Friday, May 31, 2013

The College Story: Part Seven

Happy Friday!
Let's just say that I have mixed emotions about this weekend...
I had a CRAZY week (with school letting out and having to pack up my classroom) 
and am very much looking forward to relaxing.
But Monday starts Summer Camp 2013 at the YMCA...
and, well, I'm not feeling completely prepared for it.
I'm hoping and praying for a peaceful weekend
and I wish the same for all of you! <3
My babies were so excited on the Last Day of School :)
To continue (and hopefully, FINISH) my college story...

I didn't pass my Re-Entry to Radiography Exam.
Again, I was close...not as close as my Final Grade situation,
but I was still pretty close.
I needed a 78% to pass the exam.
I got a 69%.
My instructor had graded my exam right in front of me
and I managed to surprise even myself 
when I didn't completely dissolve into a puddle of tears
when she informed me of my score.

In fact, I felt...peaceful.
Borderline numb...but mostly peaceful.
I was able to calmly thank her for the opportunity
to retest into the Radiography Program.
She once again expressed her opinion that I belonged in X-Ray
and that I should try again in the future when I had the money to do so.
I told her I would reconsider the X-Ray program in five years.
I left her office with my heart full of questions 
but my head held high.
When I reached the ICC parking deck,
aloud I said, "Okay, Jesus, what now?"
(Haven't we all been there a time or two?)
There was no giant crash of thunder or bright strike of lightning 
informing me what His next plans were for my life.
I didn't really think there would be.
I just had an overwhelming sense that 
everything was going to be okay.

 The door to X-Ray officially closed for me on January 30.
In the months that followed (and even now), I occasionally loose ends.
Even after writing this College Story,
it's sometimes still difficult to talk about X-Ray.
Because I still love it.
And I DEFINITELY miss it.
And I'm still not quite sure what the point of the whole experience was.
I've got some ideas about it...but I'm not 100% sure.
That's not to say I regret being in the program.
On the contrary, I learned a lot during the Radiography Program
and not just about X-ray.

Of course, I learned how to position a patient correctly
to produce good images.
And I learned the criteria for what makes an image "good".
I learned good patient care skills and how to work with people 
who resented a student's presence in their hospital.
But more importantly, I learned things about myself as a person.
I learned that I DO tend to be a little naive.
I learned that flexibility is NOT one of my natural God-given talents,
but rather something I REALLY have to work on. 
I learned that no matter how hard I try,
I'm NEVER going to please everyone.
Someone will always have a problem with something!
(Feel free to write that down...I think I will...)
I learned that I was "brave" enough 
to stand my ground when my faith was challenged.
I learned how to be a witness.
Those lessons are priceless and I will always be grateful 
for the opportunity Radiography gave me to learn them.
For the record, this is NOT a spectacular chest X-ray...:) I haven't forgotten everything yet...
My boss at the YMCA knew I was taking my Re-Entry Exam
and was anxious to find out if she was going to be losing me (again).
Her worries were put to rest when I informed her 
that I was still hers on a full-time basis for the foreseeable future. 
She immediately set about acquiring the tools 
I would need to plan and coordinator Summer Camp 2013.
She was beyond happy to pass that burden onto me
and I was actually happy to take it on.
Camp planning is pretty simple and enjoyable.
Just the kind of work I needed after the stress of the X-Ray situation.

And my babies at Concordia Lutheran School...
well, they are my little sunshines,
who can make me smile even on my lowest day.
(I'm really going to miss them over the summer...)
Sometimes I don't know where I would be without them.
I have these kids 3 hours a day on average.
And during that time, I try to have a positive effect on them.
I want them to know I believe in them
and that I'm there for them in any capacity that they need.
But, more often than not, 
I think they have a bigger effect on me 
than I do on them.
I hope my impact on them is half as effective 
as theirs has been on me.
I feel blessed beyond measure to have them in my life.
They were a great source of support and unconditional love 
throughout the X-Ray situation.

