I am not a morning person.
The alarm of my cell phone rings loudly while the device vibrates maniacally against the top of the nightstand. Trying to silence it, I accidentally knock it to the floor where it continues to thrash. I get up and turn the damn thing off, replacing it on the nightstand. Padding to the kitchen I hit the start button of the coffee maker, filled the night before. I take a shower while it brews.
Transferring to day shift during the middle of winter was a bad idea. I wake up in the dark, drive to work in the dark, and then drive back home after a twelve-hour shift, in the dark. The PICU lacks windows, so on a three-day stretch I only have the vaguest idea of the weather outside, other than IT’S DARK.
I transferred to days to be home more with Maddie, and it’s working. Her grades have improved. She’s getting along better with Amber and Wade too, now that she’s home at night during the week, and only spends every other weekend with them and Simon.
Together we plan the grocery list, and in the evenings Maddie helps make dinner. Instead of eating in the dining room where Simon’s chair is conspicuously empty, we eat casually at the coffee table, watching a movie or TV. Some nights Maddie is quiet, but others she talks throughout evening about her friends, school, and her perspectives on life. I’m happy that we’re growing closer again, even if it means getting up in the dark.
I make sure Maddie’s up and getting ready for school before I leave.
“Bye Mom. I hope you have a good shift.”
“Thanks, Sweetie. You have a good day too. Don’t forget your lunch and homework.”
“I won’t Mom. You say that every time.”
“Love you Maddie.”
“Love you too, Mom.”
* * *
The challenges of day shift nursing differ from those of night shift.
For one thing, the residents arrive early to place orders. When they can’t locate what they want in the electronic medical record, they go ahead and order them wrong, and then we have to call them to change it, but they still don’t get it right. Eventually we put it in ourselves, and then the pharmacist calls nursing to say the medication can’t be ordered that way either. If the pharmacist is particularly nice, he calls the resident himself and gets the order corrected. So much for physician order entry.
There’s more friends and family members at the patient’s bedside on day shift too. At first it felt as though they were in the way, but lately I find I enjoy talking to them, explaining what I’m doing, and what they should expect. I like teaching so much in fact, I’ve volunteered to precept nursing students during my shifts.
Today as I enter the unit, I’m greeted by the day shift charge nurse, Margaux. “Niki, we’re overstaffed today in PICU. It’s your turn to float to pediatrics.”