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Welcome to my blog. Thanks for coming! One day I hope my little piece of internet real estate will be home to lots of family photos, pictures of my scrapbook and card art, with some random thoughts and memories posted on a somewhat regular basis. Mostly my world is very predictable, but occasionally some excitement will find me, so visit often. Who knows what useful (or useless) information you may find here.

cathyb

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bittersweet


In the spring of 1992, I started working part-time at St. Mary’s Hospital as a radiology transcriptionist.  I’ve never looked back.  I still have my original employee ID number, and have been on the employee roster all these years, either as part-time, full-time, or prn.  

In the spring of 1999, I came on board with St. Mary's full time.  Except for a three-year stint in a local ortho office, I've been full-time ever since.  

The date eludes me now, but sometime in the early 2000s, the hospital embraced the growing trend of remote transcription, and sent us home to work.  So, instead of working in little cubicles in a room of six to eight medical transcriptionists, we set up our offices at home, and spent our days working in PJs and socks.  It was fabulous! 

When the first home-based computer connected to the hospital for the first time, an e-mail was sent that said simply:  The Eagle has landed.

From that day forward, we have called ourselves The Eagles, and we’ve been very happy in our little nests at home. We are scattered over six different counties, yet we have remained a very close-knit family, and every now and then we pack up and go to our Home Nest (the hospital) to work for a day in order to attend meetings, gatherings, etc.  We’ve seen babies born, grow up, graduate high school and college, seen them get married, have us some grandbabies, and we’ve watched our parents grow old.  We’ve suffered heartbreak, life-threatening illnesses, celebrated victories, and held each other close in times of sadness.  We greet each other via email each morning, and strategize the game plan for the day’s work.  We cover for each other when someone needs to be out.  I do believe we have been closer than some actual blood-related families. And like families will do, every now and then, we have our spats and disagreements (and the occasional accidental “reply all” e-mail incidents that can go badly), but love and respect always win.  We forgive and move forward.  And we perform our jobs as best we can, always with the patient’s best interest in mind.  It’s what we do.  And what we have loved for many, many years.  It has also been a wonderful blessing that we all share the same faith, and are able to encourage each other in that regard.  Nowadays that’s a rare thing.  What a joy that has been!

It seems impossible that it could be coming to an end.  As you may remember from an earlier post, our jobs are being outsourced to a very large corporate-endorsed transcription agency.  We were given the option to go with the company, but none of us want to do that, and we’ve all been seeking other employment. 
One of the Eagles has already left the nest due to medical reasons, so we’re down one person already.

And now it’s my turn.  Today will be my last day in the nest.  On Monday, I’ll be landing in a new nest as I go to a new job.  I’m praying my wings will be strong enough to carry this old bird into a new land, to learn new things and work with a new family.  I’ll be working in a family practice office, and will carry my transcription skills with me as a medical scribe.  It’s kind of the same thing I’m already doing, except the doctor won’t be dictating the words for me to transcribe.  Instead, I’ll go into the room with the doctor, and listen to the interaction between physician and patient, and document the pertinent information into the EMR.  I’ve been in the office with him on two days already, and find this concept to be very liberating for the physician.  When I visit my PCP, she is hardly able to make eye contact with me, because she is constantly switching from screen to screen on the laptop, trying to find the information she needs, while asking me questions and trying to take care of me.  Not the case with a scribe in the room.  When I was working with Dr. J., I was ecstatic to see his interaction with the patients.  He could sit on his little stool right in front of them, look into their eyes and really see the patients.  They could feel it too. They know they have his attention, and that he is really listening to them. I’m there to document everything, and try to anticipate anything he might need, such as prior lab work, and can have that ready for him to view, saving him from having to search for it.  It is a WONDERFUL concept, and I love it already.  It makes me want to be his patient, too!  It’s so sad nowadays that doctors can’t be doctors because of all the red tape and hoops they have to jump through. 