In late February and early March,
I looked into Photography school and was actually accepted 
into the online program through The Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
But, once again, money was an issue.
The Art Institute would've cost me over $9,000 for an academic year
and financial aid could only get me a $3,600 grant.
So, I graciously turned down the offer to be a student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

So, right now, and for the next little while at least,
I'm just working for the YMCA 
(and doing a little photography on the side)
And, actually, I am actively looking for a second job 
to help with these student loan payments.
Sometimes, I think that God has me in a time of rest.
I'm not completely sure of this, but I strongly suspect it.
Whatever the reason for this season in my life,
I know He knows what He's doing.
There's a purpose for this that I don't understand yet.
I may never understand it in this life.
But someday I will.
"Now we see things imperfectly, 
like puzzling reflections in a mirror, 
 but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. 
All that I know now is partial and incomplete, 
but then I will know everything completely, 
just as God now knows me completely."
I Corinthians 13:12 - The New Living Translation

Thank you for going on this College Story journey with me.
As I've said many times, it was something I needed to do for myself,
but I appreciated the company more than I can express in words.
Knowing you were there waiting to hear the rest of the story
kept me writing even when I really didn't feel up to telling it.
I'm looking forward to some more FUN writing on my blog now...:)
(Including my "Tree of the Week"...I haven't forgotten!
Just got caught up in this College Story)
I hope you will continue to read!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The College Story: Part Six

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
Thank you to all of our brave service men and women
who have sacrificed so much to secure our freedom.
You are all heroes to me.

To continue my College Story...

When I say "I walked away from X-ray",
I mean "I walked away from X-ray".
I couldn't talk about it.
I couldn't think about it.
I hid my scrubs in the back of my closet where I was less likely to see them.
I hid my textbooks on the top shelf of my closet.
I wanted to avoid anything and everything that reminded me of X-Ray.
I was ashamed of my failure.
Devastated and ashamed.

People would tell me that I had nothing to be ashamed of;
that these things happened sometimes.
And they were right.
But it didn't really get through my thick skull.
I had been knocked down HARD by this.
I felt rattled in my innermost parts.
Not about everything.
The SERIOUS things, I still had a firm hold on:
I was a child of God.
He still had Great Plans for me.
He still loved me and would never stop.
I still had talents and abilities to be proud of.

 Other things...were not so clear.
X-Ray had been my Path to Independence.
With a career in Medical Imaging,
I was going to be able to support myself 100%
Being a single girl,
I was attempting to make the responsible choice
of a good career just in case I never married.
(We single girls have to think like this at times...)
That feeling of security was gone.
I didn't know what the next step should be.

After the initial phone discussion with my instructor,
I had another conversation with her a few days later.
She gave me three options:
I could walk away from X-Ray and not look back
(I have to admit, I was seriously considering this one...),
I could re-apply for the X-Ray Program and start from the beginning
(yeah right...with all my hundreds of thousands of dollars I have just lying around? 
Sorry, I'm a little bitter about that one...),
or in the following January (2013), I could attempt to "test back into"
the X-Ray Physics class I had failed 
and simply pick back up where I left off if I passed the exam.
I had a decision to make.
How long will you WAIVER between two opinions?

I (again) sought counsel from my church leaders.
This time, I met with my former High School (NLCA) principle and his wife
(who better to help me with educational issues 
than the people who supervised my entire pre-college education?)
I laid the options before them
and they asked me one question:
"What do you want to do?"
That was the problem: I didn't know what I wanted.
I wanted to put the shame behind me and completely forget about X-ray.
I wanted to try again and pass and overcome the obstacles 
and have a great career in Medical Imaging.
I was completely exhausted and wanted to take a break.
I wanted everything...and nothing.

Honestly, I'm not sure we actually accomplished anything in that meeting 
(meaning, I don't think I reached a decision that day)
but I did leave there feeling better.
Interesting how God uses the authorities in your life 
to comfort you even in the midst of an ocean of confusion
(yeah, I really think He does stuff like that).
In the end, I made the decision to try to test back into the class I had failed.
I couldn't take the test until the end of January 2013
and this was August 2012.
I suppose it was a good thing that I had so much time
because I didn't buckle down and start studying for a while.
I still couldn't look at my textbooks.
I was still ashamed.
And I was hiding.

Last fall passed in a blur.
And I literally mean A BLUR.
My church was planning a HUGE Children's Musical for Christmas
and guess who the assistant director was?
(Yeah, sometimes I questioned their choice...)
In a way, I needed it.
I needed something to focus my attention on.
Something I could throw myself into.
And I did.
During the "putting together" of the production,
my cousin, Adina, who was Head Director of the musical said,
"I'm really glad you don't have to worry about homework right now."
Her words unintentionally stung a bit
(I would've rather been preoccupied with X-Ray school than directing a musical),
but at the same time, it was exactly what I needed to hear.
 It took some time, 
but I was eventually able to reach the conclusion 
that I was exactly where I needed to be.

