Monday, May 13, 2013

My final blog

May 6th- May 11th

It seems so odd that this will be my last DC blog. I have really enjoyed writing these! It has been a great way for me to debrief and catalog my trip. I know not many people have followed this blog, but I hope you all have enjoyed my rants and writings. As per usual, I will go through my week day by day. The last part of the blog will be my thoughts on the whole experience! I am writing this a week late, so some of the days won’t have too much.

Monday was The Washington Center’s commencement ceremony! Like all commencements, it was boring. I sat at the back and played on my phone the whole time, as did my roommate, Nasir. That afternoon I ate for the last time at my favorite Greek place across the street. If you are ever in DC, be sure to go up to Silver Spring, MD, to eat at the Big Greek Café! It is on Georgia Ave and Wayne St., or right around there. Tuesday was like any other Tuesday. It was slow, so we didn’t really have much to do. I whipped up my last round of PCMH score slides for Wednesday’s morning report and that was about it! That evening was pretty dull; I was trying to save money so I would have a nice cushion in case something happened whilst traveling home.

Wednesday was my last day at the VA Medical Center. Obviously we didn’t do too much. We skipped out early to go eat at Taylor’s Gourmet Hoagies; my gosh, it was amazing! I had an Italian Sausage foot long with grilled peppers and onions and provolone cheese on a fresh loaf of bread. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! On the way there, we passed the post office where Anthrax was first introduced to America! haha After we ate, Lauryn and I said our final goodbye to Diane, our boss and rode with Jonathan, one of our awesome coworkers who came with us, to the metro stop to be dropped off. At the metro stop, Lauryn, Jonathan, and I all said our final goodbyes. When I was headed back to Silver Spring, I realized I left my bag in Diane’s car! We met up and I got it within 20 minutes, so it was no big deal.

Thursday was my last class in DC and in my junior year of college! I just had to take a test, which wasn’t too bad. I know I made an A in the class! I decided that before class, I would walk around the National Mall one last time! I started at Union Station, walked up to the Capitol Building, walked west towards the Lincoln Memorial, went south to the Jefferson Memorial, and then walked back to Union Station. I know that sounds easy on paper, but that was a ton of walking. To add to it, I got poured on by a microburst. I had to spend the next three hours in wet socks and shoes! It sucked. But once I got back to Union Station, I decided that it was just time for me to walk to class, so I did! I took the test, said bye to Dr. Dieguez, and then ate at Five Guys burgers to celebrate. Unfortunately, they jacked up my order, but it was still super good! Honestly, I really enjoyed forensic psych! Dr. Dieguez was a great professor. I wish he taught at RSU! Haha

Friday was my last day in DC. I slept til around 9:30, got up, and then had an informational interview with an IO psychologist who worked in the VA! That was a good experience. After that, I cleaned the apartment really well, did my laundry, packed, had my RA check out, and then went to Bossa one last time. I went by myself and had a good ol time! I also ate at the Jumbo Slice pizza place one last time! It was good and greasy, as per usual. The music started a bit late, but it was worth the wait! I got rained on heading home too; I think DC was crying because I was leaving. :/

Saturday was my trip back home! The beginning of the trip was a prime example of Murphy’s Law; everything that can go wrong did in fact go wrong. Luckily, I gave myself enough time to take that into account! Haha For starters, one of the wheels on my huge bag broke right as I was leaving the apartment. Then, the Yellow Line did not come, so I had to hop on the Blue Line, which takes a huge detour. After that, the train stopped for around five minutes right outside the airport station. Next, I got my luggage checked, which was no problem, but the security line was huge! By then, Murphy decided to give me a break, and I got to jump near the start of a new security line. I even had time to grab some Panda Express for breakfast around 9:30 even though it does not open until 10. Murphy decided to jab a me one last time, and I had to check my carry-on bag because the gatekeeper said it wouldn’t fit in the over head compartment, which was total BS. Haha Once I got in the air, it was smooth sailing. I arrived in Dallas, grabbed some McDons, and then hopped on my next flight right away! The gates were really close, so it was nice. Once I got to Tulsa, I met up with my mom and sister, grabbed my luggage, and then got a huge greeting from the dogs at home! I had finally made it home!

I will more than likely start to miss DC in a few days. That’s usually how it goes with long trips to cool places it seems! All in all, it was an experience of a lifetime. I learned professional and office etiquette, met great people, learned some of my strengths and weaknesses that I had not really noticed before, and realized what I want to do for a career. Going into the trip, I really wanted to go into Industrial Organizational psychology. After shadowing a neuropsychologist and sitting in on different neuropsych things, I realized that I really want to be a neuropsychologist! I was practically giddy when I did some of the neuropsych things. I will like it a lot more than IO psych I am sure.

