Sunday, July 21, 2013

flipping, 3 12s and other joys of the wee hours in healthcare

I've been working as an RN for about a month now.  When you go to nursing school and learn a whole new language they don't tell you that you'll have to learn another one when you actually become a nurse.

My schedule has been "3 12s" so far during my orientation.  Three 12 hour shifts are really three 13 hour shifts if you're working in a "union shop" while orienting to a job.  Don't ask me why, because I cannot answer you.  My 3 13s have been "noc", which means I go to work at 7pm on one night and leave work the following morning at 8am (although we use military time: 1900 - 0800).  Friday.  Saturday.  Sunday.  This schedule is both wonderful because I am a night owl and difficult because I do like to sleep occasionally.  When you have only 11 hours to sleep, feed the cats, bathe and eat some chocolate for three days/nights in a row it can be challenging, particularly if you're living in Alaska during the summer when the sun hardly sets.  A friend gave me a sleep mask when I moved to the land of the midnight sun four years ago and I'm using it for the first time.

The obvious up side to 3 13s is the fact that if you only work three days, you have four days off every week.  This "four days off" thing is misleading.  When I fall into bed at 10 am on Monday after working  3 13s,  it's safe to say I'm TIRED.  I sleep for maybe eight hours, get up, marvel at the fact that I have 4 days off, wander around wondering why I just got up and everyone else is eating dinner, try to remember whether I've already taken my morning medications/vitamins, try to remember whether I fed the cats their breakfast when I got home that morning, maybe ride my bike a few miles, return home to watch some television and fall asleep again.  That's my first day off.  Yippee.

So, I really have three days off.  Here's where "flipping" comes in.  The theory is that one can actually live a normal life for three days per week with my current schedule.  One can adjust sleep and wake times and convert from vampire to human for three days, then switch back when work rolls around again.  I haven't flipped before now because I love being up all night and have no responsibilities that require me to be awake during the "day". Until now.  I finished my last stint on "noc" last night at midnight and start two weeks of days tomorrow.  I've been carefully planning this flip.  I slept for only four hours between my 8am departure from work yesterday morning and return to work at 7pm last night, came home and forced myself to stay awake until 4am, and set my alarm for 8 am this morning.  Result: sleep deprivation.  Hope:  I will be able to sleep enough tonight so that when I show up at work tomorrow morning at 7am and work 13 hours I won't be a danger to myself or others.  I'm flipping.

It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks.  Hard, but possible.  It's 11 am now.  Must be time for dinner?

1 comment:

  1. I think it would be hard for anyone to adapt to this schedule. Be kind to yourself as you adjust.