A Glimpse into the Sometimes Difficult, Heartbreaking, and yet Rewarding Work of Our Sonographer. By Gwyn Grabner, RDMS.
The title above may be a little bit dissuading, so let me start by emphasizing that I do, in fact, absolutely, love my job!
I am extremely passionate and proud of my profession as an ultrasonographer and I take great pride in my work as I wear many hats…
I am a photographer. Not your traditional photographer, though. I get a glimpse of who you are on the inside. I peer into the core of who you are. I photograph your organs, tissue, blood vessels, pathology and your babies and their organs. I have this awesome power to see you and/or your baby with sound waves.
I’m your nurse. I sometimes help you dress or undress, I retrieve warm blankets if you are cold or water when you’re thirsty. I clean up accidents, change bedding, set up medical equipment, assist our physicians or PA with procedures, prepare you for the “unknown exam” and explain what I am doing and seeing as I scan to make you more comfortable as you watch along on TV and answer any questions I can.
I’m your therapist. Sometimes, when you’re scared, you open up the floodgates and share personal intimate details of your life. I always listen. Sometimes, I give advice but mostly I’m a friendly ear and a shoulder for you to lean on.
I’m a friend. I’m here for you. I hold your hand when you’re nervous during an invasive procedure. I remind you to breathe through the pain….slow, deep, breaths. During your scan we get to know each other. We exchange information pertaining to our backgrounds, professions and our hometowns. We share pictures of our kids or grand kids and laugh at each others’s stories. We learn each other’s names, hug and wave goodbye. Until next time…
I absolutely love my profession, though not every day is easy.
Some days can be overwhelming and some can be very stressful for a variety of reasons. As an integral part of who we are and what we stand for at The Healing Sanctuary, I strive to treat every patient like they are my only patient, no matter how busy my schedule may be. I make it my goal to remain calm in stressful situations, make scheduling adjustments as needed, and accommodate every patient’s needs.
As your photographer, nurse, therapist, and friend, I am the first to discover the ovarian cancer that’s causing your pelvic pain, that a baby has no heartbeat … or has major abnormalities … or may never leave the NICU with mom and dad. Or, that you’re tummy is in pain because that pregnancy you dreamed about is forming in your fallopian tube and will have to be removed before it ruptures or that lump you feel is stage 4 cancer. Though I, myself, am not able to discuss most of these findings with you, I often struggle to fight back the tears as it pains me to discover such sad, unfair findings, sometimes multiple times a month.
A career in healthcare can be one of the most challenging of occupations but also can be one of the most rewarding and gratifying.
I definitely have more good days than bad. I have first time moms bringing excited dads-to-be along with them to hear baby’s heartbeat for the first time. I see tears in their eyes of joy and excitement just hearing that sound. Siblings laughing and smiling over learning they are finally getting the baby brother they’ve always wanted. Parents, after many losses, watching their chubby baby on 4D ultrasound smiling and sucking their thumb! Oh, and not to forget the effortless pleasures of telling a patient the lump and pain in her breast is just a simple cyst and that Dr. Baker can aspirate it today and she will feel so much better and can put her worries to rest. To the patient, with chest pain all weekend, that he is suffering from easily managed gallstones. Sometimes, just hearing the answers and the reasons for your pain can help put a smile back on your face for there is some relief in your near future. Knowing that I could be just a small part of that comfort puts a smile on my face. Using ultrasound guidance to help our PA with prolotherapy injections that help our patient’s with their joint/tendon pain to heal much faster and get some relief from their constant discomfort. The pride I get from this profession far outweighs the worry and sadness I sometimes feel right along with our patient’s!
It is a great honor to take care of patients and become a part of their journey, good or bad. My job gives me great satisfaction and inner peace in knowing I am helping everyone that walks into my ultrasound suite. I enjoy working here and I learn something new every day at The Healing Sanctuary from all my colleagues. Even on the busiest days, I go with a sense of accomplishment and know I am contributing here to make a difference.