The thing about being a runner is you don't feel like a runner when you miss a day. Even worse two days. So the fact that I have missed seven days is something of a catastrophe. I am endorphin-starved. I am grumpy. And I am not even sure I ever was a runner or if I actually know how to put one foot in front of the other at a pace beyond walking the halls of the hospital.
Walking the halls, climbing the stairs, this was my exercise for the week. Also blowing my nose and keeping my head from flopping over onto the desk where I was charting. This keeping your head up business is quite taxing.
It seems ridiculous to complain about my bad cold and sleep deprivation and 14 hour days when the people I was attempting to heal all week were so much worse off than I.
There is an ongoing debate in my profession about "work-life balance". The generations ahead of me think this concept is complete nonsense and that the younger generations of doctors are wimps. My generation and those youth coming up behind me (at an alarming rate) look at the elders and think "no way am I living my life like that." Still, we do. Because when you are in it, in the caring for sick humans, you are consumed. Consumed with desire to fix, to heal, to bluster at death, to palliate or diagnose or push someone to quit [insert bad habit here]. Consumed with something very similar to a runner who decides to be a marathoner or worse, an ultra marathoner. It might have a name already (type A? narcissistic megalomania? stupidity?). But I am going to call it filling the void.
I read all of the Harry Potter books multiple times. First, in one quick private delicious reading when they first came out, then aloud to my kids, then on long road trips on tape via the dulcet tones of Jim Dale. I bring this up because of the "Mirror of Erised". Erised backwards is the void. Dumbledore had to pry Harry P. away from this mirror, which showed you what you most desire (for Harry it was seeing his dead parents, as if they were alive, standing beside him). The happiest person would see themselves exactly as they are: without desire. Not looking to fill a void. Men have died in front of that mirror though, forgetting to eat and drink and move, just staring at what they think they most desired.
I consider myself happy (in a chronic sort of way, not like I go around leaping for joy or anything). I consider my self lucky. I do not consider myself happy-go-lucky. I consider myself rich in many ways. But the void? That I cannot seem to avoid. Running, doctoring: love them. They are what I gaze at in the mirror. Even Dumbledore was full of it when he claimed himself to only see a pair of woolen socks in his hands in the Mirror of Erised (one can never have enough socks, he said, with which I must agree).
Excuse me now while I go run into the void.