Jobs in the medical field can take a toll on those that work in it, but for Jessica Maynard, her collection of rubber bands takes on a whole new way of remembering each patient she encounters.
“To me, this is a rubber band ball that I made with the rubber bands from every single patient dose that I have administered over the last two years at Paris Imaging,” she said.
Maynard, who graduated from Detroit High school, got her Associates in Radiology at Kilgore College before obtaining her Bachelor in Nuclear Medicine from the University of Arkansas. This Dec, she will also be a graduate of Louisiana State University after completing her Masters in Health Administration.
But her journey to her profession wasn’t by chance, but rather by accident, an accident she had when she was only 19-years old which changed her course and landed her in a job that she says is beyond rewarding.
“I had a horrible car wreck when I was 19. I was care flighted to Parkland in Dallas, where I spent a few months in the hospital and rehab recovering. We found out that night in the ER I was pregnant. I had many fractures and several surgeries so I would need routine MRIs to keep up with how the fractures in my pelvis, L spine, sacrum and dislocated hip were healing in order to make a plan for when it was time to give birth,” she explained, “I was in the radiology department between both hospitals in Longview a lot and met an amazing woman named Rachel. I had a bad experience with my first MRI, so I was very scared when it came time for my next one.”
Maynard said that Rachel went above and beyond to make sure she was comfortable and wasn’t scared. From that first encounter, she always made sure Rachel was there when she required another MRI.
“After getting back on my feet (literally) and giving birth, I decided it was time to get back in school. I was originally going to school for accounting and business administration, but I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives like Rachel did for me. I started the phlebotomy program in January 2011 and started my basics for radiology school. I graduated from the radiology program in 2014 and graduated from the nuclear medicine program in 2016, but I have been doing nuclear medicine since 2014,” she said.
Maynard explained that it might look like a goofy rubber ball on her desk, or in someone’s hand, or bouncing it on the floor, but to her, it is a reminder of every encounter that she has had as a nuclear medicine technologist at Paris Imaging. Every encounter she has, she does her best to make sure her patient and their family feel at ease just like Rachel did for her.
“This ball represents some of the patients I have added to my heart in the last two years. A very small replica of the patients I pray for every morning when I first sit at my desk,” she added.
As a nuclear medicine technologist, Maynard’s job is a highly specialized health care professional who looks at how the body functions to help in the diagnosis and treatment of a range of conditions and diseases. Nuclear medicine combines imaging, patient care, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer technology, and medicine. Nuclear medicine technologists prepare and administer small amounts of radioactive substances called radiopharmaceuticals, as well as other medications, to patients for diagnosis and treatments.
“I inject patients with a radioactive tracer and watch as it functions through their body. I do stress tests, VQ lung scans, bone scans, Hida scans to check the gallbladder and many other tests. Each test comes with a dose (tracer) for the patient, she further explained.
“No one likes going to the doctor or having tests ran on them, and I completely understand that. I’m here to help my patients and make sure that while they’re in my care that they are as comfortable as possible. So this ball ended up being something that helps me make someone’s day just a little better,” she said.
With each dose comes a rubber band around the label, “I had a Fuzzy’s taco cup on my desk that I was just throwing the rubber bands in, but it became full, and they were flowing over the top. I didn’t want to throw them away because oddly enough, I thought it was a neat way to keep up with my patients,” she said.
From there, she began creating the rubber ball. A creation she came by from learning how to make one with her 9-year old son.
“So being a boy mom, my son told me to make a ball with the rubber bands, and that’s what I did. I started forming the ball, and it’s just been a part of my desk ever since. I’ve added every single rubber band I’ve received since I started here at Paris Imaging two years ago,” she said.
The famous rubber ball is now getting quite big, Maynard told, and though she has it on her desk where it stays, she also shares it with many that visit her office.
“When we have patients that come in with their kids, then the kids usually come to my room, and I keep them occupied while mom, dad, grandma, or whoever gets finished with their test. If one of my coworkers has a bad day or has a difficult patient, they usually come to my room to talk to me about it, so I let them bounce the ball a few times, and it’s almost like all the stress bounces away,” she explained.
“My patients not only brighten up my day but every person that sees or touches this ball,” Maynard said.
The ball was formed because someone had something wrong with their health, and Maynard says she’s prayed over the ball every day, first thing when she sits at her desk.
“It helps me remember all that I’ve overcome and how I’ve met some amazing people along my journey. So I want to be that person to all of my patients. It’s a silly ball to someone else, but, boy, it sure means a lot to me,” she said.
From bad days for her or her coworkers to children visiting, the silly goofy rubber ball is more than just a reminder of past patients, it’s a ball that can help center anyone who needs a moment to reset and keep going.
As for the size of the ball, Maynards says the rubber bands are getting tighter when she wraps them around, so she’s got to find a way to tie them together and then wrap around it, or she’s going to have to start a new ball. Braycen (her son) told her she needs to keep adding to it to see how big she can get the ball.
“This ball reminds me that my problems are nothing compared to those that my patients are going through. God helped me through my hard times, and this is my chance to help someone else through theirs. I pray over this ball every day, and there are still some patients who call and give me updates on their situations or who ask me to continue to pray for them.
“Our office is full of some amazing people who have their own story, and we all lean on one another when situations arise. Everyone has their initial job they do, but we all try to learn from each other so that we can help each other and also so we are readily available for our patients. Generally, if one of us doesn’t know the answer to a question, then we will do whatever we can to find someone who does have an answer. We have many patients who came in as strangers and left as additions to our family,” Maynard said.