Saturday, May 14, 2011

Night and Day

Graveyard shift is not conducive to good health. But someone has to do it, because people are ill at the most inconvenient of times. And, truth be told, there is a certain pleasure in working in the hospital without the daytime bustle. At night you focus on the acute. It feeds the adrenaline junky. And strangeness abounds, which keeps life interesting.

I love this song. It is the ring tone I've assigned to my husband. It has been running through my head today, because I am trying to sleep but it is the middle of the day! I thought about going for a run, but I really need to sleep first. Night is day is night on the good ol' graveyard.

No one knows for sure where that term graveyard shift came from. Some say it was from people sitting by the graves listening for the bells tied to the strings tied to the hands of some supposedly dead guy in the coffin who would ring the bell when it turned out they were actually buried alive and were trying to claw their way out. Also, this could be where "saved by the bell" came from. Shudder. Some say it is from families guarding graves of newly dead loved ones from the thieving medical students needing study material for anatomy class, in the old days before wiling donations. My lovely profession. Maybe it is just from that jet-lagged feeling of death one encounters for at least a day, sometimes longer, after a string of night shifts.

My middle school cross country and track coach once said that distance running prepares you for any other hard thing in life. At age 12, I found this perplexing, but now I think it is more or less a fact. The only thing is I think it might also warp your brain just enough to accept pain as a sign of doing well instead of as the big red flag it is meant to be. Medical training also creates "no pain, no gain" monsters. Doctors seem to take pride in working themselves half to death.

As I train for another marathon, with a vague goal of doing a marathon a year until I can't because of whatever illness life hands me, I am thinking seriously about how to find that sweet spot between taking the pain and protecting my health. How to just enjoy each moment without being spun by the day to day tragicomedy of life and work and parenting and whether my iliotibial band can stand those 3 extra miles. I don't really need to figure out how to like it. Just how to like it while getting my daily allowance of fruit, vegetables and a solid 8 hours of sleep. Day or night.

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