I spent most of yesterday sitting on my sofa, trying to convince myself to stay awake.
Just before my first set of nights, in December, I asked Twitter for advice on how best to switch from day shift body clock to night shift body clock. I had three nights in medical receiving, in the middle of a six week or so period when I had been working a lot. There had been a lot of on calls, a lot of long days, a long time since my last bit of annual leave, and, just a few days before I was due to go on to nights, the bed crisis to end all bed crises, with a fourteen hour ward round and a consultant who asked out loud in the middle of it whether we would be seeing patients in the car park before the day was over. Thus, on the day before my first night shift, I was very pleased to shuffle off back to bed after lunch and I got a decent sleep in before heading into work that evening. Afterwards, switching back to day shift body clock was even easier. Possibly because I only had twenty three and a half hours between the end of my night shift and the start of my day shift, and I had Midnight Mass to force me to wake up for a bit in the middle.
But the consensus from everyone I’ve talked to has been that when they aren’t immediately followed by a middle-of-the-night liturgical celebration, I am better advised post-nights to stay awake until what might be considered a reasonable(ish) bedtime. A little like the rule about setting watches to destination local time when boarding flights. After all, night shifts are basically just a very peculiar sort of jetlag. And as I imagine that the Church as a whole would grumble at the idea of inventing liturgical celebrations for no better reason than to ease my days-to-nights-and-back-again transitions — although I will note that by happy coincidence, Easter this year will be very much doing exactly that — I was stuck this time with resisting the lure of my duvet through sheer force of will.
I’ve quite enjoyed my nights this week. I spent half of one of them in the emergency department, on account of a complete lack of beds anywhere else in the hospital, but, for the most part, things have been manageable rather than stupid. It’s been a good team, fuelled mostly by Haribos and potato scone sandwiches and giggling. I’ve seen some things that I haven’t before, felt just a little bit smug about a far-too-early-in-the-morning hunch that was proven right, and even got some bits of ePortfolio done during one of the quieter spells. The end of a working night, falling asleep in handover with rumpled scrubs and undone hair, feels like an accomplishment in a different way than getting to the end of a working day. It feels like an enormous achievement to clear ED in time to batter down the canteen doors for a Team Nightshift breakfast and a relief to finally get rid of the arrest page — a particular highlight of my week was the look on the face of the medical student who almost found herself with the SHO arrest page in her hands, such was the eagerness of my SHO to get to his bed.
I could do without being back on nights next weekend, mind, but I’ve given up on figuring out my rota.
In the end, yesterday, I made it to quarter past four in the afternoon before I conked out on my sofa in front of Lewis. And but for a brief period of consciousness to shuffle bedwards, I was dead to the world until after eight this morning. Mission accomplished.