Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night.”

Woody Allen

"Irrational Man" Premiere - The 68th Annual Cannes Film Festival

 

I’m going to take this notion of bi-sexuality one step further and tell you that one of the advantages of embarking on a career like Medical Laboratory Technology is that you get to choose from 5 or 6 or 7 different lab areas (dates) in which to work.

This is important. It changed my life.

Medical laboratories are usual divided up into departments like Haematology (study of blood cells), Chemistry (measuring our inner chemical makeup), Microbiology (determining the microbial cause of infectious disease), Histology (preparation and study of body tissues removed during surgery or autopsy), and Blood Banking (preparation and crossmatching of stored donor blood for transfusion).

Often it’s necessary to choose (or have chosen for you) a specific department to focus your career upon.

In my former life as a lab tech I dreaded being called into the hospital in the middle of the night to crossmatch blood needed for urgent transfusion. There was always a mutilated car crash victim, or a woman needing blood during a Caesarian Section delivery. STAT!

On my chilly drive or walk to the hospital I’d look up at the dark night sky and hope the stars aligned for a positive outcome to the danger that lay ahead in the Emergency Room.

It wasn’t because I hated getting out of the warm bed I loved (well, it kinda was!)…

… or detested the sight of pools of still steaming crimson blood on the floor beneath the patient’s bed, bones and organs exposed beneath torn tissue (well, it kinda was!)…

… or the anguish of a distraught family in a time of crisis (well, I really did hate that too)…

I actually liked the jumping-out-of-an-airplane injection of adrenaline that I felt when I strode purposefully into the ER and a bevy of medical personnel were focussed solely on resurrecting a ghastly situation. THAT was a rush…

But the real reason I hated emergency blood crossmatches was fear. I couldn’t sleep once I returned home afterwards.

I’d sweat bullets the rest of the night worrying that I might have made a crossmatching error and there would be an ashen-faced coagulated corpse awaiting my sleep-deprived arrival for the morning lab shift.

Even a tiny error in my technique… and I accidentally provided incompatible blood to a patient… could result in a major reaction from the vital fluid flowing into their arm that might kill the patient.

sticky blood clump

Red blood cells sticking together… do I transfuse this or not?

It was all about fear.

I was afraid… terrified that in my attempt to heal, I might terminate someone because my blurry eyes made a wee mistake looking down a microscope at 2:47 in the morning.

I had memories floating in my head. Fearful memories.

As a student technologist I almost killed an unborn baby.

All because of a simple arithmetic error I made in producing a test result on amniotic fluid that suggested an unborn infant’s lungs were sufficiently well developed to be birthed via C-section.

The astute surgeon called moments before making the first cut into a Mommy-To-Be‘s abdomen and uterus to confirm the test result I had provided.

Oops… sorry.

On second examination of my calculations, I had placed a decimal point in the wrong place… stop the surgery… NOW!!!!

In my honour, there should be a big congratulatory plaque erected in my training hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. I was the one who had made a near tragic error that resulted in a change to lab rules concerning oversight of student technologists by senior staff.

It seemed pretty obvious afterwards that life-and-death test results should be double-checked and not trusted to an 18 year-old student (and part-time McDonalds burger flipper) without an official lab certification yet.

My confidence levels were shaken down several anxious notches which was probably a good thing for a boy who evoked this comment from his Grade 2 teacher: “Larry needs to work on his superiority attitude.

These lab-related nightmares and flashbacks convinced me that I would never make a good Blood Bank technologist. You can all thank me for discovering this early on in my career.

I was far safer to humanity and myself in another less critical lab area like Microbiology where vaginal yeast infections were typically my greatest concern.

As unpleasant as it must be, no one needs an urgent blood transfusion for an itchy cooter, nobody dies from an irritated baby cannon.

Now where was I going with this?

AH, yes… It’s about fear.

I know that most of our fears are unwarranted. We all know this and yet we still worry.

fear

Fear is good and fear is bad.

Or as Glinda the Good Witch says: “And so, what the Munchkins want to know is, are you a Good Witch (Fear) or a Bad Witch (Fear)?”

Our job, if we choose to accept it, is to distinguish between the good fears to heed and back away from, and those that we should march boldly headfirst into the thick of.

Fear is one of the odd reasons I love doing things outside of the normal routine of day-to-day life.

Jumping in and swallowing experiences – any experience, wherever it may come from – is like losing your teenage virginity all over again, damned scary and… scary exciting… hopefully!

The inner fear, those bastard voices that try to make us literally and figuratively impotent are there but the delicious rewards make it all worthwhile.

The really important part about fear is being able to distinguish between true good fear that helps us survive and the bad fear that holds us back from the exciting fireworks of life and living.

More than 20 years ago I would never have been able to write this blog. The “old me” was crippled by the bad fear that I wasn’t interesting enough, or smart enough, or important enough to make my voice heard. It was about fear of what you might think of me.

Ten years ago, the “old me” was too self-conscious to speak or sing in front of even a small group of strangers without a prequel week of diarrhea and sleepless nights.

So, you might ask… am I fearless now?

Hmmmm. Nope. Not at all.

Some fears in life are unavoidable… the impending death or loss of a parent, a partner, a child, a treasured pet. Life’s inevitable trials.

I still wouldn’t want to be a Blood Bank technologist. “Accidentally” killing someone is a good fear for me to respect and one I’m best to avoid.

I still encounter lots of fears.

The only difference now is that I recognize these rogue “fear” weasels and the plastic knives they brandish. I simply accept them as part of my growth process.

Merely knowing that fear is usually unfounded allows me to press forward with more confidence and acceptance of myself and my foibles.

I know that when I face my fear, I end up in a different place than I began, and it’s usually a better place, a lovelier place than I thought before I faced the fear.

If this all sounds Woody Allen neurotic to you, that’s okay because… well, friend?… pining for approval is not the monster or boogie man under my bed anymore.

Adrenaline rush

READY? Ummmmm…. NOT a chance!!!!

 

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