Monday, April 22, 2013

Disaster drills and what not

April 15th – 21st

Monday was a fun day! I got to meet an FBI agent! He was the head of the violent crime departments cyber division, or something along those lines. He is also a TWC alumni, hence us getting the meeting with him. He interned with the Sergeant at Arms, which is like the head of security for congress, or something like that. Anyways, after graduation, he went on to work with the Capitol Police Department, and eventually joined their SWAT team, which is pretty much the best in the nation. He told us his 9/11 story, which was insane. On 9/10, his bosses had a meeting with the SWAT team and said they were no longer needed since it was a changing world and SWAT was out of date. Obviously, after 9/11, they redacted that statement. He eventually switched over to the FBI, where he is today.

Tuesday may be the highlight of the week. I got to sit in on a Supreme Court oral argument! That was quite the surreal experience. I got up at 5, got in line to get my ticket at 6:20, got my ticket at around 7:30, grabbed some breakfast at Union Station, got back in line at 8:30, and got in around 10. Unfortunately, I did not make the cut for getting a seat for the day. I had to get in the 3-5 minute tour line, which was not what I wanted. As per usual when I do things by myself, I met some cool people. The lady in front of me worked in the Attorney’s office in South Carolina that dealt with the case. Her husband was an administrator at some college, or something like that. The case was really interesting! It was about who gets custody of a Native American child when her mother died or something like that. The father said he did not want anything to do with the child before she was even born, so she was put up for adoption. Later, the dad said he did in fact want custody, and because of some law, she was taken from the adoptive family that would have cared for her better given to the dad. I am a little hazy about all of the details, so don’t take my word for it. The lady in front of me worked with the adoptive parents, and ironically enough, there was a lady farther up the line who worked for the dad’s side. After that, I waltzed over to the Library of Congress and had a look around. When I was walking around, I saw possibly the most important book of modern times: the Gutenberg Bible. It was essentially the first book ever printed by the first fully operational mechanical printing press. It signifies Europe’s exit from the Middle Ages to modern time, where knowledge and history is free to anyone since books can be widely printed. That is probably at par with seeing the Supreme Court oral argument. On my way back to Union Station, where I was going to hop on the Metro, I heard some feint drum rhythms off in the distance; I decided to follow the sounds. Low and behold, there was a parade!! It was the Emancipation Day Parade! Needless to say, I stuck around there for quite a while. By the time I got on the Metro, got home and charged my phone, it was two. I decided a nap was in order, which was amazing despite the fact that I had a dream that a nuclear bomb went off here in DC while I was here. It was a weird dream. I think it was caused by the Boston Marathon bombing that happened the day before. That was a terrible tragedy. It sickens me to see the evil side of humanity like that. Despite that evil act, I loved seeing the goodness in humanity at the same time. On the videos, you can see people running to the scene right after the explosion to help those in need. It was great to see the average Joe help out his fellow American in need like that. My heart and prayers go out to all of those effected directly and the family members of those people as well.

Wednesday was a blur, and Thursday was fairly blah too. The only major thing we did those two days was a tornado drill on Thursday. It was a city wide thing. The VAMC would turn into a disaster center if something severe were to happen, so we practiced that. The Patient Advocates’ office will be a family reunification center, so I put some spread sheets together and slapped them on a poster board so that we could keep track of missing people and who is looking for who. It was supposed to be a big thing, and everyone in the facility was supposed to partake in the disaster drill; unfortunately, no one really took it seriously. It was a bit of a let down.

Friday, I only had to go in from 8:30 to 9:15. Originally, we were planning on being actors and helping with the decontamination part of the disaster drill, but no one got back to us on that, so Diane let Lauryn and I go home early. That evening, I went to the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage and enjoyed some free music! The band performing was this four piece fusion band from New Orleans called the Mike Dillon Band. It was quite the unique sound! The band consisted of drums, baritone guitar, trombone, and a dude who played the vibes and a whole slew of other percussive instruments! Both the trombone and vibes used some pedal effects, which was quite unique! That was the first time I have ever seen vibes or a trombone play punk rock. lol it was great!! I want to get their CD once I get some cash flowing.

On Saturday, I was supposed to do this civic engagement thing, but I didn’t get an email telling me the specifics even though I emailed the lady twice. Regardless, I went down to the National Mall and tried to find them, but I couldn’t find them! After walking around the national mall for a while, I went to my friend’s house out in Virginia and we watched Modern Family, played video games, ate pizza, and just relaxed for the rest of the weekend. It was great!! 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A big ol' church

April 8th – April 14th

This week was a fairly stressful week. Work wasn’t bad or anything. There was just a little confrontation with a roommate, and we wound up getting some mediation. Hopefully it will be all good from now on out! I am ready to come home now. I miss my family, my friends, my drums, and my bed that I actually fit in comfortably.  Plus, I will have my awesome summer job to return to!! I am really looking forward to working at the pool and seeing my favorite patrons again.

This weekend was a good weekend! I explored the National Cathedral with a friend. We met up at the Woodley Park Metro station, got us some drinks, and then trekked to the Cathedral. As far as the Cathedral itself is concerned, it was like the other cathedrals I have seen. I have seen Notre Dame de Reims and Notre Dame de Paris as well as West Minster Abbey, St. Peter’s Basilica, Sacre Coeur, and The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, so it wasn’t as jaw-dropping as it was the first time I saw a Cathedral in Reims, France. Having said that, the grounds of this cathedral were possibly the best I have seen! The gardens were absolutely incredible!! Plus, one of the grotesques, which is like a gargoyle but does not drain water from its mouth, was the head of Darth Vader! I though that was so cool how they incorporated American lore and an evil being into the old ideas and designs.

Only a few more weks and then I am home! I have had such an amazing experience and time here, but I am ready to get home. haha

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

PTSD sucks.

March 25th – March 31st

So Monday was fairly boring. We had to go to some science and technology company to sit through a lecture on pursuing a career in technology, none of which was applicable to me. Lol Tuesday was rather uneventful as well. The most notable part of the day was passing out surveys in Radiology which assess how happy employees are with their jobs. The answers for the questions were just agree, neutral, and disagree. I honestly think a Likert scale or something similar would have been better. Having only those three options is really limiting. A Likert scale would give greater feed back on if the VA was doing amazing in some areas, where they are doing good but could still improve, and where they just suck. Haha But that’s just my opinion!

Wednesday was the highlight of my week!!!! I got to sit in on a neuropsychological evaluation! It was so cool. Obviously, I cannot say anything about the individual due to confidentiality, but I can talk about to the process since it is standard! Dr. McCarron, the neuropsychologist I talked to a while back who works in the polytrauma department, interviewed the person extensively and then administered a number of tests that test cognitive skills like memory, attention, and executive function. There was an effort test as well to make sure the person was not malingering, which basically just means faking it. It took about 3-4 hours to complete! Now Dr. McCarron has to analyze the test results, and then she will give the person feed back, which I will hopefully be able to watch as well. That afternoon, I got to sit in on the Polytrauma department meeting! The different people sit around  a table and discuss the different patients and cases. It was really cool to watch! That afternoon I also interviewed a potential intern for the VA! That was a fun experience too.

On Thursday, I was able to sleep in and just relax. Diane gave Lauryn and I Thursday and Friday off. After sleeping in and getting ready, I went in to work anyways because I am such an over achiever! Jk, I went in to conduct another interview and meet with Dr. Cueva, the psychologist I accidentally skipped a meeting with a while back. We talked for close to an hour! He is the head of the trauma department, which pretty much just deals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We talked extensively about what he does there and how treatment for PTSD has improved significantly over the past few years! He gave me two pamphlets that discussed the two manual treatments for PTSD. One has to do with repeat exposure to the event that helps modify behaviors. It is a very cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) oriented treatment plan. The person determines certain behaviors that are a result of the traumatic events, like fear of sitting with a back to a door or fear of crowds, and then exposing their self to that behavior by sitting with their back to the door at home, then on a bus, then at a restaurant, etc. or going to the mall during the afternoon three times midweek, then in the evening mid week, then on the weekends, etc The other one deals more with fixing false perception and seems to be more of a psychodynamic treatment. They figure out what emotion or thought is a result of the trauma, like guilt or survivors remorse, and then walking through it and determining how that thought or feeling is wrong. It was extremely interesting! We also talked a lot about the schooling process as well. He added some more insight and ideas to what other psychologists have told me so far.

Friday was very relaxing! I slept in, worked out, hung out, and then went to my friend’s house. We hung out, watched Modern Family, which is incredible, and ate some good pizza. On Saturday, we made a day trip to Baltimore! We explored the Inner Harbor, watched some street performers, ate at Dick’s Last Resort, which was quite the experience, and went to the National Aquarium. It was so cool!!! We were supposed to go in at 3:15, but we decided to sneak in early. It was so freaking crowded at first, which was quite annoying. It reinforced the idea that I do not want to have children for a long time, and when I have kids, they will be better behaved than most of those kids there! While there, I got a text from my dad saying he was in my back yard, and he meant Baltimore. He didn’t even know I was there! We tried to meet up before I left, but I did not work out. On Easter Sunday, my friend and I were going to hit up the National Cathedral wearing suits, but we did not realize that we had to reserve a space. Instead, we got Wendy’s, which I have not had since I got here, and killed zombies. That evening, when I got home, my roommate Sean made an Easter meal, so that was nice! I had Easter with some TWC friends.