Day in the Life: On Call

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Good morning! I get a lot of questions from people about what it’s like to be a doc on call at the hospital, so I thought I’d do a “day in the life” post. I did a similar one here, when I was in medical school in Waterloo and in the midst of training for my first half ironman. Now I’m covering obstetrics (catching babies on their way into the world) in downtown Vancouver.

I wrote this post on a holiday Monday, so my shift officially started at the blissful hour of 8 am. Normal days start at 6.30, making this shift 24h instead of the usual 26-28h. Sorry in advance for the iPhone photos!

5:55 My alarm goes off, and I hit snooze… twice

IMG_68016:13 Ok, I’m getting up. I check the weather and read a couple of emails while I adjust to being upright. I start this post.

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6:35 I fold the laundry on the drying rack (so much running stuff!) and then start getting ready.

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6:55 Breakfast! On the menu today is blueberries, strawberries, banana, granola and almond milk. One of the things I have learned about being on call is the importance of breakfast… there’s no guaranteed time for lunch!

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7:10 I get dressed, brush teeth etc., and pack up my bag for call. Generally, I bring lots of snacks and water, my laptop, phone+computer chargers, a warm sweater, and toothbrush, plus the usual stethoscope/ID/pager. I was on the ball last night (it was a Sunday) and got most of this ready ahead of time.

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7:25 Bye to the sleepy Belgian and out the door! I shake my head at the eight (?!?!?!) pairs of running shoes in our front hall closet.

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7.30 Stop at Whole Foods for caffeine – I usually get an almond milk latte from here or JJ Bean. Today I also consider giving myself an actual pat on the back for not adding a cookie the size of my face.

7.45 Arrive at work, put everything away, change into scrubs

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7:55 Check the board to see what’s happening and meet yesterday’s team for handover.

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8:00 Rounds

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10:00 Paperwork

11:00 I assess lots of new patients – one needs an induction of labour because she’s past her due date, one has itchy hands and feet (does she have IHCP? Nope, just itchy), one has a cyst that needs to be incised and drained, and one needs a dressing changed.

15:00 I realize I’m starving and eat cheese, a cracker, a Clif bar and an apple (Did I mention I was starving?!)

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15:30 I put my things in my call room, and sit down to work on this post, plus some scheduling for the Summer and Fall. I’m also a bit behind where I want to be in my research project, so I’m trying to carve out some time to work on that.

16:30 I get called to assess another patient – she had very limited prenatal care and thought she was in labour. She’s not, but trying to figure out her history and health status proves challenging. I decide to admit her anyway for a full pregnancy workup so that when she is in real labour, we have all the info we need. I also do an ultrasound to check on her baby’s position and look for amniotic fluid.

18:00 Jan stops by on his way home from work and we chat for a bit!   

 19:30 The on-call OB, senior resident and I order sushi, and I run out to pick it up. Yum! I eat my salmon roll and snack on a bunch of grapes.

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20:30 Back to working at my desk. Definitely going to make some progress on a proposal I’m writing. I also work on this post! Thank you to my iPhone for time stamping all of my photos today – SO much easier. Quiet time + leftovers from last night’s dinner (Macrobiotic bowl! I’ll post a recipe soon) = happy resident.

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23:00 We go to the OR to fix up the inside of the uterus for a woman who miscarried. The OR desk holds onto my pager for me.

01:30 Our lady from earlier in the day goes into active labour and delivers!

03:00 Sleep. Yasss.

05:00 The day team is going to be here soon, so I get ready for the day – teeth brushed, pack up my stuff, and head down to the ward to start seeing inpatients before handover.

06:30 Rounds with the day team, dictate on a few patients going home.

07:30 Handover

08:00 Changed out of my scrubs and head home.

08:30 Ahh. Home! I relax for a bit, eat breakfast and catch up with Jan before he heads to work.

The next question is – now what? I try really, really hard not to sleep post call because it keeps my body in a better sleep/wake rhythm that way. On this particular night, I managed a solid 2 hours of sleep… not ideal at all but definitely enough to function! My post-call rules are:

  1. All rules are flexible. Listen to your body.
  2. No sleeping. If I really have to, I’ll relax in bed or on the couch with a book or Netflix.
  3. On call, no eating after 10 PM/before 6 AM. Water doesn’t count.
  4. Post-call, move! I try to run before 3 PM
  5. Minimize junk food and caffeine (1 cup only) both on call and post call.
  6. Early to bed to reset myself.

And that’s it!

Race Report – 5peaks Golden Ears

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On Saturday morning I ran the 5peaks Golden Ears Enduro race – my first trail race! It was an interesting day and I think I learned a lot about trail running and how I respond to it. Of course, I also had a lot of fun out there :). I posted earlier this week about the morning of the race and what I brought with me, if you’re curious.

The summary: I ran the 13k course in 1:23:30, placing 4th in my age group and 16th female overall. Not a bad start!

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This was a bit of a last minute race for me – I saw it online on Wednesday and just decided to go for it. There were two options – the Enduro course is 13 km, and the Sport is 8.5. I’ve been running a little more mileage lately, so I chose the Enduro and hit register.

