Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Night Shift

I'll have to tell the story on myself:

Now I find, after all the aversion I experienced over the prospect of work on the 11-7 shift, I actually like it.  Really.  For many years I dreaded working the Night Shift, but it's far from an  unworkable situation now.  I have no trouble staying awake, little difficulty sleeping during the daytime, and I enjoy being the quiet voice of reassurance in the dark hours of the night.  Of course, I no longer have little ones depending on me for three squares and program direction.  My Darling Dog sleeps when I do, regardless; although she is puzzled about my going out late at night to work.   It's just as well that Dog Daddy sleeps nights and consoles her with biscuits.

What happened to the Night Shift Effect I recall?  The post-shift feeling of being among the walking dead, the days misspent lying in bed, and still feeling foggy with fatigue on arising?  What happened to the feeling of missing everything that was important in life?  I never could see how others did it.  For decades I swore I'd sooner be hanged than work the Night Shift. 

I promised myself the one thing I will NEVER, EVER do is work the Night Shift, yet here I am.  I offer you the next 10 minutes to laugh--gloat if you must--over my former silliness ( I really had worked myself into a froth over this) but your privileges expire in...9.6 minutes.  I'm counting.

County General is a well-run tertiary care hospital.  Our medical unit is a magnet for high-acuity patients who also have concomitent physical, psychological, and social challenges.  We see more than our share of non-compliant diabetics and COPD'ers, plenty of elders with UTI's and altered mental status, more people with clostridium difficile and MRSA than I ever thought existed, and the odd rara avis.  More on the Bird of the Day later.

The true beauty of the Night Shift at County General is not rank or privilege, but teamwork.  At the moment, we manage to work together through the most difficult nights, without calamity or expecting fanfare.  A sense of humor is indispensable.  For example:

At the start of shift, our census had been low; we knew it was too good to last.  At 0300 our capable CNA stopped me in the hall to chat; "Do you believe this," she asked me, looking not at all incredulous. "This is the--what?--fourth admit tonight?" Here she smiled ruefully. I had been wondering myself how many more new admissions the supervisor was going to send us.  My hands were full already with high-acuity patients when ER called to announce the impending arrival of yet another new patient. The one that would cost me two hours of work and more.

"Do you work tomorrow?" she asked solicitously.

"No, I'm off one day and then I'm back Tuesday night. Are you on Tuesday, too?" She nodded, continuing, "It seems like I never get time off.  I'm here all the time." 

I replied, "Well, after Tuesday I'm off for a week...but (noting her shocked expression) remember I only work part-time."

She blinked. "I'm not speaking to you," she said firmly. "A whole week off!  I'm not talking to you," and she strode off in the direction of our latest admit shaking her head, but smiling.

"I'm going to spend my day off hanging wallpaper, if it makes you feel any better," I called after her, still laughing.


  1. That's so awesome you and night shift get along so well!!!! YEAH!!!!!

    If you have any time some feedback on my blog post today would be so helpful!!!!

  2. I worked more than 20 years straight nights... :)
    I thot it would be the only shift I would ever work, but now I am finding the nights are killing me... :(