I felt like I was in a Multi-sport race today. Actually I was just on my way to work. But there were startling similarities.
Event one was the kayak ride from the houseboat to the dock. I had a stiff breeze from the south blowing me to shore, and it was a quick and easy paddle. After tying up the boat at our dock, I entered my first transition point. This is where things started to get a little crazy. Multi-sport events require lots of gear and some logistical planning, but my commute has an added layer of complexity. Firstly, the whole thing falls apart if I forget certain critical elements, which I often do. If I don’t remember the keys to the bike lock or the car, or even the bike itself, I have to change my entire strategy. If I forget something not entirely critical, like a life jacket or cycling helmet, I can still manage. I certainly received a few strange looks at my transition point – the walk from the boat to the car. There I was, walking along the street wearing this: a bicycle helmet and a snazzy blue life jacket over my professional (trust me, I’m a doctor) attire, including sensible dress shoes and lipstick. I was also carrying my kayak paddle, and my work bag, while wheeling my bike alongside me. (Extra points for the lipstick!) After stashing the paddling gear in my car, with a short detour to move my car from its illegal parking space to a nearby legal one, I was ready for event 2, the cycling stage. By this point I was running quite late. Fortunately it’s a short and delightful bike trip from the dock to the hospital, as most of it is on a fantastic trail alongside Frame lake. Certainly my multi-sport commute is picturesque, between the bobbing ducks and sailboats of Great Slave Lake, and the birch forest and marshy beaches along Frame Lake.
Transition Point 2, the switch from dirt bag houseboater to professional doctor is fast, and so there I was, sweaty and a bit breathless, but on time for event 3. This is the most challenging part of the multi-sport event, the 8 hour shift in the ER (in my capacity as an emergency medicine doctor). The ER is an interesting work environment. It is of course a completely unpredictable place, as anyone with anything can come in at any time. That is one of the things I like about my job – I love the variety. But it is also a great challenge – while the patients and their problems and the volume and severity of illness is variable, the staffing levels are not. We have, barring all out disaster situations, to deal with whatever comes through the door with our usual resources. I hate the idea that people are waiting for hours in the waiting room to see me – even if their problem is not severe, or urgent, it was important enough for them to come to the ER, knowing there would be a wait. So I find it hard to take a break for a meal when I’m at work. It really does feel like an endurance race some times.