Making Time

Good timing for today to be the year’s only 25-hour day. One extra hour summoned from seemingly nowhere (nowhen?).

Time is on my mind. These days, I’ve been at NYP Queens again for my Internal Medicine clerkship (affectionately called MEDICINE), which means the hours are inflexible, thanks to the 5:30 am shuttle (again) and the chronically traffic-choked commute back at 5:45 pm. Add to that evening lectures, a bunch of written assignments, and studying for the hardest shelf exam of them all, and I get a time during which when time is in short, short order.

Where does all the time go in the hospital anyway? At 6 am, I get handoff from the night team, look over flowsheets and documentation, and visit my own patients for a few minutes each. Then it’s like 8 am already, and then we stand in the hallway and round on patients and then it’s like 11:45 already. I scramble to put in orders then rush off to noon conference where I simultaneously eat lunch. Then I write notes and call people and order tests and visit my patients for a few minutes each and then it’s suddenly 5 pm on Friday and the patients will be stuck there for 3 more days.

Time feels like it’s vanishing. The ever shorter autumn days are stealing away what precious daylight I might’ve enjoyed. Daylight savings time will definitely not save my time; now it’ll be invariably dark by the time I leave the ward.

I try to streamline my routine to save time. I’m already the least spontaneous person ever; just ask my roommates! With proper setup of my white coat and backpack, I can get out of bed at 5:15 and step out the door at 5:23 in time to catch the 5:30 shuttle. While commuting, I eat breakfast while listening to podcasts on 1.5x speed. For groceries, I rush in and rush out of Trader Joe’s at off-peak hours (trough hours?) and bike back with the same thoughtlessly versatile ingredient set. I cook 4 dinners and 5 lunches simultaneously. I shower while microwaving dinner.

weekly food prep!
weekly food prep!

I make time for things that matter, but time can’t actually be created, only reapportioned. I used to do things whimsically — practice piano, go on photo walks, read books — but now I schedule leisure. It’s a horrid feeling to return in the evening and thinking to myself “hmm, I wonder what I’ll need to give up today.” On evenings with lecture, I do little else but eat, study, and write assignments. I even ::gasp:: cancel runs.

Coincidentally, today is the NYC Marathon (speaking of which, I can see mile 16 from my window! (go runners!!)), so it’s an appropriate day to ponder speed and efficiency. In terms of running, I’d set a personal goal to run a marathon-distance run by the end of 2016, but I didn’t plan for my schedule to constrict like this for the last two months. There’s simply no time to block out 3 hours at a time for long training runs… Which, honestly, is okay. 

run, runners, run!
run, runners, run!

This is a time when medicine distills who I am. It strains my discipline, drains my energy, and asks what aspects of me I’ll forfeit first. Frugality? Exercise and my health? Beloved hobbies? My ability to care for patients? My desire to care for people?

They’ll probably falter in that order. Then there’s residency, yay! X_X



PS. I just heard that Mats Valk broke the official WR today by solving a Rubik’s Cube in 4.74 seconds. Go Mats!