Archive | June, 2015

Shift work…

4 Jun

15 years… the length of time it took me from finishing school to commencing my Bachelor of Nursing. I did plenty of things in those 15 years, but in the back of my mind was always the thought of becoming a nurse. So, what stopped me? Shift work. The idea that I would be working a 24/7 roster was simply more than I could comprehend. I mean, I don’t even stay up to see in the New Year. I’m a morning person, not a night person… I could think of so many reasons to NOT do it. But, after 15 years I also started to think about the reasons TO do it. I didn’t want to live life with regrets, so after much consideration, I bit the bullet and returned to study.

A few people have asked me what it is like to be a shift worker… I’m now 18 months into my nursing career. I’ve worked morning, afternoon and night shift. I work any day of the week. I work public holidays. Because ultimately unfortunately people don’t make miracle recoveries and head home each night or only come to hospital on weekdays. So, what’s shift work like? It leaves you feeling shattered. Often. In between the hours of 3am to 6am on a night shift I feel physically ill, but I actually, surprisingly, don’t mind the night shift (once I’m there…). However, I’m a horrible day time sleeper – take yesterday for example. I came off a night shift (where I had been awake from 0600hrs one morning through until 0900hrs the next morning with only a 1hr nap before work) and when I got home to bed I managed a massive 1.5hrs sleep.  I got up for a couple of hours and then went back to bed again to try a second time, managing a further 1hr sleep – even though I stayed in bed for hours.  I felt physically ill. I had a headache, felt like I was going to vomit, and felt like someone had thrown a handful of sand in my eyes. Shortly before 4, having spoken to my husband and bursting into tears, unable to make a simple decision, he questioned my ability to work that night. As I considered his point I had to agree. But it is a difficult call to make.  Surely I should be able to do consecutive night shifts. Does that make me a failure as a nurse? I really struggled with the thought. I felt like I had let everyone down. But at the same time, I had to consider the safety of my patients and my colleagues. Single night shifts I can do and it is what I have requested moving forward.  For my safety, and the safety of my patients.  So yes, shift work can be hard, you can feel like a zombie. Tired is my new normal. But ultimately, that’s just life, and I’m just now starting to really adapt to that.

There are times when not being able to plan life is a little bit difficult.  But I’m getting used to that aspect of it. I’m now okay telling people that I’ll let them know about my attendance – “once I have my new roster”.  I’m enjoying that some days I’m off when everyone else is at work. Then of course the flip side is being okay with going to work when everyone else is off – and I’m okay with that too.

So did I make the right decision? 15 years is a long time to think about doing something.

I did.

I love my job. I work for a great hospital. I work with a great group of people. I have plenty to learn, but I’m enjoying learning it. I can honestly say that I feel like I make a difference in the lives of others and that is incredibly rewarding. The human body is fascinating, and the more I learn about it, the more amazed I am. The inbuilt back-up systems our body employs in the event of sickness is intriguing. The number of dependencies is incredible. It leaves me unable to believe anything other than we were cleverly designed by a loving creator.

The positives outweigh the negatives. It is hard to separate nursing from shift work because they are so closely entwined for me. I can’t do the nursing I love without the shift work, and for that reason alone it is worth it.

Here are some pictures I found that made me smile…

nightnurse1 nightnurse3 nightnurse4 nurse