Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Air and light

Back in the mid to late '70's when I was working on my biology degree, the conventional wisdom was living things need food, water, and sunlight for growth. I realize things have changed somewhat. Food is now grown under artificial light in nutrient replenished fluids producing amazing crops. Yet, I cannot help my belief of the need for natural light and warmth from the sun, a slight breeze on the skin, and fresh air for the lungs. It seems these are necessities for human well being.

One big problem with shift work is it can rob people of the natural diurnal variation. With that comes the lack of what I believe are essential nutrients, fresh air and sunlight. Bright fluorescent bulbs burn 24/7. The hospital air is a standard issue: cold and filtered. Chilled to about sixty eight degrees and pushed through laminar flow filters to decrease infection. So what is a body to do?

Here is a solution. The hospital complex now spans about four blocks. I am suppose to stay on one of those for my shift. I know of no rule that states when things are slow I cannot walk around that block. I do. And I do this at least four times in a twenty-four hour period. Occasionally more. Routinely I try for mid morning, early and late afternoon and once in the evening. I can even cut the diagonal which is the quickest way from the front door of labor and delivery to the ambulance bay of the emergency department. At times this is necessary. On the walk back, if there is not another emergency in labor and delivery I can stop at the prayer garden which is just off this path.

None of these routes are a walk in the woods. Many of the vistas include views of local skyscrapers which depending on the light can be picturesque. There are homeless or near homeless people on every corner. A number of times I am ask directions by visitors who are lost. However trees, flowers, and patches of grass dot this area. And the fountains! Believe me, no relgiously affiliated hospital has ever been build without fountains. There are six here at last count, smelling a bit like swimming pools but adding soothing sound of moving water to the venue.

A bit at a time I am figuring this out. After several months I am still sleeping mostly at night. I have not eaten fast food. I am writing and reading more. Now I have this habit of getting some air and sunshine.

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