While I am very excited, I’m also very sad.  I wasn’t sure of my last day as an Eagle, as there were several factors that determined my start date at the new job.  The phone call came yesterday morning.  I had already cleared with my immediate supervisor to be off the Thursday and Friday before whenever my start date would be.  So that means today is my last day.  The process seems to have taken forever, but it got real when I told my family of co-workers that Wednesday would be my last day.  I cried like a baby.  Some of them did, too, and it ain’t over yet.  I expect we’ll be leaving one by one, until there’s no-one left.  At least that’s the plan, because none of us want to go with the agency.  (Nasty company to work for!!)  So instead of ripping the bandage off in one fell swoop, and all transition into the agency together, we’ll be going our separate ways one at a time.  It will be more like taking the bandage off a little bit a time - a slow and painful process, as one by one we leap from the nest into skies unknown.  We vow and declare that we will always be close, and nothing has to change.  We don’t see each other every day anyhow, so we can still e-mail and Facebook.  But there’s just something about being in the nest together, sharing a common goal, knowing someone always has our back.  That part will be gone. 

The office where I’m going is within the St. Mary’s system, so I’ll still be an employee of the hospital.  This is a good thing because I get to keep my years of service, leave accrual rate, benefits, etc. 

But still, it is very bittersweet.  I’m going to miss my family: Tammy, Pam, Cheryl, Jeneine, June, and JoAnn.  Tammy, our transcription supervisor, has grieved right along with us, and worried herself nearly sick that we have lost our jobs.  She has been wonderful through this entire process, and we have been so fortunate to have a fair, compassionate, hard-working, supervisor who appreciates us, and tells us so very often.  While there is nothing locally we can do about corporate decisions, I feel safe in saying the hospital is losing a dedicated group of loyal, long-standing employees. The trade off for saving money by outsourcing will be offset, I’m afraid, by strangers - many of whom live overseas- who have no vested interest in our hospital, and care not one bit about our patients.  Sadly, in corporate America, the bottom line is the almighty dollar. 
But, as I have always believed, everything happens for a reason.  We can fret and be bitter about the change, or we can take it as an opportunity to get out of our jammies, and get our  homebody selves out into the world.  Shake things up a little bit.  Meet new people, learn new things.  Make a difference in the world.  Even if we do have to wear clothes and shoes. 

I’m truly grateful that this job came along – and in retrospect I can see that it was orchestrated (I believe by God), many months ago in a casual conversation with a friend from church - long before I knew I would be losing my job.  There have been a few moments of anxiety, but for the most part, I’ve been very calm and assured that everything would work out, and that God would provide what I need.  And I’m still counting on that heavily, as there is a significant difference in compensation.  (If you look for me and can’t find me, I’m probably living in a refrigerator box under a bridge, surfing the internet for different ways to prepare ramen noodles. Haha!)   Nah…. I’m pretty sure my mama and DJ won’t let me go hungry, and my dad would probably let me and the kitties live in the basement with his electronic stuff if it comes down to that.  So I’m not worried.  Well, maybe a little about the ramen noodles part – never developed much of a palate for that… 

To my Eagle Family:  As we go our separate ways, may our journeys from the nests we’ve known for so long be safe and prosperous, and may we always remember this:  The Eagles will land again, and God will be the wind that carries us until we arrive safely at our new homes. We can do this.  We are The Eagles!!  Thank you, ladies, for loving me during the best of times and during the worst of times.  You are all a part of me, and I will carry you with me as I go.

Today it is my turn to fly. I’ll turn off my computer one last time at the end of my shift today, and say goodbye to a career that has served me well, and which I have loved, for many, many years.  Monday morning I’ll walk through a new door, get to know my new family, park my car at a new address, and do my best to make a difference in someone’s world each day.

And all the while, I’ll remember this verse from Lamentations:  “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness.  I say to myself, The LORD is my portion, therefore will I hope in Him.”