I had a similar REVELATION at work.
My boss was completely thrilled when I informed her that I could come back full-time.
She was sorry that school hadn't worked out the way I wanted it to,
but she was BEYOND HAPPY that I was once again at her disposal.
She immediately offered me the Site Coordinator at Concordia Lutheran School
which I accepted without hesitation.
I will never forget (again, thanks to Facebook's awesome memory) 
what I felt when I stood in my classroom 
at Concordia at the beginning of the school year.
 I posted on my Facebook:
"This is a life curve I wasn't expecting...
but now that we are here I'm gonna try to make the most of it 
and give God all the glory He deserves 
regardless of what I'm feeling at the moment.
Let's get this school year started off right! 
Lord, to You be the Glory..."
My Classroom

So, I got through the fall and Christmas.
Christmas was a story all its own that I am NOT up to telling at this point.
Maybe someday...
With Christmas behind me, I threw myself into studying
for my "Re-entry to X-Ray" Exam.
It was still difficult to look at my textbooks, 
but I knew I had to get over that
so I just pushed through it
(with His help of course...).
This where my story gets weird again...
I had failed the PHYSICS portion of Radiography.
Obviously, THAT was my problem area.
However, when I studying for my re-entry exam,
the physics made the most sense.
After only a short amount of time reviewing,
I was confident I knew what I was doing.
This was not the case for the Anatomy and Physiology portion
(which was the portion I had actually passed).
Yeah, I was confusing myself...
Therefore, I spent most my study time reviewing Anatomy and Physiology.

I was scheduled to take my test at noon on January 30th
in my instructor's office...with her in there
...and me just "borrowing" a corner of her desk
...which I thought was weird...Anyway...
 The night before, I had text several close friends and family and asked for prayers.
I was nervous, of course, but not overly so.
God had REALLY given me peace that day.
The test was 100 multiple choice questions.
I pretty much breezed through the first 50.
(They were all Anatomy and Physiology...the portion I had studied my brains out for...)
The second half (the physics portion) was more difficult but not awful.
When I was finished, I handed the exam to my instructor
and she proceeded to grade it right in front of me
 During and after the exam,
I felt like I was going to pass.
I had a peace that I had done my best and that everything was going to work out.
And by that I mean, that I was going to get back into Radiography
and be able to complete what I had started.
That's not what happened.

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The College Story: Part Five

Good Evening!
I absolutely LOVED the break from the hot weather today!
I hope you enjoyed it as well!
Lol...I think this is how I looked when I stepped outside from work today :)

To continue my College Story...
Again, I apologize for the length of this story.
It really was NOT my intent to drag it out this long.
But a lot happened...
And I need to stop hiding and process all the details.

I had failed my X-Ray Physics class by a sixth of a point.
I had failed by a sixth of a point????
I couldn't believe it.
That just didn't seem right!
I would've much rather failed by 50 points!
At least then I would know that X-Ray was NOT for me 
and could justify pursuing something else.
But 1/6 of a point is SSSSOOOO close to passing,
I knew I HAD to try again!
But at the same time,
the last thing I wanted to do was try again.
I was completely DEVASTATED by this curve of the Roller Coaster.
I DEFINITELY did not see this one coming!
Yes, I knew my grades were low, 
but I had done really well on the last few tests 
and brought my grade up significantly.
I had studied my brains out for the final 
and I honestly thought everything would work out fine.
(That could be a little bit of my naivety showing through again...)

I had discovered my final grade on my own.
My instructor didn't call or email me to inform me.
I found it posted online on Blackboard, part of the ICC website.
I was at work when I discovered it.
Thank God I was in the privacy of my own office 
so I could have a cry fest.

I had taken my final
and seen my final grade on a Monday.
I was scheduled to do three more clinical rotations
before the end of the summer semester,
one being the following day.
I didn't know if this failure of my final would affect that.
So, I picked up the phone and called my instructor.
When she answered, I simply said, "Hi, it's Sarah."
I will never forget her response, "Hi, Sarah" 
accompanied by one of the saddest sighs I've ever heard.
I had to take a moment to collect myself.
Then I asked, "So what does this mean?"
(Not sure if that was a naive moment or if I was simply hoping for a miracle)

My instructor responded, "As the letter says,
you are no longer a student in the Radiography Program at ICC."
The directness of the last part of her statement
hit me so hard I didn't quite catch on to the first part.
"So, am I going to clinicals tomorrow?"
"Again, as the letter says, 
you've already completed enough clinical hours for the summer semester
to receive a passing grade as far as clinicals are concerned.
Therefore, you do not need to attend your final three clinical rotations."
"What if I WANTED to attend?"
(You might think I'm crazy for having this desire, 
but the truth is, I wanted to be able to say goodbye to X-Ray
I wanted to take one last chest film and KNOW it was my last. 
I wanted to savor the moment...
just in case this really was goodbye for FOREVER.)

