Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Matter of Perspective

I have always believed that runners experience life entirely differently than non-runners. Because of this, our perspectives on different subjects tend to vary greatly. I came back to town from Las Vegas last night, expecting to ease back into the swing of things. Instead, what unfolded today, became all just a matter of perspective...

I went into work a half-hour late this morning. Those who saw me sneaking into our departmental meeting must have thought I was lazy, slacking from the job. The word on the street was that I had gone off to Vegas to gamble, to sin, to get away from the hospital and my patient responsibilities for a while. I was exhausted all right, from a three hour overnight nap after a twelve hour double-connection flight that landed at JFK at one in the morning. And no, work pals, I didn’t go off to Vegas to make friends with the club managers or blow off my dough at the craps table or on the roulette wheel. I ran my 6th marathon this weekend and coached my friend to a B.Q. which is more work than any of you will give me credit for. I’m late today only because my foot is busted and I didn’t account for the terrible pain masking a brewing stress fracture in my right first metatarsal when I headed out for work this morning.

I didn’t leave haphazardly but designated patients and clinical tasks to the care of colleagues before I left. I’d like to think I’m a responsible physician and have the interests of all my patients at heart even when I’m not physically there to care for them. Perhaps that’s why it was such a shock to me when one of the fellows told me on my way in to the office this morning that a patient of mine had mysteriously died while I was away. Yes, he was a noncompliant teenage diabetic whose family neglected to heed the warning signs of intractable vomiting and flagrant hyperglycemia and didn’t bring the patient to seek medical care until three days after the fact when he became apneic and lost consciousness in the bathroom. And yes, there probably wasn’t anything different I could have done before or during the episode to change the eventual outcome. Still, I can’t help but feel somewhat responsible. If I didn’t, I’d no longer deserve to be in this profession.

Over lunch, one of my workmates who was not native to this country asked me what my score was for the marathon. I’m sure he meant time, not score, but I asked anyway, just to verify. “Your score,” he repeated again. “Don’t you run marathons for the score…so you know if you win.” “No, I didn’t run this one for the score.” I told him. “But I know I already won.”

Some people congratulated me on my 3:15:09 marathon finish. To many, it was a relatively good time, considering I was running it easy. To me, 3:15 is a relative disappointment. It would have been one thing if I kept a 7:23 pace throughout and ran though the finish at around a similar pace, but in actuality, I ran 8:00 miles, 6:40 miles, and bonked hard in the final few. I’m not judging those for whom 3:15 is a great time, but for me, in this race, I really could have and should have done a whole lot better.

FL finally posted her race report for the Las Vegas Marathon. In it, she mentions me helping her with this and comforting her about that. Who is she kidding, really? I made it a point just not to mess anything up. Everyone knew she was going to B.Q. I just happened to be along for the ride.

Finally, have you listened to the latest edition of the Runners’ Loungecast (Episode 5)? In it, some insightful blogging runners, including yours truly, share tips on how to beat the winter cold even as we run and train all season long. I might be biased here, but I think this episode will prove most useful for those who are planning or thinking about training for a spring marathon, especially if you happen to be, like me, preparing for a certain roadrace that starts in downtown Hopkinton on Patriots’ Day. Try it out, and take a listen.

Afterwards, let me know. What’s your perspective?


Anonymous said...

My heartfelt sympathy for what sounds like a very rough day. I totally understand what it's like to have non-runners not get what you're talking about.
I hope your foot feels better soon.

Anonymous said...

I am going to have to listen. This week when I asked my manager for a half day on Friday, she said "what are you doing?" I replied with "running a marathon" Her response, "didn't you already do far is it this time!"

And, you sound like a wonderful doctor.

Cowboy Hazel said...

Good luck with the busted foot. Maybe it's a good thing that it's been so rainy and you've been forced to stay off of it. Better to sit out a few days now than in a few months when you're gearing up for Boston...

Jamie said...

Good luck with your foot. I busted my left foot metatarsal and had to have surgery several years ago so I feel your pain.

I know it is frustrating but don't fret too much over what others think of your Vegas trip/you arriving a bit late you know what you did and they will never understand! Hang in there.

*aron* said...

sounds like a tough day... hang in there and hope your foot feels better soon!!

Chic Runner said...

Hope you feel better soon.

I know the non-runners just don't understand. hang in there and hopefully tomorrow is a better day!

Melanie said...

First, I'm sorry to hear about your patient. I can't even imagine what it must be like to deal with such things. Second, I hope your foot is ok!

I discovered Frayed Laces blog a few months ago, but I recently have been rereading her archives and emailing with her a bit. I just found out I have a stress fracture in my hip area and had to choose to not run a marathon last weekend for fear I'd cause more harm.

I'm not on crutches for at least four weeks and dealing with the injury blues. I had written her saying how good it was to read her posts from last year and how encouraging it was to me to know she bounced back and got a BQ a year later.

She mentioned you had been a big help, so I decided to read through some of your recent posts. I fully intend on adding you to my Google Reader, so I just wanted to say hi and thanks for the things you're posting about.

I certainly appreciate the running blogger community, and I'm already feeling so inspired by so many bloggers to get myself healed and then get out there stronger than before! Thanks for writing a terrific blog.

joyRuN said...

I'm sorry to hear about your patient. Although we as healthcare providers intellectually realize that some things are out of our control, we still can't help but feel (fortunately) some culpability.

I still think back to the night I found my patient with her right pupil fixed & blown, & having her CT scan reveal a massive hemorrhage. I feel that same sense of responsibility, that although maybe misplaced, still lets me know that I am a decent nurse.

Good luck with the foot.

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