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.