Test anxiety

I got to pee in a cup today. A very controlled, very precise, very directed drug screen was called for by this new employer. Today’s event was just one of a number of changes that this company has implemented since I worked for them four or five years ago.

I’ve never had to have a drug screen for a job before.

I was asked to lock up my purse and check my pockets so that nothing untoward would enter the restroom with me.

I got to pick out my very own collection cup and watch while the technician showed me that it was completely sealed.

I was asked to wash my hands.

I was instructed on exactly how much of the specimen I was to provide. I didn’t ask what the consequences would be if I couldn’t muster the required amount. Drinking copious amounts of water 30 minutes prior to the donation took care of any issues with that. I was relieved in more ways than one.

I was told firmly -twice- not to flush or to wash my hands after collection. Only after I handed off the cup could I wash my hands.

Did you know that they actually check the temperature of the donation?

And what are the very vivid blue drops that they place into the toilet water?

I had to watch each step as the specimen was processed and at times even initial certain parts of the procedures.  Only when the donation was finally sealed in a plastic bag and initialed by me did I get my ID back and the key to the box to unlock and free my purse.

It wasn’t until I was walking out of the office that I realized I had no memory of the technician wearing gloves when she took the specimen cup from me. No memory of her washing her hands after she went into the restroom to flush for me. Nor do I have any memory of her washing her own hands throughout the rest of the processing.

Gross.

So, this happened today…

Dear Deborah

I am pleased to confirm our offer of employment as a part time Newborn Hearing Screener reporting to Lxxxx Wxxxxxxx. The specifics of our offer are outlined below:

• Hourly rate of pay of $a bazillion dollars to be paid on a bi-weekly basis, every other Friday.  ***So perhaps I have chosen to exaggerate the hourly rate just a bit***

Your offer to join MEDNAX Services, Inc. and your participation in the Newborn Hearing
Screen Program is contingent upon maintaining the following requirements:

• Certification in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation within your first 30 days of employment, followed by continued recertification.
• Medically cleared testing for tuberculosis prior to beginning employment, followed by
annual testing.
• Providing us with proof of your identity and work authorization (as required by the
Immigration Reform & Control Act of 1986).
• Successful completion of background.

So, it looks as if I have managed to jump over one small hurdle and secure some extra income that will (I hope) add to my credibility as a worthwhile rental risk. Now I can wave not only my divorce decree and pension funds and my gift income from caring for the granddaughters, but also an actual employment offer letter, in the faces of those naysayer leasing agents.

This position is the same one that I held just prior to the time I started looking after Miss G. This time I am with a different medical facility, one that I learned just today has the second most stringent policies regarding new hires in the whole United States. I have been assured that if I am lucky I may be ready to secure an ID badge and actually begin my job in about 8 weeks. The process, I am told, has been so overwhelming for some, that they quit before they even get started. I’m okay with the wait. The delay gives me time to process all this divorce stuff and retrain my perspective on what constitutes a “normal” work week. I will still be with Miss G and Miss C 3 days per week. This new job is a weekend position, so I now have to get used to the fact that my days off will come during the week, and that they won’t be back to back.

I really loved this job the last time around. This time I have even more autonomy as the the satellite facility I will be working in runs their program somewhat differently than I encountered before. I won’t be sharing a split shift, but I will be learning all about electronic health records (EHR). We did everything on paper 4 years ago. All you EPIC user’s out there, soon I will truly understand some of the headaches you write about in your blogs.

Anyway, just had to share. It’s great to finally have some good news to put on this blog.

 

Shameless promotion

By way of introduction:

  1. I’m a mom, and it is my duty to shamelessly tell you about all the wonderful, amazing, creative, and sometimes even awe-inspiring things that my 3 adult children do.
  2. I have the cheapest (meaning FREE) WordPress plan. I cannot download audio files with this plan so I apologize because obviously it would make this entire post much more relevant and perhaps also inspire more folks to listen without having to go to extra steps.
  3.  My son, who works in the analytics industry by day, just produced this album:

https://sayspeaker.bandcamp.com/releases

This is where I am cursing lightly under my breath, because you will now have to possibly copy and paste this url into another window to hear it. Again, I am sorry for my cheapness frugal options when it comes to working with WordPress. Most of you should be able to simply click the link obviously, but the impact with the album art IN the post would have been spectacular.

