I run. I doctor.

As an Internal Medicine resident I penned a letter to the Nike corporation suggesting they sponsor out internal medicine team. Sports companies sponsor amateur teams from Little League to college. It seemed reasonable the best known sports company in the world may want to throw its sponsorship in the direction of some underpaid, overworked residents, especially when I imagined the TV commercial.

University Hospitals of Cleveland, 2 AM .…Any day

….the camera catches the bottom the green scrubs, the tail of the well worn white lab coat a glancing view of the Nike swoosh as it pans the ankles and feet of medical residents in a dimly lit room. You can barely make out the tired voices….

Resident #1: “Ms. Murphy spiked another fever. I need to draw blood cultures after I get the ABG on room 545, and check the PTT on 318. Only 16 hrs and my 36 hours are over. Then I can sleep in my own bed.”

Resident # 2: The Chief Resident called – we have an admission in the ER. A 78 y/o woman with urosepsis and a change in mental status; another sleepless night.”

Overhead announcement: “Code Blue!!!, 8th floor Lerner Tower, Code Blue!!!

The camera catches four figures scrambling out the door, stethoscopes in hand, rounding the corner. When they spot another medical waiting at the elevator they crash through the door into the stairwell and furiously climb flights of stairs, beads of sweat forming as their breathing becoming simultaneously more rapid and audible. Springing out of the stairwell the four heroes dash into a patient’s room as the crash cart slides in, and other team members collapse into the small patient room. The four residents take their positions: chest compressions, airway management, vascular access and the senior resident at the head of the bed barking out commands. They work  feverously works to regain a pulse while the other medical team, the one waiting at the elevator, watches helplessly from outside. As the cardiac monitor acknowledges the beep and digital display of a heartbeat, across the screen in large letters:

Save Lives.

Just Do It! Then the Nike swoosh and …fade to black.

I never received a response.

Now my rounding looks at lot like my running. No sprinting to codes, just the long plodding of more miles; caring for patients with chronic illness. The punishing 36 hour shifts have given way to years of patient medical practice.

I now take call from home, but needing to round at two hospitals this past Sunday. The Steamtown Marathon is two months away and I am in the midst of increasing mileage. No time to take a weekend off. At 4:45 AM I rolled out of bed, and by 5:25 I was starting the first steps of 17 miles. A quick shower, a 2 minute breakfast, and then out the door to start hospital rounds.

At the end of the day I am fatigued and can feel the ache in my legs, but I am satisfied my miles and my medical advice have been solid. And satisfied from a day of physical and mental work. Hopefully both result in positive outcomes.  

I have no true aspirations for a professional sponsorship – at least not from running. At one time it was fun to think about a completely different biathlon: running and saving lives. But those days are long gone. I run. I doctor. Two separate events that keep me whole.

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