Cardiac Cath 2002, Las Vegas: One Tech™s Journey

Michael Tibbals, RCIS, Deaconess Heart and Vascular Center, Spokane, Washington
Michael Tibbals, RCIS, Deaconess Heart and Vascular Center, Spokane, Washington
(Two months earlier, Philadelphia) Friday night 11:00 pm. My head aches with tension from another day of working on the talks for this year’s regional workshops. I guess I never realized exactly how much work went into this conference. Now that I have experienced it firsthand, I am humbled. Having taught for more than ten years in the cardiovascular program at Spokane Community College, I have had experience in putting talks together, but they pale in comparison to what we do here. Perhaps it is because these talks are for my peers, who I have yet to meet. Perhaps it is because the talks here are under the close scrutiny of the experienced faculty from the Society of Invasive Cardiovascular Professionals (SICP), working with HMP Communications (the publishers of Cath Lab Digest). Or perhaps it is because I have been inserted as a pinch hitter by this year’s symposium chairperson, Darren Powell, a good friend and fellow faculty member. He’s given me the bat, and now I have to step up to the plate. Will I get a hit, or will I strike out? I think once again about the ˜team’ that’s been assembled for this year’s talks. Darren Powell comes from the same city as I do, and having worked with him for over a decade, I respect his opinion and admire his leadership at the college and at this workshop. He’d asked me before whether I was interested in trying my hand at speaking, and like a smoker trying to quit, I always had an excuse as to why I couldn’t then. But not this year. This year I would jump in with both feet. Craig Cummings is one of the experienced speakers, working in a lab in Tennessee. His experience and ease in speaking are evidence as to his more than 17 years of service to our field. You can’t help but like him; his confidence and warmth instantly set you at ease. Marsha Holton, another speaker, has more experience in the medical field, writing for Cath Lab Digest, being co-editor of Diagnostic Imaging: Index and Reviews,and speaking, than I can fill in one paragraph. She tells me her little tricks of hotel etiquette so there will be no more wrinkles in my suits. Steve Foster is the last, but certainly not the least of the speakers gathered for this workshop. He also has worked extensively in the field for many years, and is one of the best public speakers I have personally worked with. I will rely on his opinion and experience heavily as the year progresses. Working in a Denver lab, he represents the middle of the country. Along with the faculty gathered, representatives from HMP are also present. Pete de Treville, Jeff Martin, and Alex Slonim have all made me feel both welcome and appreciated. They watch, listen, and advise where appropriate, which in my case, is often. It’s amazing how much time and work go into an hour-long talk! Several months of interviews, and data collection and correlation are compressed into 60 pages of pictures and information. Each of the other speakers give their presentations, and then it’s my turn. I have never been so nervous speaking for such a small group, but I forged ahead, and then suddenly it was over. After editorial and professional advice, (thanks, Steve!) my talk was almost ready. After two more nights (long past midnight) of hard work from Darren and Chris Nelson, the whole package was ready for the country. Cardiac Cath 2002, here we come! Two short months separated that initial workshop from when I would give my first talk. Two months full of imagining, nerves, and anticipation of speaking before an audience of my peers. I went over my talk countless times, preparing as best I could, knowing that I had a tough act to follow (Craig, Marsha, Darren, and Steve). February came, and I was on call at the hospital the night before I was to leave. As luck would have it, we had an acute PTCA at 9:00 pm, which went to surgery on an IABP, keeping me at the hospital until 4:00 am. Who needs sleep? It’s a good thing I had a loving wife at home to help me pack, keep organized, and simply survive. Thanks, Carolyn! And so I found myself flying south, to… (On the airliner, again) Jarred awake by a sudden lurching, I’m brought back to the present, nervous energy re-awakening. Las Vegas is just ahead. Las Vegas, Friday afternoon (4:30 pm) after arriving and checking into Caesar’s Palace. (WOW!) The speakers usually check in with the HMP representative sent to organize the show. There was time for a quick look around the city, and then off to bed. It’s funny how lack of sleep affects your sense of reality. Las Vegas, Saturday morning (6:00 am). How many of us worry that we won’t wake up for an important appointment, especially when we’re in a different city? Well, thankfully, I manged to wake up. Dressed for the part, I walked across the boulevard to the Flamingo, where Cardiac Cath 2002 would be held. With no coffee to sustain me, I somehow found the conference room! There to my