Thursday, October 18, 2007


Our latest review section is actually full of some really morbid stuff. For example did you know that it takes more than 5000 rads of radiation to fry your central nervous system, with death occurring in 0-3 days. If I got blasted with 5000 rads I would be hoping for closer to the 0 day mark than the 3 myself. Yikes! Also, it only takes about 200 rads of full body exposure to destroy your bone marrow, circulating blood cells and lymphatic tissue, causing death in 10-60 days. Yeah, happy thought, huh.

Anyway, the moral of the story, kids, is PROTECT YOURSELF from radiation at work and clinicals. Granted the amounts of radiation we work with are extremely low compared to the numbers I quoted above, but.....Think of it this way, too much radiation protection can never hurt you, but too little protection sure can.

Also, the three body parts that are most sensitive to radiation are the lenses of your eyes, your thyroid and your gonads. So don't forget those lead aprons and thyroid shields when you're in fluoro. And why not pick up a pair of leaded glasses (or BCGs), you can even write them off on your taxes as a work expense. Something to think about. We wanna keep all you radiographers out there happy, relatively unirradiated and able to reproduce. ;-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


My whole last semester is review, which is good because I haven't thought about Compton scatter and the like since we first learned the material almost a year and a half ago. Our school has provided us with an online account that allows us to take practice tests that are set up just like the registry exam.

We can control how many questions there are on each test as well as which subcategories they come from (e.g. patient care, positioning & procedures, physics, techniques, etc.). It has been extremely helpful in studying for the Registry exam. I don't feel ready to take it yet, but I will soon. I just need to keep studying. Speaking of that, I better get to it. It seems to help if I take 1 or 2 30-question practice tests each night when I get home from clinicals. That way I've gone thru a large number of questions in a fairly short amount of time. Works for me!!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Me = Slacker

SLACKER!!! That's the word to describe me. At least in regards to this blog. I cant believe its been so many months since my last post. Unforgivable! With that said, please forgive me!! I've been so busy with school, clinicals, summer travel, my photo blog and various other things that I have completely neglected this blog. Sorry.

In a nutshell, school is going well. I'm half way thru my last semester. I cant believe it. The other night my wife and I were reminiscing about how long ago it seems that I started my program. Its been less than 2 years but it feels like so much longer. I have seen and done so many things in that time. I've grown and changed as a person and done things I didn't think I could ever do. But having said that, I still have A LOT to learn. We all do, I guess. That is one of the things about radiography that really interested me in it in the first place. You never stop learning and experiencing new things. Some good, some not so good. But at least they are new.

On the school front I'm doing well. I have finished all my competencies. My last was the skull, go figure. I did a great job if I do say so myself. It was actually on a Behavior Health patient who was very unpredictable. I must have had a rapport with him though because he cooperated perfectly for me, even though I was half expecting him to take a swing at me at any moment throughout the entire exam. Either way I comp'ed and it was my last one. Yay me!

I'm becoming pretty proficient in surgery and fluoroscopy, which is good because in 2 months and counting I will be on my own on that front. I still need to get more experience with children though. For whatever reason, we don't seem to get too many kids in our dept, so I don't have a lot of chances to "practice" with them.

Monday, July 16, 2007

RT Wannabe

Check out this blog, RT Wannabe, by a new Rad Tech student in the Southeast. Just two posts so far, but I have a feeling there will be many more to come. Show your support to a fellow RT student.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Goin' Good

Hey Everyone! Sorry for the "Long Time, No Write" situation. Everything is going pretty well in my clinicals and I'm pulling straight A's in my two classes, Pathology and Film Critique. They are starting to let me do a lot more on my own at clinicals, which I really enjoy. It really gives me the freedom to solve problems on my own, instead of someone just telling me how to do something. Granted, I'm not as fast as most of the other techs, but my images sure are starting to look good.

I have to say I'm pretty lucky. From what I've read on other Rad Tech student blogs and heard from classmates, the techs at my clinical site are extremely supportive and patient with me. Even though I do complain sometimes (especially about surgery rotation), I'm really happy to be where I am and am looking forward to getting hired on there once I graduate.

