Earlier this week, I mentioned that things had gotten a little crazy.
One of those things that got me all out-of-wack was my work schedule. I’m a nurse, which means that I work 12-hour shifts, three days a week. Plus, I live about forty minutes away from where I work, so added to arriving early to read charts and prepare myself for my shift, and finishing my shift at the end of the day, my shifts end up being close to fifteen hours.
Before working at my current job, I’ve worked night shifts, mostly because it’s hard for a nurse to start a new job and get a day shift. People like working days more than nights, which I guess makes sense. I’ve never had an issue with working nights, mostly because I hate mornings.
Waking up early in the morning makes me want to cry. Actually, it has made me cry on multiple occasions.
I love working night shift because it lets me live on less sleep. I don’t know how it works, but I can survive on five hours of sleep when I work night shift. I have to have at least seven hours of sleep when I work day shift. I don’t know why, but it just works that way.
When I started my current job, I let my boss know that I wanted to work nights. He was okay with that, except he wanted me to get to know the doctors, which mean that the last eight months I’ve been working what is called ‘mixed shifts.’ Basically, I work two months of night shift and then a month of day before doing it all over again.
February was my month of days.
It’s interesting how sleep deprived healthcare workers really are. We work long hours. When there’s not enough people, we pick up shifts. We work overtime and we work weekends and holidays. If we have something during that day or that night, then we just go without sleep.
It’s almost natural for me to go without sleep, at least until my body gets mad at me and forces me to collapse.
But that doesn’t happen… often.
When I was in junior high, my sister did a science fair project where she had people go 24 hours without food and then 24 hours without sleep and then take a math test and see where they failed. Every single person required sleep over food. Every single person except for the nurse. She did much better, even while sleep deprived.
I don’t know how it works, or where we learn it, but we know how to do our jobs when we’re half asleep.
I’m proud to be part of that profession. I’m proud to be able to repress my own needs to be able to care of my patients’ needs.