Friday, April 18, 2008

Lifetime Ago

It seems almost a lifetime ago that I had a career in Respiratory Therapy working in small county hospitals and nursing homes. If I let my mind drift back to often I find that I really miss those days. At least some of them anyway, the funny moments with my work friends and the doctors were some of the best memories in my life. We had our good times together laughing, joking around, pulling pranks on one another and overall just a generally good time sharing in life. Hospitals may not be the place for some of our particular behavior, but you just gotta do some things to lighten the mood. Of course it also brings back many memories of bad times, and many many sad times as well.

It was kind of a fluke actually how I came about having that career. I had worked for several years in nursing homes as a CNA and at one point in my life actually started taking classes for nursing. However the man I was married to at the time made my life a living hell on trying for a nursing degree and so I ended up quitting classes and sticking with nursing homes only. Inside I longed for something more in health care. I didn't want to be wiping butts for the rest of my life. Not that there is anything wrong with this, but I wanted more for me. A friend of mine was a licensed resp. tech and worked at the local county hospital and came to me one day and asked if I would be interested in on the job training and taking a correspondence course to get my license. I jumped for joy as well as cried really big tears.

I remember my excitement the first day at work. The smells, the sounds, the feeling of finally doing something worthwhile in my life. I was in my own kind of heaven. I also remember my parents being so proud of me and sending me a bouquet of flowers that first day. I still have the card that was attached to it tucked away in my keepsake box. For once in my life I was doing something for me. It was a hard road sometimes. I was married to my second husband asshole 1, and Princess was about 5 years old at the time. Lots of long days and many nights as well. Since it was a small county hospital there were only three of us in the department. The head of the dept, myself and my friend. Whatever day we were scheduled to work we also had to take call that night. This meant many hours of work during the day (12 hours) and many times of being called in at night. Plus having to study and take tests as well. It was all worth it to me though.

After a while my friend moved on to another hospital and then we were down to two in our dept. Even longer days and nights followed. Still I didn't complain as I loved my work. I worked 7 days on (which included calls during the night) and 7 days off. It was like having a mini vacation every other week.

During this time I also was going through a divorce from asshole 1 and had taken another job on my days off. I started doing resp. therapy for the local durable medical equipment company as well. Plus still taking the correspondence course. My life got extremely hard at this point. Divorce is hard enough on children without mom having to work two jobs to make ends meet and mom having to study so much. Money got tight and for a while I had to drop out of the correspondence course. I was still able to keep my job however since it was in a county hospital and the rules had not changed yet.

Time rocked on and it only got tougher on me. I knew eventually I would have to start the class again to obtain my license or not be able to continue working in the field I loved so much. It was a hard decision to make as to whether to stay in the small hospital and work two jobs or move on to a bigger place which offered to pay my course work for me if I signed a years contract to work. It meant leaving the place where all of my friends were, the security of knowing pretty well what would happen from one day to the next, and moving on to making new friends. It also meant I would have to drive one hour to work each day. The new hospital offered me days only, no nights, no on call and many benefits I didn't have at the moment. I weighed the pros and cons and decided to take the new offer. I made a huge mistake by doing this. It wasn't what it was supposed to be at all. My first mistake was "not having the contract signed" before starting work there. Immediately upon starting I got to work one day of day shift and then got transferred to nights. I was told this would be changed very soon when they hired another employee for nights. I was also told since I was actually hired for day shift that I could "sleep" during the night between rounds and would not get into trouble. Heck they even provided me with a mattress for it and an alarm clock. Days rocked on, a month or more rocked on and still no contract to sign and no day shift coming available to me. Don't think I never asked about it. I did almost daily. Never getting a response from them except one time they brought me a "blank" contract to sign. Nothing filled in such as time schedule, the amount of years to work for the course to be payed left blank. So I refused to sign it that way. At the end of my three months I was fired from my employment there. The reason they provided me for doing this was because "I slept on the job". I was devastated. My career ended that day. I had worked so hard for nothing. I was angry at the world for this. There was also nothing I could do about it. I had no paperwork to back up what had been promised to me, no license to move to another hospital and could not go back to the old job. That hospital had been bought out by a bigger corporation and would not honor the OJT's.

I have since more than once tried to obtain my licensing but to no avail. Arkansas has changed the rules to where you have to actually attend college courses for this area of study. Yet Arkansas only has one college available for study and it's located about four hours from me. This is the closet one to me at this time.

So I have only my memories from a lifetime ago of having the career I had always longed for. Now I settle for those memories and watching ER and Grey's Anatomy. But it will never be the same.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry that you can't get your license now. Can you do "California College?" I know it has a different name now...but goggle it and see what you come up with?

How about getting your RN degree. There are all kinds of programs for that. That's a great job too, just not as good as RT!! lol Ger!

Anonymous said...

What a nice post!

Treasia said...

I am not able to do California College and it be recognized in Arkansas. They do not accept correspondence courses any longer for your license. In fact this is the correspondence course I was taking a lifetime ago.

I did attempt college courses (or at least the basics) a couple of years ago, right after trucker and I married, but my middle aged brain just can't wrap around math any longer. The pressure of school at the time was physically getting to me as well.

Anonymous said...

Well, that just sucks. You know how much I love being a RT. Hang in will work out for the best. Ger!

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