My instructor responded, "Sarah, you are no longer an X-Ray Student.
Therefore, you cannot represent ICC at Methodist Hospital.
You need to remove your personal articles from your locker at the hospital 
as soon as possible."
None of this was spoken in a harsh or degrading tone.
We were both very polite throughout the entire conversation.
But the words still cut deeply...
At this point in the conversation, I finally picked up on the 
"as the letter says" part.
I asked, "You talked about a letter? What letter?"
She patiently replied, "The letter I emailed to you stating your final grade
and what your next steps are to exit the program."
"I haven't received an email from you."
"Then how did you know what your final grade was?"
I said, "I kept checking Blackboard."
My instructor answered, "Oh, Sarah, I'm sorry you found out that way.
I will try emailing you the official letter again."

When I still had not received her email a few moments later,
we "discovered" that she had an incorrect email address for me.
I had been her student for almost a year
and we had corresponded through email many times.
How could she have had an incorrect address for me?
(Again, am I the only one dumb stuff like this happens to?)
She corrected the issue and resent the email.
When I confirmed to her that I had received it,
she suggested I read over it and then call her if I had further questions.
We hung up and I began to read the email.

Just like our talk, the tone of the letter was not harsh or degrading in any way.
But once again, the directness took my breath away.
(I won't bore you by repeating the whole thing here.)
It consisted mostly of everything my instructor and I had discussed on the phone.
I think the part that startled me the most was where I was instructed
to go to Methodist Hospital THAT DAY and clean out my belongings.
In a way, it sort of felt like they couldn't wait to remove all memory of me from the place.
I did as instructed and went to the hospital as soon as I got off work.
I seriously considered "sneaking" in and avoiding my clinical instructors at all cost.
But in the end, I couldn't justify that action.
It wasn't their fault I had failed my class.
And I needed to thank them.
They had POURED SO MUCH into me.
And not just X-Ray knowledge.

I actually went looking for my clinical instructors
BEFORE I cleaned out my locker.
I wandered into each subsection of the Medical Imaging Department
but couldn't find them.
They ended up finding me.
In the hall, outside the locker room.
One of them saw me and called my name while they were still a distance away.
I turned and attempted a smile.
It didn't last very long.
By the time they reached me, I was in tears.
And our conversation began with me saying, 
"I'm going need a moment."

One of them compassionately reached out to touch my arm,
while the other one began speaking.
She encouraged me that she had no doubts I belonged in the Medical Imaging profession.
That my growth during clinicals proved that.
She said this failure was just a bump in the road
and that both of them would be willing to tutor me
should I ever try to get back into Radiography.
They both wished me luck
and reminded me they were both just a phone call away.
We said goodbye and I cleaned out my locker
and I walked away from X-Ray.

To be continued...

Friday, May 17, 2013

The College Story: Part Four

Good Evening!
I want to take a moment 
and thank my readers who have been following this story.
I won't pretend that this has been a very interesting story for you to read.
I'm sure you have much more important things to be doing
than reading the story of my college days.
That being said, I really do appreciate those of you 
who have been following this story from the beginning.
Thank you for letting me tell my story
and caring enough to hear what I have to say.
I do not take your listening ears lightly.
Sincerely...From the bottom of my heart...

Now, to continue
...and, this is where my story gets scary least, it's scary to me...

When I had received my Phlebotomy Certificate (Spring 2011),
I was repeatedly asked if I was going to have a graduation party.
My answer was always the same, 
"No, this is only my 'fake' graduation. 
I'm going to wait until my graduation from the (Radiography) Program to have a HUGE party."
I also joked about throwing an 
That's how excited and RELIEVED I was to FINALLY "see the light at the end of the tunnel".
You have no idea how irritating it is 
for people to ask you how much longer you're going to be in school
(I started deflecting the question with 'humor',
"Oh, the rest of my life").
But, NOW, I could finally visualize the end of the race!
The Radiography Program at ICC is two years long.
I started in August 2011.
That meant that graduation was going to be July 2013.
I was ECSTATIC to begin the X-Ray "race"!
But I DIDN'T HAVE A CLUE what I was in for...