Please take a moment to listen. And please feel free, if you enjoy what you hear, to also take a moment to help me shamelessly promote this site/album on any and all social media that you might have at your disposal.

I might be rather biased, but I think it’s pretty good.

Men

There are men that I don’t like very much right now.

There are many reasons that I don’t feel very fond of men in general, and of some men in particular.

I do have a soft spot in my heart for older men though, and I realize that this has been the case for a long time.

So many of the older gentlemen who were patients of mine over the years during my dental career were wonderful. Of course they may have smelled a little sometimes, or needed to trim their ear hair, or those long wiry eyebrows. They may even have said some things that I could easily have taken offense to, sexist things that for the men of their generation were common, and accepted. For those men I would just smile, choosing not to take exception to their off-hand comments.

Those older men were bent, and often shaky. Their clothing hung off bodies that I assume were once strong and healthy and fit. They had a hard time hearing or seeing or both.

I found myself looking at them, and listening to their stories and wondering what life had been like for them. I had a few that were nasty. Curmudgeon is the word of choice for them, but I always assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that they might simply be lonely, or sad, or fearful of what was coming in the short time they had left.

I often found myself, at one point or another in our conversation, giving these older men a brief touch on their arm or hand. No, I didn’t ask, and yes it was clearly an invasion of their personal space, but I never had one complain or pull away. And I know that non-complaint doesn’t make it right. It did however, seem like it was important to connect with each of them, to say to them “I hear you and you’re important.”

This act of touching happened again for me, just the other day and it has made me wonder, in light of my own views on sexism and inappropriate behavior exhibited by men toward women, if I am just as guilty as I would assume a man to be if he felt it necessary to touch my arm or hand uninvited.

I was in the grocery store. It was the morning of the Super Bowl and the lines were LONG. I didn’t have a lot in my cart and neither did the older man behind me. A lady in the line next to us commented that we both might fit the “20 items or less criteria” and move to the line that had no one in it. Each of us decided to stay put, but we thanked her for her suggestion.

When my turn came I unloaded my cart and placed the divider thingy down. I also tried to move my cart up as far as possible so the man behind me could start unloading his stuff. By that time we’d been waiting in line for a good 15 minutes or longer. He hung back with his groceries and the space on the belt was wide open the entire way before he began unloading. He slowly put one item after another down. Two quarts of milk. Some lettuce. Hot dogs and buns. I had a feeling that he was trying not to crowd me or push forward too fast. I was still stuck, unmoved because the person who had just finished was chatting while having issues with their payment.

Something made me begin rearranging his groceries, moving them up to fill the open space while I rather offhandedly said, “Oh here, let’s get this moving. We’ve been here long enough.”

I can honestly say that I’ve never overstepped like that before. I don’t make it a routine practice to tell people how to put their groceries on the belt, nor do I typically jump in and handle their items either. He chuckled though and said, “When you’re over 80, you have all time in the world. I’m in no hurry.”

It was at that point that I noticed his ice cream tub and I asked him if he planned to eat the whole tub himself. What was I thinking! First I take charge of the man’s groceries then I insinuate that he would seriously consider eating a gallon size tub of ice cream. The final straw to all this was that as I was insulting his eating habits I also, without any thought to him or his comfort, automatically reached out and touched his forearm.

So there it was. I was, apparently without regard, touching another nice older man just like I had done on numerous occasions without considering that I might be offending him or making him uncomfortable.

I can only guess that my actions started during my dental career as a means to try to connect with, or reassure fearful patients. It wasn’t just older men that I would gently touch. I held kids hands. I have placed my hand over women’s hands, or given a female patient the same forearm touch. I’ve even gently patted the shoulder of a patient on occasion. I’ve often wondered though if I feel a connection to older men because I see my dad in these men. Do I feel a need to connect on a physical level, even so very briefly, with them because I miss the ability to do that with my dad?

