Radiologist affective disorder

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It’s always darkest before dawn. So if you’re going to steal the neighbor’s newspaper, that’s the time to do it.

— Anonymous

Long ago I got more or less comfortable with working in the dark. We read these little films, you know, and they are best seen in the darkness. Whether it be films on the lightboxes (dated myself there), or a monitor for PACS, we sit in these dark rooms and read. I’ve been thinking more about this moving into February. The month is short, and the days are shorter. Going to work in the dark, working in the dark, and heading home in the dark can be a little bit of a downer.

I hear more and more about this “seasonal affective disorder,” and I can relate. It’s even more of a factor for people who are sunshine people, which I believe I am. I love the beach—sunshine, a choice of things that smell like coconut and pineapple, a sea breeze… I’m good for hours. So, here I am again, working in this dark room like I’m a crewman in a radiology nuclear submarine. I think we need to find a way to keep ourselves happy in the middle of this (seemingly) eternal night. So, here are my suggestions:

• Lunchtime is sacred. Get your a** out of the hospital. Take a walk, and get outside. Unless it’s raining. I have found that a 30- to 40-minute disappearance in the middle of the day is akin to morsels of bread to the starving. It can’t be too cold, or too hot, or too snowy. Just go.

• Find excuses to turn the lights on. “Ooops, I dropped my keys behind the monitors.” “Hey, where’s my cell phone?” It works, but it is at best a transient thing. It’s your opportunity to see that your colleague is wearing one blue sock and one black sock, as well.

• Turn the brightness way up on your monitor. Like the sun. They sell these things as “high luminance,” so let’s give them a real stress test. Maybe you can tan in front of them if you get them bright enough. Bring your sunscreen.

• Two words: laser pointers. Not those wimpy red ones. Get the green or blue ones. Or, even better, buy an industrial laser that you can use as an artificial sun. Hey, just be careful with your eyes.

I used to dream of reading films on the beach, holding them up to the sunlight. Somehow, that seems like the appropriate solution to this. Talk about a wet read… Mahalo.

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Radiologist affective disorder.  Appl Radiol. 

By C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR| March 04, 2013

About the Author

C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR

C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR

Dr. Phillips is a Professor of Radiology, Director of Head and Neck Imaging, at Weill Cornell Medical College, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. He is a member of the Applied Radiology Editorial Advisory Board.

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