Looking back on it all now,
Radiography unprecedented challenge in my life.
I had never faced up to anything quite like it before.
Have you ever been faced with a series of obstacles 
and asked yourself these questions, 
"Are these obstacles here as challenges for me to overcome?
Or are they warning signs telling me this isn't the right path?"
 That's exactly where I was with Radiography.
From the start, I faced one obstacle after another.
(I guess, technically, the first challenge was just getting accepted into the Program...)
Some of them were...just plain stupid.

A few days before classes began
I went to the bookstore (like a good, little student) to purchase all my required textbooks.
I had my class list in hand and - since I didn't trust myself to read the Greek written there upon -
I asked a bookstore employee to help me locate my textbooks. 
The lady took me directly to the corner of the store I needed to be in 
and proceeded to hand me a ONE textbook and ONE manilla envelope
and then smiled and said, "There you go!"
Being my normal, naive self,
I completely believed she knew what she was talking about,
paid the bill and left.
On the day classes began,
(Seriously, am I the only person this kind of stuff happens to?)
Thank the Lord I wasn't penalized for not having the books!
My instructor simply sent me to the bookstore 
during the class break to get the rest of the materials.

A more serious obstacle came into play 
when I began my clinical rotations at Methodist Hospital in October 2011.
 I mentioned in a previous post that I took a Basic EMT class at ICC
while I waiting to be accepted into Radiography.
During that class, I discovered the hard way that I have a Latex sensitivity.
(Notice! I said "sensitivity...NOT ALLERGY
Apparently, there is a significant difference.)
During an EMT skill station practice,
I had grabbed a pair of latex medical gloves
and used them throughout the skill station.
I noticed that my knuckles were beginning to itch,
but I just shrugged it off thinking my hands were sweating.
However, when I removed the gloves at the end of the skill station,
my knuckles were swollen and red and burning/itching.
I showed my instructor and he confirmed it looked like a reaction to the latex.
I went to see my personal physician and he tested me for the latex allergy.
The test came back negative
but he told me IN WRITING that I should still avoid using latex gloves
as a person can "come down" with the latex allergy 
after being exposed to it for long periods of time.
He was the first person I had ever heard use the term "Latex sensitivity".

When I began my Radiography clinical rotations,
naturally I shared this information with my clinical instructors right away.
I even had a note from my physician for them to keep in my student file.
I don't know what I expected them to say (again, this is me being naive),
expect the answer I received.
My clinical instructor looked me in the eye and said, 
"Sarah, if you have a latex allergy or sensitivity, 
you probably should reconsider Radiography 
and think about another career outside of the medical field."

I honestly felt as if I had been slapped.
To this day, I can't remember how I responded to that advice.
I'm sure I must have had a dumbfounded look on my face,
but I don't know what I said.
Some kind of compromise must've been reached
since I continued to go to clinicals and NOT wear latex gloves.
In retro spect, I suppose I took that scenario as a challenge to be overcome
rather than a warning sign that this was not the path for me.
I didn't want to be seen as a quitter.
I had made up in my mind and even said aloud to my fellow X-Ray students,
"If 'they' want me out of this program, 
'they' are going to have to throw me out kicking and screaming."
That resolve was put to the test over the course of the next few months.

My first few months of clinicals (approximately October through February),
I didn't know if I could make it.
 My WONDERFUL Pastor offered me a sympathetic ear
and great advice during this time that persuaded me to keep trying.
My Pastor and his LOVELY wife along with one of my favorite church ladies!
I liked what I was learning in the classroom
and enjoyed putting it into use in the hospital setting.
I LOVED the fact that X-Ray is a science and an art form!
However, I DID NOT have a good relationship 
with my clinical instructors at this point.
(Ask any student of the medical profession, 
a good relationship with your clincial instructors is VITAL for success.)

On January 25, 2012,
I posted on my Facebook (don't you just love that FB has that kinda memory? haha)
"I'm going to be honest...I've really been struggling with school and clinicals lately...
just feeling really stressed out and truly wondering 
if I was capable of working successfully in Radiography for the rest of my life. 
I sought counsel and prayers from friends and family 
and was basically just getting by
But something happened this week...
I fell in love with X-Rays again 
and was finally able to believe that I truly can do all things 
through Christ who strengthens me! 
Thank You, Jesus, for seeing me through that valley!"

I don't really know how to explain what happened to me 
other than to say, something just clicked.
When that semester ended, 
I received this evaluation from my clinical instructors
(yes, the ones I had PREVIOUSLY not had a good relationship with!)
(Again, these quotes come from the awesome memory of Facebook!):
"Sarah, you have really found your spot and groove here during clinicals.
It is great to see you more sure of yourself.
You are not afraid to jump in and get the exam done.
You are very pleasant with the techs and patients.
You are doing well."
This was from my favorite clinical instructor.
To this day I love them both,
but this one was always the most encouraging and supportive.
The other one tended to be pretty harsh
and for a while I thought there might actually be something 
she didn't like about me personally.
Here is what she had to say -
and this ABSOLUTELY BLEW ME AWAY!!!! - :
"Sarah, you have made excellent progress!
I agree with (the other instructor) 
- when you found your 'niche' - you took off!
Great rapport with your patients and staff 
- always smiling."
Apparently, I was doing well in clinicals.
I can't say the same for the classroom...

I had been struggling academically during my Spring 2012 semester
but had managed to squeak by.
The Summer Semester is a different story.
We had been REALLY focusing on the SCIENCE of X-ray.
Specifically, the PHYSICS angle of X-ray.
I thought I had hated physics in High School...
THIS was a HUNDRED times worse!
And it showed up in my final grade.
 To pass the Summer Semester,
I needed a final grade of 78%.
My grade was 77.4%.
I had failed by a sixth of a point.

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The College Story: Part Three

Good Evening!
What a GORGEOUS day it has been!
I honestly have no idea how many posts it is going to take me to tell this story.
For one thing, I was in college A LONG TIME.
And, A LOT OF THINGS OCCURRED during that time period.
So, I'm just going to tell this story at my pace 
and I would LOVE it if you would tag along with me and read it! :)
So anyway, to continue...

I returned to school full-time in January 2008
this time FOCUSED on completing the prerequisites 
required for me to enter the Radiography Program.
I also began working for the YMCA at the same time.
Going to work for the YMCA
was one of the SMARTEST things I've ever done.
Over the entire course of my ICC career,
the YMCA would graciously work around my school schedule
to provide me with the income I needed.
I will always be grateful to them, particularly my boss, Tammy, for their support.
(If you're interested in finding out more about my job at the YMCA,
please refer to my Birthday Post.)

To say that I was EXCITED about returning to school full-time is a HUGE understatement.
I FINALLY had direction!
I had chosen Radiography and I was okay with that decision.
I had prayed about Radiography as a Career choice and felt at peace about it.
Radiography was a SMART choice
As a career, it provides job security, good compensation,
and many different learning experiences.
As a field of study, Radiography is considered a "base major".
Meaning that once you have completed the program,
it is quite easy to branch out into other Medical Technologist Professions
such as: echocardiograms, sonograms, and MRIs
(personally, I was BLOWN AWAY by MRI
and had chosen to pursue that after Radiography).
A "traditional" MRI machine
But that's jumping ahead (again...).
At this point in my college career,
I was busy with regular, mostly non-medical classes:
Sociology (ACED that class without cracking the textbook),
Psychology, College Alegebra, American History, the Bible as Literature,
Intro to Theatre (yeah, I chose that one...I'm a drama queen and proud of it!),
and Biology (hated that class...I still don't care that plants photosynthesize).
I did fairly well with these classes.
I took as many of them as I could online or as independent studies
(thank you, NLCA and ACE School of Tomorrow).

THEN, I got to jump into some of the required medical classes:
Anatomy & Physiology of the Human Body
(loved the class, hated the lab - not so great at dissecting cow eyeballs and sheep brains),
Medical Terminology (another class I got to take as an independent study),
Disease Processes in the Human Body, Basic Health, Intro to Pharmacology
(all taken online...I told you I was better at those...),
and Medical Ethics (AMAZING class! Seriously, I LOVED it!).

Each semester I had been registering for classes online myself
and only meeting with my Health Careers adviser when necessary.
Since I had nearly completed all my prerequisites,
I figured it was time to meet with her again
just to make sure I was still as "on-track" as I thought I was.
It turned out to be a quite depressing meeting.
She confirmed that I was on-track,
so I asked, "So, you think it's time for me to apply to the Radiography Program?"
She gave me a shocked look and replied,
"You should have been applying for the program every semester since you chose that major."
I'm sure I gave her an equally shocked look right back,
"But I'm just now finishing up my prerequisites.
Why would I apply to a program I wasn't ready to enter?"
"Because," she answered, "there is a huge waiting list for the Radiography Program.
It can take years to get accepted."

