In a Funk.

It’s the middle of January and I’ve run a whopping 18 km.  If I am to meet my goal of running 1000 km this year, I need to be running minimum 20 km per week! I’ve been struggling finding the time and motivation to run. The office has been exceptionally busy thanks to the two weeks off I took over the holidays.  And with the drama the holidays had for me, I didn’t feel particularly rested.  I hardly ran much at all in December (28.5 km) and that inactivity seems to have seeped into this first month of the year.

I acknowledged yesterday that I’m in a running slump. Almost daily I get emails about upcoming races in my area.  I haven’t signed up for anything yet but I think I need to in order to get out of this funk I’m in.  I am also annoyed with my body.  I just can’t seem to go any long stretch of time without an injury, not to mention I feel that after two years of running, I should be able to run more then 3-4 km at a steady pace without walking.  Perhaps that’s too much to ask for?

I also seemed to have lost something when I left Instagram and subsequently deleted my profile.  I lost that connection to other runners (to strangers, really) that I followed on Instagram.  And just saying that makes me angry.  I am angry with how I came to rely on those stupid notifications on my phone that someone liked my latest run photo. 

I wish I could abandon all of it and just go back to that insular quiet little life where no one knows what I’m doing unless they ask or I tell them. This constant need/desire to broadcast one’s life over the Internet and get instant gratification for it is narcissistic and I’m ashamed for allowing myself to get caught up in it. 

So yeah, I’m in a bit of a funk. 

My Brain on Internet.

One of my goals this year is to spend less time on the Internet (oh, the irony, as I write this blog) reading vacuous material and more time in the real word reading real books of substance.

My brother told me about this book over a year ago.  I avoided reading it because I think I already knew what it would tell me.

I spent the last month hardly tied to my phone which was incredibly liberating.  Of course, with the holidays and the illness rampant in my house as well as my dad’s hospitalization, there wasn’t enough time in my day to waste on surfing photos on Instagram.  Now that life has returned to some semblance of normal – the kids are back in school, my dad is home and recuperating and I am back to work – I find myself wanting to go back to old habits.  My brain wants its drug back. I really hope reading this book sets me straight.

Habit and Breaking It. 

I’m writing this as I sit in a taxi on my way to a conference. My driver is a woman. This is a first for me! I can honestly say I have never had a female cab driver before. My initial instinct after telling her my destination is to take out my phone and snap a photo of her. Why? To post on Instagram of course. 

I stopped myself. 

“You aren’t on Instagram anymore.” 

“Who are you posting that for?”

“Why does anyone care!?”

I admit I got caught up in the desire to photograph my life for others to see, that is, to photograph those things that I wanted people to see. Again I have to ask myself why? What does it prove? Why does anyone care that I’m awake this early on a Saturday attending a conference about the Eye?  The better question is why I feel the need to tell people about it? 

Deep thoughts for a Saturday morning. 

The Biggest Time Waster in Modern History.

NaBloPoMo – Day 11.

What the hell did we do before the Internet? How did one waste time prior to 1994?  I say 1994 because that was the year I got my first email address.  It went downhill from there.

The Internet is a huge time waster.  Or, I should say, using the Internet is a huge time waster. Seriously though, how did we pass the time before we had laptops, iPhones, BlackBerrys, Androids, iPads and tablets?  If I wanted to know who was in such-and-such movie, I’d have to go to the local library and find their copy of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide.  If I wanted to talk to a friend, I would have to, [gasp] pick up the telephone!  Who does that anymore?  I know I certainly don’t.  The only people I ever call are usually my parents, ie people who don’t use the Internet. Now if I want to contact a friend, I text her or send an email or write on her FB wall.

Had I had children prior to 1994, how the hell would I have passed the time with a newborn?  God forbid, would I have read a book??  I have lost count of the hours I have spent surfing (where does that expression even come from?) the Internet while the baby nurses.  Be it Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, any number of message boards or blogs, it is how I spend my time these days.  While I do have other hobbies, in particular my cross-stitching, it is difficult to do with a newborn.  (Excuses, right?).

I also wonder where my attention span went to.  It’s no wonder I haven’t been able to finish a novel.  Who can concentrate these days for more than 5-10 minutes at a time when we are constantly “clicking” from one page to the next?  My news updates are one, maybe two sentences long. Sure, I can read an editorial online, but let’s be honest,  I usually skim the first sentence or two of each paragraph.  I have to force myself to concentrate.  It’s sad, really.

Ironic that I am writing about this on a “weblog”, isn’t it?  Back in the day, I’d be writing in a journal that no one, other than me, would read. But now, with the Internet, anyone can read my thoughts and vice versa.  In fact, part of me is happy that others are wasting their time on me.  How is that even remotely healthy?  The Internet isn’t a real thing, it’s a collection of 1s and 0s. You can’t touch it, smell it, really see it, yet it’s probably the first and last thing I go to on a daily basis.  Frightening when you think about it.  Frightening when I think about it.

I need to stop now.

