Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Funemployment: Over!

I'm happy report to you, my HTNL readers, that my summer of funemployment has officially come to an end. I have accepted a position at Washington University's school of medicine in St. Louis. I am working for several doctors who study Parkinson's disease.

The job has come with several new challenges. First, until we move, I have an hour and 20 minute commute every day. I have a cubicle, and a computer of my own where I sit and nerd it up all day long. While working in the hills or at the winery, I never envisioned myself sitting in a cubicle, organizing huge data sets. But, it is a stable, rewarding job in my field (above my field actually) where I can contribute to valuable research.

I've been thinking a lot of Gramps and of John Paul 2, and ask them for their prayers with my new job. I thought explicitly of these two when applying for the job and I'm fairly certain they had something to do with my hiring. I am the only one in the lab without a masters degree ... but I can fake it pretty well. I am in charge of organizing 2 studies, entering their data, and maintaining the data sets for the doctors.

Part of our job is conducting tests on various workers and people from rural areas. Apparently, anyone who has more exposure to heavy metals, through their job, has a heightened risk of Parkinson's, according to some studies. Interestingly enough, I also learned that if an individual smokes, they have a 50% LESS chance of getting Parkinson's. You'd think the tobacco companies would play that one up...

There are two other parts of my job that are a little more... gross. First, I am a key player in all of the 'dirty lab' work. That means I work with the blood. We take blood samples from some people to study, and I have to pipette it and organize it in our deep freeze. And, soon my time will come when I need to learn to draw blood.... (The scientific word for passing out is syncope which is caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure and a lack of oxygen to the brain). So far though, I have not passed out or vomited. Although I did warn my boss that I would pass out and then vomit while passed out. They didn't laugh, and I think they thought I was serious ... maybe I am.

Secondly, I will have to help image brains, human brains ... (right now they're being stored in buckets somewhere on the premises) I am not too sure what to think of this but I desperately need experience in neuroimaging for my grad school applications.

One fun thing now is that all of the med students are coming back to school and are running around with their big backpacks. Apparently, the length of the lab coat signals how advanced someone is in their medical education. The med students have really short lab coats, big backpacks filled with huge books, and often look disheveled. I discovered, while looking through my drawers while organizing, that there were some lab coats from the doctor who used to use my office. I think I might wear them around and try to con med students and techs into buying me coffee. The key to pulling off a good doctor con is not to make eye contact and constantly think you're better than everyone. That's the key.



Anonymous said...

After reading this wonderful entry, I soon realized how much I have been missing your insights.

Intercession from our special Saints is a powerful help, no doubt.

One thing I know for sure, with or without the Master's, they are the lucky ones at Wash U, since they now have you in their lives!

(Bring home one of those lab coats and Mother can embroider a name and title on it for you.)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but if you put on the lengthy lab coat, you will be expected to pay for the round of coffee.

John said...


After spending trillions of dollars over the course of the last 6 months, BO finally was able to get you a job!!! HE DID IT!!!

Anonymous said...

You possess a wonderful blend of humility, humor, reverence for the truly reverent and mischief for the over-serious and self-important. It makes your writing always fresh and a joy to read. This one had me laughing out loud. Don the long coat - and carry a pipe.

Will said...

So I have a question? What level is smoking required to reduce parkinsons? If it is massive, is it possible that early cancer death reduces parkinsons development?

If it isn't I wonder what how the nicotinic receptors function or affect the dopamine receptors/production. Nicotine is a potent stimulant, so it might (It has been a while since neurophysiology).

Anyway, congrats on the job, I'm sure if God helped put you there, he has a important role for you to play. Keep asking for JP's intercession, your work can help many souls.

Anita Moore said...

Hmmm...glad you found a good job, but personally, I'd rather spend my days trying to make cons follow my advice.

Oh wait...I already do that!