A question was posed to me about a month ago, 2 of us were sitting in the lab one night and my fellow Lab Tech asked me "How did you become a Lab Tech?" As in, what prompted you to choose this career path? Usually you hear a similar answer when you ask this of any Lab Tech, there's usually an interest in the Science/Health Field, don't have the disposition or compassion of a nurse nor the patience of a physician (ummm all those years in medical school, internship, residency?! No Thank you! LOL)
When it came to answering the question though I surprised myself by saying
"It was sheer luck!"
Yes I do now have an interest in the medical field, I have always been science and math driven (being my favourite subjects in high shcool) but these were not initially why I chose to study to become a Lab Technologist. It seems so silly and embarassing to admit, but the reason I am who I am today was based on one decision I made years ago because of a boy!
I know right?! The idea of shaping my life around a man's seems so ridiculous (how retro of me! LOL) and the images of old 1950's textbooks on how to be a "Good Housewife" spring to mind, but when you're a headstrong 17 year old girl and "head over heels in love" it seemed like the obvious thing to do at the time.
Through most of High School I had always been immensely interested in the Culinary Arts. Although my classes revolved around taking as many science and math courses as possible ("to keep all doors and options open" I was told by parents and guidance cousellors) I loved to create things with food. Both cooking and baking I have always had a passion for (hmmm funny how that passion fades when you have to cook day in and day out and keep track of budgets and groceries) I do truly enjoy experimenting with flavours, I can remember making cookies with fennel seeds just to see how the licorice bite from the fennel would taste with the soft sweetness of a cookie (FYI they were yummy!). So naturally, although I kept sciences at the forefront of my education, I had every intention of pursuing my love of cooking and baking by graduating from the Cordon Bleue Institute. I had dreams of owning a restaurant or coffee shop where I could cook/bake/create to my hearts content.
Ummmm, clearly that is not what happened! ....
I started seeing Jack in the Spring of 2002, we got on like a house on fire and spent nearly every day of the summer together when we weren't busy working whatever part time summer work we had. Jack was leaving in the Fall to start University at Queen's in Kingston but we decided not to dwell on the goodbyes just yet but to enjoy one another and the summer. Fall arrived, and we said our "goodbyes" although we were going to stay together and see what the long distnace thing was going to be like. We kept in touch with email, but we were both old fashioned and wrote letters to one another more than anything else (there's something about receiving an actual letter in the mail than reading it electronically) By December of '02 myself and fellow classmates were gearing up to apply to colleges and univeristies that we wanted to apply to before we were set to graduate in the spring. At the time I was 17 and madly in love (well as much as a 17 year old can be anyways) so the question of going to culinary school dropped by the wayside and I chose to go to Kingston so that Jack and I could be close together while we were at school (Jeeze! LOL lovesick teenagers are so silly!) There were no if's and's or but's, I was going to go to Kingston to go to school because that's where my boyfriend was. Hmmmm...but then came the question of what would I actually study once I made it to Kingston? There were no culinary schools there other than a diploma level course for a Line Cook. So I grabbed 2 calendars, one for Queen's University and one for St Lawrence College and started flipping through to find a course that would make do. Similar to travellers aiming a dart at a map of the world, I flipped open the books and whatever program it opened up to was what I would apply for.
Enter Medical Laboratory Science
I found the course on Med Lab Science in the St Lawrence's course calendar and it was something that I could apply for with all the math and science credits I had accumulated during my 4 years at ADHS. I had no idea what the course was about or what the next 3 years of my life were going to be like, but Med Lab Science sounded cool and I was going to be living in Kingston so what else mattered?
To make a long story a little bit shorter, my relationship with Jack never panned out and after spending just over 2 years together, we broke up a couple weeks before my 2nd year of college. (although we do keep in touch and he and his family are wonderful friends of mine) So I had planned my whole life's future career around a relationship that ultimately failed....crap!
....but....there was a silver lining!
For a program that I knew nothing about or had no intention of ever entering, I L.O.V.E.D it! I fell in love with lab work and all the facsinating things we could learn about the human body. I don't know how many hours I spent studying Kidney Pathways, Liver function, blood cell life spans etc, leukemias, anemias, transfusions..... but I drank it all in and absolutely loved the whole thing!
We all felt at home in the labs at school, and yes it was an intense program and yes there were days we thought we would never sleep again for the number of hours we spent studying, but we were motivated to do so becasue of the love of the subject. Because of my silly little girl decision I fell in love with my college program and couldn't wait to get out into the "Real World", to be working in a real lab with real patients and real diagnoses. I also met some of the most brilliant women who I am honoured to have them as some of my closest friends! Stacey I met during our first week of class in September of 2003, we were sitting in our Critical Thinking class (this would be one of those useless classes that had nothing to do with Med Lab) we teamed up to do pair work and spent most of the class saying how useless it was....Stacey became my very first friend at school, subsequently leading to us making our Critical Thinking prof, Judy, cry near the end of semester (it was justified!) Later on in the year we made friends with Jocelyn and three of us were inseperable for the 2 years we spend at college together (our 3rd year was work placement) In between classes we would go to the gym together, once I reached 19 the 3 of us would go out to the bars a couple times and we started our Winterlude Weekend Tradition. Every February we spend the weekend in Ottawa and go to Winterlude (every year since 2004!) These friends are so dear to me and to think that I would otherwise have never met them.
June 2006 rolled around and we were all geared up to graduate and to write our National CSMLS exams so that we could get our licences and start our careers as Med Lab Technologists. That exam I think was the most stressful time of my life! Forget childbirth, trying to cram 3 years of intense schooling into your head for an 8 hour exam was waaaay more stressful and painful! 3 years worth of textbooks, course notes, lab notes, study notes to memorize so that we could write an exam that would determine if we were allowed to find a job in our field. We could all graduate the program and receive our college diplomas, but it was this National Exam that would decide if we could actually work.
So all in all it worked out pretty darn good.
Had I not chosen to move to Kingston to be with Jack, I never would have found the career of my dreams (2nd to being a mother anyways)
Had I not attended St Lawrence College I never would have met some of my closest friends today!
Had I not chosen Med Lab Science as a program then I would not have chosen to move home for my 3rd year to do my work placement at CHEO. (where I now work full time)
Had I not been in Ottawa during my 3rd year I would not have met the Love of my Life Daniel. (this photo was taken at my College Graduation)
Had I not have met Daniel, we would not have been married.
Had Daniel and I never been married, then we would not have our Little Dude Oliver, our most cherished Blessing.
Funny how the Lord (or Fate, or Choice, or whatever Power you believe in) seemed to have a plan for me all along and how a seemingly naive decision made as a teenager has severely shaped where I am in adulthood. (and for the better) So now when I am asked "How did you get into Med Lab?" I answer,
"It was a fluke, a decision I made for all the wrong reasons, turned out to be the best thing I ever did and I was lucky"
The Chaos Theory comes to mind here:
"The flutter of a butterfly's wing can ulitmately cause a typhoon on the other side of the world"
So all I can gather from this very long rambling post is that never regret any decision that you make about anything, because no matter how small or how inconsequential it may seem then, you can have no idea how much it can impact your life down the road.
P.S - the cooking and baking thing never disappeared entirely, while at college I worked part time for a Catering Company, Savoury Pursuits. I learned even more about cooking and baking,food presentation, making platters, planning events, cakes, truffles and breads....