As for competencies, I only have 1 mandatory and about 5 elective comps left to test off on. Unfortunately, my last mandatory comp is of the skull, which we very rarely get, since most head trauma patients go straight to CT. But I'm hopeful that sometime soon I'll get a nice juicy, walkie-talkie outpatient to do my first and last skull on. The positioning for the skull is actually pretty easy if you have a cooperative and fairly mobile patient. The routine positions for the skull at my clinical site are PA Caldwell, AP Towne, both laterals and the good ol' SMV. So cross your fingers for me that I'll get that soon.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Flagstaff Daily Photo

If you're at all interested in photography, check out my new photoblog. It's dedicated to my amateur photography from in and around Flagstaff, Arizona. Here's a link to it:

I hope you enjoymy photos. Please don't hesitate to leave comments on this blog or my photoblog.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

X-ray Radiation vs. Visible Light

Recently, a reader left a comment on my blog asking how visible light is similar to x-ray radiation. And being the big nerdy, bookworm geek I am, I got right to researching it. His or her question was a good one and got to the very basics of Radiation Physics. Most of my classmates hated the Radiation Physics class we took first semester, but I loved it and found that I was actually quite good at understanding it. So hopefully I’ll be able to answer this readers question here, so that everyone can understand.

Visible light and x-ray radiation are similar in that they are both composed of photons traveling in waves, but differ in the frequency and energy of the waves. The electromagnetic spectrum is made up of several different types of radiation. From highest energy to lowest energy they are: Gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet light, visible light, infrared light, microwaves and radio waves. The first three are what are called ionizing radiation. That is, the waves are so energetic that they can actually interact with and possibly destroy or alter DNA molecules in cells. This can result in the destruction of the cell, the organ or the creation of mutant forms of the DNA we call cancer. Hence, if you receive too many sunburns (caused by ultraviolet light from the sun), you may eventually get skin cancer. However, visible light, infrared light, microwaves and radio waves have such low energy that the waves are unable to interact with DNA and therefore have no effect on cell reproduction.

So in summary, all these types of radiation (x-ray, visible light, radio wave, etc.) are, in their basic form, the same thing. They are “packets” of photons that travel in waves. However, what makes them different is the frequency and wavelength of those waves (which is in itself a function of the amount of energy in the wave).

Having gone back and read the previous two paragraphs, I realized that I made x-rays seem like pretty scary and damaging things. In reality they are not. Not only does modern x-ray equipment use relatively little radiation to obtain a radiograph, but also, believe it or not, your body is mostly made up of open space, which the x-rays pass right through. Your body is also composed of lots of water and minerals (e.g. calcium) which are unaffected by x-ray radiation. While it’s obvious you don’t want to be exposed unnecessarily to x-rays, almost always the benefits outweigh the risks when getting an x-ray image.

I hope this answered the reader’s question and has helped you get a basic understanding of x-ray radiation, at least in its relationship to visible light and other radiation types on the Electromagnetic spectrum.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Since I was born in Canada, I have sort of a soft spot for my brethren to the north. So when I found this video on I had to post it here.

I can really relate to all the stereotypes about Canadians that are mentioned in this Molson Beer commercial, because when I first moved to the US I got a lot of the same comments.

Anyway, if you are familiar with Canada or Canadians, this commercial will make you laugh.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Yuck! I'm in surgery all this week. Not my favorite place to be. Although watching some of the surgeries like lap choles and IM roddings, I really prefer doing general x-ray exams or fluoro. As an X-ray Tech in surgery, you seem so removed and disconnected from the patient. For me, it also seems to be made up of long periods of boredom, broken up by short bouts of extreme nervousness and awkwardness on my part.

I'm not that great with the C-arm. I'll just admit it. And I think my CI knows that, so he keeps putting me in surgery every other week. I guess its a way. It forces me to get to know the C-arm and the quirks of each doc, and will ultimately make me a better tech, but man, do I hate being down there.

Firstly, I am stressed out the entire time, just waiting for the doc to get pissed cuz I did something wrong or I'm not doing something fast enough (e.g. I actually had the doc grab the head of the C-arm today and shove it out of the way, almost taking out a table to sterile instruments in the process! Jeez, ever hear of something called patience! I'm new here buddy!!).

Secondly, as you have all heard me complain about before, I've had chronic back pain for more than 7 years now, and wearing those lead aprons all day really takes a toll on the old "espalda".

Thirdly, F$%# it's cold in there. Why do they keep it so cold!!??.......Well, I know keep down infection and all that good stuff, plus I think the docs get pretty hot in their sterile gowns. But could they bump the thermostat up a degree or two, so I don't turn in to a block of ice in blue scrubs?

