Radiation Larry (4-11-2009)

So I have moved into mentorship for the rest of my time in school. I asked to be assigned to the oncology floor and I got my wish…Yay! This basically means that I work with a nurse who has volunteered to mentor me. I am only in class 3 hours a week now and the rest of the time I am at the hospital working. Unlike my clinical experiences in the past there is no instructor there and my Mentor will start off by giving me one of her patients and say something along the lines of, “Here is your patient for the day, if you need anything let me know.” By the end of mentorship I will likely have 4 or 5 patients and she will just be assissting me. It is nerve-wracking but exciting too.

I am starting to feel comfortable on the oncology floor now which is really nice. I know where to find a warm blanket, a syringe, and sterile gloves. =) A few of the nurses recognize me and even address me by name. (So much for my incognito alter ego “The White Shadow”) When I recently found out my patient was going to have radiation therapy I jumped at the chance to go and observe. It is important to me to know what my patients are going through, and working in oncology, radiation will be a common occurrence so I was excited to go and learn.

I was greeted by a jubilant duo in the radiation department (that my patient had already complained about on the way there “I just hope that Larry guy isn’t there today!”). They were something like a vaudeville comedy act. As we walked in, (imagine circus music playing…dee dee deedle deedle dee dee) Larry hurriedly placed the head mold on the table from the left side and Kristine hurriedly placed the leg mold from the right. Larry swiftly removed the patient’s outer robe then Kristine removed the gown she wore in the back. He guided her head while Kristine placed her legs in position on the table. They scurried to either side of her to line up the crosshairs of the laser beam with the marks on her sides. All the while Larry is telling one liners and I can hear the drums in my mind after each one. (Ba Dump Ba Chhh) “You know I had a nightmare last night, it was awful! I dreamed I had to pay child support…and I don’t even have kids!” (Ba Dump Ba Chhh) Kristine waves her hand at him as she laughs with a little giggle and a pshaw sort of sound. “Oh you!” she says. My patient rolls her eyes and I can’t help but smile. They continue their work and Larry waves me closer to show me how they are lining up the beams. Somehow the word ugly comes up and Larry says, “If I wanted to look at ugly I would go visit my mother!” (Ba Dump Ba Chhh) Kristine just gives him a smile and a“tsk tsk” sort of sound explaining to me and the patient that “Larry is a hoot!”Despite the circus theme playing in my imagination Larry actually has Barbara Streisand (he affectionately calls her Babs) belting out tunes for the patients to listen to and I swear I heard him sing a few lines to himself as we left the room.

When we got outside they began to show me the computers as they quickly got to work on lining up the patients images for comparison. Larry is busy concentrating so he asked Kristine to show me the “muumuu”. I was imagining a Hawaiian print hospital gown in a size 3x when she points to two squeaky toys in the shape of cows perched upon the console. “See?” Larry asks, “Moo Moo!” I had to laugh yet again.  Now Larry switches gears entirely and began to explain to me the intricacies of his equipment and precisely how he is going to get the image within a 5 mm parameter. As he worked he and Kristine explained to me how the technology works which I really found fascinating. My interest pleased Larry and he mentioned his evil plan to try and steal nursing students to work in radiology. They continued their mini lecture telling me about the old days when they worked with lead blocks to control the location and levels of radiation that would reach patients. It was really interesting, and informative. They clearly know their stuff and enjoy what they do. I think the comedy routine probably brings lots of smiles to patients. Even my patient who was dreading the uncomfortable procedure and the company of Larry smiled in spite of herself. What a valuable thing to bring smiles (even reluctant ones) to people so ill. So, if I wore a hat…which I don’t…I would tip my hat to Radiation Larry!  


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