oral surgeon on Monday morning, just for a short check up to make sure the healing is progressing as it should, then unfortunately I am back to work. However, this week will be a short one since we have Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving. God bless those pilgrams!

I also got my TB skin test read on Wednesday, right before going to the oral surgeon and of course it was negative. So that means I am all set, and have all my paperwork for orientation in 2 weeks. I am excited for orientation because not only do I get to learn more about the program and meet some of the instructors but I also get to see some of the other students who will be in the program with me. Potential friends, study partners, etc. However, at the same time I am a bit nervous because the day after orientation I am planning on quitting at the museum. I am looking forward to it and dreading at the same time. I can't wait to leave that place, but the awkwardness of actually sitting down with my boss and telling her "That's it, I'm out", will be unpleasant. But like Jerry Seinfeld would say "Just like a bandaid. One motion, RIGHT OFF!" Quick and very painful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Option 1 or Option 2

This is how my schooling is going to work. The program is 2 years long. The first 8 months are spent in the classroom, 8a-12p M-F. The second 8 months are spent at one Externship site, and the 3rd and final 8 months are spent at a second Externship site. But there are two options for being assigned Externship sites, lets call them Option 1 and Option 2.

Option 1 - If you pick this option you are garanteed assigment to a site in the Phoenix metro area. Within this area there are roughly 20 different sites/hospitals. Which site you are assigned to is random, which I will get to in a second.

Option 2 - If you pick this option (which I did) you will be assigned to a site somewhere else in Arizona besides the Phoenix Metro area (excluding.Tucson). So this includes Flagstaff (awesome), Cottonwood (next closest, 1 hour from Flag) Prescott, Kingman, Payson, Bullhead City, Show Low or Yuma.

Here's a map of Arizona with the site in Option 2 circled:
I had a lot to consider when I was choosing. If I chose Option 1, I knew I wouldn't be placed any farther from Flagstaff than 2 or 2.5 hours and I would be able to stay living wherever it was I was living in Phoenix, but I also knew that there was no way I would have a chance to be placed at the Flagstaff hospital.

And if I chose Option 2 I could potentially be placed at the Flagstaff hospital during one of my rotations, meaning I could live at home with Becky and also make connections for potential future employment. But it also meant I could possibly be placed in Yuma, a good 5-6 hour drive from Flagstaff.

So, after much thought and advise from friends and family, I decided I would take a gamble and choose Option 2, sites outside of Phoenix. Time will tell if the gamble will pay off or not.

The actual sites are chosen a different way entirely. A few weeks before the externships are to start all the names of the students who chose Option 1 are put into a hat and all the names of the students who chose Option 2 are put into another. One by one names are drawn from each hat and each person who is drawn gets to pick at which site they want to be placed. So if I get picked first from Option 2 hat, I obviously will pick Flagstaff. But if several students are picked before me, and one of them picks Flagstaff, another picks Cottonwood and another picks Prescott (my first 3 choices) then I may get left with stinkin' Yuma. Granted that is the worst case scenario, but it could happen.

I am very concerned about this part of the program, as it will dictate not only how much driving I will have to be doing in the next 2 years, but also how much time I get to spend, or not spend, with Becky. I have my fingers, toes and anything else that will, crossed that they pull my name first, or at least that no one picks Flag until they pull my name. Wish me luck.

Monday, November 14, 2005

A Love Story.....

I will seek and find you...
I shall take you to bed and have my way with you...
I will make you ache, shake and sweat until you moan and groan...
I will make you beg for mercy, beg for me to stop...
I will exhaust you to the point that you will be relieved when I'm finished with you...
And, when I am finished, you will be weak for days.

All my love,
The Flu

Now, get your mind out of the gutter and go get your flu shot if you are at risk!!

I found this little "Love Story" at this blog: Student Nurse, PRN

Monday, which was never good anyway....

YES!! I got my TB test done today. It's sad that that's my biggest news, but it's 1 less thing on my "To Do" list a far as school goes. It went very smoothly. I went to the County clinic, cheap, cheap, cheap, thats me. I got there at opening, waited a quick half hour, most of which I spent filling out paperwork, I was called to the back and Wham, Bam, Thank you ma'am and I was done. I have to go in to have it read in 48 hours of course but that should be a snap.

