Tag Archives: Shifts

Working Christmas

This year was the first, of many, I expect, that I worked Christmas. I worked a 12.5 hour shift on both Christmas eve and Christmas day. And that obviously meant that this Christmas has been very different to any previously. Different. Strange. But special in its own way.

It was of course without early morning present opening, church, carols and an enjoyable afternoon / dinner with family members, as I’ve been used to. As I walked to work at 6.45am, I rang home and received a commentary of the present opening between my parents and sister. In work there was generally a jolly spirit around, with staff members wearing santa hats, tinsel and Rudolf antlers. Each of the beds had been decorated with tinsel, ball-balls and other Christmas decorations. And at the end of each of the beds were presents for each of the children from the hospital. Each of the children got another present half way through the morning when Father Christmas arrived.

The kitchen staff cooked a big Christmas dinner for all of the staff, parents and siblings in the hospital. It was all on a trolley for people to help themselves to, within our department. When I had my break and was enjoying the dinner, there were 3 very high children in the room enjoying their dinner with their family too. The youngest child had received a camera for Christmas and insisted on taking photos of *every* staff member who walked in the room! The staff, including the consultant, enjoyed playing along with this game.

The cutest child had to be the 2 year old boy, whose parents had bought all of his stocking to the hospital, whilst they visited his brother. He spent the entire day sat in the middle of the department, opening one present at a time, playing with it for a while, before his parents would take it away and give him another present.

Celebrating Christmas day with colleagues and practical strangers was obviously odd. But no matter how odd it was for me, it had to be worst for the parents and families. Having a child in hospital is never nice, but on Christmas day… One of the children I was looking after was from a long way away. His family were miles and miles away from where they had planned to be for Christmas. All without much warning or preparation. Christmas in January seemed the next best alternative. But still, its not quite the same.

The santa hats, tinsel and Father Christmas on Christmas day were jolly but essential attempts to keep spirits high for everyone.


I’m on nights at the moment. I’m much better at coping with them now though, in comparison to the first ever night shifts I did. I now sleep easily for 6 or 7 hours during the day, whereas initially I couldn’t get into that routine. Its odd, I can often be feeling wide awake after a night shift, but then as soon as I lie down I fall asleep within a couple of minutes! My eating pattern also goes crazy – I eat around the clock, day and night. I have a main meal before I go out to work, I eat fruit, geobars and toast during the night (as and when I have time and am hungry), and then during the afternoon after a sleep I snack on cereal and whatever I fancy. It feels like I’m constantly eating, but its mostly just little and often.

Shifts generally tend to send my eating and sleeping patterns up the wall, although not as much as when I’m on nights. On early shifts, I tend to have 2 breakfasts, a smallish lunch and dinner. On late shifts its a bit more normal, except that the quantity of food for dinner varies depending on how busy the ward is. Sometimes I get home from a shift and just collapse into bed. Especially when I have a late followed by an early (finish at 9.30pm, start at 7am the following morning *yawn*). When I’m in Swansea its easier to be distracted (in a nice way) by my housemates, although on my last placement I did do one 12 hour shift where I was stood up in theatre for 6 hours, and then *nothing* could distract me from collapsing into bed.

Shifts are odd, and can be stressful, but I’m used to them. You learn to juggle everything else around them. At the moment, any time that isn’t spent on the ward or sleeping, is spent doing academic work. As I’m away from Swansea, my social life is limited (says she who is going out to dinner in 3 hours…). But then on my days off I either travel back to Swansea and see my friends, or they come up to me to visit. I’m down here till the beginning of August, when I’ve finished my degree. Eeek. Then I will (hopefully) be doing full time shift work.


I thought I’d come and say hello and give you an update, because I haven’t done for a while and I’ve got loads of work I should be doing…

So what have I been up to? Mostly work. I’ve been doing night shifts this week, which went well, but knackered me out for a few days. I am however, getting a lot better at sleeping during the day. When I started doing them, I only slept for a few hours the following morning and then I’d get up and do something in the afternoon. But this time I just stayed in bed and slept for longer! After the first night I slept from 7.30-3ish! After the last night, of course, I had to make myself get up earlier, so that I would be able to sleep the following night. These shifts seem crazy at first, but you get used to them. And nights are generally quieter – even if you haven’t got less work to do, there are less distractions and random people around!

Today I’m trying to do everything that I won’t have time to do in the next week. Which isn’t really working as well as planned. To do list today was:
* Write about 500 words for dissertation – half done, need to do some more, but need to do the next thing on the list first!
* Read as much as necessary from 3 books – turned out not to be as much as 3 whole books, only the odd bits which need reading, but it hasn’t really been done. Read about a page…
* Buy birthday presents and cards for 2 family members – done
* Make house look presentable for family turning up – half done, need to do some washing up later

As you can see, I’ve done better on the not-work items. My dissertation is getting there, but very slowly. I just don’t have the motivation for it whilst I’m working full time on the ward. But after today I’m in work for 3 days (12 hour shifts), I’ve got my entire family invading the Gower so will have to spend time with them this week, then I’m busy with the Easter vigil and going to London, and then I’m back in work for 4 days! I know that after today, I won’t have hardly anytime to work on my dissertation, for about 2 weeks. So I really need to get on with it now. After those 2 weeks, I’ll have finished my placement, so I can get on with it then, when I’m not traveling around the country! I *should* get it done on time. I just need a bit more motivation and a little less procrastination.


I apolgise for not posting for ages, have been very busy with 12 hour shifts and visiting a friend in Aberystwth. I do not have internet access at home at the moment, so trying to find time around my shifts to do everything and get to the library which has rubbish opening times at the moment, is practically impossible.

My shifts are going alright – they are long, but i keep on being given more and more responsibility which is scary, but good – it makes the day go quicker. Tonight I’m doing my first ever night shift, which is kinda strange. I’m not sure how my body clock will adjust. I have Tuesday night off though, so I’m going to try to stay up and work on my assignments through the night, and sleep during the day, so that when I’m working Wednesday and Thursday nights i have some chance of being awake. Jack and any other wibloggers with experience of nights, do you have any tips??? Ohhh, and Jack, im sorry – the biscuits and chocolates at the nurses station are impossible to resist!

Last week I worked Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and then caught a train with Sarah at 8.15 on Friday morning (which actually meant I got a lie in – an extra hour in bed!) to Carmarthern when we changed to a bus, which took us the rest of the way to Aberystwyth. As Sarah has already posted, we had a fabulous girlie weekend. Organic shopping, red kite watching, and strawberry picking – a great combination. And as Sarah mentioned, we certainly didn’t run out of things to talk about!

Anyway, really ought to go – on top of working nights this week, I have 2 assignments due in at the beginning of next week – GREAT!