i am currently trying to get ready for the next 8 weeks of my life, which i fear are going to feel like a series of natural disasters. hurricane PICU lasts 4 weeks and will be followed immediately by a vulcanic eruption of Ward Seniorhood. i am scheduled for 56 days straight of every-4th-night call, a total of 8 days off, and very VERY early awakenings. especially this month, i may actually be at work before josh. ugh!
my version of shuttering windows and battening down the hatches (hmm, interesting!) is starting with a relatively clean house, stocking the fridge strategically, and planning out my runs/workouts for the week. as lame and housewife-y as it may seem, preparing and scheming so that i can keep up the normalcies of life such as the gym and decent dinners helps me so much psychologically.
because i usually get the reaction of ‘but how do you have time to do that???’ when it comes to fitting these things in, i will share my strategies. these methods worked for me during intern year — even 6 straight weeks of NICU — and i am crossing my fingers that they will get me through the next 2 months!
for running: it’s all about having a doable plan. with a q4 (every-4th-night) call schedule, it actually isn’t THAT hard to fit in 5 runs/workouts weekly. basically, i commit myself to going to the gym and doing something every non-call and every post-call day. post-call days are easy — i crash until 5-6 pm, go to the gym, and then make dinner and go back to bed. i feel MUCH better after a workout and it makes the super-short day seem less like a throwaway to me. non-call days are more variable, ending anywhere between 2 pm (which is ‘short call’) and 5-6 pm (‘long call’). if on the off chance i end up there until 7 or 8 one day, i will skip the run and everything will be okay. however, knowing that this is always a possibility means that on other days i am motivated to get my workouts in. with this schedule, i managed 30-40 miles/week throughout my NICU block last year.
this week’s plan: as an example, this week i will plan to do longer workouts on my short call days (monday & friday), tempo/interval work on my post-call days (wednesday & sunday), and a quick easy run on my long call/clinic day (thursday). tuesday and saturday will be spent entirely in the hospital, so obviously those will be off.
for cooking: to be able to fit in some sort of cooking after my workouts, recipes have to be super-easy and i have to have everything on hand. on days where i have more time (like today), i’ll make a big batch of something that will have lots of leftovers for the week. i choose recipes so that those with fresh ingredients are planned for early in the week, and those where you just dump a bunch of canned/frozen stuff together are towards the end, so that nothing in these meals has a chance to rot before i can use it. finally, i try to pick things that are good to bring for lunches as leftovers.
this week’s plan:
tonight: vegetarian chili cheese casserole. it makes a lot and takes a while to bake, so it’s perfect for a sunday.
monday: curried chicken salad with apples. since chicken is perishable, i usually make something like this early in the week.
tuesday: well, i won’t be home (overnight call). but both josh and i can eat leftovers from sunday.
wednesday: shrimp soba noodle salad. shrimp is a great ‘later in the week’ food since it can be bought frozen and lasts a long time.
thursday: couscous with chickpeas, tomatoes, and edamame. all of these salad-type meals are great to bring in for lunches because they don’t have to be reheated.
friday: OUT. we have to have some excitement in our lives.
saturday: again, i’m on call. but hopefully some of these leftovers will last until then.
sunday: this is where it is going to hurt, because i’m going to have to shop and plan the next week’s dinners and i will be post-call. this is where the cycle is most vulnerable to falling apart and the main reason that i greatly prefer one day off/week to two days in a row off every 2.
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so the above is how i maintain some sense of normalcy when things get crazy at work. other things i try to be good about are:
• having no shame about going to bed way early whenever possible
• academic reading/studying during down time at work
• avoiding alcohol because i think it lowers sleep quality and when it’s going to be scarce, i need to make the most of it (sometimes immense stress leads me to ignore this rule, but in general i am less likely to drink when on a hard block).
i am definitely NOT perfect at all of this and there are nights where i just throw it all aside and pass out after eating frozen pizza immediately on arrival from work. but i think i’ve developed some good survival tools for myself and this post was a good reminder of that. and if they help anyone else, then awesome!
running: i have seriously slacked this week! but i did it sort of on purpose because i felt like i needed a little rest. today i will definitely hit the gym and see whether the rest served as muscle atrophy-time or a mini-taper.
rash report: still bumpy and red. ew!