delight, coffee and bagels found their way into my mouth, and I slowly began to feel normal again. Jeff from HMP was already set up for registration, and several vendors were also on the premises. After introducing myself to them, I observed Steve’s setup ritual. I’ve been working at Deaconess Heart and Vascular Center since 1986, and have gone to conferences and meetings in half a dozen states. Not once did I stop to wonder how much work and energy went into preparing those meetings. Steve was quite the setup man, showing me (the rookie) how to work the laptop containg the show, and the lavolier (a wireless mike. Another note: I never even realized it was called a lavolier! Wasn’t that from a Stephen King movie, the lavoliers? Oh no, that was langoleers!) The room quickly filled with techs and nurses from many different states, which was another surprise to me. I had assumed that almost everyone attending the show would be from close by. And so the show began, with Darren and Steve starting things off. It was a good chance for me to see how polished they both were at presenting (and entertaining) the attendees. Another note: no matter how many times you hear a talk, you can usually still learn something new. Even after hearing the original talks from their actual authors at the workshop, I found there was still more for me to learn hearing them again. After the first talks on imaging modalities and case studies, a short break enabled the attendees and presenters to mingle with each other and the vendors. The break led into the next talk about stocking your ACS medicine cabinet, and then I was on. Before I knew what I was doing, the lavolier was passed, I pulled out my laser pointer, and I was on. My talk, many long hours in the making, was on profiles in PVD, a subject that was easy for me to embrace, since in our area of the country it is becoming even more of a force of the cath lab arena. Suddenly I was done, and all the usual questions popped into my head. Did I say all that I had intended? Did I forget any pertinent points? Was anyone still awake in the audience? Evidently some of them were still awake, because I could hear them clapping as I walked back to my seat. Were they clapping because I’d done well, or because it was time for lunch? I couldn’t be sure, but either way, I’d done my talk! I’d made it! I survived! Lunch was provided by HMP, and we used this time to get to know as many of participants as we could. It was one of the most enjoyable and informative lunches I’ve had. Many of those at immediate table were from a lab in New Mexico, and the similarities between all of us our concerns over patient care, the long hours, the physicians we work with became quickly apparent. The afternoon session began with an informal professional discussion between speakers and attendees about common concerns. Among the important issues discussed was the need for a national governing body to speak for all of us in cath labs across the country. Hey, how about the SICP? The afternoon was taken up with the last two talks on ergonomics and the finale of emerging technologies. Las Vegas, Saturday afternoon (4:00 pm). Suddenly, it was over, and we were left with an empty conference room and a pile of evaluations. What would they say, not only about my own talk, but the show overall? The evaluations were great. People had their favorite speakers, of course, but they were almost all very positive. The Las Vegas show was a hit. And yes, I had survived after all I was now a speaker for Cardiac Cath 2002! The rest of that night we saw as much of the sights of Las Vegas as we could, and then each of us flew into the airways, back to our families and friends. I returned to Spokane a much better tech than the one who left, filled with a sense of pride in my field and in my peers. Spokane, Washington (two weeks later). The Cardiac Cath 2002 speakers, coming to an area near you, have worked very hard to put together an informative and enlightening show. If you go, expect to learn a thing or two you might not have known before, as well as meet a few of your colleagues from your own area. And if by chance you meet this newest speaker at Cardiac Cath 2002, know that I have as much to learn from you as you do from me. One final note: These talks could not take place without the loyal sponsers of the medical communities we all work in. Their support in our endeavors is greatly appreciated. Lastly, these shows could not continue without the interest and attendance of nurses and technologists from across the country. The nature of our chosen profession demands that we stay abreast of the technolgy exploding daily from our supporting institutions and industry representatives. What better way to accomplish that, than through attendance at a conference near you? What’s that? One isn’t scheduled near you this year? Then why not drop Cath Lab Digest a line: CathLabDigest@aol.com, and let us know that there’s support and interest in your area to host a show. (Who knows, we may come your way next year! It could be the beginning of your own journey!)