Putting the mobile device down …

I used to be an avid reader.  I say “used to”, because, frankly, I think its been over a year since I actually finished a book.

Growing up, there were quite possibly hundreds of books in my parent’s house.  Books were everywhere.  I was always encouraged to read from a very young age. My father learned English by reading Louis L’Amour novels with a dictionary.  I seem to recall learning to read with a light-operated pen, much like the modern-day LeapFrog reading systems.   In grade school, we had to keep track of all the books we read each school year.  I still have reading logs from those days showing that I would read up to 100+ books in a school-year.

One of my favorite series was The Girls of Canby Hall. I think at one point I had all of the books.  I loved reading about the girls who lived in a boarding school.  I would often imagine what it’d be like to go to boarding school.  Now that I think about it, my dreams of having a group of girlfriends originated from reading this series.

As a teenager, I started reading a lot of my father’s books.  At the tender age of 14, I was introduced to the world of Sidney   Sheldon.  To this day, “If Tomorrow Comes” remains on of my all-time favorite novels and made-for-TV movies.  The movie is incredibly cheesy but what a fun ride!  I remember Sheldon’s novels always had strong female characters which resonated with me from a very young age.

In my later teens I started reading Tom Clancy.  I remember being fascinated with the world of espionage and if I’m not mistaken, the first novel my father suggested I read was “The Hunt for Red October”.  I must have read it at least two or three times before I really understood the book.  Of course, once the movie came out, the book made complete sense!

The last meaningful book I read was W. Somerset Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage“. I think what drew me to the novel was that the main character attended medical school, but it is so much more than just a man becoming a doctor.  It was a fascinating read and while I rarely read the classics, it reminded me of just how incredible these works of literature really are.  A couple of friends of mine are involved in a book club that plans on reading 100 of the best classic novels over the next 9 years.  It is quite a feat!  I was invited to join but declined for now.  Maybe once I get back into the swing of reading regularly, I will reconsider joining.

One might ask why, if I was such an avid reader, I stopped reading.  The answer is simple. Damn iPhone.

Seriously.  Since I got the iPhone, my nighttime reading has declined dramatically.  Instead, my nightly routine is to:

  • 1) check email
  • 2) check Twitter
  • 3) review Facebook
  • 4) browse Pinterest
  • 5) play Sudoku
  • 6) turn off light and fall asleep

The other night, husband told me he put down his iPhone at bedtime and opened up a book. Within two pages of reading, he’d fallen asleep.  I think it’s time to put the mobile device away at bedtime and open up a book.  So, yesterday, husband and I took the baby to the local bookstore while the older two kids were at school.  I found two books – the first, a fun read, Michael Crichton’s posthumously published “Micro“, and the second, an intelligent read, “Far from the Tree“, by Andrew Solomon.

Now it’s time to put the computer away and open up a book.

Respect

Warning — vent ahead.

I’m not even sure where to start. Government cutbacks aside, I am finding it increasingly frustrating dealing with patients who trust the Internet more than me.  I do not presume to know everything about medicine, there are certainly times I am a bit perplexed by a patient and I am fully capable of admitting it. But I am the one that went to school for medical training.  Why, suddenly, does that mean nothing to people?

The thing about family medicine is that for most things, taking a “wait and see” approach is totally reasonable.  Sometimes a condition doesn’t present itself right away and at times, monitoring symptoms for a few days to see if they evolve is quite reasonable.  Of course, I’m not talking about obvious conditions (chest pain, shortness of breath, unilateral leg swelling).  Most patients are okay with the watchful waiting approach.  But there are a few who decide to take it upon themselves to do their own “research”, then call me back with questions.  “But this website said that you’re supposed to treat immediately.” “But this website says it’s this kind of medication, not the one you prescribed.” Really? Well, if you trust that website so much, you don’t need a physician then, do you?

I have no issue with the patient who respectfully asks me about something they read “online”, and why it might be different from what I suggested.  It’s the patient who speaks with the undertone of “you’re wrong because I read it online” that really gets my goat.  There seems to be a growing lack of respect for physicians and it’s really beginning to irritate me.  Just because you read something online, doesn’t mean it’s true!  There is no policing of information on the Internet.  Readers have to be savvy; you have to know how to cross-reference material; you have to know what is a reputable site and what isn’t.  You have to understand the physiology and biochemistry of the human body.  Lets face it, most people don’t.  So it really boggles my mind the audacity with which certain patients talk to me.  I would never speak to a professional, be it a lawyer, engineer, professor, or doctor, with that kind of attitude.  Clearly, that’s just me.

And don’t even get me started on the parents in my practice who don’t vaccinate their children.  That’s a whole entire other post.

There will come a time in certain patient relationships I have where I am going to have to put my foot down.  Either you trust me, or you don’t. If you don’t, you need to find a new physician.  I am getting really tired of this shit.

And since I brought it up, here are some reputable Internet sites for medical information.

UpToDate

WebMD

CDC

Public Health Agency of Canada

National Library of Medicine

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming….