Thursday, January 04, 2007

Making New Plans

I've hesitated to write about this, because once I give it some context, I run the risk of sounding a bit like a flake, which I don't think I am, but since self-delusion is a common human condition, I won't make any empirical statements about my flakiness or lack thereof.

When my kids were in high school, and I was seeing the light at the end of the hands-on, intense child-raising tunnel, I started in earnest trying to figure out what I wanted to be when the kids grew up.

I looked into buying a self-supporting Bed & Breakfast--it would probably have to be officially an inn--but decided I didn't have enough of the hospitality gene to be really good at it. And I like to be really good at what I do.

Next I tried tour directing. I got the training and started working some gigs locally on a very part-time basis, but I wasn't getting the kind of experience that would let me jump into the over-the-road tour directing, which was what I hoped to do. And I might have been able to get the right kind of experience if I quit my day job, but that's a big maybe and an enormous pay cut, and meanwhile other things were happening.

I found out that one of the regional airlines was hiring flight attendants. Now, I love going places, but I've never really enjoyed flying itself--I try to relax and breathe deeply and slowly during takeoffs and landings--but the thought of working for an airline again (I was a computer programmer for a now-defunct airline when my daughter was born, and it was the perfect job for me) was irresistible, even if it meant I had to take off and land for a living. I've been stuck in this unfulfilling job for four years now, and I loved the idea of doing something entirely different, especially if it revolved around travel.

But I didn't get the job. That was in April, and they said I could try again this past October.

Over Memorial Day, I visited my mom and my sister in Texas, and my mom suggested that she and I could travel around the country in an RV (my sister is married, and her husband would probably want her to be home sometimes, or she would have been invited too). It took some time, but eventually I came around to the idea. Which meant the flight attendant job would be out of the question, so I didn't reapply.

So now I'm looking at taking a sabbatical from gainful employment for a year while my mom and I see the country (and my sister comes with us for short excursions).

But it still leaves the question of what I would do when we've seen the good ole USA.

My friend the cardiac nurse (and frequent movie companion) has encouraged me several times to get into nursing. She does this every time my commute comes up (over an hour each way--two hours if I take the train), because nurses work at hospitals or clinics, and they have those CLOSE TO HOME!

I like the close to home part of it, but I don't want a job where the expectation is that people will be bleeding or puking or other unappetizing things around me all day. No, nursing is not for me.

But one Sunday, this same friend and I were having lunch at a restaurant near the movie theater, when someone from the crisis pregnancy center where I used to volunteer stopped at our table. It seems she's going through a college program to become an ultrasound technician. I liked that idea for myself, because it can be CLOSE TO HOME, and the patients are usually NOT bleeding. And it pays pretty well. And there's good demand for it. Seeing her there seemed like such a God thing (atheists, please read "wonderful coincidence"), because it hadn't been on my mind, but it's the answer to a lot of the open questions or concerns I had about the future.

So I looked into it online and found the training program accreditation group and found the schools they approve of, and one of them is near here. They offer several medical programs: Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ultrasound), Cardiac Technology (that's what my cardiac nurse friend wants me to do--echocardiologists make good money), and several others that don't ring my chimes quite as much. And my friend said she'd let me stay in her spare room while I'm going to school. But that would make it almost another two years after I've finished touring the country before I'd be able to settle down somewhere.

I'm getting used to the idea, though--both ideas really. I'm getting used to thinking of myself in a medical career, and I'm (more slowly) getting used to the idea of having to wait for three and a half more years before I can decide where I want to live and work.

But the beauty of the medical work is that it's everywhere. What I do now (mainframe computers) has to be done at corporate headquarters, and they're in major metropolitan areas, and I'm not too crazy about major metropolitan areas. My choices in the IT world are between places like Greater Los Angeles, or Dallas, or New York, or Detroit. Ugh! In the medical world, I could live somewhere appealing. And that thought is appealing.

So that's the plan. I'm starting with a four-week class in February, which is an overview of allied (non-doctor or nurse) medical occupations. Hopefully, I'll be able to decide in that class which of the programs to pursue. And I'm going to try to crash the Anatomy & Physiology class (it's full) and get that out of the way, because it's a prerequisite for all the medical programs, and it's not offered online. Then, when my mom and I are on the road, I can take Medical Terminology (another prerequisite) online and be ready to hit the ground running when we get back. If I can't get into A&P this semester, I'll have to be sure to get back in time for next year's summer semester and take it then.

I hope I can be really good at what I decide to do.


Anonymous said...

This sounds like a wonderful idea, Skye. My son is a LPN. He attended school at the hospital where he worked in the cafeteria since he was 14. It took 11 months of 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, until he was able to take and pass his state boards.
He's been a nurse since he was 19. Now at 21 he's looking into going back to school. A xray tech or an RN, he's not sure. This 21 year old makes 40 thousand a year as an LPN working 6 (12 hour shifts) of 14 days. He said an xray tech makes a little more but RN's make the big bucks.

Anything in the medical area is secure. And being a tech anything sounds like you would be good at it since "hospitality" isn't your thing.

SkyePuppy said...


Yes, RNs make the big bucks, and as young as your son is, if he can make the sacrifice of going back to school for it, he has terrific career potential ahead of him.

Anonymous said...

You know, I can understand where you're coming from here.

Sometime around my Jr. year in college, almost done with all the requirements of my Music Ed degree, having worked my rear-end off, resulting in what was most likely an ulcer, I began to firmly believe that teaching full-time in a school was not really what I wanted to do. I had no idea what I wanted to do instead, but I was pretty sure that wasn't it. The more real-life experience I was getting in that field (working in schools and eventually student teaching and working full-time), the more unhappy I was with my choice. I loved music, I loved some of the aspects of teaching, but not all of it together. It was a great disappointment and left me wondering what I really did want to do.

The a mom. But someday, I may want to return to work. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. When I was going through all the infertility problems, I began considering a career in the medical field because I came across a lot of really insensitive medical professionals who obviously didn't know how it felt to be the patient. Now, I'm not sure that would be the right fit either. (Much like you, cleaning up my own child's puke is stomach-churning enough, I don't think I could handle anyone elses!) I do still think I would like to volunteer for a crisis pregnancy center or something similar.

Right now, I'm focusing on Emily and being the best mom and wife and advocate I can be. I'll grow up some other time.

But I do understand and I wish you the best of luck with whatever you try. I hope you find what you love, becuase you'll be good at it because you love it.

SkyePuppy said...


What I really love is going to school.

But what excited me about the ultrasound idea was that, once I learn how to do it, I could volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center that has an ultrasound machine. At the center where I used to volunteer, they had trouble getting enough ultrasound technicians to come in to keep the machine busy.

For you right now, the mom and wife job is plenty. There will be time later to think about what you might do when Emily grows up.

Anonymous said...

As a "really insensitive medical professional" myself, I can say with all sincerity that sick people, while a pain in the rear end, are an amazing opportunity to minister. The "money" has made so many non-caring individuals sign up, that a caring person is a tremendous asset to any medical establishment. Christina makes a great point.

With your personality, communication skills, and intelligence, I believe you would be good at just about anything you were determined to do in the medical field.

I spend most of my time operating a clinical chemistry analyzer, but occasionally I draw blood samples when a patient is a very "difficult stick." Recently I was called upon to draw blood from an old woman who, after several unsuccessful attempts by our phlebotomists at drawing her blood, had become beligerant. After sitting by her bed and talking to her I realized that she was simply scared to death. She was facing a difficult surgery and knew that she might not survive it. After making friends, I successfully got a blood sample. I then held her hand and thanked her - and told her that I would be praying for her during her surgery. Her face lit up with something I'm sure was hope, and we talked about the importance of prayer. It was so easy to encourage this woman to look past her concerns and focus upon the security she held in her heart.

You get the idea.

Skye said...

Far from being a flake, you sound very astute. Either that or I'm just saying it because I'm going through a similar thing, and it'll make me sound

My problem is that I know what aspects of my job I love and would love to combine them into a career, but there's really not a title for it, so I don't even know where to find such a job.

Whatever way you decide to go, I'm sure you'll be successful. And you should do what's gonna make you happy now that you only have to worry about supporting yourself and have some choices.

SkyePuppy said...


I can see you sitting with the old ladies and getting them to talk to you. They're bound to be disarmed by your unassuming charm.

My friend the nurse says she gets similar opportunities to minister to her patients, but because she works for the federal government, she has to be very careful about how and to whom she does it.

I like the idea of working in a job where I don't get in trouble for talking to people, where people and not keyboards and paper are the focus of the work.

SkyePuppy said...


We wouldn't want you to be a flake either!

I wish I knew how to help you find the kind of work you'll love doing, but I've stumbled into mine, and I don't normally recommend stumbling as a career search method.

I hope you and especially your mom (and brothers & sisters?) are doing OK. My mom was very much at loose ends after my dad passed away. Just don't let your mom make any major decisions right away.

You're in my prayers--about your dad and about your job search.

Cathleen said...

My dear friend and Sister in the Lord... Funny that it has taken both of us so long to find out what God intended us to be when we grew up... I wanted to add another word of encouragement. Did you know that many crisis pregnancy centers employ ultrasound technicians so clients can see it's a real person with a heartbeat inside them and not just a "blob of tissue"? Having had more than one abortion myself many, many years ago, I know that would've stopped me dead in my tracks. Even if you decided to do cardiac ultrasounds, you would be saving lives. That's a lot more than can be said with your current profession! You know I love you and have immense respect for you. I think the Lord is giving you some time off for your hard work and good behavior! OK, I know you'll be studying, but hopefully it will be a lot more fun than work. Love you!!