It was great getting to hang out with my friend Brandon. We hadn’t really talked much since he graduated, but it was great to rekindle that friendship. We had a ton of fun together! We explored DC, camped in the hills of Maryland, rushed around NYC, and went to great museums together as well as just staying in, eating pizza, playing video games, and watching Modern Family. Without him, I don’t think I would have had nearly as much fun!

My experience at the VA was great and will look amazing on my resume! Haha I learned a lot there about the healthcare system, office etiquette, and navigating office politics. Haha Diane was a fantastic boss and great mentor! I will miss her. After working at the VA for 3 months, I do not think I want to have a career in the government. Haha It was sad to see our tax dollars being used inefficiently. That is no diss to Diane and those I were surrounded by, but I heard a ton of stories and saw many things that speak to bureaucratic inefficiency. I think the Veterans Health Administration is trying to do right and take care of the veterans, but honestly, I am not sure if it is as good of a system as it could be. There is so much yellow tape and hoops that needed to be jumped through it seemed. Sometimes I wonder if it would work better just to fee base out the care for veterans to the private sector and do away with the VA medical centers. Medical centers and hospitals are complex by nature, and the bureaucratic layer just seems to add to it. But then again, I was only there for 3 months. I am sure I am not nearly as informed about the inner workings of the VA. These are just some thoughts and observations!

I should probably talk about the good things I saw at the VA too! Haha as the saying goes “It is the squeaky wheel that gets the oil,” so the bad cases would naturally get more attention than the good ones. I saw a lot of good things at the VA! One was the 105-year-old WWII African-American female veteran I got to meet. She will be in my thoughts the rest of my life. She was so spunky and full of life despite being old and only having one leg. It always brought a smile to my face when I would see her zip around the facility on her power chair. Haha It was also humbling to see veterans who have lost both of their legs walk around and state of the art prosthetic legs. There were so many good cases I heard while being there; it is important to not let the negative things overshadow the good. I heard a lot of bad stories simply because I worked in the office that they came through. All in all, I know the VA is working hard to take care of our heroes, and I am so proud to have been a part of that team. I think I will try to hook up with the VA in Muskogee and volunteer there.

Going to DC was one of the best decisions I made. I am excited for the big new adventure that is approaching in the future. I am not entirely sure what it is, but I am looking forward to it.   

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

One more week!

April 29th – May 5th

Monday was my last day of programming!!!! I am so glad to be done with that. All I had to do was give a presentation on blind obedience, which I have done numerous times, and then sit through other presentations. Tuesday and Wednesday were both quite boring at work. It has been slow lately, which I am fine with! I have been mentally checked out for like the last week or so. Haha

Thursday ended the boring streak! With work, there really wasn’t much to do. The thing that was fun was that I got to attend a neuropsychology televideo conference. It was so cool! It is a weekly thing that the neuropsychologists fellows and experienced psychologists do on a weekly basis from different facilities. They discuss a case and then someone presents on a topic. I can’t go into details about the patient, but the discussion was cool! One of the neuropsych fellows in the War Related Injury and Illness Study Center (WRIISC) presented on how the different diagnoses related to alcohol overuse are changing in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual’s latest edition, which will come out this month (hopefully). The other things discussed were heavy metal poisoning and therapy treatment for patients with Multiple Sclerosis. Thursday also marked the last lecture for my forensic Psychology class, which I am sad about. I have really enjoyed this class! The professor, Dr. Dieguez, is really cool too. He and I usually talk a lot before class since I always get there super early.

That Friday, I went and hung out with my friend in Virginia for the last time. We went to this great place called Café Rio! It is a lot like Chipotle. I will admit it, I am a huge Chipotle fan; having said that, it was actually better than Chipotle. I was skeptical at first, but my friend was right! After that, we saw Iron Man 3! It was really good! I liked it a lot. I won’t go into details so as not to spoil it, but I really liked it. It was action packed and hilarious from the start! Saturday was fun! He and I just watched movies and played video games. It was a good last hang out! On Sunday, I went to a festival with a friend from TWC! That was a ton of fun! It was a good way to end the week. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

rabies and Camping

April 22nd – April 28th

Welp, Monday was very relaxing day. I was supposed to shadow another psychologist, but that got cancelled. :/ Instead, I got a haircut, worked out, ate some good food, and relaxed.

