Thursday, February 27, 2014

The fist bump heard 'round the world

On one level, I totally understood why some very UNhip folks didn't "get" the fist bump between the President and his wife some years back. But I honestly thought it was the coolest. Thing. EVER!!!

So when my new Supv reached out to give me a fist bump at the meeting on Monday after my presentation, I started to think that I may not be wrong about THIS Supv being TRULY cool! And the look on my old Supv's face was priceless!!

Needless to say, it has been a good week. But given that I'll be working on a final exam in Bioinformatics over the weekend, the fun is just beginning!!! :)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Deja Vu?

So less than 24 hours before I show my new Supv and my new group manager "what I'm working with", I'm wondering if this is going to be another case of the same ol' thing I've dealt with pretty consistently in my research career. And that is having my ideas "stolen" and claimed by someone else. I often think the reason that so many URM's with PhD's veer FAR away from research careers is because of what's regularly happened to me, they're rarely given credit for their work. Or they can't find real mentors which comes in a close second to why a research career has been so personally unfullfilling for me. But for some reason, I persevere with the hope that one day I'll find myself in a position like I had at the NCI/NIH and as a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill, with mentors irrespective of race, willing to support me in my research endeavors. But I dare not hold my breath so to speak, thinking that this will happen.

So the Deja vu' I'll be praying for is that my ideas will not only be received well, but that I'll be given the opportunity to put them into action. Because at the end of the day, the goal should be about improving/saving the lives of people diagnosed with cancer. And the fact that I talk like I have "Dr." in front of my name though I don't have it (yet), will no longer make me a professional threat (to the weak) but will be considered par for the course for someone as committed to my work as I am.

I'd also like to mention that another relative (cousin) who is also my age, recently lost her 12 year battle with breast cancer on 2/12/2014. So a HUGE part of my "funky" mood about cancer over the past month or so is about the fact that it's such a HUGE part of not only my professional life, but my personal life as well. And while my Cousin and I weren't very close, I'm pretty close to her mother who I always see when I go home to NC no matter how busy I am and her daughter who is very close to my own daughter. RIP Cousin!!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Work it out!!!

When you need to "take it to the streets" with your "cool" Supv, it's pretty much a guarantee that you're going to have a week FULL of surprises.

First thing's first, the interview with Dr. Eggplant. My loyal readers may remember this term, "Eggplant" is the title I use when I meet someone who lacks ANY sort of personality. So between the Eggplant personality and the super weak handshake, the deal was sealed on how I felt about my interaction with my interviewer. He also looked down the ENTIRE interview and rushed me through my presentation. I think I did a good job of staying calm and cool, but I'm not so sure my face conveyed that as well. Oh well...........

The second highlight of my week was that I was assigned a new Supervisor. And by the end of the week, I'd been assigned to do a presentation before the "big guns" in my group on Tuesday, whom my previous Supv had mysteriously kept me from interacting with. But I guess it's a LOT easier to steal someone's idea and present it as your own when the originator of the idea isn't there. But then what did I expect from someone who lies about having a PhD..........

Moving on, healthwise was a little up and down for me and I'm scheduled to see a specialist next week. But I'm on the mend, it's just that now that I've been ordered by my Doctor not to work in the lab space required for my position, I'm a little concerned about how things are going to pan out. But when I do my presentation on Tuesday, I plan to make it real clear that not only am I the ONLY person in my entire group with this skill set, my work can be an enormous asset to our department. Even if I don't ever step foot in that lab space again.

The other kinda exciting thing going on is my clinical healthcare course (of course) which as I've mentioned previously, is pushing me further into the patient care direction with each passing day. Again, I'm VERY concerned about all the nasty chemicals in pathology and the fact that I'm a middle aged asthmatic. So perhaps, switching from Pathology isn't such a bad, albeit VERY premature, idea given that I'm not close to applying to a residency any time soon, LOL!!

