Saturday, May 24, 2008

Starting Over

I'm a newcomer, again. On a new job, with new people, not sure of what I'm doing or even where I'm supposed to be half the time. While my sense of adventure is still intact, it is a little bit tedious to be a newcomer at my age. I keep thinking that I should really be more settled by now. I tell myself that the many job changes (7 in 11 years? Eeks!) has enriched me with invaluable experience. As for enriching my retirement account, not so much. (Right now my retirement plan is to be nice to my children, so they'll take care of me when I'm old. That, and staying in shape, because I'll probably have to work 'til I'm 80).

Also strange is the transition to a desk job. I mean, occassionally as a procurement TC I'd be a desk jockey, but most of the work was in the field. When we all would get together in the office, it was usually riotous and no one could get any work done anyway. My new coworkers are "office people" though. There's a total of 5 of us, plus my boss. Three would (and do) gladly work for 8 hours straight at that desk making phone calls and sending faxes with the occassional potty break. They eat at their desk. The guy who's training me told me that he doesn't eat lunch. Yeah, ok. I can understand that there are days on the unit, when you have an unstable, vented patient who might not live to see the next shift and so you skip lunch. But in an office? Seriously, the phone calls can wait half an hour. Besides, sitting in that little office all day, you start rebreathing your own CO2 and the next thing you know, you're a little loopy-which I think has already happened to one of them.

The first 2 weeks I mostly watched people work, which I can't stand. I'm a doer, not a watcher. This week I managed to cut my chops on some actual work which involves calling people and telling them what to do, where to go and what meds to take. Twice a week, in the mornings, we have clinic. The newly transplanted come twice a week for several weeks, then they come twice a week alternating lab and clinic visits. Then they come every other week, with just a lab visit on the off weeks-all for the first three months when the risk of rejection is highest. Then we see them every three months for the first year, as long as everything's going ok. Then every six months and then once a year. After the first three months, their primary care gets turned back over to their nephrologist.

The patient's clinic day goes like this: they take all their meds in the morning except for their anti-rejection meds. We do a trough level every visit. They come into clinic, sign in and then go to the lab on another floor for bloodwork. Then they come back to clinic, take the anti-rejection pill and wait to be seen. When they first come in, the TC(me) goes over their meds to make sure they're taking the right things. Note to God, please don't ever let me become chronically ill, because I can't even remember to take my daily vitamin. How anybody manages to stuff so many pills down their gullet is a wonder to me. Basically, everybody is on the following: Prograf, cellcept, prednisone, multi-vitamin, iron, potassium and magnesium supplements, blood pressure pills and, of course, something to protect the ol' stomach from taking so many pills, like nexium or prevacid. This doesn't include the drugs for whatever other problems they have-insulin, water pills, more blood pressure pills, pills for gout, whatever. I'm trying to get used to all these "old people" drugs (no offense, but kids are usually on meds for breathing and reflux, period).

Clinic ends at noon and then we write down all the lab results in columns by patient for the docs to review, write them again in everyone's individual chart and together with the surgeon go over the labs for everyone who's been in the clinic and a few who have their labs faxed to us from outside labs. Then we write down the changes they want to make and THEN we spend the afternoon (and the following day) calling folks and telling them to increase their prograf or decrease their magnesium, etc. Anyone who looks like they're going into rejection gets scheduled for a biopsy and possibly comes to the hospital for 3 days for high dose steroids. It's not rocket science, but it's a lot to stay on top of. One good thing is that the docs are all super and my boss is pretty laid back as long as the work gets done.

You want me to take WHAT with a sip of water?

In other news, our recent bout with the plague of the week is dissapating. Everyone in the house is on antibiotics, except for the teenager, who's never home long enough to catch our germs. Possibly, if she did come in contact with one of our germs, she'd kill it with a withering glance.

Also, my friend and former coworker is working on a Mercy ship in Africa for a year and has a blog. Besides, being a better writer than me, she's also an amazing photographer and altogether more awesome human being than I could ever hope to be, plus she's muy modest, so she'll probably be pissed that I'm even mentioning it, but you should read her blog. It'll blow you away.

That's it for now. I'm off to enjoy me weekend, now that I have weekends to enjoy.


DAP said...

TC - Good luck with the new job. Over the past year I've learned to love & respect my transplant coordinators. And, I started over too, only it wasn't just a job it was life ..... a heart attack, cardiac tx .... the whole world changed for me in a single heart beat. You will be fine!!

Anonymous said...

glad i'm not the only "pill-pusher" who can't take a daily pill on a daily basis for more than one day at a time!

good luck at the new job, you'll do well i'm sure.