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Back To School



Fall is my favorite time of the year!  Sadly, school starts back in the middle of summer!!! Earlier and earlier!
For Barrow County, the day was August 4th.  I was so thankful to be able to take Leyland and Corey to school on the first day for one last time.  (See pictures in a previous post!!) Working from home has afforded me the most wonderful opportunity of doing little things like that, and attending special school functions, that I wasn't able to with Whitney.  Since my days of working at home are swiftly coming to an end, I was especially happy to be able to enjoy it one last time.

Every year when back-to-school time rolls around, I am carried back in time to those days when I was a school kid.  One summer in particular comes to mind.  I wrote about it for "my column" in the Barrow Journal, and it ran last week.  For those of you who don't read that paper, I'll share it here, in hopes that it will trigger your own childhood memories of hot summer days and the anticipation of going back to school.  

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Back To School

“I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates, you’ve got a brand new key. I think that we should get together and try them out, you see.” Does that bring back memories to you like it does to me?

That was a silly song popular the summer before I entered 7th grade. It wasn’t a particularly favorite song of mine, but the lyrics and tune were quite catchy. What I did like about it was that it made riding a bike pretty cool, and the “person” in the song was probably about the same age as we were that hot summer of 1970. We rode our bikes everywhere. And like the song says, we didn’t go too fast, but we went pretty far. All over Statham, to be exact. The dirt sidewalks laden with centuries-old tree roots were a favorite obstacle course. We’d bounce along, expertly avoiding the roots, or if we felt really brave, we would drive over them, bouncing around like popcorn kernels in a pan of hot oil. At that time, the streets in Statham were paved, but not with asphalt. I don’t know what it was called, but it was an irregular, gravel-type material, with uneven rocks. I remember this vividly, because sometimes I’d lose chunks of my big toes to the offending street surface.

My bike was an ugly, old-fashioned, blue bike. I remember it was my dad who ran along behind me, holding onto the back of the bike to keep me from falling, and then finally let go when it seemed like I had the hang of it. He was so proud! A rite of passage never felt so good.  I loved riding the bike, but I hated the bike. It was so old-fogey. All my friends were riding the newfangled “banana bikes” with the sleek seats and high-rise handlebars. And I’m still on Old Blue with the wire basket and battery-operated headlight that jutted out about 6" on the front looking for all the world like something off the Batmobile. I longed for a new bike with all my heart. One Sunday my mom and dad called my brother and I outside.  What a surprise! Brand new bikes for both of us! I almost had a heart attack right on the spot!! I got my snazzy new banana bike with the white wicker basket on front (and no stupid battery-operated headlight). It was hot pink, had a white seat with flowers on it. AND it had pom-poms on the high-rise handlebars. I don’t expect a teenager with a brand new car could have been more excited than I was with my new bike!!

I would love to know how many miles we logged on the streets of our little town. We all wore out two or three bikes over the years, and would celebrate whenever someone got a new one. We would decorate the wheels with brightly-colored beads that would slide up and down the spokes with every turn of the wheel. Sometimes we’d take playing cards and fasten them on the forks with clothespins. We sounded like a pack of Harleys cruising up and down Broad Street.

Back in those days, the school at Statham went 1st through 8th grade. We always had two classes for each grade. We stayed in the same room all day, and had the same teacher all day. Always female. But as we prepared to enter the 7th grade, we were excited to learn that we would have different teachers throughout the day, and some of them would be MEN!! We were really moving up in the world!! A few weeks before school started, Bobbie Jean and I rode our bikes down to the school house. We went inside to check out the classrooms, and to see if we could scope out the new teachers. Once inside, we met Mr. Austin, and learned that we would be in his homeroom. He teased us unmercifully about riding our bikes, and told us we reminded him of the I-Ride-My-Bike,-I-Roller-Skate,-Don’t-Drive-No-Car song. We dutifully informed him that bikes were the preferred mode of transportation for upcoming 7th graders, and we were proud of it. But after that, the bike song was kind of our theme song. 

