I don’t like body fluids. Mucus grosses me out. Blood makes me want to faint. I hate it when people burp. Makes me gag. And let’s not even talk about vomit.
When I was a senior in college, I had no idea what I was going to do with my bachelor’s degree in biology. That major was just a stepping stone for me.
I knew I didn’t want to become a doctor. I didn’t want that lifestyle. And despite being an officer in the pre-dental club, I didn’t want to be a dentist either. What else can you do with a biology degree? I sure as hell didn’t want to get a masters or a Ph.D. just to teach the subject. I didn’t even really like biology.
So, there I was. A semester away from graduation, with no clue what I was going to do with my life.
I did know that no matter what, I was going to get a doctorate degree. In what? I didn’t know. But my parents didn’t give up their lives to immigrate to this country for nothing.
I was going through a quarter life crisis. And I needed to get my shit figured out.
On the eve of my 21st birthday, one of my best friends wanted to take me out to celebrate. It was also Halloween. We all piled into a 2004 Honda Civic and made our way towards downtown Chattanooga. My roommate and I sat in the back seat. She didn’t buckle up, and I didn’t either.
To make a long story short, we never made it downtown. We got in an accident involving a drunk driver on the highway. Our car spun out of control and rolled several times before landing in a ditch. My roommate got ejected out of the back window, and I rolled around the car like a ping pong bingo ball. It was a miracle we all made it out alive. Our guardian angels saved us.
The days after the accident were a blur. I just remember being so sore and so wiped out. Physically and emotionally. My teachers had given me several days off to recover. I was bored. So when I saw a poster about a recruiting event for Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy, I decided to go. Why not? I had nothing else to do.
I ended up going to the event. I sat in the back. I watched a short video about what a pharmacist does. I realized that I already had all the pre-requirements to apply thanks to my biology major. I applied that day, even though it was already past the deadline for the next school year. And I just knew this was going to happen for me. I had finally figured it out. God had answered my prayers.
Fast forward 10 years later, and here I am. A girl with her doctorate in pharmacy (PharmD). I am a clinical pharmacist working at a small community hospital. I’ve been a pharmacist for almost 6 years now. And I’ve seen it all: body fluids, mucus, and blood. And lots of vomit.
The pharmacists in my hospital are required to show up to all emergency events that need life saving medications. I have two tackle boxes I take with me to the codes that are announced on the overhead pager, and I make intravenous medications during some of the most stressful moments you could possibly imagine. I am part of that first response team.
Don’t worry, I have a pretty fierce game face. The rush of adrenaline is thrilling. With time, and lots of experience, I’ve learned to keep my cool and do my job despite what is going on around me. Even if someone takes their last breath right next to me.
But man, sometimes I can’t help but think I didn’t go to pharmacy school for this shit.
You know what makes it harder? When I see people I know and love as patients of this hospital. When I have to make medications for someone I actually know. When I compound drugs for a friend’s baby born 16 weeks too early.
And that’s when I can’t fake my game face. And my emotions get the best of me.
But then I think about how my career came to be. How a terrible accident led me to the answer to my prayers. How God not only has a plan for my life, but for those people in this hospital too.
Then suddenly all the body fluids, mucus, blood, and even the vomit doesn’t bother me anymore. I have purpose again. And I make sure to dispense each medication with a little bit more love.
About the Author: Flor was born in Guatemala and immigrated to the US when she was two years old. Since then, she’s been trying to find her place in this world. Currently residing in Denver, Colorado, Flor enjoys all of the perks of living near the Rocky Mountains. She loves trying new restaurants, throwing themed parties, spending time with her friends, and hiking in the mountains. Even though she’s a pharmacist, she doesn’t like/believe in medications. How ironic.