Running Hot and Cold

July 15, 2016

Managing the range of emotions in radiology.

There were a couple of scorchers during my last week off. The heat didn’t stop me from doing my usual alternating day distance run. In fact, since the thermostat in my house is kept a bit lower than I’d like, I was grateful to step outside, although it wasn’t long into my route before I was doing my best impression of a melting candle. Plunking myself into the pool afterwards was a slice of heaven.

It put me in mind of an erstwhile grade school science teacher of mine, who poked fun at students yearning for summer…amongst other reasons because they enjoyed immersing themselves such as at the local beach. In other words, he would smirk, they couldn’t wait for it to be hot so they could go cool off.

Running hot and cold isn’t a purely caloric affair for me. Indeed, I pretty much always prefer higher temps, as long as I have a decent breeze or a fan, and don’t have to be dressy (since somehow our society has yet to figure out how males can look formal without being thoroughly enshrouded in layers of cloth). My temperament, however, runs a more biphasic spectrum.

Not abnormally so, I don’t think. I don’t meet criteria for being bipolar, nor cyclothymic, and haven’t been accused of being particularly moody. On the other hand, I have by turns envied and pitied those more steadfastly even keeled than myself. Envied, in that they seem unperturbed by things that would rattle or otherwise distract me, and pitied, in that they also seem prone to stoically endure injustices that fairly scream out for response.

The rest of us non-monklike folks, hopefully, learn ways to harness our hot and cold phases as best we can, or strive to modulate them. I figured out, for instance, during a previous phase of my career that doing my daily exercise after work-particularly weightlifting-was a way to channel the routine frustration my then-job gave me (“running hot”) into hefting ever larger burdens, and thereby get into a shape I’d never thought possible for myself.

Or, on a day off when I might be “running cold” and not in a mood for heading out and being social, it would be an opportune time to get caught up on CME, viewing whatever had accumulated on my DVR, etc.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"50211","attributes":{"alt":"Hot and cold","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_6690929157188","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"6116","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 170px; width: 170px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©Janis Abolins/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Not always is it so simple or clear cut. For instance, if one is barely ¼ of the way into a typical workday and some unwelcome happenstance intrudes (notification of a QA demerit, hostile call from a referrer, upsetting news headline, you get the idea), one might not simply be able to shrug it off and go on reading cases as if nothing has happened. Unless one’s best coping mechanism is to bury oneself in the work at hand-I’m told some folks can do that-it might be a good move to take a stroll, or otherwise take five to let things settle.

Getting fired up from running cold is another matter. At least in our line of work (which tends to involve lots of sitting still and concentrating on things), getting the blood pumping and the brain buzzing such as with some impromptu calisthenics might be counterproductive…though I have to admit, I haven’t actually tried this. Generally, listening to some energetic music does the trick for me (my dictation headset is handy in that audio from the earpieces is not at all detected by the microphone). When I feel the need to bring in the big guns, caffeine and sugar rarely disappoint.