I’ve never been a fan of night shifts, my brain just doesn’t function effectively regardless of how well I slept during the day. The combination of reversed sleeping patterns, darkened unit and mostly empty hospital makes my brain feel fuggy and my wits dulled.
Since I returned to work after maternity leave I haven’t had to do any night shifts. Combined with the general exhaustion and sleep deprivation associated with looking after a ten month old it’s probably just as well.
Essentially night shifts make me a bit dim.
On one occasion of particularly special dimness I attempted to reach into an incubator to soothe a baby without actually opening the door. I stood there like a gooseberry, utterly bewildered as to why my hand had just bounced off solid plastic as opposed to reaching the baby.
On another occasion I went to another ward in the early hours of the morning to get some formula milk. It was dark outside and the majority of the lights in the hospital had been switched off so I got a bit confused as to which was the way back to my unit. I ended up walking up and down various darkened corridors that had no distinguishing features and all looked the same. Nobody else was walking the corridors of the hospital at this time of the morning besides me. I felt like the only person awake in the whole hospital.
I walked into one corridor, which was dark like all the others but turned out to have motion sensitive overhead lights. I pushed the door open, put one foot inside and was greeted by bright lights and a cacophany of animal noises.
In that moment I truly thought I’d completely lost my marbles.
I stood, frozen to the spot because that’s clearly the most sensible thing to do when the only conclusion you can come to is that there’s about to be a Jumanjii-style stampeed down the eighth floor corridor.
It took me a good few seconds for my night shift addled brain to remember that this was the corridor to the paediatric operating theatres and it had recently been refurbished with a jungle theme. The idea was that the wall murals and the accompanying sound effects would distract children from being frightened about their impending operation.
It frightened the bejesus out of me.
It gave me colleagues a bloody good laugh when I returned to the unit clutching two bottles of formula milk, with a shell-shocked expression on my face.
It did nothing to improve my general dislike of night shifts.