Friday, January 15, 2010


The first night was weird. My brain and my body disagreed vehemently on what time it was, and I felt very odd all night.

The second night was torture. I didn't know it was possible to feel that bad physically and still be vertical and productive.

Last night was...not so bad, actually.

I might just be able to do this working nights thing for a little while. I'll never be a natural night person, as my body-clock says "Wake up at 0400; go to bed at 2100", but I think I can, I think I can, at least until somebody goes on maternity leave, or something.

The possibility of having to work nights during the summer leaves me cold with fear. How anybody could ever work nights in a state with the hottest and brightest sunshine I have ever seen is beyond me. But for January, February, and probably a little of March, when it's rainy and cloudy most of the time anyhow? Count me in. I can doooo eeeeet!

Nights are weird, people. In a hospital, you're insulated from the rhythms of the outside world anyhow, but at night, it's even more pronounced. The morning rush starts at 0130 down at Big Brother Bruce's Bargain Brain Barn, with CT scans and MRI and morning labs and what-have-you. That means that the first hour of the shift is busy, the middle of the night is most definitely not, and the last six hours of the night vary from steady to downright insane. That's the opposite of how it works during day shifts in the Sunnydale CCU, and that's been the hardest thing to get used to.

Night people are weird, too. There's a certain breed of person who's meant to stay up all night and sleep all day. They don't do well on days (can you imagine? I can't) but are cheerful and helpful and ready for pizza at two ack emma. And they're all a little off. Intelligent, pleasant, good company....but a little weird. They don't see anything odd about listening to Morning Edition when they're on the way home from work, or buying beer at 0700. (That was my greatest discovery: at the end of my second night, when all I wanted was a beer and my bed, I discovered that you can buy beer here before sunrise on weekdays. Alors!)

The trick is going to be sticking on this schedule when I'm not working. Attila is coming over this evening, after which I plan to take myself out for a celebratory dinner. Tonight I'll sleep; tomorrow, I'll take a nap in the afternoon and stay up all night (thank God for 24-hour grocery stores), and Sunday I'll sleep all day. I work again Sunday night.

Oh--did you know (again, a revelation to me!) that there are BARS that open at SIX A.M. and serve BREAKFAST and have HAPPY HOUR?? I mean, I'd read about that in books, mostly books set in London near the docks, at the turn of the century, but I had no idea that the Green Door or Louie's served eggs-your-way and a vodka martini at eight in the morning. Monday morning, since Sunday is a one-off, I'm going to hit Bigtown's most venerable lesbian bar, which serves a breakfast buffet on weekday mornings, then go trolling salvage shops for 1/2" knobs for my desk.

It's like a vacation in a foreign country, but I'm getting paid. Very, very weird.


AtYourCervix said...

Welcome to the fun of night shift :-)

Unknown said...

I did indeed know all these things. My husband has worked nights for 5 years. He loves it but it's not so great for family life!

Flea said...

Welcome to nights! We are a special breed and come with our own benefits. The shift differential is nice too. There's no way I could do firsts now.

Gert said...

I did nights for 6 months, you're right that they're a certain breed. Weird yes, but also wonderful.

Love your appreciation of the 6AM bar stop!

I'm with you, I'm not a night person....but I do miss those night people now that I work days.

Gert said...

Oh, and Marissa you're so right. I went from nursing school, being surrounded by my buds, to working more nursing school buddies, no FAMILY! They were at work, I was sleeping....I was at work, they were sleeping. It was truly lonely.

Brenda said...

just wait for the snarky comments when drinking in the AM. I was on a bowling league whan a group from work came in to bowl and all ordered a pint of bear. The ladies I was bowling with all scruntched up their noses and said... ewww... bear at this time of day. and I said.... to them it's not 8 am... It's 10 pm. Then they understood.
I think you'll do just fine.

kg said...

You describe it well!
I'm a natural evening shift person---and that's a different bunch too!

VetRN said...

I have worked nights for the last 19 years!! Definitely different, but the camaraderie is different as well. Have done beer-and-breakfasts, wings-and-beer, or martinis-and-whatever at 8 AM from time to time for years. As far as sleep, keep your room cool, dark, and quiet with some white noise, and you'll do just fine!

Crabby McSlacker said...

Fascinating! I am SO not a night person.

And it's good to know that those bars that are open at 6AM are there for night shift workers! I think I'd assumed it was hard-core alcoholics getting an early start to the day.

Anyway, sounds like you're doing pretty well for being new at it. I'd be dying.

woolywoman said...

I'm a natural born PM shift person, but forced to work days for now. I love PMs. I saw a coworker today who I usually see as I am going home and he is coming on- he was working days for some reason. Anyway, he was thinking I had had a death in the family or something, finally someone told him to stop pestering me. Later he expressed amazement at my personality change. Uhm, yeah....

You sound like you are doing great! Good for you!