Along those same lines, everyday I'm also thinking it may be best for me to officially start my Doctorate work first, then transfer to med school later. Again, had I committed to doing this a LONG time ago, I'd have the Doctorate by now and would now be working on getting into medical school only. And I'd be doing it making a LOT more money that I am now. You may also noticed that I'm using the term Doctorate instead of PhD and that's because I'm considering both a Doctorate in Health Administration with a concentration in Health Informatics as well as a PhD in Health Informatics. So I'm just keeping my options open! :)

At the beginning of this past week, I was feeling "a certain kinda" way about my current gig and was ready to begin work on a new one. But now I'm resolved to make due with what I've got until it's time for me to make another decision or should I say, until God makes His plan to me crystal clear. In other words, I'm just gonna' work this 'ish out the best way I can!!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Taking it to the streets.

I had an epiphany a few days ago when I read a post on the Grady Doc's blog about how she ultimately had to deal with a bully on her job. And it was neither pretty nor nice, but ENTIRELY necessary. The epiphany I had was that my approach to dealing with bullies on the job has been VERY wrong. I realized that I should deal with them on the job the exact same way I did when I was in elementary school. And that's by standing up to them.

Anyhoo, this was yet another tough week in on the job for me and while my asthma improved over the week, it all went to hell when the noob that runs the lab I work in, decided to open a large container of industrial strength bleach DIRECTLY behind me, not in the hood as is required. And in a room about 25 feet in area, that was just plain STUPID especially with an asthmatic in the room!! Needless to say, I proceeded to have another asthma attack on the job and left the lab just as the folks from Environmental Health were walking in to conclude their investigation about the air quality in the lab that triggered my asthma last week..... Anyone have any idea where this is ended up going? The short version is that I ended up making it CLEAR to my "cool" Supv that I wasn't taking ANY more shit from her because there's an idiot running the lab that's blithely unaware of lab safety.

Moving on, I'm again having some doubts about my desire to become a Pathologist after reading about some of the health issues associated with sitting for extended periods of time. I also think that my personality is well suited for working with patients, and that my original goal of working in a clinic that serves the undeserved would be a good personal fit too. Still, I know these conversations are VERY premature but after this last, idiotic chemical exposure, I'm rethinking how much more I want to work with/around some of the nastiest chemicals known to man.

The other thought that's been running through my head a lot is that my work in general at a major cancer center, while noble, is starting to get hard to deal with on a day to day basis. And by that I mean that I think it may be time for me to do research in some other area simply because the despair I see from day to day is stressful. It could be that my job environment is stressful and that exacerbates the overall work environment, I'm not sure. What I am feeling is that my work in cancer in general may be coming to an end.

And those feelings are timed VERY well with my next position in cardiovascular disease research, which is set to start in March 2014.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Philippians 4:6

Everyday, I receive a biblical scripture from The Daily Bible Verse website and when I received this one from Philippians 4:6 at ~4:30AM this morning, I KNEW I was going to have an interesting day:

Philippians 4:6
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And interesting it was. The brouhaha over my asthma attacks over the past week have created what can best be described as a stressful work situation (absolutely NO surprises here based on the people who have visited the lab) and at best, a sign from God that until I line up with HIS will, life is going to be a little "uncomfortable". At least that's my take on what's going on. But all I can do in response is continue to do my work to the best of my abilities/learning as much as I can and staying focused on that ONLY.

In the meantime, I spent the day using my nebulizer off and on all day as instructed by my Doctor, along with the other changes in my asthma scripts. But being the half-full woman I am, I'm staying busy focusing on all the blessings of my current situation, including:

1) Having the means to have a nebulizer in the first place.

2) Having health insurance rather than a $600 + scripts bill, not including the cost to see an Urgent Care Doc.

3) Having lungs that are clearing up very well, though I'll have to work on getting my blood pressure back to normal.