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The race was at Golden Ears Provincial Park, about an hour away from Vancouver. Jan and I zipcar-ed there bright and early, since the race started at 9. We picked up my package, which included some coupons and a 5peaks buff. I was a little nervous at the start of the race, because I always am, but this was different because it didn’t feel as serious. Everyone was having a great time.

The start of the race was self-seeded corrals, and I stuck myself in the third one (seemed like there were 4-5?). Decided I definitely didn’t belong with the elites in Corral 1 and there looked to be some speedy people in Corral 2. In hindsight, I would have been fine in the second.

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The race started and I headed into the trails. It was already hot (25 at least?) so I was grateful for instant shade. The first part was mostly a gentle uphill, so I just focused on keeping a steady pace and passing people when it flattened out a bit. There was an aid station around 3 and 10 k, and it looked well stocked with water and sport gummies. Since I was holding my water bottle and had a gel in there, I didn’t stop.

I didn’t end up taking the gel, although if the course had been 2k longer, I think I would have needed to. I had told myself “this is a race, and I never walk during races”… HA! At about the halfway point, I turned and found myself facing a steeeeep incline, which most people were trudging up. Ok, then. I used momentum to run up the first bit and then alternately hiked and jogged the rest.

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Once at the top I smiled, looked back briefly to appreciate the climb, then headed back down! This was definitely the part I need to practice… I have no idea how people can bomb down hills with rocks and roots everywhere but they did! I was careful – I could totally see myself snapping an ankle. With 2.5ish k to go we crossed a stream with a waterfall! So awesome I wish I’d stopped to take a photo.

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A little after the last water crossing I saw Jan, who was tucked into some bushes taking photos on the course. I crossed the finish line and felt really good.

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For the rest of the day, we hung out, did some errands and then spent the evening celebrating a friend’s birthday. On Sunday morning, I met my long run buddy Alyson for 20k in Vancouver. During the run I felt fine, but when I ended I was a bit, well, cranky to be honest. I felt a bit better after eating but was really tired all day Sunday and Monday. I really think I underestimated how trail running would affect me. It’s been a long time since running has made my muscles sore and made me so fatigued!

My First Trail Race

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It was a warm weekend in Vancouver! I’ve really been enjoying running for fun, without settling into a training schedule early in the season. Because of that, I was able to jump into a race this past weekend without worrying about how it would affect training. Woohoo! I was hanging out on the internet on Wednesday morning and came across the 5peaks Golden Ears trail race, which was held on Saturday. I didn’t have plans, I had never done a trail race, and it was supposed to be a beautiful day. I texted Jan to see if he was up for a trip, and hit register.

Wednesday night I headed into the Stanley Park trails to make sure my trail shoes still felt good (first time putting them on this year!) and figured that would be fine. We had dinner plans on Friday evening, and I came home really tired so I crashed right away (the red wine may have helped..)

I didn’t really know what to do or bring for a trail race (yes, I googled it, no it wasn’t that helpful), but it turns out that you can just bring the stuff you’d bring to a normal race, as long as you’re not planning on any extreme distance. I never carry water or food on most courses, and this race was only 13k. The one thing that gave me pause was that Jan said trail running would be harder on me than running on the roads, like I’m used to. I decided to go with a handheld water bottle (both my bottle and my trail vest are Ultimate Direction), and I tucked a gel into the pocket just in case.

In total, I brought:

Clothes

  • Lululemon speed shorts
  • Lululemon swiftly tee
  • Lululemon Flow-y bra
  • Bandana – this was so key for the VERY sweaty uphills, keeping the sun off my neck and also the odd sniffle from the tail end of my cold. Gross, but useful :)
  • Lululemon warm up jacket (the closest thing they have now seems to be the Gather and Sprint)
  • Extra pants, shorts, tee, bra to wear home – don’t forget about the water crossings!

Shoes

  • My trail shoes – Saucony Peregrine 5’s
  • Flip flops to wear home

Gear

  • Garmin
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Trail vest (didn’t wear this, but it has lots of pockets so I like using it as the bag I take to races)
  • Handheld bottle
  • ID + 20$ (I know this isn’t gear but I didn’t know where else to list it)

Food

  • Espresso Love gel (is there a better flavour!?)
  • Nuun tablets

Things I did not bring, but you might consider:

  • Compression socks/sleeves to protect your legs from the trail
  • Sunglasses (it was shady enough in there)
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Actual food, depending on what your body likes (dates + salt, Nibs, or pieces of pb+j sandwich are some go-to’s for me)

Saturday, I woke up early to eat, and packed the camera, lenses and a bunch of snacks (mostly for Jan). When I had everything ready, I woke up the sleeping Belgian. We grabbed the obligatory caffeine and muffins at Whole Foods and hit the road a few minutes after 7.
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We got to Golden Ears Park in about an hour and I grabbed my race package. The swag at 5peaks is a buff – now I’m a real trail runner!

Stay tuned for a full race report coming soon!