It’s not easy doing night shifts. When I was a medical student I used to think that they were a bit cool – the doctor, all alone, there to deal with whatever comes their way. A sort of intrepid traveller travelling through the medical twilight, with nothing but his sharpened wits to see him through.
Alas, the reality is somewhat different. Tired and bored, nights lead to a very real personality deterioration. I become rude, intolerant and I steal other people’s food from the fridge. Work comes in dribs and drabs, a drug chart to write up here and a new patient to clerk in there. Then occasionally it goes ballistic and I have four patients to see in Accident and Emergency and eight jobs to do on the wards. This gives me a headache.
I can tell I’m tired when I start to think that the patients are being sick deliberately to piss me off; and that colleagues are giving me work simply to vex me. It also drives me crazy when people call me to sort out something as an emergency but it’s actually been a problem for three days, but no one has bothered to do anything about it. This happens all the time.
My bed is a sofa that is four feet long; I am six feet long. I’m not meant to sleep on it anyway. And there’s an appalling collection of videos that I cannot stop myself watching.
Yesterday for instance I reacquainted myself with ‘Dirty Dancing’.