Friday, July 18, 2008

Defeat

I stayed home yesterday to help with some of the family issues. And I can tell you that yesterday was a vacation compared to what I came back to today.

Dr. B came by just after I got here this morning. I had emailed him and told him yesterday that I wasn't coming in because of the issues I was dealing with. I never heard anything from him. And considering I've taken almost no time off in the last few months, I didn't figure he'd have a big issue. Well, when he came by this morning, and he asked me how I was, I could tell right away he didn't really care. He never cares--he has no sympathy for issues occurring outside the lab (and that's not to say he has any sympathy for issues in the lab either.)

I could tell instantly he was in a bad mood. He asked me what my plan was today. I told him I was going to run samples on a Western today, blot them tomorrow, and in the meantime I was lysing cells to do an IP today and tomorrow.

He started with, "I don't know why you are wasting your time with IP when we don't even know if the antibody works. You should be doing simple experiments until you know the antibody works. You've been telling me for two months that the antibody works, but we don't know that for sure."

Here's the truth:
-I have had semi-working antibody for three weeks (not two months). True, I am working on minimizing my background to get clearer films, but there are obvious bands responding physiologically in the right location.

-When I first got bands, he was the one that told me to do a bunch of IPs. I wanted to do Western blots to make sure the bands were reproducible. No point in wasting hundreds of dollars in agarose beads if the Westerns didn't even work.

-He tells me to multi-task, I do. Then he yells at me for multi-tasking and tells me to slow down and do one experiment at a time.

And I am worn out from lab and life (I've been into work every weekend for as long as I can remember). I haven't taken a relaxing day off since Sophie was born. Yesterday was the closest thing to it.

And the lab had no money--we were told we can't order anything at all, and we need supplies desperately. Dr. B is convinced I can still go back in November, despite what I and my committee have told him. So he alternates between telling me to multi-task and telling me to slow down.

Oh, and the kicker this morning? "Kim has done two days of animal experiments, and her stuff looks to be working."

I like Kim a lot. But she's gotten a lot of help. She's working with two labs who do animals. She's had to figure out the protocol, but they do the actual experiments. And all they've done so far is hook rats up to a pump that has glucose, measured blood sugar, and then adjusted the external pump infusion rates. Do I think her project is more interesting? By far. Has she had more help? Absolutely.

I know Dr. B doesn't think much of me. He hasn't made it a secret. My committee and several other faculty I have worked with have given me a lot of encouragement, but it doesn't mask the fact that my boss thinks I'm a waste of space.

I didn't want this lab, I didn't want this project, and I definitely didn't want to work with Dr. B. But I had no choice. And I am trying to make the best of it. But all I hear is negative feedback, and I am feeling very defeated.

Why do I come in every weekendto do something I don't like, for a boss that doesn't appreciate it, when I could be spending time with my family? I guess I am just trying to prove that I'm not a failure. I keep hoping that I'll do something that will make him think I'm not a waste of space. But it hasn't happened in two and a half years, so why would things change now?

I'm so tired of getting beaten down. And now that I won't make it back to med school this year, I really have time to slow down. I could use a break. But if I took a week off, my boss would lose it. So for now, I'm stuck in this vicious cycle.

I'm worn out. Exhausted. And feeling like there's no such thing as winning.

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