I started working at the animal hospital in late October, 2002 (how that is five years ago I have no idea). I was looking for any opportunity to work with animals, and would have been willing to sweep the floors of a clinic for free. When I was offered a *paying* job that included training at one of the best animal hospitals in the country, the fact that I’d be working the overnight shift bothered me not at all.
For two full years, I worked there two overnights a week – always Fridays, and then either Sunday or Wednesday. In Sept 2004, I pared back to just Fridays, though I still would occasionally pick up an extra shift here and there. Around April 2006, I quit. I hadn’t gotten in to vet school, and was just about to give up on the whole thing altogether (this was days before I found out that I did in fact get into vet school), and was very ready to just have a normal life. I was a little burnt-out. (a month or two later I went back on a “per-diem” basis, not on any schedule but I’d go in when I could and pick up either an evening or overnight shift. This is what I still do today.)
So anyway, that’s a lot of time, and I called in sick very infrequently, probably fewer than five times in those five years, yet somehow I never actually worked consecutive overnights. In my head, this made it much more manageable for my schedule, since you must keep in mind that I had a 9-5 job as well. And was usually taking classes. And there were those 9 months where I also volunteered at a wildlife clinic Tuesday mornings. Friday nights were fine: I’d work all day Friday at BU, go home for a nap around 6 (often I’d forego the nap to hang out with friends for some fun), then go to the hospital at 11PM, get home at 7AM, and sleep til 1 or so and continue my weekend as normal. Weekdays were worse: I’d work 11-7AM at Angell, then go to BU, bleary-eyed all day, and finally go home and absolutely pass out around 6PM and sleep very soundly til the next morning. There was one semester when I was working Wednesday nights and had class Thursday from 6-8: so basically I’d work all day Wednesday, take a few-hour nap, work all night Wednesday night, work all day Thursday til 6, go to class til 8, sleep from 9PM to 7AM (not bad, but only 10 hours for two days), work all day Friday, and then all night Friday.
Oh, my favorite work sequence ever was this: worked all day Wednesday, then all night Wednesday, then all day Thursday, then went to class Thursday night, then got 8 hours of sleep, then worked all day Friday, and then all night Friday, and then had a 5 hour training day at BU on Saturday where I had to teach something to a group of 30+ students. I got home around 1PM Saturday. I slept til 7PM Sunday (18 dead-to-the-world hours) and then went back in to the hospital for another overnight.
In retrospect I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking, except that it was the only way. I needed the financial security of my day job, I needed to take classes, I needed to get the work experience and that was the only way I could fit it all in. Last summer I once did an overnight followed by a day of work, and I thought that I would die I felt so so awful. So how I did it so faithfully for years, I don’t know.
Anyway, now I’m back at the hospital and this week for the first time ever, I’m on the overnight schedule for consecutive nights. And you know, it’s not so bad. I took a nap last night from 8-10:30, worked 11-8, then slept until 2:30PM. Now the funny thing is that I keep feeling very odd and somewhat guilty that I’ve not been working this afternoon (I did do a little work, but nothing major), as if it doesn’t register that I did work all night and that does count for something. I’ve been pretty lazy, chatting and e-mailing and whatnot…but I feel pretty good, not too exhausted or anything. I’m going back tonight at 11, and might take a bit of a nap beforehand if I can. But I should be fine if not.
So I guess the moral of the story is that 1 job is better than 2. Who knew.