September 7, 1971

On September 7, 1971, I was one of three young women sitting in a small radiology room at what was then called, St. Francis Hospital. None of us had any idea what that day, much less the next two years, would have in store for us.

The three of us, Michele, Mary, and I, were the new class of radiology students. Michele and I had graduated from the same high school, but we did not know each other well. Mary had completed one year of college at the University of Northern Iowa after graduating the year before from Columbus. She did not know either one of us. After that bit of small talk, we shared our expectations for the day ahead–we all thought we’d be taking x-rays by the end of the day.

I mean, how hard could it be?

Our primary instructor and head of the department, Chuck, came in to take us on the official tour of the x-ray department. The department may have been small but what it lacked in size it made up for in personality.

Pat, a fiery red-head, was the most senior technologist and the person we all tried hard not to make angry for any reason. Bev, small but just as energized, was Chuck’s main go-to person and our positioning instructor. When she was introduced as that, the three of us had NO idea what that meant, but we accepted it, as we did most things, without any questions. Sue, the newest technical person in the department, was hired to work primarily in the newest area of the department, nuclear medicine. Because of that, we would not be working with her much. Chuck was quick to point out to us what nuclear medicine was, “unclear medicine” and left it at that.

Maxine was the department transcriptionist and office secretary. Looking back, I think it was Chuck’s goal to find some politically sensitive joke to tell to one of the docs as Maxine sat taking direct dictation from the radiologist. Social media did not exist so jokes and all types of other off-color stories were shared openly for all ears to hear. Being sensitive and of Polish descent, Maxine must have put in some tough days while working with all of us.

The class ahead of us was now instantly promoted to the senior position. Carolyn and Lynn would be our cheerleaders and our toughest critics–sharing their horror stories while pointing out to us how their first year was so much harder than what we were experiencing.

Tradition is a huge deal in medicine and it was for our radiology department. Incoming and outgoing radiology classes were great examples of a good ol’ boy’s club mixed with some sort of bazaar fraternity hazing ceremony. If you survived certain¬†insane experiences you were in for the long haul. The toughest? Easy answer–call. An experience we had the opportunity to share after we had completed six months of training.

It was one long, brutal ride.

Taking call either made you or broke you. Mary and I survived, but that may have been all due to timing. Michele drew the first nightmare weekend. Working alone she had orders for in patients, ER patients, and a body in the morgue. While processing her morgue films, she walked out of the darkroom with the film bin open–meaning all the film in the bin was exposed. It was, for the most part, unusable. Once she realized this and took into account all the other things happening around her, her decision was clear. This was not the career for her. Mary and I learned about her decision the next day–we lost a classmate.

With Michele gone, we had to cover more–which meant we learned more and were exposed to more. We completed our program and were both asked to stay. Staying on where you trained has its good and bad points–we learned to work around them and we both succeeded. Mary was asked to stay to take over nuclear medicine–you know–“unclear medicine.” I stayed to pick up whatever needed to be done. I needed a job so I was ready to whatever I needed to do. Little did I know that a few years down the road the hospital would recruit a new pediatrician. That pediatrician wanted someone who could do echoes. Little did I know the magnitude of this request–I was volunteered to go to Iowa City where I learned pediatric echocardiography.

Time flew by as we both continued to learn, change, and grow. Mary moved to Cedar Rapids, retiring as the head of Nuclear Medicine just a short time ago. I moved to Denver where I was fortunate enough to do pediatric echo for 30 years.

Neither time or distance has separated us. Mary and I have been close since that first day in room 3. I love you, Mary. Our career and all the twists and turns it took us on has been the wildest of the wildest rides ever imagined. I am grateful and humbled by it all.

In one other stroke of luck, Facebook reunited the two of us with our classmate, Michele. Having Michele back in my little corner of the world gives me such a feeling of coming full circle. Love you, Michele.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love Y’all.

Peace

 

Friday Afternoon Review

One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is thanking them for being a part of your life.

This has been an interesting and busy week in Hibdonville.

I’ve been able to spent a lot of time thinking about my early childhood days and the adventures or probably better said, the misadventures, of those years. Because my post is also on Facebook, I had several friends share their own stories. That has been so fun and it gives me so much encouragement and validation. Thank you.

I learned that first impressions may not be at all what they seem. This lesson became the incentive to check on my neighbors more often. We discovered that we all needed to make sure we knew how to get ahold of each other. Which turned out to be very timely because our plan was put to an early test.

Another neighbor had a health scare which sent him to the ICU for a few days. Michael and I kept a close eye on his wife while he was gone and made sure to call them once he was home. He is doing well–thank heavens. The nicest thing is he called us last night to tell us how much he appreciated our calls. How wonderful was that? Made me smile and also reinforced my determination to check on them–often.

Facebook was part of another gift of the week. I heard from one of the physicians I worked with many years ago when I was working at a community hospital in Waterloo, Iowa. How wonderful to have a way to tell him how important he was to me. Of all the docs I have worked with over the years–and there have been quite a few–he will always be my favorite. ¬†When I look back on how young and clueless I was–heavens. What patience he had with me as I tried to figure it all out. There is one story I think about and re-tell often. It was a very busy day with many portable x-rays on the desk to be done. I ran into the reading room with my latest film–a chest x-ray on a sick newborn in the NICU. He looked at the film, studied it for a short time, and asked me what I thought about it? Did I think that the baby was flat or was the tiny little body rotated? Dang. Not a good sign for me. I sighed. Man. I did NOT want to have to go back and repeat that film. He turned in his chair, looked right into my eyes and said,” It will build character.” Years later I told him that I bet he did not know what a character he was building!

I finished my second MOOC–which stands for Massive Open Online Course–through Coursera. Now–why is this so important? For me, this is a very big deal because I have traditionally been a very good starter of many things. The bad thing–I rarely finished them. It was a huge thing for me to get these two courses COMPLETED. A strong suggestion if you need something to do as the temperatures soar, check them out. The options for learning are truly massive and free–unless you want a certificate of completion. Coursera.org.

Lastly, we finished a week of water aerobics. I had forgotten how good this form of exercising is–especially for this aging body! With the Texas summer ramping up, I’m thinking we will really be appreciating our trips to the pool.

It is hard for me to believe that this the last weekend before the 4th of July holiday. I hope y’all stay safe and have a weekend to remember.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace, y’all.

 

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