It seems my sleep schedule is completely backwards.
I've been working almost all overnights lately, and it's worked out wonderfully. Except for the fact that I CANNOT WAKE UP once I get comfortable on the couch at home. I could sleep for 16 hours straight if my husband would let me. I've learned to block out all of the everyday noises of people yelling down the stairs and across the house, or the pots and pans banging about in the kitchen. I don't use earplugs, but it's like my ears have developed their own resistance to the sounds.
Time to try something new.
I'm going to try to set my alarm and actually GET UP when it goes off every night. I want to be awake for the better part of the afternoon, if possible. I want to spend every minute I can with my family, because that's what is most important. It's easy to get caught up in the every day I-need-to-make-money-to-survive mindset and let other things fall by the wayside. It's going to be a lot harder to force myself into a schedule that my body is rejecting even as I think about it.
I miss my family.
I have been trying to juggle everything when I need to just let some things drop. Like expecting 6-8 hours of sleep a day. My anxiety peaks when I think about only getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep some days. I need to get over it. Suck it up and move on. People function with less than that all the time. I've been greedy to want the sleep and the family time all together. It just doesn't work with an overnight schedule. A lot of the time, you have to choose one over the other.
I choose my Loves.
Starting tomorrow, I will be waking up earlier and forcing myself to drink coffee and shower as soon as I'm up. Hopefully that'll give me the extra boost I need to get through the sleepiest part of my night and it'll be smooth sailing from there.
I'm just sick of sleeping my life away.
So I'm going to start sleeping less, and start living my life more.
If you catch me snoozing, feel free to poke me with a stick. A really long stick would be best - sometimes I wake up swinging!
It's about that time again.
No matter how tired I am all day long, once the stars come out, my adrenaline kicks in and my body says, "it's go time."
Much like a werewolf, my personality drastically changes with the moonlight. I have been told several times that I am like two completely different people. I like to consider it my own way of multitasking in my life...I don't make an effort to change - it's like a switch being turned on and off. I think most people are this way. I just do it backwards! Instead of being afraid of what lurks in the darkness, I find it comforting. Somehow I feel ten feet tall and bulletproof once the sun is done setting. It's my chance to show everyone what I'm good at and to do what I really enjoy doing. It's the time of day I get to spend giving back and trying to help however I possibly can. It is the time I get to spend being the me I always envisioned.
This also saps a lot of energy from some pretty weary bones here.
My daytimes are spent running from the sun. I cringe when I have to go to an appointment in the middle of the day (how would YOU feel if your dentist was only available at 3am?) And there are so many people out during the day...how can you all stand it?! It is sensory overload to go from being one of the few people awake to being one of thousands of people awake in town. The noises seem louder and I find myself getting irritable when people slam doors (I quickly picked up the habit of shutting doors silently when I started working overnights) or when chatter gets too high. I'm like a librarian, wanting to walk around and shush people all day.
I probably need to work on this.
For now, I am happy with my quiet darkness. The sense of solitude and autonomy invigorates me. It charges me up for the coming day. It makes me comfortable and it makes me happy. It's a schedule that is conducive to my personality. In a way, I think my body was built for it. I've always had trouble feeling rested after a night's sleep. I like being able to hear everyone else going about their business when I am crawling into bed for my own nighttime. It fits me.
I think I truly have become a creature of the night....and it doesn't bother me a bit.
2 weeks off of work to recover and I manage to get a nasty head cold the day I go back!
Feeling much better (physically) these days. Rarely nauseous - which is amazing. I had forgotten what it was like to go for an entire day without vomiting up the entire content of my stomach. (TMI! Sorry!) Apparently the gallbladder was the issue all along - out it went, and with it went most of the ugly symptoms I was having.
It was absolutely surreal being off of work for two weeks and being on a daytime schedule. I never really got the hang of sleeping during the night, but was able to at least lay down with the hubby until he fell asleep and I wandered off to do something else like a normal nocturnal person. I had a ba-jillion Dr. appointments to attend, so that was pretty much what my time was spent doing. That and resting and relaxing, of course.
I did miss work, I have to admit. It can get really boring and lonely sitting at home by yourself all day while the rest of your family is at school or their job respectively. I spent a lot of time catching up on my DVR'd shows and doing laundry. And more laundry. How on earth do we have so much laundry when only 3 of us live in this house??? Also, why are there like 20 different spin offs for different pawn shop shows?? Just curious...
The absolute worst part of going back to work was having to say goodbye to my husband. We've pretty much had 2 weeks of nonstop QT together. I could see him pretty much all of the time when he wasn't at work. It was wonderful. I will miss it terribly. But I am glad to have my nights back.
I've missed the random middle-of-the-night stuff that only people on my schedule get to encounter. I will not bother to elaborate (most of it sounds stupid and petty, and I enjoy it just the same!), but those of you who work the 11-7 shift would probably agree that one of the best sounds on earth is the chirping of the birds at 5am signaling the last little stretch before you're free!
Can't wait to go home and give my husband the biggest hug ever. Days like this remind me of how much I love and adore him.
Now you can go vomit, too!
I have officially declared myself a "creature of the night."
