X-Ray with William

By Tim Daly

William is the X-ray technologist newly hired for Iambi and he is wonderful. He has a huge amount of knowledge and background in radiology. Although most of his background is in radiation therapy, he told me that when the patient load was low, they had to do general X-ray exams. William will be 70 in just a few months, but you would never guess his age (at least I never would have guessed him to be that old). Although, as I get older, I don’t consider 70 to be old (isn’t 70 the new 40?!?). I can’t say enough good about William. His demeanor is sweet and soft spoken, and his smile lights up his face and is infectious.

Like me, he hasn’t had to deal with film chemistry for over 20 years, so we both had to shake the cobwebs from our brains to think back in time. The poor guy has been reusing the spent chemistry because there is no new chemicals on hand — something I am making it a mission to resolve.

William also told us the day we arrived that he had to turn away 4 patients for chest X-rays recently because he doesn’t have any film on hand large enough to capture the chest. The largest film he has is 24 x 30 cm (10 x 12 inches), which is used primarily for extremity work (unless, of course, you get a small child in need of a chest X-ray.) This issue is another in need of being resolved. As it is, William only has about 10 to 12 films left in the two sizes he uses most often — 18 x 24 and the 24 x 30 cm mentioned.

I have to say, I was so relieved upon meeting William. He is definitely using the X-ray system to its fullest extent and with great pride and care for the equipment.

But back to the film processor… The first thing I noticed was that the films looked a little “dirty,” meaning not being washed very well. When we opened the processor, the wash tank was only about half full. William was only turning on the water when he needed to take a film, and this didn’t provide enough time for the tank to fill to the proper level. The developer tank was also a bit low. I told William it would be nice to do a thorough cleaning of the processor and transport rollers. We did this the next day. It’s a good thing we did because the water tank was filthy and the developer tank had some residue in the bottom. We removed all the components and did a full cleaning. As we did this (remember this was early on in our relationship), I was trying to think of how to tell William that this cleaning needed to be done often. It hadn’t been done since the unit was installed in November. As I started to bring this up, he immediately stated, “I will do this weekly.” I said, “That would be great,” and thought to myself that we are of one mind! 🙂

As the week progressed, my confidence in William continued to grow, to the point where I left him to do some of my “Fundi Do List” around the hospital. In the evenings I worked on a radiographic technique chart, calculating exposure parameters based on some of the films William had been taking. It took me until the last day to get it completed. A single page for routine adult exams and 2 pages worth of pediatric exams.

I gave the technique chart to William and we soon had a pediatric patient for an elbow exam. We referenced the chart, set the technique, and performed the exam. Upon processing the film we felt it was just a bit light. As William put it, “a very usable film.” Both images showed that there was a fracture at the end of the radius (bone the makes up the forearm).

What a wonderful experience this was and something that put my knowledge and experience to the test! I would say it was a true success in all aspects, but I am definitely not one who toots his own horn. It took a team, and I am proud to have William on my team. Now, I just need to get him some film, and more importantly, fresh chemistry.