It’s 1.30 am. I am on my 4th cup of tea. Only one of my eyes seems to be functioning. The other is flickering like a busted striplight. In the last 48 hours I have managed a grand total of 8 hours sleep. It’s not enough. Around me women are screaming in labour, downstairs the newborns are howling and my bleep keeps up its relentless call for attention. I’m mainlining ginger nuts from the mess in an effort to keep my blood sugar at a level high enough to keep me awake. They’ve mostly just sucked up all the saliva my body is able to produce.
Oh nights. How I hate thee.
A psych trainee I met last week pointed out that nights give you the symptoms of clinical depression: no appetite, inability to sleep, no enjoyment in the normal things of life, inability to concentrate. A recent study showed that shift work increases your likelihood of strokes, heart attacks and clots. And I have to pay £120 a year to park in the hospital carpark for the pleasure of doing them. Thanks, guys.
My fear of nights has recently been compounded by the ghost stories currently circulating the hospital. A healthcare assistant saw an old women walk through a closed door yesterday and a patient saw a little girl at the end of her bed. Apparently the floor above has been exorcised on numerous occasions for paranormal activity and last night when I had 40 minutes respite between bleeps I was too terrified to sleep because every time I closed my eyes I imagined some spectral presence quietly observing me. On the plus side, the patients are getting attention quicker as I’m basically sprinting along the dark and empty corridors between wards.