What a different world we live in today. I cherish my memories of growing up in Statham, and bike riding is one of my favorites. Every trip down Bike Memory Lane always takes me to that 7th grade classroom, meeting my first male teacher, and I hear that silly song again.

Next week the kids return to school.  Some will be excited, some will be sullen.  Summer doesn’t last nearly long enough these days.  Cell phones and social media keep them connected, so it’s like they’re not apart at all. Not so back in the olden days, and I always missed my non-Statham friends over the summer.  I always loved the hustle and bustle of back-to-school preparation, and the anticipation of seeing everyone again. Of course, that lasted about a week, then I was looking forward to the next summer break.

Here’s to all school kids, teachers, and the many other staff people who make educating our kids happen.  Hats off to all of you.  In just a few days, the future of our nation will be sitting in your classrooms.  Thank you for all you do to make our world a better place.  Have a great year!!!

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By now, the kids should be settled in their classrooms, and parents are hopefully adjusting to the new normal.  Football season is upon us, and soon it will be time for sweaters and Pumpkin Everything!!!  

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Fourth of July At The Lake

   
Late Afternoon at The Lake

In years past, our family would gather as often as possible for holidays, birthdays, and just because we liked each other’s company.  

Labor Day weekend was spent “in the mountains” (Seed Lake) at Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Bill’s place.  We'd go there for a weekend in April, too, to celebrate the official opening of trout season.  <(((<

Fourth of July always meant going to “The Lake” (Lanier) at Aunt Joyce and Uncle Gene’s house.  Aunts, uncles, cousins, and boxer dogs everywhere.  Fireworks at dark, hand-cranked ice cream from a churn.  When it fell on a weekend, we'd all crash at the cabin and stay until Sunday. I never knew that this was a rare and precious thing.  It was just what we did.  So many happy memories of our times together.
 
Since the passing of my grandparents, the gatherings have become fewer.  There are only three occasions that we now celebrate with a gathering:  Thanksgiving, held the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, though that crowd is smaller each year, and 4th of July. 

I’m not sure how our celebration of Independence Day got moved to August, but, I guess that’s just how we roll.  Today was the day for our Annual 4th of July Family Reunion At The Lake. 

My morning started out the best of all possible ways – with Leyland and Corey giving me wake-up snuggles and love.  Mary and the littles had a sleepover with me last night.  Just in time!  I was about to nut UP from not seeing them for days and days.  Leyland hung around with me this morning to help with the cooking, and then we rode to The Lake together.  She is a natural in the kitchen, and loves to help.  She did an entire batch of fudge by herself, and assembled the green bean casserole. She mixed all the ingredients for the hash brown casserole, too, and was a great help to me.  It’s so much fun to have her in the kitchen!!

The weather was great, the fellowship was awesome, and it was almost the perfect day.  Bittersweet, though, – as this was our first gathering since we lost Aunt Peggy.  We miss her every day, but it sure didn’t feel right without her there today.  And it’s so sad to see Uncle Billy not doing well.  I don’t like this getting old stuff – not so much for what it is doing to me, but because it means their generation is getting into some serious elderly years.  I’m not liking that so much. 

It was cool to sit down by the water today, knowing that four generations of Dunahoo people have played there, sunbathed, skinnydipped, learned to ski, swim, and dive, and spend untold hours on the dock, riding in the boats, fishing, feeding the ducks, etc.  We'd lie on those cheap plastic rafts and bob up and down with each passing boat, delighted when they'd come close enough to churn up the waves.  We’d spend nearly every weekend in the summer at the cabin. The folks who owned the neighboring cabins did so as well, and it was like our little family community of Lake People away from reality. Some of the neighbors still come back to visit, and several of them still live there.  