I honestly believe my body was assembled to run on it's own clock. I am WIDE AWAKE at 4am, which is when even the most seasoned 3rd shift workers start to hit a wall. I try to keep to myself and chatter as little as possible so that I don't overload anyone's already sensitive senses at that time of the morning. I just can't sit still, though! I'm constantly pacing around the office looking for new things to do. During the day, it's a struggle to peel my self away from the couch - it literally feels like it's the middle of the night for me.
All of the doctor appointments I've had to schedule lately have been killing any type of schedule I'd managed to get myself on. I've had to try to shift back and forth between sleeping in the morning and the afternoon. Oh, and don't forget my nights off when I sleep at nighttime to try to make up for missing my husband all week! I literally don't have a specific time of day that I can absolutely say I can go to bed.
The good - I'm used to it.
The bad - it's probably wickedly unhealthy...
I always feel terrible when I have to orient someone new to the overnight shift. They're all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the first half of the shift! They have so much confidence about it being easy to make it through the night and blah, blah, blah....then at 3:30 on the nose, they start to look a little pale and sickly. By 4-4:30 they look like they want to abandon ship. I try to keep up with the words of encouragement - "Don't worry - it only took me 6 months to get used to this routine!" (Probably not helpful.) And, "At least now you can go to the liquor store at 9am and not look like a serious boozer - just tell them you worked all night!" (That one usually helps a tad.)
I also try to enforce the whole "we need to be veerrrryyyyy quiet on this shift. If you start a party at 3am by closing the doors too loudly, you'd better be prepared to host it!" I really, truly love my staff I work with. They put up with my shenanigans, and we all work together as a solid team. No matter how the night looks like it's going to turn out, I know we'll make it through it as long as we keep each other motivated.
OOH-RAH! GET SOME!
*Insert obligatory fist pump here*
I miss sleep.
It is one of the downfalls of working the overnight shift when you have any kids at home. Never, ever have I come across someone who has a set sleep schedule who works through the night. We're kind of crazy that way!
I have this whole system down. Anytime I come across a new 3rd shift worker, the advice I give to them is the exact same thing my grandmother told me when I first had my daughter and was her sole caretaker. Basically, grab naps whenever you can because you are never guaranteed a straight 6-8 hours. Never. (I kind of wanted to underline that one 3 times but I couldn't find the button to do it.) When you have children, there is always the chance of something going wrong. Someone gets sick and can't go to school, (Oh, I'm sorry, were you planning on going to bed from 9am to 2pm? HAH!) or someone has a dentist appointment smack in the middle of that 6 hour block you were yearning for. Or, as was the case for me yesterday, you are trying to sleep while the rest of the world is wide awake and going about their daily business. No one else notices the car alarm that's been going off for 4 STRAIGHT HOURS right down the street. And oh my god the chainsaws!! I swear...my neighbor must watch out his window to ensure I am coming home from a night shift before he decides it's a great day (!!) to cut down that giant tree in his backyard. Or to use the leaf blower for 3 hours. Or to mow his lawn. He has a wide array of torturous tools, that man.
To make myself feel better, I add up the individual snoozes I get during the day and count them all as one straight block. (Genius!) It makes me feel less like I'm going to die at the age of 35 from running on straight caffeine and adrenaline for days at a time.
Did I mention I hate sleeping alone? I absolutely, positively hate laying in our bed, shivering my ass off because there's no one else to warm the blankets with me, and listening to my husband walk out the door to go to work. Or even worse, the days that he's home in the morning and I haven't seen him for 2 or 3 days and I'm supposed to shut myself in the room next door and not focus on the fact that I am not tired and all I want to do is go make out with him. Seriously, how are we ever going to expand our family if we don't even have time to make out?!!
In short, for those of you who think we night owls like working this shift because we "don't do anything" or we "just sleep the whole time"...you are more than welcome to join me anytime! You'll see that yes, sometimes we do have really uneventful shifts. It can be tedious, and slow, and really really lonely at times. But wait until you get that angry, psychotic, GIGANTIC man coming through the door and you have just a handful of people making up your code team. (Hopefully it's quiet everywhere else and everyone is able to come! Oops...just used the "Q" word...) And it is just YOU in charge of the code. You had better damn well know what you're doing or you're going to have a lot of people angry at you for risking their safety because you didn't assess the situation correctly. Once you get a reputation as a bad code team leader, everyone dreads having to come help you out. And can you really blame them?
I work with an awesome crew. I know I can count on them in a crisis, and we are very skilled at quick, clean problem solving. Part of it is the fact that it's a pretty small group of people who work this shift, so everyone knows everyone from the second they get hired. The other part is that it takes a certain kind of person to be able to hang in with this type of schedule - once you've stuck with it for a few months, you earn some serious respect. (Or deserve it, at least.) We are a skeleton crew (which is pretty much what you'll get in ANY hospital on the 3rd shift!), but we are BAD ASS.
So...if you can deal with a lot of "hurry up and wait" and like to be pushed into crazy situations that you have to get yourself and your people out of, definitely look into a job like mine. (Former military personnel - you've pretty much already been trained for all of this...only in our "hurry up" situations we aren't encouraged to utilize weapons here!)
I don't know how this entry became so long....here's the Cliffsnotes version:
I love my job, but I miss my husband and my child. And I am tired.
Mother and wife by day, psych RN by night. So many different ways to view life. I try to take everything in and be very slow to judge.