Reflections on food, fitness and ER shifts

So I’ve finished up at one job and moved on to another.  I was a director for a year and it was a learning experience.  (More on that another day.)  Right now I’m nearing the final approach after working a long run.  Last week I had five nights, 12 hours duration each.  I stayed in a hotel near the hospital. Then, after two days off at home, I started a run of five days, of 12 hours duration.  I have two to go.  I’m working out of town. Not locums, as I’m employed and working in the same place; it’s just a couple hours away, so I stay here.

A few observations:  It’s hard to turn around from nights to days in 48 hours.  I find myself reading a novel at 1:00 am when I’m getting up at 4.  I find myself drifting to sleep at the keyboard at 1 pm.  I find that caffeine is nice, but sometimes doesn’t help a lot.

When I’m tired I eat.  I started my long run intending to diet and eat well.  To limit my carbs and drink lots of water.  I was going to do pushups and squats in the room. I was planning to resist temptation!  Vade retro satana!  And it worked.  In my mind. The longer I went, the more I craved food.  Sure, for energy.  Not entirely untrue. I was focusing on vegetables and protein, unsweetened green tea and water, apples and low calorie pre-packaged food.  At first.

Fast Forward…

Today I had a breakfast burrito from Sonic, a reasonably healthy hospital lunch and part of a candy bar.  (Leave me alone, it’s dark chocolate!)  I did have an apple, so take that!  Tonight I had half a Pizza Hut Supreme (what? It was thin crust!)  Too much sweet tea, some fried pork skins and the rest of my chcolate bar.  No need to judge me. I’m judging myself.

I rememer thinking, ‘I’ll do lots of pushups.’  But after my latest day shifts, full of very, very sick people, I come home and lie down on the couch.  And it feels really, really good.  I don’t even care what’s on TV. I just want to sit.

Emergency medicine can be an exhausting gig. I’m not whining. I made my bed and I lie in it. Or, should I say, I made my couch.  But the thing is, this is a very physical thing we do.  And coupled with circadian chaos, it takes the wind out of my sails.

I’m not going to play the ‘I’m 53’ card. I feel young, and I feel fit.  However, at the end of the day, there’s nothing like eating bad food and putting your feet up.  Maybe it helps me decompress from the stressors of the day.

Or maybe I’m just weak. Either way, I’m headed back to the couch.

Keep the faith brothers and sisters!

Edwin, Prime Minister of Emergistan.

4 thoughts on “Reflections on food, fitness and ER shifts

  1. You know this is so very true for everyone who works hard. It is life. Spending 37 years in the medical field. My thing was eating fast, becuase if you didn’t, you might not another chance for hours.

  2. You are working too hard. Try working no more than 3 – 12 hour shifts per week. Or 4 – 8 hour shifts per week. That will allow some residual strength (both physical and emotional) to exercise and fight the diet war.

  3. Ah, the night to day flip!!

    I could do it when younger no problem– until I hit 40.

    Then too much time to recover. If I worked a night shift now, I would need a week to feel normal!.
    ( also have always packed a jump rope, fitness resistance band, etc.– for “down time”- never get it out of the bag. YAY for green tea and staring at the wall!

  4. Amen brother. And I do play the “59” card. And no one listens….but I giggle with great amusement at those that hit 40 and start to whine….

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