The wheels of time seem to be rolling faster than usual around the homestead. I have reached new levels of exhaustion. I think at this point I need to coin a new word to describe how tired my red head is.
Working night shift has wonderful perks when you are a nurse. First of all, administration isn’t typically around-that’s always a good thing! Also, night shift folks operate on a whole different wave length, they are typically more laid back, and a bit more outspoken. Patients are typically more interesting and get into more precarious situations when the sun goes down, which provides excellent entertainment as the twelve hours drudge by-oh the stories I wish I could share. You also get the benefits of higher pay and having the day to get things done and visit with friends and family.
Working night shift has been an awesome experience, but it has come with a price. The rest of the world doesn’t operate on night shift, at all. In fact, for those that have never worked night shift, the complete disregard for those who do is pretty massive. Working night shift means sleep is sacrificed on a regular basis to go to appointments, pick up children, answer phone calls, go to meetings-you get the idea. Night shift folks walk a tightrope between sleep deprived zombie and barely functional adult.
Over the last few weeks, I have been working all night and working all day. All work and no sleep make Laura a crazy girl (yes I know it is the Christmas season, but Halloween is my favorite holiday so please forgive The Shining reference). Days have gone by where I get 2-4 hours of sleep a day (remember the day is my night) and sometimes that’s even the combined amount of sleep for the few days that have passed.
The past few years of sleep deprivation are ever increasingly catching up to me. In fact, the studies of sleep deprivation’s effects on the body are pretty interesting and serious-check out this study featured on ABC HERE.
Neil’s police department works a swing shift schedule, so he works one month of day shift and then switches to one month of night shift. The effects of swing shifts like that are extremely significant on one’s health and mood.
All this to say, that after serious consideration and discussion with Neil, I have decided to leave night shift for the time being, and also leave the emergency room.
Due to the HIPPA laws, I can’t share my day to day stories of what it is like being an ER nurse, but I can tell you this. I have seen more in the past 5 years than most people do in a lifetime. I have pulled dying folks from cars to provide life sustaining interventions, I have seen the torment of addiction and the slow way it decays a person’s body and mind over the years. I have cared for the senseless, the homeless, the ignorant and the average joe. I have watched children take their last breath and heard the piercing animalistic cries of their grieving mothers. I have seen the violence and the brutality of the underbelly of humanity, I have been assaulted by several patients myself. One resulting in a sucker punch to the face as I tried to help her to the bathroom so she wouldn’t fall.
As the hours fade into days and the days fade into weeks, the years of being in the trenches affects you in significant ways. It is impossible to not be affected by the things I see. When I clocked in for my first shift as an ER nurse I promised myself I would leave that field if I ever got to the point my heart was no longer in it and after 5 years I have arrived there.
One day I may return to the unique chaos that is the emergency room, but at this point in my career, and my life, I crave a simpler, less emotionally demanding job. I don’t know where my nursing career will lead me just yet, but I know wherever I end up is exactly where I am supposed to be.
Until next time…