Tuesday was an interesting day! Well, that evening was at least. I had my last civic engagement event. We had like four guest speakers. Two of them were husband and wife who talked about homelessness among veterans from first-hand experiences. The husband was a veteran who became homeless after leaving the service, and he met his wife at a homeless shelter. She wasn’t a veteran, though. The speaker to follow them was another veteran who had experience with homelessness. At this time, he is actually homeless. He has been in and out of homelessness for a while. Right now, though, he is working on getting his education. He was a fantastic speaker! He is on his way to getting his masters degree too. The last dude was a former Major in the Army. He talked about the problems Vietnam Vets had when returning home, and he told us what he has been working on since Vietnam. Before he retired, he was an attorney who helped draft up some legislature to make sure vets who had Agent Orange sickness get treated. He also worked on other pieces of legislature to make sure veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan get better treatment. He was super interesting! The highlight of that night, however, was my run in with a homeless man, ironically. It turns out, it was the same dude who approached me at Union Station and asked to eat my food! He’s updated his story a little bit sense then. First off, he is still a smooth talker like he was before. Typically, I do not stop for homeless people (for safety, not because I am a jerk), but he is just so friendly! His handshake lingered too long, which I found odd. He’s updated his story a bit since last time! Haha No apparently his wife, who he pointed to (no one was there besides the dude he was walking with before he stopped me), needed some food. He had two bucks and he just needed help to get $4 so he could get a dinner meal at the convenience store he pointed to. A: the store he pointed to is a liquor store. B: they don’t have a $4 dollar dinner deal there. I politely declined and walked away. Oh, and to put the icing on the cake, he told me his name is Anaconda. That made my night. Haha

Wednesday was super interesting! Work was slow and we didn’t have much to do, but that afternoon was intriguing! I got to attend a brain cutting session! Well, typically they have a brain to dissect, but this time they just had microscope slides and a slide show! The reason they did not have the brain was because it was at the CDC, I believe. The brain we looked at was from a patient who had a kidney transplant around 14 months ago, and subsequently contracted rabies from the donor. It was a big deal! We had been following the case in the office since we heard about it, so it was surreal to see first-hand what we were reading about. It was interesting to see how the rabies affected the brain. I am not familiar what brain matter looks like under a microscope, so I cannot make a very good comparison of what it does. However, they pointed out what it does, and it was easy to see. Here is a link to the news article about the patient!
After work, I went to yet another performance at the Kennedy Center! They are doing a special on New Orleans music, so it has been fun! This week was a trumpet player who combines different jazz aspects with pop, rock, and hip-hop. It was really good! The band, Shamarr Allen and the Underdawgs, was very energetic and got the whole crown involved! It was great. He had like a compact trumpet, or something like that; I had never seen such a small trumpet before! The band consisted of the a trumpet/singer, Grammy Award winning bassist, a bad-A stereotypical R&B/hip-hop drummer, guitar/singer, keyboard player, and percussionist/trombone/singer! It was a very  unique sound, but they pulled it off very well. They also managed to pull off a mash-up of Adele’s song “Rolling in the Deep” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Team Spirit.” It sounded fantastic!!!

Thursday was a quick day! I got to help out the business office answer some phones because they were short staffed; a lot of people were out sick that day! It was super easy. I felt like I was back at financial aid at RSU again. A lot of the people calling were checking on if their checks were in the mail to pay for an outsourced procedure and that their claims were taken care of, so people were somewhat stressed about that. On top of that, the answering machine was backed up 64 messages (all of which I had to write down and clear), so people hadn’t heard back because no one had gotten their message. Luckily, I was used to dealing with disgruntled people from financial aid, so it wasn’t too bad.

Friday was pretty much a blur, but luckily the weekend made up for it. On Saturday, I had to do my last civic engagement event! I had to help set up a table for the VA at the first annual LGBT Veterans Convention! Since I helped with modifying the facility policies and procedures to be more accommodating for the LGBT community and to fulfill the Healthcare Equality Index Survey for 2013, helping with the event was like seeing things come full circle. After I did that event, I booked it on out to my friends place so get could get started on our camping trip! The trip was awesome! We explored Cotoctan National Park and Cunningham Falls State Park. We wound up camping in the state park. After we got settled in our spot, we hiked around and went to the waterfalls. They were amazing!!! I sorta kinda twisted my ankle on a rock, but it wasn’t too bad. That night, all I had for sleeping was a pillow and two sleeping bags… no tent, pad, or anything. The first bag I tried to sleep in was made for midgets I am pretty sure. Eventually, I used that one like a mattress and the second one like a blanket. I slept on the picnic table for the first half of the night, but then my face got too cold so I moved to the car. The next day, we packed up, went to his place, had Chipotle, and then I went home.