I'm a radiation therapist. In short, I give radiation treatments to cancer patients. I trained at MD Anderson in Houston, and I worked there after graduation for about 6 years. One of the things I loved most about training and working there was the cutting edge technology. We were some of the first in the nation to see new technologies applied on a daily basis, and by the time I left I was counted as one of the most experienced therapists. I was proud of my accomplishments.
But after Nathan was born, I struggled with my job. One of the things I liked least about training and working at Anderson was the stress that went along with long hours and a heavy workload. We had moved about 45 miles outside of Houston so that we could live in our hometown and be close to our parents after Nathan came. That translated into an hour and a half commute one way, and the last place I wanted to be was in my car for 3 hours a day. I found myself dropping Nathan off at the sitter's house at the crack of dawn, and then arriving home after he was already asleep.
The stress of being a new mom, coupled with the stress at work and the fact that I was missing out on actually raising my son led me to search for a new job. I found one that cut my commute to about 35 minutes one way, and allowed me to work reasonable hours. At the time, the promise of more time with Trevor and Nathan made the pay cut and using older technology seem like a small price to pay. The sacrifice of my pay potential has never caused me a moment of regret. My life settled into a comfortable routine of a relatively stress free job and more time with my family.
This brief job history has been a lead in to the topic at hand, which is the fact that I feel completely out of touch with technology. My ability to assimilate and use new technology quickly and efficiently was one of the things that made me good at my job at Anderson. I'm a fast learner, and in spite of my distaste for change, I was remarkably adept at facilitating it with respect to my career.
An old friend and colleague from Anderson called me the other day, and we were discussing work. About halfway through the conversation, I realized that I understood what she was saying but had no clue what she was talking about. The words were familiar. In the 6 years that I have been away from Anderson, I have attended lectures and read literature on new technology as it relates to my field. I understand the concepts in theory, and can pretty much visualize the techniques, but I have absolutely no working or practical knowledge.
As the conversation ended, I felt a little out of my element but quickly put it out of my mind as I arrived home to my family. It wasn't until this morning as I was sitting in traffic that I was suddenly hit with how out of touch I am. I would be so lost if I had to go work at Anderson tomorrow. Oh, I could learn, but I couldn't march in with my usual confidence and get to work.
Can I just say that my pride was more than slightly injured? I take a great deal of pride in being good at what I do (a good quality in someone who gives really high doses of radiation for a living), and the thought of being less than I had been was somewhat disturbing. Then I had all of these images of Trevor, Nathan and Grace flash through my head. I was sitting there in my car second guessing my decision to spend more time with my family because of my stinkin' pride!
My decision to nurture my family instead of my career wasn't a sacrifice at all in the grand scheme of things, although sometimes I feel like I haven't done enough nurturing with the stress of working full-time. But in the end, the benefits far outweigh the negative. I take my children to the sitter's house after the sun comes up, and I am able to spend time with them in the evening before it's time to go to bed. I don't have to work weekends anymore, and taking call doesn't mean getting home at 8 pm anymore. It's not perfect, but it works so much better than it used to.
So I've decided it's time to put on my big girl panties and move on. No more regret about how good I might have been if I had stayed at Anderson. No more complaining about how much I miss new technology and how out of touch I feel sometimes. No more feeding my own sense of pride. I am officially over it.
And it only took six years.