Posted by: ME | March 14, 2011

Echocardiography Rant

There’s a part of my life that I don’t really talk about too much any more, but I will tell you about some of the crazy things I’d come across over the years.

I was an echocardiographer for 15 years. I did ultrasounds on adults, kids and babies. I performed many many treadmill and medicine induced stress tests. I hooked up Holter and event monitors now and then. I assisted in sedating and shoving a 3 foot long ultrasound probe down peoples throats to see their heart from the inside. Of course only about a foot of it went down. I also did EKG’s and processed them.

I have been blessed enough to see bypass surgeries and valve replacement surgeries when they needed ultrasound assistance. Talk about cool to see a heart in someones chest.

I have also seen a few horrors such as a dentist who tried committing suicide by stabbing himself in the chest where I was called into a bloody mess to see if he actually stuck himself deep enough to have a hole in his heart. And a baby born to a drug momma who literally had tumors all over her heart, with one just perfectly blocking her aorta. I have been called in a few times to take a look at a potential donors heart, which was always painful because they were usually a young person in a vegetative state. Thankfully, only once, had I been in on a code and gave chest compressions to someone more than a lifeless dummy in a CPR class, and they didn’t live(I was one of many giving her chest compressions and we worked on her for about an hour). Once I was called in to do an echo on a little girl with congestive heart failure due to chemo for leukemia. Ouch. Thankfully, she is fine now, but that happened only about a year after our oldest had started chemo for the same cancer. Something I did very often in my early days doing echoes was evaluate donor hearts on patients who were donated a heart and had a second chance at life. I heard some amazing stories.

Most of the time I came across people and we laughed and had a good time getting the job done. Most of the time the news was good, or at least fixable. Most of the time I could witness to my patients in such a way that it didn’t offend. It’s a fine line nowadays.  Ashton’s journey was mostly my “in”,  because I could relate to the feelings my patients were going through. I had proof  God was there.

When I was first working in the field I was the only female tech at my first job, and there were 5 of us. Most of the first round of echo techs were military, then on the job training, until finally, schools were set up for it. I came in on the time between on the job training and schools starting up. I went to a school for echo.

I had a good profession for 15 years, and most of my years were part time with no benefits, no help with CEU’s, and no raise. I received all of my raises in the first 5 years, after that, I made the same amount from 2000-2010. I asked and always was turned down because I was PRN, even though I’d always worked steady shifts. I paid for all of my CEU’s, which I needed 36 of every 3 years. I kept up my own registry.

As a homeschooler,  I worked mostly weekends and one day a week when my hubby worked from home. Our 2 girls had their schedule and daddy made sure they got it done.

At my last job, in the last 3 years there, I was the in between aged person there- one tech was about 10 years older than me and the other 3 were in their 20’s. The one older than I had homeschooled her daughter for a couple of years, so we could relate to each other better. Plus, she was originally on the job trained and I always felt the one the job trained techs were much better than the ones that were new and taught in a school like I was. Maybe because they worked so hard to get there. The attitude and disposition of some of the younger techs was completely arrogant. Maybe compassion came with time and the realization that this could be your mom you’re working on. It did seem to be a more common that not trend though with newbies.

Plus , most of them thought homeschooling was the dumbest thing on earth and looked and treated me like an alien! LOL! They have no idea!

My favorite shifts were weekend shifts because I worked by myself and never had to deal with any other techs. I just had to worry about the patient, the cardiologist, if needed, and myself. This is why, if and when I ever do go back into that field, I would want to work in a clinic.

I was perusing the internet for jobs in this field today out of curiosity and as I came across a couple, all I saw was hospital work. Hospitals are a PITA to work at. Insurance and owners and lawsuits have made the paperwork of working at a hospital infuriating to me. They shove HIPPA down your throat like a transesophageal echo, to be repeated yearly and signed off on. They insist you get weird vaccinations that I just simply refuse to put into my body(not all, but a few weird ones in the past couple years that I cannot recall the name  and I cringed and prayed taking one that kept me my stupid job, but I think it was the bird flu one), and they don’t pay for continuing education but fully expect that you keep up your registry. But that could’ve just been HCA.

I liked doing echoes. I liked doing stress tests and talking to my patients.

I LOATHE all the crap that comes with the job though. Well, in a hospital.

Right now I am a stay at home, home school momma. 🙂 I love it a LOT but sometimes think about going back for some extra cash flow. At this point I’d rather go work for Disney making $7-8 per hour and not have to deal with all the hospital paperwork and upkeep, for extra money. Is that crazy? $25-40(call back) an hour or $7 or payment in tween/teen hugs, for happiness’ sake?! Am I nuts?

The ultimate would be to find an echo job on Saturdays at a cardiology office, OR somehow link Disney with echo! How cool would that be?! Animal Kingdom, maybe? Now THAT would be cool! Sedated animals over working in a hospital? Definitely! Or teaching something in echo would be cool, anything except physics!

In hindsight, you must know that having a child with leukemia ruined me for hospitals too. I really hate hospitals, but in another way feel quite comfortable making my way through them. I used to get seriously stomach sick walking into Children’s for appointments. The smells and the walk in. Ugh.

One thing I miss is ease of getting personal things taken care of so easily. I worked there, I was familiar with how things worked, and I knew most of the doctors roaming the halls at least somewhat. I feel lost here, in central Florida, and I know no one in the field. It’s weird. I think it’s because I could have walked into 4 different hospitals in our greater  NOLA area and at least been familiar with the layout, might see someone I knew (in 2 it would be more than likely) and knew where I was going and what to expect(mostly).

How things have changed in my life.

Rant/vent/blog post over.



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