Thursday, October 30, 2014

Third Shift

This week, I started my Internal Medicine rotation. While not the first where we've been on night shift (ObGyn and Peds each had at least one week of nights), it's the first where we have a total of two weeks with a 3-on-1-off schedule, with a smattering of day-time lectures thrown into the mix. This means occasionally getting home at 8am after a 12-hour shift, sleeping till 11:30am or so, attending lecture from 1:00pm to 3pm, sleeping from 3pm to 6pm, then working from 7pm to 7:30am again.

Today, I am on my "day" off. Day is bracketed by those nifty quotes because I've spent most of it trying to actually convince myself it really is daytime (it's currently 2:53AM). I leave more lights on in the house, and do my best to ignore the "AM" to the right of the time on my computer and phone. With only one day off in between sets of shifts, it's not really possible to switch back to first shift without really putting your circadian rhythm through the ringer.

And so, I study. I go on Facebook. And I study. And I realize all the things you can't do when you're awake on 3rd shift on your day off, like:

- Call / text your friends. Nobody's awake to answer, and if they did it would probably be pretty grumpy.
- Go anywhere. If it's not a grocery store, it's closed. (The one exception to this is The Grand Coney, one of my favorite places anywhere. Diner down the street. May go there to experience it in a bit, actually...)
- Check Facebook more than once. All the statuses are old.
- Go for a nice walk outside. It's very dark. And cold.
- Read on the porch. Again, dark and cold.

On third shift, certain things happen. For example, the other day I was doing a full neurological exam on a patient at some ridiculous hour between 2 and 5am. For those that don't know, a full Neuro exam requires that you assess orientation to person, place, and time. The patient knew their name and where we were, but couldn't tell me the date (day, date, or year). After several moments of pondering, the patient said, "You know, I just can't think of it. What IS the date?" And I realized I didn't know. No clue. I knew the year and month, but had no idea which twenty-something we were in of October. It took some awkward skillful deflection before I skirted the issue and continued the exam. As soon as I got out of the room I checked my phone for the date, have myself a shake with a couple mental *slaps* to the face, and continued on with my night.

3rd shift is definitely a very different way to live life.

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