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.