The first time I had a TB test I was 16 and it was the third of 3 shots and I passed out. Don't tell anyone. ;-) But this time I was fine, I didn't get woozy at all. It's not so much the pain with shots, it's all mental with me. I mean, lets face it, they really don't hurt that much, but its just the thought of a long, metal needle being slide into my skin that makes me anxious. I have always been like that with any kind of puncture wound. Even as a kid, when I would step on a nail or something I would get all hot but I would be white as a sheet. The biggest test for me was when I had steroid injections in my SacroIliac joints where I have my chronic back pain. They slip a long needle in there and then inject the joint with a steroid fluid. The worst part of that is actually when the joint starts to expand because of the extra fluid introduced into it. Now that is painful. But I am slowly gaining control over my mind, and each shot is less of a problem for me. Call me a baby, call me a wuss, but each person reacts differently to injections, ask any nurse that.

One major thing going on this week for me is I am have my wisdom teeth removed on Wednesday. All F'ing 4 of them. Can you believe it? Am I crazy? All signs point to yes. But I figured I HAVE to have 2 out, and while he was in there what's 2 more. I am gonna hurt either way. Luckily my little nurse of a wife will take care of me free o' charge. She has already bought the frozen bags of peas to wrap around my face for the swelling. In my opinion that is about all peas are good for...yuck! If I feel up to it, I will try to post something while I'm home recovering.


Sunday, November 13, 2005

TBISA (Too Bad It's Sunday Already)

You know it's funny. I complain about being stuck on the computer all week at work and what do I spend half my weekend doing? That's right, futsing around on the computer. But at least I can do what I want when I'm home, instead of data entry. I did spend a couple of hours trying to troubleshoot a problem I was having installing Norton Antivirus Software. But after much research and help from my dad, I got it installed successfully.

Qué más? I got a much needed massage on Saturday from a student at the Phoenix School of Theraputic Massage. It's great...prices are discounted because they are students, but they still do just as good a job as any other massage place. My back is feeling better already. Speaking of my back. I have had back problems for several years now and have seen various back specialists in all the places I have lived, and none have been able to give me a reason why my back constantly hurts, much less give me a way to fix it. So I had stopped going for about a year or so, and in that time we moved to Flagstaff. It is really starting to give me trouble again so I decided to bite the bullet and see yet another doc for treatment. My first appt is in 2 weeks, so we will see how it goes. Check back for an update.

Well, since I didn't have much to say today, I thought I would tell you a little bit about the town we live in, Flagstaff, Arizona, and take a first try at posting some pictures with this post.

Flagstaff, Arizona, is a small mountain town of about 60,000 people. It is located in northern Arizona and is about 60 miles south of the Grand Canyon....yes, THE Grand Canyon. So that gives us lots to do when we have visitors. The city is situated on the south side of the San Francisco Peaks, Humpreys Peak being the highest point in the state. When most people think of Arizona they think of the dry, empty desert and most of the state is just that. However, Flagstaff is at about 7,000 feet (2100 meters) above sea level, so are climate is rather different from other parts of the state. In the summer the average temperature is about 80 degrees F (26 degrees C) and in the winter the average temperature is about 35 degrees F (2 degrees C). We have snow frequently in the winter, which is great for the Arizona Snowbowl, 1 of only 2 ski resorts in the state, which is just NW of Flagstaff.

Flagstaff has about 120 years of history, established in roughly 1870 as a logging and lumber town. Since then its economy has changed to rely principly on Tourism and manufacturing. The historic downtown area has been preserved and restored and is still used today by tourists and locals for shopping and dining. Now for some pictures I've taken around town:

The San Francisco Peaks:

Babbitt Brother's Sporting Goods store, continually occuptied by the Babbitt Family since 1886:

Flagstaff Court House:

Heritage Square in the historic Downtown area:

Historic Bank building:

Monte Vista Hotel:

Historic Catholic Church, made from local volcanic stone:

Weatherford Hotel, first hotel in Flagstaff, opened on January 1st, 1900:

Well, that's Flagstaff in a nutshell. It's a great little town and so far we have loved living here. That's all for now.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Not much to report on the radiography front. The boss is gone today so, as you can imagine, I am not as productive as I usually am. Ha ha.

