How Dr. Alex Arroyo Spends His Sundays (In Costume)

“Hey, buddy, how you doing?” said a man wearing a Boba Fett costume as he leaned over the bed of a young boy in a hospital gown.

It was a Sunday afternoon in the emergency room at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, where Dr. Alex Arroyo, the hospital's director of pediatric emergency medicine, often dons one of more than 20 costumes when he sees patients. His favorite is Boba Fett, the famous bounty hunter from the “Star Wars” movies.

“I love what I do, but it’s really hot in there!” said Dr. Arroyo, 48, who has worked at the hospital since 2006. She started wearing costumes in 2021.

A die-hard “Star Wars” fan who grew up watching the original trilogy with his parents, Dr. Arroyo has passed that love on to his two youngest children, Grayson, 8, and Karra, 6. For New York Comic Con each year, the entire family dresses up, including his wife, Dr. Sharon Yellin, 44, a fellow pediatric emergency medicine physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. One year, they dressed up as the “Encanto” family.

“I was the big, strong sister with the donkey,” Dr. Arroyo said, referring to the character of Luisa.

Dr. Arroyo, who also has a 21-year-old son, Colin, from a previous marriage, was born in the Borough Park neighborhood of South Brooklyn—Maimonides, to be precise. He now lives less than a mile from the house where he grew up, in a three-story, four-bedroom, 1920s brownstone. He uses one of the guest bedrooms as an office and rents out the third floor.

“It’s a scary place to be, because I’m also an active-duty comic book collector,” he said of his office. “It’s wall-to-wall with toys. It’s my refuge from the world.”

READY TO SHOOT I wake up at 7:30 or 8. I probably don't need the iPhone alarm, but I set it just in case. It's “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys. It gets me in the mood for the day.

The first thing I do is make a cup of coffee. I make as much as I can in the Keurig. I'm not a coffee snob; I take whatever I have available.

CHEF'S TIME While my kids run downstairs to steal some iPad or TV time, I make breakfast. My favorites are pancakes, waffles, and quail eggs—I bought them from the corner store one day as a joke, thinking my kids would think they were hilarious because they were so small, but then they really started to like them. They are extremely difficult to open, though; there are usually shells everywhere. Somehow, I have become the home cook. My wife calls my cooking style “‘Iron Chef’ on steroids.” I cook as a job: extremely fast and very efficient, but it’s very messy.

TECHNICAL RESOLUTION I check my email first, then the hospital WhatsApp groups to see if anything happened overnight or if anyone needs anything. Then I run to Instagram, scroll X to catch up on what happened while I was sleeping. I'm a bit of a social media addict. Then my wife and I compete in our daily challenges of Wordle, Connections, and mini New York Times Crossword. We write down the results to see who beat who today.

FIGHT CLUB Around 10 or 11 in the morning, I head to jujitsu class at Windsor Terrace Martial Arts. I try to go as often as possible, sometimes 10 times a week. I’ve been doing this for about 17 months. I usually do a private class on Sundays. I get a lot of joy from strangling people I consider my friends. It’s an incredible outlet for the horrors of the world I see every day.

SPLIT TRACK When it comes to work, my Sundays vary. I might work one of three 12-hour shifts in the ER, starting at 7:00 in the morning, or 1:00 in the afternoon, or 7:00 in the evening, or I might be off. Today, I have a 1:00 PM shift.

I run the department, so my time in the ER is limited to about 12 hours a week. The rest of the time is spent being in the office and trying to manage the daily craziness that is running an ER in New York City.

DIRECTION IN I shower, then head to the hospital. On a nice day with no traffic, it's a six-minute drive. Parking is usually a challenge, but not on the weekends, which is nice. I grab a cup of iced coffee from Dunkin' Donuts around the corner from the hospital.

GET DRESSED I'm starting my shift visiting the kids as Boba Fett, so I head to the office to get my costume on. It takes me about 20 minutes to get it on, and I need some help. I wanted it to be as movie-accurate as possible, so I have at least 20 different pieces I need to wear. Good luck getting seated or walking through the doors!

BOBA FETT WILL SEE YOU NOW I set aside an hour at the beginning of my shift to walk around in a costume, because I don't actually work in one. Even on Halloween, we don't recommend wearing any costume at all—the last thing you want is for SpongeBob SquarePants to manage your child's cardiac arrest.

I have at least four “Star Wars” costumes, including two Jedi and a fighter pilot. “Star Wars” is great because it's a ubiquitous thing that crosses generations: when kids recognize a character, their faces light up and their eyes pop out of their heads.

THE REAL WORK BEGINS The 1:00 PM to 1:00 AM shift is the busiest of the three: I see patients pretty much nonstop. On a good day, I can sit down for five minutes at a time to eat and pee, but sometimes that's not possible because I'm running around like a madman.

I see a lot of fever, which, in a newborn of a few weeks, is one of the most serious emergencies we can see in pediatric emergency medicine. I compare it to an adult with chest pain, because it usually indicates something very serious and we also have to rule out all the bad things. In the spring and summer, when the weather is nicer, I also see a lot of broken bones, especially broken arms. Children fall in the park, especially from the monkey bars.

SUNDAY FUN DAY When I'm not working or working the graveyard shift, I do something fun with my kids. They are huge foodies, so I take them to Smorgasburg, the outdoor food market in Prospect Park. The french fry place is my favorite. My kids love the rainbow cheese toast, but it looks disgusting.

Or we could go to grandma's house and have brunch. Then we could see a movie at Nitehawk Cinema — Prospect Park, which is great because they have food.

HOT DOG NIGHT When I get home, around 5 or 5:30, I make dinner for my kids. Their palates are not as refined as a lot of kids in Brooklyn. They are big fans of chicken, pizza, hot dogs, pasta… and my son loves sushi.

After my wife and I put the kids to bed around 7:30 or 8:00, we have dinner around 8:30: usually something more adventurous than a hot dog and mac and cheese.

TV TIME My wife and I watch pretty much everything: dramas, comedies, period dramas. We just finished “The Crown.” We are big fans of “Cobra Kai,” “Yellowstone,” and crime documentaries.

DISAPPEARANCE SCROLLING Around midnight, I climb into bed and spend 30 minutes scrolling through social media apps that help me fall asleep.

The great thing about working in emergency medicine is that I don't have “Sunday terror.” My schedule is constantly changing, so I'm in this perpetual cycle of “whatever happens, happens.”

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