I’ve stressed this before on some previous posts that most probably didn’t read but TAT is something I’ve been trying to get better at. My performance hasn’t been great and I owe it to a lot of excuses like being decked on a lot of holidays and weekends, having too many specimens that have a lot of sections needed, and balancing already existing responsibilities on top of it all.
I haven’t even started my case report yet and I know I’ll be rushed to finish it. The thing is, when you’re swamped with too much work with nothing else to go on but home and hospital in your life, writing this shitty post real quick blows off some steam. The only people who can understand me are my peers who are also busy dealing with their own shit (it’s a tough work environment). In silence we understand each other because the sources of stress are the same but we don’t cope the same.
Anyway, I got this thing stacked in front of me and I’m supposed to read all 3 cases tonight. Yep, these slides could be worth more than fifty people if the case was simple but it’s just three people with a lot of sampling done. I’ve mentioned on a previous post how many interesting cases I’ve encountered right until the last day of the year. This is half the battle now.
Included in the stack is the larynx and gastrectomy specimen (which I will be making on a separate post). As much as I want to pursue what is ideal like having quick sign outs, it’s not that simple. Just my luck I suppose but there’s just so much excuses to myself that I can tolerate, yes I know not all of the slow time is on me and there are things not in my control like people not reporting to work because holidays and everything just backlogs which inevitably reflects on my record but life goes on.
A patient died while the result to a histopath wasn’t yet available, though it’s arguably understandable given that they were already in a morbid condition but the point was the specimen was fairly easy to process and maybe challenging to interpret but still easy to have it released as a slide within a day. So I received it around more than a week after I loaded it during the 24 hours it was received by the lab. No fault from me technically since it’s all up to the medtechs to do their thing.
It was released yesterday and upon following up on the patient, I found out they expired. Ok. Seeing the slide already made me think it was already bad, you read the request, process the specimen, and look at the microscope and you’ll see it’s bad. I didn’t even need to see the person personally to know it’s bad. It was Clear Cell Carcinoma and a metastatic one (came from other sources) so presumably a stage IV cancer. At this point, little could be done even when you diagnose those cases.
The thing my consultant was stressing over, and I agree, and also accepted their frustration out of the system was not pursuing what is ideal. If you were a patient, folks, friend, or family member at the receiving end of the news, the thought that the case was benign or malignant matters and days go by the anxiety grows without a result to hold onto. He kept repeating this over the course of weeks always complaining why the slides were slow.
I knew there was a backstory to it. And no surprise, he had their fair share of a family member dying because of cancer and it took 5 weeks before they received the result from a specimen that could’ve been processed and interpreted within 2 days. By the time they received the result, the cancer already metastasized to the spinal cord. Now this shaped their practice a lot, why they were popular and also the top consultant sought after the region for releasing quick results aside from being known as one of the top pathologists in the country.
That episode of their life changed their outlook and made them more efficient. I understood the weight behind the way they seem toxic. I’m annoyed at the extra layer of work and effort put into but this was just being irrational, how could I really bear dislike for someone that pursues what is ideal and I could get behind?
This was the same person I blurted out “it’s ok, these were just service cases” and that memory compounded by this incident probably sealed the deal as a wake up call to do better next time. If I was in a situation where I’ll be on the receiving end of the news, I’d expect the people handling my case to be efficient too. And recalling all the times I was a but happy that weekends and holidays didn’t add to the negative impact of my turn around time, these were just technical numbers, it’s not like disease respect holidays or weekends. The clock always ticks.
Though I did feel uncomfortable being partly the guy they took out their frustration on, I thanked them for the insight because this is pointing me to where I should be going. To dislike someone that's doing their best to do the right thing, going to the office on time, being available, and trying to improve the current system, is an irrational thinking I could never understand and yet my seniors would often express dismay because this entailed more work.
Reminds me of my old public school teacher who always comes to work on time or earlier by habit. They told me they were getting paid by the government who takes from the taxes of the people for their time so they should come on time as the bare minimum. My classmates disliked them for coming early or on time because they had to oblige themselves to go early as well. That simple habit made me respect the person even because it's not those extraordinary things that hints good character, it's those small consistent productive habits that do.
Yes, they tend to be toxic but it’s not like they are asking for me to burn myself doing stupid things that don’t matter, there’s a person’s life in each specimen I process and while my hands can’t heal, the other unseen stuff I do can impact someone else life even if they just read my report on paper without us every encountering in person for the rest of our lives.
If you made it this far reading, thank you for your time.
Posted with STEMGeeks