One new development though....I am now in contact with a friend of a friend who may be interested in renting a room out to me in his house while I'm in school. He has a 4 bedroom place in Scottsdale. For those of you who don't know Phoenix, Scottsdale is one of the richer suburbs of the city...very La Dee Da. I havent seen the place yet or met him, but he seems nice over email and the house cant be too bad. I plan to take a look at the house and meet him on Dec 1st, while I'm down there for orientation at SPS. Wish me luck.

TGIF thats for sure. I didnt know if I would make it thru this week without going crazy (see earlier post). Although no big plans for the weekend, the fact that I am not at work is good enough for me. Becky works 7a-7p this Sat and Sun, so I'm on my own for most of the weekend. That's OK, it will give me some time to "fix" the computer. My virus software has been problematic lately....maybe my virus software has a virus, how ironic would that be!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

NA10254.GSQTRENCH1.2a........yuck!!! Do I hate my job. I can't even convey the loathing I have for it, right now. I can feel it slowly sucking the life out of me. I just got home from it and I had to post. It has to be THE MOST BORING JOB IN THE WORLD. I work in a museum, and at first that may seem cool and exciting, but I assure you, it is not.

This is my day, everyday, for weeks now with no end in sight until I quit sometime next month. Every object in the museum, and there are 100's of thousands of them, has an individual number labeled on it called a catalog number. This number is matched up with a record for the object in our database. Type in the number, do a search, get the info about the object, yada, yada, yada. Anyway, I am working on an inventory project that entails basically going over each object, recording its number and its location. Lucky for me, I have assigned that job to some poor Federal Work Study students. I am sure they are back there wishing they could take a turn with the hari-kari knife.

Anyway, after they have recorded the numbers on a sheet, they pass the sheet to me and I sit at the computer, 8 hrs a day, 5 days a week, entering numbers like NA10254.GSQTRENCH1.2a, NA10254.GSQTRENCH1.2b, NA10254.GSQTRENCH1.2c, and so on. You get the picture. No human interaction, no challenges, no thinking involved. At first you may say, "wow that sounds great, better than the stress at my job", well try it for a week and I guarantee you, you will be looking to get back to whatever job you have now. So that is, in a nut shell, why I am changing careers. Sometimes, when Becky comes home from a particularly bad day at the hospital, I ask myself "Do I really want to do this? Leave this easy, unchallenging job, for a stressful one?". So I ask Becky about her day and her job in general and she says that although she is stressed a lot of the time, and feels like there is way too much to do and not enough time to do it, she comes home satisfied that she has done her best, has helped people and knows the work that she does means something and matters. I, on the other hand, have not had that feeling for some time, if I ever did have it at my job.

Well, sorry to put up such a dreary post. Normally, I am not like this. I am generally an up-beat, fun guy, ready to crack a joke. I hope this depressed feeling will go away once I start to make some changes. Anyway, I promise my next post will be more positive.


I went this morning to try to get my TB skin test at the County Health Clinic. It is required before I start the program, but because Friday is Vets day and they are closed, I wouldn't be able to go back in and get it read the requisite 48 hours after the injection. So I guess I will have to wait. I am thinking about trying to get a nurse on my wife's floor at the hospital to do it for me. I just need it done by Dec 1st, which is the day of orientation at SPS. They are requiring that everyone show records of having had 2 MMR and 3 Hep B immunizations, plus a current TB test. I have, after much work, tracked down and acquired records of the MMR and Hep B, but have not had a TB test since 1999. I also had to do an online background check to make sure I didnt have any felonies or any of that fun stuff. Check came back negative, of course! Now if I can just get that TB test I should be all set. Wish me luck. Lots of hoops to jump thru.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Radiography, here I come...

NOTE: See edit below for explanation of text in bold.

OK, where to start? My name is Dustin and I have created this blog, so that others can follow my experiences and thoughts as I enter school to be trained as a Radiologic Technologist (also known as a Rad Tech, X-ray Tech, or Radiographer). I have searched and searched for blogs on this subject and there don't seem to be to many out there, so hopefully, by sharing my thoughts and experiences, it will help prepare students in similar programs for what is ahead of them.

