Taking Care of Yourself Goes Much Further Than You Think: A Hard Lesson Learned
Day #65: If you’re tired, unfit, unhealthy, or just generally not doing well, you’re not only harming yourself, your education, and your experience, but you’re also harming those future patients who will be depending on you.
Immediately upon setting my alarm clock, I regretted my decision. Last night, I finally went to bed around 1:30am. Now, this might not be a crazy time to most in the medical field, but considering I’m up around 6am every morning, going to bed at that time is setting myself up for failure. So why did I stay up? That’s a question I’ve been beating myself up with all day. Simply put, it’s just because I was studying all day and decided to spend the last 45-60 minutes before bed just surfing the web. That little study break turned into almost 2 hours of random youtube videos and funny picture websites–an all too common occurrence with many people.
Let’s just say this morning was pretty rough. But what I find is that, even when sleep deprived, I can still function for the first few hours in the morning without a problem. It’s just when the 11am-2pm block rolls around, I begin to drift. And just like I had feared, lectures did not go well today. Right off the bat I was nodding off in a Histology Lab review we had at 9-10am (earlier than usual meaning I was pretty damn tired). Now let me just stop right there. If you have ever had that feeling of “OMG I’m so freaking tired! But I HAVE to stay up and concentrate,” then you know exactly how I feel. It’s that brain-melting, eye-burning, deep infuriating frustration of being so exhausted that your body is simply shutting down while mentally trying to keep yourself awake and focused. It was so bad that I wouldn’t even notice I was nodding off until my proprioceptors (receptors that monotor your body, essentially) kicked in when my head was bobbing down or slipping out of my hands.
It’s that brain-melting, eye-burning, deep infuriating frustration of being so exhausted that your body is simply shutting down while mentally trying to keep yourself awake and focused.
Thankfully, I am fairly comfortable with the information that was being lectured and I caught enough to connect the dots. The same can’t be said for the Radiology Clinical Correlation lecture after lunch.
Trying to preempt any nodding off in the afternoon, I bought a small black coffee and brought it with me to lecture. All was going well until about 20 minutes into the lecture. I thought sipping on the coffee throughout the lecture would provide a steady flow of caffeine to keep me awake–I was sorely mistaken. Reflecting on the lecture now, I unfortunately don’t remember much, if anything, that was taught and will have to completely go through the lecture again. Thankfully, the lecture wasn’t a difficult one. The remaining Gross Anatomy lecture after that went fairly well: my infuriation with myself and bathroom break to splash water on my face woke me up enough to maintain consciousness for the next hour. Though the ride home was difficult, to say the least.
I thought sipping on the coffee throughout the lecture would provide a steady flow of caffeine to keep me awake–I was sorely mistaken.
Lesson Learned: Reflecting on my day, a passage from our Declaration of Commitment (an oath we recited at our White Coat Ceremony) came to mind. On that day, among other things, we pledged “The health of my patients and myself will be my first considerations;” and I now fully understand the importance of that declaration. Although I was lucky I didn’t miss anything too important, if I don’t change my ways, I will undoubtedly sleep through vital information in the future. Thanks to digital streaming, I’m lucky enough to be able to revisit hazy lectures, but that’s time wasted because I should have paid attention in the beginning. Furthermore, streaming won’t be an option forever, and if I don’t change my ways now, I will become a subpar resident and physician. Not to mention that getting about 4 hours of sleep isn’t doing too much positively in terms of my health. Although running 3-4 times a week is a good start to maintaining a healthy study life, I’ve definitely learned my lesson that sleep is much more important (duh, right?).