I haven’t begun stalking men over 70, or randomly reaching out to inappropriately touch the arms of senior men I pass so I have hope that I can keep this in check.

By the way, the man behind me in line…he was shopping for his wife who was on crutches and couldn’t walk. The ice cream was for her…

Student Status

So, I made a decision. Another decision.

But first…my appointment with the retina specialist is coming up Wednesday. Please keep good thoughts that she will look, evaluate and then pat me on the head and tell me that nothing needs to be done and I can go ahead and schedule the first cataract surgery. Thanks!

Anyway…regular readers know that I have been in a state of semi-retirement for about 4 1/2 years. My hands failed me and clinical dental assisting became a non-career for me. My granddaughters have been my job since then. With personal plans now changed, and the future of both this country and my survival in question, I have to think seriously about money, and finding a job. My girls are growing up anyway, faster than I can believe, and theoretically within a few years (even if my life was perfect right now) I really would be rather useless as a caregiver for two girls who will be in school all day. There’s the grand-dog, who I’m sure would love 8 hours of attention, but…no.

In short, rather out of necessity or boredom, employment of some sort was likely to be a part of my future anyway and clearly in my case necessity has trumped (hah! I made a very poor word choice, but find it slightly humorous nonetheless) boredom. So what to do…

I have that Sociology degree (which I will never regret) but which does not come with a great deal of practical application for income, and it was never really meant to blossom into a career anyway.

Given the state of our country I find the concept of Social Justice Warrior to be a much needed career field right now and for the foreseeable future, but eating and paying rent are options that I value as well. Anyone know of any openings that also offer healthcare? Oh, never mind…I won’t be able to afford healthcare, nor will it be available soon either.

On a related topic, perhaps I can go into politics, maybe even run for office. Apparently you don’t need any experience, and can tell lots of lies and still be elected to the highest position our country offers. That one sounds plausible and I don’t think that I’d be any worse than what we have now. And my first week of executive orders would clearly reverse EVERYTHING being hurtled out the door of the White House right now.

What I know, and what I am good at, and what sustained me monetarily, and what provided a career purpose for the majority of my adult life is dentistry. Thus, it makes the most sense to stick with what I know. Clinical work is out, but there is the business side, the front office, the administrative functions. Secretly, between you and me and this blog post, I really don’t like any of that stuff. I became a dental assistant to work directly with patients in treatment and education. I am a hands-on gal, happiest in scrubs and up to my elbows in saliva. Those days are over, and, as I do have experience in many of the tasks that are needed in the non-clinical running of a dental practice, it seems that it would make sense to focus there.

So, while I have some time, I have once more taken on the role of student. Amazon has supplied me with the current, comprehensive text version of “Front Office Dental Administration 101” or From Saliva to Scheduling Systems: Everything You Need To Know To Run An Amazing Dental Practice. Disclaimer: both of the above titles are not really textbooks in print, just in case you were wondering.

I think you get the idea though and I do have a pretty comprehensive text that covers current practice. I figure it can’t hurt to spend some time reviewing, relearning, and brushing up on the basics. Every dental office uses scheduling software, most with almost imperceptible differences. Usually once you know one you can transition to the others easily. I can copy, and fax, and use a multi-line phone. I can be professional when speaking to patients, and other providers, and labs, and pharmacies. I have a working knowledge of dental codes, treatment planning, accounts receivable and payable. Does this sound like a resume?

I need more training in insurance and definitely in the use of electronic patient records, although I don’t think the dental field has been as quick to adopt an ER system as the medical profession. You can actually still find dental offices that chart on paper.

Geez, this does sound like a resume doesn’t it. Just in case you know of any dental office in Washington- 253 area code specifically- and want to pass on my info…

Perhaps this will be a jump start to returning to a career that I thought I was finished with. Perhaps it will fail miserably and I will have to look elsewhere. As with most things these days, every day brings change, and I can never be certain what the outcome of that change will be. Yet it feels good to plan and to move one foot in front of the other and to have purpose. Especially now, given where we are, we all need purpose.