Anyway, sorry for using this posting to complain so much. But it's my right, as a student, to complain, especially since we don't get a paycheck at the end of the week!! :-)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pathology Class

Having pathology class is pretty freaky. If you're not careful you could really become a major hypochondriac with all the information you learn in that class. Considering that our pathology book is just shy of 500 pages long, contains only pathologies that can be seen radiographically AND doesn't discuss some of the more rare conditions, it's enough to keep you up at night worrying about whether or not you have pleural effusion, renal vein thrombosis or a host of other weird pathologies.

The only thing you can do is, when you're not in class or studying, push that info into the back of your mind otherwise you'll never be able to get thru the day.

Friday, April 20, 2007


Hello again, everyone. Thanks to all for your kind thoughts and prayers for the loss of my grandmother. We are all doing well and dealing with her death in our own ways. I was lucky enough to see her quite recently in March when she was healthy and still up and moving around easily. That's how I want to remember her. Thanks again to everyone.

On a radiography note, I found out that one of my past radiography teachers started a blog, too. Although he doesn't work at my school anymore he still keeps in touch with his old students. So I thought I would post a link here to his blog. It's called Topics in Radiography and it details some "tricks of the trade" that he has figured out over the years. Could be helpful for techs and VERY helpful to new techs or student techs. Take a peak when you get a chance. Just click this link ---> Topics in Radiography.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


FYI, I probably won't have a chance to post for a week or two. My grandma died a few days ago, so I have some family stuff to take care of. It was a my mom's mom, so my main concern right now is that my mom is doing ok and dealing with the loss. She was 94 years old, so she had a long, full life and didn't suffer in the end, which was important to me. She fractured her femur about a week and a half ago and quickly went down hill from there. She was already under hospice care, so she had the best people with her to make sure she was comfortable. It all went as best as it could of, I guess you could say.

Anyway, I apologize for the lack of future posts and I will do my best to get back here soon. Take care everyone.


Saturday, March 31, 2007

Factoid #1495

Recent reseach has shown that playing your music real loud in your car with the windows down DOESN'T, in actuality, make you cool.

Invite to Joost

Can anyone send me an invitiation to Joost? It looks great and I'd like to test out the Beta version, but I need an invite to Joost to be able to test it out. Can anyone help me with this? You can email it to

Thanks guys!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cars...Who needs 'em? Unfortunately, I do!

Well, I think my car is finally starting to die. It only has about 115,000 miles on it, but about 45,000 of those have been put on in the last 8 months. I guess it has held up for me pretty well up to this point, but I was hoping it would last until I was done with school and actually had a job and could afford to buy a nice new one.

I'm trying to figure out a time I can get it into the shop without severely restricting my mobility for clinicals. I have to drive about 65 miles to clinicals each day and 150 miles to class in Phx on Mondays, so I rely on it a lot.

The place I take it to here in Flagstaff is one of the few places that don't screw you, so needless to say they are usually pretty busy. Which means I have to call ahead of time and make an appointment to get in. Crazy huh? Anyway, the logistics of it are a real pain in my arse, and I always dread trying to get my car in when its most convenient for my wife and I.

Anyway, that's what's going on with me. On a radiography note, I have been on the other side of the hospital all this week in the Out-patient dept, which has been a nice change. It gives me a break from all the stupid drama of the in-patient rad dept. Tomorrow I hope to get a chance to work in CT for a few hours. The CT tech who works on Fridays is a great teacher, not to mention a cool guy and he usually doesn't mind explaining things to me and taking the time to teach. We'll see how it goes. Fridays are usually especiallly busy in CT, so I better start lacing up my running shoes now. Have a great Friday everyone.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


You may have noticed the new title and banner for my blog. I have changed the title from Desert Imaging to Mountain Imaging, since I'm not down in Phoenix any more. The banner photo is of the San Francisco peaks which is a small mountain range just north of Flagstaff, Arizona, which is where I live, will be doing my last clinical rotation and hopefully get a job once I'm done with school.

Anyway, I hope you like the new look.

Clinical Challenges

You would think that the hardest and most challenging part of a clinical experience would be learning new skills, interacting with patients and following hospital policy. But, as it turns out at least for me, the most challenging part is getting along with my coworkers.

All modesty aside, I would say that I'm a pretty smart person and can acquire new skills rather quickly if given the chance, and so the "skills" part of clinicals has not been especially challenging for me. And in general I almost always develop a good rapport with my patients, assuming of course, that they are not delirious or unconscious or something. But, for the first time in my life, I am having a hard time getting along with my coworkers.