4) The fact that I'M STILL HERE, some asthmatics never live to take another breath.

26 days.....................................:)

Monday, February 10, 2014

People really need other people!

So healthwise, today was the day from holy hell, I pretty much felt like crap ALL day. I even had an asthma attack at the Docs office. :(

But one the realites of my VERY blessed life here in hot a$$ Texas is that the people are are really great! From the urgent care clinic that practically roll out a red carpet when I arrived, the Pharmacist who told me to get well soon I had too many "niceties" to count today, these are just some nice folks here!!!!

And yeah, when I count my blessing here in hot a$$ Texas, I feel in the words of Babs, like one of the luckiest people in the world!!

Monday morning blues.

I normally wake up VERY happy and I've pretty much been that way all my life. But today was ho-hum because I had to use my nebulizer last night and that means my asthma is not being controlled well. :( Right now, I've got everything under control but I'm waiting for a space to open up so I can see my new Doc. And if I haven't heard anything by around 11, I'll have to head to an urgent care center to get an eval because I clearly need to have my meds adjusted.

I'm also very worried about the fact that the asthma started flaring up again after I'd spent some time in the lab reading slides last Thursday and Friday. In fact, I almost left work early on Friday because of it but stayed, because I was (wrongly) worried how things would look since my "cool" Supv seems upset about the failed lab safety brohaha. But I also understand that my life means more than ANY job especially one I'm not enjoying very well.

Moving on, I had my mid-term in my Bioinformatics course and I did okay under the circumstances. I'm usually pretty upset about making anything less than an "A" but I realized that given the week I had prior to the exam, I did pretty damn good. So I won't have a straight "A's" this semester, but that's okay my GPA will still be pretty high, so it's all good.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Details are EVERYTHING!!!

I previously talked about the group that had contacted me numerous times about working for them and I also mentioned that I had turned down the offer. Then I mentioned that I heard from the person doing the hiring that the gig was essentially mine. But somehow, I forgot to mention the most important detail of all on my most recent post was that I thought I had emailed them that I was no longer interested in the gig, but had actually sent the email to the wrong address so it came back to me as undeliverable. And I got that email after meeting with my Supv and realizing that I was in the wrong gig.


This week was "challenging", but I did get a couple important reminders:

1) WAIT ON GOD and STOP being impatient.

2 ) It's cool that you love the work you do in Pathology and working around/with Pathologists, but you're clearly not going to really enjoy it until you get in med school and beyond.

3) Save wearing scrubs for med school, LOL!!!! Except when you have to rotate with Docs as part of your clinical healthcare course!

And with that, now begins the countdown to my next blessing, 28 days and counting......:)

** This post was edited many times but at the end, I decided to be positive and focus on all that God continues to bless me with! :)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I really, REALLY, don't want to be a sledgehammer!!!

So today is a day that can best be described as a "sledgehammer" day jobwise and school/careerwise. And I kinda saw it coming because I had the urge to fast all day and for a person that likes to eat, to have that feeling come out of nowhere I knew meant something. So I obeyed and it didn't take long for me to know why that was a good idea.

I can admit that the residual disaster that was my time in death pharma makes me sensitive to negative situations on the job, so I do my best to think calmly and rationally at ALL times. And I really needed that today because I was tried on MULTIPLE levels and at the end of the day, realized that I can been purposely sent into the lion's den by a co-worker. It's funny because after I came out of the lion's den, I had a strange sense of absolute peace. I had my clinical healthcare class today, so that's always a spirit lifter for me and today's lecture was given by a NICE Anesthesiologist. And class today was soooooooooo good, the discussions were even better, and I was once again reminded to stay the Physician/Health Informatics course. So I'm mentally moving and grooving in class, I mean I'm getting it in education wise and I'm saying to myself "Anesthesia is so NOT for me, but I can't wait to become a Pathologist and nothing in the world is going to stop me from doing just that, LOL!!". Then I get an email.............from the woman I interviewed with last week and hadn't heard from ALL week asking me to meet one final time to discuss details OF MY NEW GIG if I'm still interested!!!! Yeah.