Just to give a little background on me. Unfortunately, I spent the first 7 years out of high school getting a "higher" education in a field which pays horribly and has almost no job availability or job security. "You can be whatever you want!" they told me, "Follow your dreams" and other such rubbish. That idea is all fine and dandy until you have to find a way to pay rent, buy food and pay your car insurance. Basically, I have a master's degree that will get me a job punching numbers into a computer, a job which a drunken monkey could do with very little problem. Oh yeah, it also pays about as much as a job at Starbucks. Soooooo, long story short....I needed a change. I wanted to change careers, but didn't want to make the same mistake I made the first time. So after months of researching I found that the position of Radiologic Technician, seemed to fit my personality and skill set quite nicely. Job openings for this position were plentiful in addition to paying well and provided numerous opportunities for advancement. My wife had recently finished nursing school and was adjusting to her first job as an RN, so she was partly responsible for pointing me in the direction of the healthcare field. Something I thank her for on a regular basis.

Like I said I didn't want to make a decision until I had all the information I could get about it. So I called the local hospital and asked if i could shadow an X-ray Tech for a day or two so I could see what an average day was like for someone in this position. Well, my experience there clinched it for me. I was convinced this was a job I could do, and do well. It was exciting, required specialized skills, dealt heavily in science (my favorite subject since I was kid) and allowed you to help people. In short, a lot more satisfying than doing data entry all day long as I am doing now.

So my next step was to find a school with a good program. I live in Flagstaff, Arizona, a small mountain town of about 60,000 people and although there is a large university here, it did not have a radiography program. The next closest large city with schools that had a program in radiography is Phoenix, a 2.5 hour trip from Flagstaff. I looked at all three of the schools there, taking into account several factors including: length of program, cost of program, clinical/extern experience provided, length of waiting list, etc. The one that stood out was SPS (Some Phoenix School) . It was a 2 year program and although it cost more than some others, there was no waiting list, which meant I could finish the program in 2 years and be out earning money before I could even finish my prerequisite classes at some of the other schools. It also came highly recommended by the X-ray Techs I talked to during my shadowing.

So I wasted no time in putting in my application. They required records of past schooling, grade averages, etc. I also had to take 2 placement tests, which determine if you have at least the basic education necessary to enter the program. These were reading and comprehension, and basic algebra. I passed these easily and was accepted into the program for the semester starting January 3, 2006. So as you can see from the date stamp of this post, I still have about 2 months to go before I start classes. During which time I will have to do several things:

1. Quit my present job! This I am looking forward to very much. I have not liked it for many months and can't wait to make the change.

2. Find housing in Phoenix. I am looking to rent out a room in someone's apt or house. This will only be for the first 8 months of the program, since after that I will be in externships full time outside of the Phoenix Metro area. Unfortunately, my wife, Becky, agreed to a sign-on bonus when she started at the hospital in Flagstaff and must continue to work there for 2 years. That means I will have to live away from my wife for at least 8 months and up to 2 years while I am in school. This is a crappy development to say the least, but she has seen how miserable I have been in my present job and has been very supportive in my decision to change careers.

3. Fix my back. I have had chronic back pain for several years and I will soon be seeing a specialist who will hopefully get me on the track to fixing this problem.

I am sure there are many, many other small issues to deal with before school, but I look forward to dealing with them. I have needed a change for quite some time and I am much anticipating the future.

So now you are up-to-date regarding my situation.

I will do my best to update this blog regularly, telling about what's happening in my life and passing on info regarding the field of radiography. I will not start school until January 3rd, 2006, so updates may be slow in coming until then, but once I start I am sure I will have many experiences I will want to share.


EDIT: Originally when I wrote this post, I had named the school and program I had decided on. However, after thinking about it, I may have the desire, or possibly the need, to complain about the program, various instructors, etc. And I realized it was probably best not to use any specific names, should some one from the school find this blog and raise a ruckus about it (as if anyone is reading this anyway!). So the school I chose will now be referred to as SPS (Some Phoenix School) when I write about it.