Thursday, May 19, 2011

On night shift and life

Night shift is kind of hard to describe. Unless you've worked in an industry that does night shifts of some flavour, you don't really know what it's like. So let me explain:

On Monday, I took the day pretty easy. I had Sally in childcare that afternoon and had an hour-long nap. When she got home, I had another hour-long nap with her. Then dinner late (7pm instead of the usual 6pm), changed and dressed with a coffee by 8:30pm for a 9pm start.

I have to take another meal to eat overnight. I tend to get a break around midnight, and express at that point as well, then another break around 3am. I eat an extra meal at midnight (what do you call that? It's not supper to me, but it's between dinner and breakfast so I don't know?) with a coffee as well. Then another snack at 3am, with a tea or something sweet. By this stage I've been awake going on 24 hours with only 2 hours of naps in there, and I'm using anything I can to stay focused and alert.

It's a strange time, those hours past about 11pm til about 6am. I don't usually feel tired per se, but am obviously fatigued. I have to focus on drinking water and not focusing on the clock too much. Time goes strangely without reminders of what time it is.

So 6am ish comes around and I'm sent home as there's not much else going on. I get home and eat breakfast. Then feed Sally and TheHusband takes her to a friend's house who then drops her to childcare for me to pick her up in the afternoon.

Have I mentioned how much I love my friends?

Then I wash my face and brush my teeth and go to bed by about 6:30am. Today I slept til 1pm with only a brief up/loo/drink moment. So only 4.5 hours of sleep. But as today is my "day off", which I use very loosely as it's really a sleep day after a night shift, not a day that I can do much in, I don't want to be anything other than tired because otherwise I won't sleep tonight and will be messed up for the next few days.

So that gives a small thumb sketch of how a night shift goes. If it's more than one in a row obviously, I would be napping and preparing mentally for another night. Night shifts are fine in short bursts and the HUGE fabulous point of this is that this is the LAST ONE that I have to do until October.

And no, I don't know what I'm doing next year and whether I'll have to do more of these. So many options, so many variables, so much but so little time as well.


Billie said...

Night shifts sound like a whole new kind of torture. It's funny that they are so long though. When I was in hospital last year, and admittedly it's a small local hospital, there was always a change of shift every 7 or 8ish hours I think there was always an hour or so cross over. Night shift was the shortest and started just before midnight and went until about 6 or 6:30. The morning shift people would arrive around 5:30-6 for the hand over and then they'd stay until mid arvo. I did see a few nurses who shifted from morning to night shift and so that day they would only have the afternoon shift in between but most of the time it appeared to work well. The only thing they all said was that night shift would be a lot better if you just had one long stint of it once or twice a year instead of a few days here and a few days there, cause their bodies never got a chance to adjust. Obviously that's nurses on a ward and in the ED though and not midwives in L&D or the NICU. I wonder if it was a smaller hospital or a nurse thing that made them space the times out so differently. I think you're just amazing! Not just for doing night shifts but for all of it. No matter what you do next year you've achieved so much and gained so much knowledge. I've been thinking of you loads lately. Hope we can catch up soon xo

Mel said...

All sounds familiar to me. I did night shift for about 4 months 10 years ago and there's no way I could do it again. I actually liked it for the first month or so, but there were many mornings about 4 am where I was starting to drift off, and I was operating machinery at the time. Not exactly the safest idea!