Here’s a post I wrote earlier today on my phone:
I’m not normal and my life clearly is not normal. I live in the hospital except for the few hours of sleep I get every night. I get my vitamin k vitamin D (or lack there of) from fluorescent lights. I’m wriing this entry as I stand in line in the hospital cafeteria for a grilled cheese sandwich. I wear pajamas all day long at work. In my profession 80 hrs is the lower limit of acceptable time spent workig in a week. Actually, I don’t think the word “acceptable” is even accurate.
But in any case I am of the opinion that sometimes it’s nice, even therapeutic, to feel normal. So I do two things everyday to feel normal: 1) I come to work in jeans and a tshirt (ie civilian clothing) everyday. There’s something really relaxing, almost cathartic after 15 hrs in the hospital to put on a pair of jeans and go home. It only adds an extra 4 minutes to both ends of my day to change, but it’s worth it. 2) I try to take 5 or 10 minutes everyday to sit outisde either in a hospital courtyard or even out in front of the hospital. I’ll get an iced tea +/- a chocolate chip cookie and just take in some fresh air. It’s nice and also very normal feeling. As a sidenote, I’m not sure yet how I’ll adapt this to Boston winters but I’m thinking about it now.
I know a lot of residents who deny themselves the chance to feel normal, either out of arrogance or feeling like they don’t have the time, but I thnk that’s a bad idea. My sense of normality is one of the ways through which I relate to my patients. Everyone wants to be “normal” sometimes and everyone wants to relate to normal. It’s why despite sleepiness and a list of boxes that need to get checked off pages long, I love sitting down to talk baseball with a patient. It’s also why the same patient with untreatable cancer, for a even period of 5 minutes, will baseball with me. Everyone wants to be normal sometimes. Finally, occasional normalcy is also a reason why I haven’t and hopefully won’t turn into a complete asshole when the going gets tough (although some may disagree with my assessment that I’m ready not an asshole). In any case, I should say when the going get tougher. Plus, trying to be a little normal really doesn’t take that much time. And as I like to say: even in medicine, 10 minutes never killled anyone, unless of course it was a code.