Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Things I will miss about the night shift

Yeah, I'll miss some things about working nights. Not enough to consider doing it for one minute longer than I have to (36 hours left! Only three shifts), but I'll still miss some things.

Like the weird confessional mood that strikes patients at four o'clock in the morning. I've had conversations with patients before that have gotten pretty deep, but it's different during the day: there's always a pager going off or a doctor that needs you. In the middle of the night, or near the beginning of the morning, people enter a mental space where reflection and expression meet.

I'll miss Bejweled and Bubbleshooter. I've actually gotten fairly good at them.

I'll miss the exhausted, underslept resident who comes in at three ack emma to admit a late transfer from Nowheresville, and the expression her face when I slip her a slice of home-made chocolate cake.

I'll miss Karen's coffee.

I'll miss the strange productivity of the hours between one and five. That's when everything happens in our CCU--labs get drawn, CTs and MRIs happen, baths get finished up. Even if eating steamed cauliflower at two makes my skin crawl, it's nice to know that my late lunch tops off a whole mess of work done early.

I'll miss the strange productivity of those hours at home, too. I have a load of laundry going, food for the week cooked and packaged up, and am blogging--at 3:10 a.m. No interruptions and no sunlight means your activity is concentrated.

I'll miss the feeling of being on call, yet not being called in. There's something satisfying about getting all ready for work save your scrubs and makeup, lying down on the couch, and waking up at four in the morning, knowing that nobody is going to call you in for the last three hours of the shift.

I'll also miss the on-call money. Holy crap, do they ever pay a lot for on-call. There were some nights I went in at the beginning of the shift and worked my ever-loving, rapidly-widening ass off, but other nights when I went in at nine p.m. and sat, earning nearly sixty bucks an hour, for eleven and a half hours, then handed off nothing to the oncoming nurse.

I'll miss Totti's delicious Filipino noodle dish, the name of which I cannot for the life of me remember, though I asked her to make it for our going-away party this week.

I'll miss the plummy accents of the BBC radio announcers I listen to on nights off. Nigel Astley-Astley-Nottingh'm announcing that it's twenty minutes past seven, GMT, and following with the shocking corker of the Chestwicksh'r cricket side in its match with Brustm'nsw'll always makes me giggle.

I'll miss the time. There was time to sit on nights, to hold the hand of somebody who needed their hand held, or to damn regulations and give a skin-to-skin touch to somebody who hadn't had one in months, and for whom it wouldn't hurt. There was time for the confessional mood to strike my colleagues. There was time to grill more-experienced nurses about the likely outcomes for our more complex patients, and thus be prepared for what would happen.

I will not miss the intestinal disturbances, the blood pressure that became labile enough to finally require a beta-blocker, the feeling that my life was just barely under control most of the time, the dirty car, the lonely dog who celebrates when I'm actually awake under the sun. I won't miss the difficulty of having a remotely normal life. I won't miss feeling like I'm walking into an alternate reality where weather and climate don't happen. I won't miss sleeping during the day, pillows covering my eyes. I won't miss most of the people. The two I'd miss most, Cheryl and Nurse Ames, are coming with me to days. So that's okay.

Only three more shifts. Only thirty-six hours. I can hold my breath, my urine, and my temper that long. By this time next week, I will be a day shift worker.



messymimi said...

The productivity of the middle of the night, the things on the radio almost no one else hears, the confessional and contemplative moods -- all reasons I wish I could do polyphasic sleep. You get the good of days and nights, but having to stop every 3 1/2 hours to snooze for half an hour makes it hard to keep a regular job and leave the house for hours at a time.

Good luck with those last 3 shifts. May they be easy.

ZANE said...

I found the best thing about working nights is not tripping over everyone. Family is gone, the place is quiet and you can focus on the job at hand then surf the net and read a book or a people magazine. Ever notice how there is always a people magazine on every unit in every hospital??

NPO said...

You will miss the autonomy of the nights.
During days there are so many more people running around asking you to do things. PT and OT think you work for them, asking you to call the doctor about some BS, I tell them to call the doctor themselves.
Md's thinking you are their little minion and why was their order not done 5 minutes after writing it?
Managers running around pretending to care about the floor when really they are looking for the next thing to cut and save money. They also pretend to be your friend, but will through you under the bus if it comes between you and them.
On the other side it is worth getting up at 5AM to have a normal life.

Dr. Alice said...

Good luck. I used to work the night "float" shift as a resident and as you say, there were good things about it. But as a morning person I found it oh so difficult to get to sleep at 9 or 10 am.

Richard said...

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Jeff said...

Since I'm changing careers and about to head back to school (for my 2nd degree, BSN) I am more than a tad bit ig'nant as for how day and night shifts work.

Do you get hired-on for a particular shift, i.e.: day or night? And what does "change of shift" mean? All this new-fangled info to learn!*

*and pitfalls to avoid, perhaps?


Penny Mitchell said...

Richard, quit screwing around and just give all the gift cards to Jo. Geez.

As for those last three shifts, I suppose it's too much to ask that you might be canceled for the last one or two?

Albinoblackbear said...

I miss driving home in the morning in the opposite direction of rush hour. Watching stressed commuters drinking coffee and talking on their cell phones.

I love enjoying the mist and the sunrise and having it be what puts me to bed instead of what gets me out of it.

Congrats on the Day Life ahead!

Mike M. said...

I was a night nurse for the majority of my career. When I moved to Admin, I was required to move to dayshift. I miss those nights of serenity and organized chaos!

Mike M.