I really learned about fatigue in residency. Residency is rough, 80 hour work weeks for much of the year. Stress. Trying to live a normal life. They make for a lot of fatigue. I found that after working for 30 hours straight I was actually better off staying awake through that next day and going to bed at basically a normal time. The times I did come home at 1-2 PM in the afternoon and got to sleep after being awake since 7 AM the day before I would inevitably wake up at 11 PM feeling terrible, have a bite to eat, go back to bed and wake up the next day feeling even worse. Better to feel moderately bad and tired all afternoon then that terrible feeling the next day. Not everyone did that, but it was what worked for me.

I raced bicycles through much of residency and the affects of fatigue were incredibly evident with that. There was a 4 week criterium series in Nampa at the parking lot at the convention center. That was on Wed nights and was tough for me to make it to because of trying to get out of work, etc. I did however make all 4 races my 3rd year of residency and 2 of the weeks I was relatively well rested and 2 of the weeks I was post-call. The two weeks I was rested I got top 5. The two weeks I was post-call I couldn’t even finish, I had to “sit up” meaning I didn’t have the strength to even stay in the main pack and draft off the leaders. Amazing difference.

I was starting to feel extreme fatigue earlier this week. I was on call this last week, which wasn’t terrible but I did get called a handful of times in the middle of night. Mix that in with a few diaper changes at 4 AM and a baby alarm clock at 6 AM and you start to feel tired. I had Monday off but a meeting at 6 PM, work Tuesday and another meeting Tuesday night. I hate meetings. By Tuesday with a full day of work and another meeting staring me in the face I was starting to melt down. Friday’s (today) schedule was light on Tuesday so I had “the girls” reschedule those appointments and I’m taking the day off. So today was going to be my big day of rest and I actually went to bed pretty early last night-10:30! Then diaper change at 5 AM and I’m wide awake. Six and a half hours of uninterrupted sleep isn’t terrible for me, I do ok with that, but 5:30 is still too early to be up.

I was partially thinking about a blog post that I’ve been working on for some time about some of the differences between men and women and as I was starting to type out the title of it my wife hands me our daughter (now 6 AM) and says “She’s awake”. We played for the last hour and now she’s asleep again (she almost rolled over again today= 10 weeks, wow!). Needless to say I’m feeling fatigued and have no energy to write about something heavy and insightful. Maybe tomorrow morning….

Published in: on August 13, 2010 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Delayed Gratification

Being a doctor is almost certainly equal to being an expert on delayed gratification. You can’t do a minimum of 11 years of college, medical school and residency training for essentially no reward without a healthy sense of delayed gratification. So I guess I should rephrase that. During training to get where I am, one must have a healthy sense of delayed gratification.

I’m not sure how long that lasts once doctors actually get to the point where they are making the much awaited for salary. You often see them quickly get new cars, new houses, etc. I’ve always been a bit of a tight wad and not really into cars, so that sort of possession accumulation hasn’t been that much of an issue for me. Most specialist make 2-5 x what I make so maybe that’s who I’m thinking of. But I definitely feel my delayed gratification skills fading. For the first time in my life I usually have the money for what I want or need, which is a first. It makes you soft from a delayed gratification stand-point. Why this is relevant now is being a father (and really probably any parent for that matter) requires a healthy bit of delayed gratification. I mean, let’s face it, being the parent of a 2 month old is not exactly that “fun”.

There are moments of fun, my daughter is very social and alert about 1-1.5 hours per day. During that window she smiles at you, goos and coos, and it’s wonderful. Then that window closes and she will cry for an hour because she’s dying of tiredness but refuses to go to sleep. I would not trade my work for Dorothy’s work at this point. She spends much of her day calming, soothing and cooing to the baby when little Ruth not in the mood to do anything. So 23 hours a day the baby sleeps, feeds, cries and poops. Not exactly the “good life”. Dorothy actually does get some “fun” with some of the feedings and just watching her precious baby sleeping, but I’m not sure fathers are programmed that way.

My special “daddy bonding time” as designated by mommy is bath time. Bath time usually sounds somewhere between a siren going off and a hysterical hyena as my daughter bawls through the entire thing. Not exactly “fun”. I think my baby stinks a little bit because I find excuses to not give her a bath because 15 minutes of solid bawling is so un-fun for me. Being a parent requires a significant amount of patience. That’s not something I’ve usually been accused of having in abundance. When I try to get the baby asleep I frequently pass the baby off to Dorothy 5 minutes before she goes to sleep but at times I just don’t have that last 5 minutes in me. I also really think that the baby falls asleep for Dorothy better than me, though Doro doesn’t agree with that.

I’m looking forward to tea parties and taking my daughter out on errands when she can talk and tell me stories and play games. I’m looking forward to cuddling, playing basketball, looking at grasshoppers in the yard, playing catch, reading books, all that “fun” stuff. This part….is about patience and delayed gratification. I’ve been dusting off my delayed gratification but it’s tough, I thought I had put that behind me. Dorothy wants to do this how many more times?!?

Published in: on August 7, 2010 at 10:57 pm  Leave a Comment