My immediate next thought was that no job in the WORLD could make me change my mind about becoming a Doctor and this course just adds MUCH needed fuel and more importantly purpose to this goal. If I was 20 years younger, I wouldn't second guess it at all so why am I allowing myself to second guess it now? Because CLEARLY I'm not going to be 100% satisfied in ANY career until I at least give it a try again.

Lastly, NO new gig is real UNTIL YOU SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE, but at least now I no longer have ANY doubt that jumping ship from where I am now is the absolute RIGHT thing to do. Because being Path201X-Souffle for a lion is NOT on my agenda.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Excuse me, but are you a Resident?

**Image from google images

BIG smile, "Not yet, but I will be in the future".

Maybe that wasn't the most appropriate answer I could have given at work today when questioned by a Fellow, but it was the FIRST thing that came to my mind. I wear scrubs at work so and now I look older too which I think helps a LOT in people assuming I'm a Resident. I also walk/work with a fierce sense of pathology purpose which probably also helps in giving off an air of being a "Doc".
This all came about not long after my earlier "vent" about having asthma issues, when I was reassigned to an office area filled guessed it...........primarily Residents! Talk about getting a "message from above"!! :) How it came about is the most miraculous thing of all because it wasn't anything I asked for, to be moved away from the biggest micromanager EVER who isn't even my manager!!! But I'll take my blessings ANY way I can get them!!

Anyhoo, I guess that fact that I'd raised a concern about chemical storage in my work area 3 times previously didn't go over well with Environmental Health and Safety or Employee Health and my Supv's Supv ended up getting involved. I didn't plan on that because as I've mentioned before, my Supv is REAL cool. Which is why when I started getting the leaking dangerous chemical issue formally addressed after my ashtma attack, I FIRST contacted my Supv, copied the noob that runs the lab, then went from there. The thing is that when I start having asthma attacks out of no where I take that shit VERY seriously because people can DIE from it. And the callous way I was flipped off 2 times previously when I tired to address the issue before I had an asthma attack, didn't set well with me as it should NOT have. However, by the end of the day, the leaking chemical tank was removed and replaced with a properly functioning one which makes the work space safer for ALL of us.

Back to the really positive stuff, my new office area is also 2 doors down from my old/new Pathology mentor so that just adds so extra excitement to my situation!!! Needless to say, I decided to stay where I am and turn down the other offer (I know, career schizo) and let the career blessings continue to roll!!!

I'll pass on the asphyxiant, thank you!!

Almost 9:00 AM on the J.O.B and instead of "working", I'm in the computer lounge for employes (which is all that, plus some), instead of being at my desk/bench working. And the reason I'm not at my desk working is because the person that runs the lab thinks it's okay for an asthmatic (me) to be in close proximity to a tank filled with a VERY dangerous chemical, that keeps venting every 15 or so minutes. And by venting I mean that the idiot that supplies the chemical, OVERFILLED the tank with the dangerous chemical and should be damn happy this 'ish hasn't exploded yet!!!

As a trained Chemist, it seriously pains me to see the carelessness people show when working with large quantities of DANGEROUS chemicals. And because I'm a trained Chemist, I'm probably a little over cautious about the chemicals I work around. Having asthma, makes me even more so because breathing is kinda important to me. I'm about as good an asthmatic as there is, so when it starts to flare up for NO reason, I get concerned. Now 90% of the time I have to admit that my flare ups are my own, noncompliant, fault. Then there's the 9% of the time I have a flare up due to the ignorance of others usually lab employees, with the remaining 1% due to having a cold or the flu.

At any rate, I decided not to sit in a small room with a tank overfilled with a dangerous chemical until it gets repaired. Unfortunately, my Supv works a little distance from where I work and the person in charge of where I work is "challenged" as far a lab safely is concerned. But my Supv is a VERY cool lady though, so it's all good.