Needless to say, my heart dropped to the floor.
Whether I had completely missed this fact in our prior meetings
or she had simply neglected to inform me was irrelevant at this point.
Of course, I was frustrated, but I was more interested in figuring out how to get into Radiography.
My adviser walked me through the program application process
and told me to reapply every semester if I was not accepted.
She then suggested we look for classes that interested me
for me to take the following semester since I HAD to be a full-time student
to stay on my mother's insurance plan (this was yet another bomb dropped on me...
I didn't know that's how THAT worked either!!!!)
and I didn't have enough prerequisite classes left to qualify me as a full-time student.
And there was ABSOLUTELY no way
I was getting into the Radiography Program next semester. spite of the fact that I was taking out student loans
every semester just to pay for the NECESSARY classes,
that's exactly what we did.

I ended up taking several useful, but unnecessary classes
over the next few years as I waited for a spot in Radiography to open up:
Basic EMT, Intro to Electrocardiograms,
and Psych 104 ("How to Succeed at a Community College"...
yeah, that class was a few years too late...) to name a few.
I temporarily quit the YMCA in May 2010
and went to work for a company called HealthPort
(technically, I started working for Healthport in December 2009
and was working for the YMCA part-time as well).

HealthPort is a medical record copy service that is a contract employee of OSF.
Basically, I looked like "The Bag Lady" while I was employed by them.
I carried a massive laptop and scanner with me at all times
as I traveled around the Peoria area processing medical records requests for local OSF physicians.
I worked full-time for Healthport for seven months (I took a sabbatical from ICC),
then worked for them part-time while I studied for
and RECEIVED a Certificate in Phlebotomy in Spring 2011.

THEN I was FINALLY accepted to the Radiography Program in Fall 2011.

To be continued...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The College Story: Part Two

Good Evening!
To continue the College Story...

My trip to Mexico City experience to say the least.
A good experience
One that I would gladly undertake again, 
but by the time the month was over,
I was READY to be home.
(Maybe I will write post about my Mexico experience some day...)

Upon returning to the U.S., 
I was once again faced with "The Question."
"What are you going to be when you grow up?"
"What are you going to do with your life?"
I still didn't know what I wanted.
My mother and I met with an academic adviser at Illinois Central College (ICC) 
who encouraged me to take some basic general education classes
(English, Science, American History, Art & Humanities, etc)
just to get them out of the way while I decided on a major.
So that's exactly what I did.

 Experiencing those initial classes at ICC
was like experiencing something akin to cultural shock.
Up until this point,
all my learning had been independent 
through the ACE School of Tomorrow program
offered by New Life Christian Academy (NLCA)
- the private school affiliated with my church, the Pentecostals of Peoria.
(For those of you who have no idea 
what the ACE School of Tomorrow curriculum is like,
you can find more information about it here.)

 At the end of my first semester at ICC,
I had chosen a major: Journalism.
I was a wordy person.
I loved to write.
I thought, "Hey, what could be better than getting a job doing what you love?"
I truly thought it was going to be that easy.
(I told you in my last post that I was/am naive...see?)
Two Composition classes at ICC
changed my perspective on professional, secular writing.
I didn't know what I wanted to do
but I knew Journalism was NOT it.

I would like to take a little side step here
and acknowledge one of my English instructors at ICC,
Pamela Dewey.
She's the reason I'm still a writer.
I hope you can see this someday, Mrs. Dewey.
Thank you.

Anyway, back to my story.
I had discovered that my calling was not Journalism.
So I was back in the same boat as before.
I didn't know what I wanted.
So, again, I followed the advice of my ICC advisor
and simply worked on getting my general studies out of the way
while I decided on a NEW major.

For years, my mother had been talking to me
about the importance of having an occupation that
"was always going to be around"
(you know, a job that would always require a human
- a job that would always need human intervention vs computer technology.)
To me, that sounded like a medical profession.
No matter how advanced medical technology becomes,
the medical field will always require human compassion and logic.
Couldn't resist throwing a Grey's Anatomy pic in :)...LOVE Bailey!
During this time,
I was working full-time as a Medical Records Clerk at HeartCare Midwest.
(I was stilling attending ICC part-time)
This was my first "real" job...
and I was excellent at it.
That's when I decided the Medical Field was the place for me.
I stayed at HeartCare for approximately 18 months.
While there, I looked for opportunities to leave Medical Records
and move up the job ladder
but was denied every time
because of my lack of schooling.
I decided that if I was truly going to get a good job in the Medical Field
I needed to go back to school full-time.
I left HeartCare Midwest in November 2007.

