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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Driving home exhausted

You can't expect to get much out of me today, considering I'm on the final leg of an 8 day journey here at Shoreline hospital. My brain is about fried. But I still think I have enough energy to complete one post here before I go out to knock off my 10 p.m. treatments.

I love working nights. I've been doing this since before my respiratory days, and for a total of 16 years now. In fact, I've been working nights so long that if an opportunity to work days ever came up I think I'd be stressed about it. At least that's how I thought until recently.

I don't know about you other night shift RTs and RNs and DRs, but it's been catching up to me lately. Not only am I utterly exhausted at night, but I can't sleep when I get home. I sleep four hours sound from about 8 a.m to 11 a.m, and then I wake up feeling like it's about 5 p.m. I roll over and look at the clock to find out it's only 11 a.m.

I usually try to stay in bed until at least until 2 p.m. no matter what, but even that's been a challenge lately. It's so bad that this morning I was so tired I thought I was going to fall asleep giving my treatments after 6 this morning.

When my boss came we talked about driving home exhausted. She said one day she was taking her usual journey home when she used to work nights, and all of a sudden had no idea where she was.

I told her I've had similar experiences. I'll be driving home, and all of a sudden I find I have no clue where I am. I mean, I know what neighborhood I'm in, but know that somewhere I took a wrong turn. And once, funny thing, when I was on a wrong road, the road curved back and actually crossed the road I was supposed to be on and I didn't even realize it until later.

Jep, the guy who works nights opposite me, said he doesn't fall asleep while driving, but said he has fallen asleep at stop lights before.

Now that's driving home exhausted.

I've read that driving home exhausted is worse than driving home drunk. I wonder how long it will take for a group like MADE gets started: Mothers Against Driving Exhausted.

A couple days ago when I was leaving work a new RT here, Milt, asked me if a day job came open would I take it. I said, "Hell no, I love working nights." What the hell am I saying, I thought. That's what I used to think, but haven't things changed?

"Good," he said, "Because I don't want to work nights."

"On second thought," I said, yawning, "I'm thinking a day job might be nice."

"No! No! You cant change your mind," he said, smiling.

"You know, I can think of 200 things I really love about working nights, and one reason I hate working nights, and they both balance each other out."

"What's that one thing?"

"Lack of sleep."

"Well," Milt said, "You do know that working nights takes seven years off your life."

"Is that true?"

"Yes, you can Google it."

I went home and I did Google it. There is actually a disease that specifically refers to hospital workers who work 12 hour shifts and then completely adjust to days for their days off. It's true.

Now, I didn't see anything about seven years, but there are a bunch of other diseases directly linked to working swing-like shifts. It's scary.

Despite being able to blog, to surf the net, to watch TV, to read books or pay bills or whatever else us night shifters get to do because the bosses aren't around, I think I want to go to days now.

I'm tired. I'm exhausted. I'm ready for bed and it's only 9:15 at night.

I'm going to go out now to knock off my 10 p.m. treatments, and then I'm gonna loaf on the couch in the waiting room in front of the TV and pray to God my beeper doesn't go off.


Djanvk said...

I'm right with you partner. I actually think I would enjoy being a Regular person. I've scared myself many times driving home in the AM, to where I don't even remember most of my drive. And now you scared me with that Night Shift Disease....gotta look for that. Well off to watch a Movie, not Tx's tonight, it's quiet.

Freadom said...

You just jinxed yourself with the "Q" word. Shame on you.

Denise said...

When I was working, I always preferred night shift. When you work for an alarm company, that's when all the action was. Of course, now that I'm "retired", I still stay up all night. Lights out here is about 7 am, up at 4pm and stay up all night. Thank God I married a man with the same sleep habits. I told my kids we were part vampire.

Karla said...

What you are experiencing with the waking up might be classic insomnia. You might want to try some "sleep hygiene" habits to break that cycle. One of the big ones for the situation you state is when you wake up at that "ritual time" then instead of struggling in bed until 2 PM to actually get up and go to a different space (couch, another bed, etc) and go back to sleep. The change in environment will frequently result in the ability to sleep. Once you break the ritual cycle your body will gradually let you sleep through the night in your own bed.

mielikki said...

I've been on nights for 13 years, and I just, finally, asked for the next day shift position, because of what you are describing. My sleep is just so not good. With any luck, sometime in the next six months I'll get one. . .

Freadom said...

The last RT in my dept. to go to days said it took about 6 weeks before he realized how good he felt not working nights. Not only that, when you have a day off you don't have to waste one being exhausted.

RT/Medic said...

I know how that feels driving home and sitting there in the driveway and going how did I get here, its friggin scary. lol I look forward to working days so I can get back to a normal sleep cycle.

sometimesibreathe said...

But I hear night shift usually gets paid $3 more? -Still a student here.

Freadom said...

Where I work we get paid 6% more for working nights. I wish it were $3. That would be one of the 200 things I like about working nights.

mielikki said...

see, you need to come work where I am at. My little podunk hospital will actually pay $5.50 an hour more to work nights. Another reason why it's kind of painful for me to decide to leave. . .

Freadom said...

Yikes. I bet your base wage is higher than ours too. Too bad I'm trapped here by family committments.