I have been told that radiography generally attracts people with strong personalities, but it seems that my clinical site has taken that theme and run with it. I am, at least in my opinion, a pretty amiable person; I like to go with the flow and can make friends quickly, but I have had the hardest time fitting in with the other techs at my site. I try not to take it personally and tell myself it's because I'm a student and at the bottom of the heirarchy that no one asks my opinion or listens to my suggestions, but that will only take you so far, you know. Maybe I'm being too sensitive, maybe I should suck it up and stop caring what people think about me. This idea is all good in theory, but putting it into practice is another story.

I guess in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter. I will be leaving that hospital in a few weeks and never plan to return to it, but at the same time I do value peoples opinions of me and find it hard not to be taken seriously. I really hope, though, that it just happens to be this group of people and that at my next site and eventually where I work will have a more supportive, positive atmosphere. I guess in a few weeks, I'll find out.

Anyway, I'd like to hear from some other x-ray tech students or techs out there who have also had this problem. How did you get around it? All comments and suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


January 3rd! I can't believe it's been since January 3rd that I have updated this blog. What a slacker I have become. But I have an excuse. 850 miles and 16 hours in the car a week, PLUS 32 hours at clinicals and 4 hours a class really cuts into your blogging time, you know. But alas that is no excuse to neglect my readers.......if I even have any left.

The last couple months have been rather "blah" for me. I guess I had hit a slump. I had kind of plateaued in my learning. I had learned enough to get by and, for whatever reason, I stopped challenging myself, stopped stepping out of my comfort zone. Call it the Winter Lazies. Anyway, Spring has sprung here in northern Arizona and I have begun to take a more proactive stance at clinicals.

During the last few months things had not been going well for me at my clinical site. My Clinical Instructor (CI) dumped me in February, so I had to scramble to find a new one to take me on, with no help from my school. Several people left the department whose positions had to be filled by some rather surly travel techs. And I had gotten pretty fed up with spending a good chunk of my day stuck in the car.

But luckily things have turned around. I have a new CI who is a great teacher and very patient with my questions and problems. I had worked with her before and was very glad that she agreed to be my new CI. Some of the travelers have left and the ones who have stayed I have started to get along with a little better. And I finally found out where I will be for my next clinical rotation and I was fortunate enough to get my first choice. It's a hospital in the town I live in and my 75 minute commute will turn into a 7 minute commute in approximately 36 days and 15 hours........not that I'm counting or anything. So, in a nutshell, things are starting to lookup.

I have to admit that I have gained a good base of knowledge at this first clinical site, but I am ready to move on and work with some new people and experience new challenges. My next clinical site will offer a lot more in the way of trauma imaging and OR experience, two of my more weak areas, so it will be good for the "learning process". I hope to update this blog more frequently in the next couple months, too, so check back often.

I hope everyone else who reads this blog is doing well in their classes/clinicals/jobs and please feel free to leave questions, comments or suggestions.

Good luck and be safe out there!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Young Couple

They came into the ED early in the morning. Before most of us have had our first cup of coffee. Their SUV had traveled at least 500 yards off the freeway by the EMT's estimate, rolling countless times. Neither had been thrown from the vehicle, although no one knew how, since the couple reported that seat belts were a distant afterthought for them. 22 and 23 years old, too young to spend a sunny January morning being extricated from a severely crippled automobile.

"I don't know how it happened," she told me. A typical response after a violent car accident. It usually takes time to process what happened. The EMTs and firefights who brought them in had some idea of what caused the crash. "See that bruising on her mid-thigh," an EMT said to me, "that's not from her seatbelt, that's from her jeans. They were halfway down when we found them in the car." "Seriously!?" I replied. "Yup, and her boyfriend here either forgot to get dressed before he left the house this morning, or some serious hanky-panky was going on in that SUV when they lost control, because he was totally naked when we arrived on-scene."

I tried to control my laughter, but it was a losing battle. Just moments before I had felt the unfairness of the situation; a young couple injured in a terrible auto accident. But as the real reason for the crash sunk in, the humor of the situation hit me and I had to leave the room so that the patients didn't see me laughing. Had their injuries been more severe, I would have felt guilty about my laughing at their situation. Inexplicably they sustained only minor cuts and abrasions, but left the hospital that day with severe bruising to their egos.