So I had decided on a medical profession.
Now I had to choose WHICH medical profession.
I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt
that I DID NOT want to be a nurse.
Frankly, because I did not want to deal with poop and vomit.
(Seriously...that was my logic...again...I was VERY naive!)
That's when I re-visited the X-Ray Technologist angle.
I met with the Head Adviser of Medical Careers at ICC
and she informed me that I still had quite a few prerequisites
to get out of the way before I would even be considered
for the X-Ray Tech program.
So I buckled down and started knocking them out.

After quitting HeartCare Midwest,
I still needed to work part-time in addition to attending school.
So, I began working as a cashier at Hobby Lobby.

I started in November.
Anyone who has worked as a cashier will know
that is EXACTLY the WRONG time of year to start a job in the retail industry.
I still have nightmares about the glitter.
I washed it out of my hair and clothes EVERY DAY.
Now, don't get me wrong.
The entire experience wasn't horrible.
I had a very nice discount
and since Hobby Lobby is a Christian owned company,
I simply informed them when I had church activities
and they would let me off work.
But in less than a month
I knew that the retail industry was not for me.

I was set to resume full-time classes at ICC in January 2008
and I knew I needed to have a part-time job secured before then.
I began searching for any and all part-time positions
in the Peoria area through Yahoo Hot Jobs.
And I found my current employer:
The School-Age Department
at The Greater Peoria Family YMCA.

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The College Story: Part One

 I'm about to share one of my scary stories
(please refer to my 1st blog post, Stories...We All Have Them).
At least this story is scary to me.
It is therefore difficult for me to talk about.
Sometimes, it hurts me physically to talk about it.
But this story needs to be told, 
not because I have a particular audience in mind that needs to hear it. 
I just need to tell it.
And I need somebody to listen.
Anyway, here we go...

It's May. The month of graduations.
My graduation.
From college.
 But I'm jumping ahead...
This story is long and complicated,
so I am going to be splitting it up between a few posts.

From the time a child begins school
(even earlier in some cases), 
they are repeatedly asked "The Question".
We are all familiar with "The Question."
Everyone of us has had this question put to them numerous times
and everyone of us has given 100s of different answers to "The Question
over the course of our lives.
What is "The Question"?
"The Question" is: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

As a child, this question is actually pretty easy to answer.
"A Fireman", a stout little guy answers
 because ever since he saw his first firetruck 
he's been completely enthralled with the profession.
"A Ballerina" is a sweet little seven-year-old girl's response 
because her mom took her to see The Nutcracker at Christmas time last year
and she was totally swept away by the magic of it all.

It is my theory that adults ask a child "The Question"
simply to hear what the child will say.
And we all know, " say the darndest things!"
(For the sake of information, I did dream of being a ballerina...
Oh, and a florist...)

As a child grows and matures,
"The Question" takes on more weight and significance.
When a child is in Jr and Senior High School,
he/she is "supposed to" have at least an idea of a legitimate career in their heads when
"The Question" is put to them.
To put it simply, this was NOT the case with me.
When High School graduation was staring me in the face,
I honestly did not have a clue what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I apologize for the distortion...this photo is an OLD scan...
For years, I had been fed a constant diet of "You HAVE to go to college"
by my mother and youth leaders.
Therefore, I knew that to be the logical choice.
However, I had no clue what to study. 
Also, I did not have any funds set aside for college
and I had been denied financial aid,
so the idea of just going to school
and seeing what classes appealed to me
was pretty much out of the question.
To say the least, I was stumped.
Frustrated...and stumped.

I graduated from High School in May 2005.
That summer, I was given the WONDERFUL opportunity
to spend a month in Mexico City
with my Missionary cousins, Holley and Daniel Drost.
 Right before I left on that trip,
a neighbor of mine from up the block
randomly appeared on my doorstep
and told me about a job opportunity at her place of employment.
She was an X-ray Technologist at one of the local hospitals.
She informed me that the hospital was looking to fill several
positions in the Medical Imaging Department.
She told me that being an X-ray Tech was difficult but she really thought I could do it.
She encouraged me to fill out a job application
and lead me to believe I was a shoo-in for at least one of the positions.
So, I followed her advice.
I filled out a job application,
dropped it off at the hospital,
and left the country for a month,
fully believing I would have a job waiting for me when I returned.
I never heard a word from the hospital.

(Reading over what I have written thus far,
I fully realize how naive I've made myself out to be.
I was and still am at times
That's just the simple truth of it.)

To be continued...