One of my favorite moments of the day was looking out over the water and letting the memories flood my mind.  Our family has been so blessed.  My grandchildren’s relationships with their cousins won’t be anything like what my generation was.  My immediate family gets together on a more regular basis, but still not nearly enough.  Time is the ever-elusive treasure that, sadly, enslaves us.

Which is what makes days like today so extra super special.  Happy 4th of July, y’all!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Very Quiet Day


New Beginnings.  Remember when I wrote about that a few weeks ago?  Well – here’s what one of mine looks like!!   And there are more on the horizon!!

Today was the first day of school.  No grandchildren in my house, giving me hugs and kisses, “styling” my hair while I work, creating beautiful artwork with markers, and sharing their stories and discoveries.  

During the summer, I have one or more of them with me every day.  However, during the school year, my afternoon routine is to pick them up in the car rider line, bring them back here, feed them a snack, and settle in for a little TV time and homework time.  Because of my impending job change, we’ve had to make other arrangements for afterschool care, so I didn’t pick them up today.  My house has been very quiet.  All. Day. Long.  How I miss those sweet hugs and kisses, and “Greemaw, guess what?”  I think I’ll even miss the occasional whining and tattle-tale moments.  

It has been such a blessing to be able to get involved with their school activities, parties, ceremonies, having lunch with them, etc.  I’m trying to balance out my sadness at losing this with being grateful that I was able to do it to begin with.  I wasn’t able to do nearly as much with their mom when she was growing up, so doing it with the grandkids has been fabulous beyond words.  It has been a true blessing to be able to share their lives on a daily basis.

Here are a few of my favorite memories from school days:  (tried to keep in some kind of order, but it just didn't work - sorry!)

 






















 



 

 

 

 

 
























 

 

It’s kind of a nostalgic day all the way around.  Today is the three-year anniversary of the day I moved back to The 409.  It was not a good time in my life, and I wasn’t certain I’d survive it.  I don’t suppose I’ll ever understand why things sometimes happen the way they do, but I stand firm in my belief that everything happens for a reason.  What I lost that day three years ago was very difficult to overcome, but with my faith,  my friends … and time… I was able to get through it.  Before long, I began to realize that it provided the opportunity for me to focus my devotion on the most important thing in my life (besides Jesus, of course!) – and that is my family.  Moving back to Statham was always the goal, though I never imagined moving back alone.  However – the pieces fell together, and once I was able to breathe and function again, I realized that this is where I belong – even if it meant living on my own again.  Working from home allowed me to be here for the grandkids, to do things for Whitney, to be there when my parents needed me.  So – whatever the reason – I’m HOME, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

New Beginnings are scary.  Hearing that our jobs have been outsourced to an agency has been a bitter dose of reality.  We knew it would happen at some point – but we were hoping it would be years down the road, maybe to make it to retirement before the bomb dropped.  But, alas, we have become victims of technology, and there are four of us actively seeking other employment.  It’s kind of scary in today’s world to be at the mercy of corporate America, especially at my age.  But once again, I must have faith that everything happens for a reason.  While working at home in my jammies has been FABULOUS for all these years, I’m almost looking forward to getting out in the real world and interacting with people again.  [To be clear, I’m NOT excited about clothes and shoes… but I’m thinking it will be nice to be around people again.]

But in the meantime – until the day that I have to get dressed and drive in to my new place of employment – I’ll be here at home working in my jammies, in my quiet house, and miss those sweet grandkids who bring such pleasure and joy into our lives. I can’t wait for the first sleepover, to hear them laughing, talking, even bickering- every bit of it!  To feel their presence with me, to smell them and to love on them. To  having girl time with Mary - who has gone and grown up on me in the blink of an eye.   They are my heartbeat.  And I cherish the memories we’ve made together. 

Here are The Veal Kids on the first day of school 2015.  Mary is in 8th grade, Leyland is in 3rd grade, and Corey is in 2nd grade.  They are Greemaw’s sweet babies (no matter what grade they are in!!)