Moving on,the thought occurred to me that if I change positions now, the possibility of me becoming a Pathologist will probably change too. But if I stay where I am now, not only will the regular work with great Pathologists keep me motivated to keep pushing on, but the low pay will be a regular reminder that the thing I REALLY want to do in my career, pays pretty decently too.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Proverbs 3:5-8

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones."

This is one of my absolute FAVORITE biblical scripturse, not that I follow it the way I should. But I KNOW that I should especially when it comes to career planning.

So I haven't heard back from the gig I interviewed for last Thursday and I'm well with that because today I had one of the best days I've had so far in my current gig. And THAT my dear readers makes me a "career schizo", LOL!!!

However, when one of the most powerful Pathologists in your town asks to see you, you don't hesitate to make that happen. By ANY means necessary becasue you KNOW it "means" something. And when you learn she heard about you from the "sister friends" with expertise in Pathology that you indirectly work with in your current gig, it kinda makes you wonder why you EVER considered leaving in the first place. Because "sista' friends" in positions of power IN Pathology are RARE. Especially at research institutions.

Oprah Winfrey says that when you have doubt about ANYTHING in your life, it means to keep still and wait on God to show you the way. But patience has NEVER been a virute of mine though I try real hard to work on it. And sometimes life makes me work on it. Like now.

Anyhoo, I got the tuition remission thing worked out with my HR department TODAY, folks need not start trippin' about my benefits, 'cause I WILL follow up on that EVERYTIME!!!!
I also learned that I can get a Health Informatics Doctorate part-time too and that was probably the BEST news of all. Ironically, it's at a school that recruited me to apply to their med school years ago, but I'm really not focused on med school matriculation right now. That is until I go to work tomorrow and sit in on sign out with my old mentor Pathologist.

At any rate, I realize that with an empty nest coming fast, I need to be working on a Doctorate of some sort really soon too. Because time and opportunity waits for NO ONE and quite frankly, it's WAY PAST TIME!!!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Laughter is the BEST medicine!!

I heard someone say that they often laugh to keep from crying and based on the week I just had, I'd say that's probably a VERY good idea for me.

First things first, I interviewed for another job on Thursday, 24 hours after seeing my "new" job desciption in writing. The short story is that it looked NOTHING like what was discussed in my interview. And that's okay for me as long as I'm learning something, as I blogged about a few weeks ago. But when I find myself in a position where learning will be "difficult" as in FORGET about dissertation options among a couple other VERY important educational things like tuition reimbursement, I have to seriously rethink why I'm earning a salary I haven't seen since the late 1990's. Then there's the fact that the folks with this other gig REALLY seem to want me, so much so that they contacted me twice after I told them I was working elsewhere. And I also couldn't get their last email about working with them out of my mind, which made perfect sense when I got the "real" story of what my job duties would be in my current gig.

The other things that happened/I learned about my current gig this week are so "out there", I'm going to wait to mention specifics LONG after I'm gone from this group. Suffice it to say that I'm literally the laughing stock amomg people I've shared my "story" with, if there's a 1 in a million chance of a particular situation occuring at someone's job, it's VERY likely happened to me. So rather than cry woe is me, I've decided to put my best face on it and laugh with everyone else with the knowledge that my job experiences to date, are going to make me one hellva Doc one day.

Overall though, I'm feeling rather jaded about the idea of a research career especially in the context of what I observed this week, and I'm reminded once again, of why there are so few Black folks doing research for a living. What I AM feeling more excited about is the interface between Health Informatics and Healthcare. In other words, I'm giving more thought to what are feeling like more attainable professional goals given all the things I see/hear working at a top notch research organization. The fact that this new(er) gig is directly related to Health Informatics is just another plus. A SUPER, DUPER PLUS!!! :)