Next Wednesday is going to be a very, very long day indeed for me. Why? Because I’m planning on experiencing what it’s like to work a night shift in the NHS. That’s 12 hours of activity, right through the night, in a From Dusk Til Dawn-style scenario (except with fewer vampires and a frankly insulting lack of George Clooney).
The Lovely One is leaving me with a packed late-night dinner, some biscuits and instructions to keep my phone on while he texts instructions, tasks and ideas to me through the night on Wednesday 9th September. Some of the ideas have been taken from colleagues and friends, using the hashtag #SimNight, and you can also see some of the suggestions at his twitter handle @flobach. I’m sort of trepidatious about the whole thing but I’m actually looking forward to it, in a perverse kind of way!
Flatmate thinks I’m nuts, and so do most of the Lovely One’s colleagues, but I think it’s really important to get to understand – in a small way – the kind of pressures and impact that working such long hours has on people. There are a few reasons for this:
- It’s very easy to say when you pick a profession, you take the rough with the smooth. But I don’t think that most people training as nurses or paramedics really appreciate the loneliness, frustration and exhaustion of working crazy hours away from the rest of the world. I really don’t understand it. I understand the impact – I’m the one tip-toeing round the flat while my partner sleeps and going crazy when I see he has failed to empty the dishwasher YET AGAIN. But I want to understand what it’s like to be in that headspace a little bit.
- I think it will be helpful for my relationship to get a small insight on the energy it takes to keep alert, stay on my toes and do tasks through the night. I hope it will also make me less likely to throw a shit fit when I realise that he hasn’t done any washing up for the umpteenth time. And it’s not just about the night shift – it’s about the recovery time and what it takes to get back into daily life afterwards. It’s hard enough for my partner, and we don’t even have kids or care for people or even a cat (sob!).
- I like to think it’s a bit of solidarity with the people for whom this isn’t a fun experiment but a regular part of their life.
Obviously, there will be a limit to how “real” it can get. My stipulations were quite simple – I don’t fancy being out of the house on my own after midnight, I am not planning on putting myself in harm’s way and I obviously can’t give out medical advice. Since my solution to most injuries is hot sweet tea and a cuddle (don’t knock it, but I’ll admit it’s a bit low-level for something like a broken hip) I’m certainly in no place to start running around like Action Man looking for people to save. Instead, I’ll be awaiting instructions at home while watching old YouTube videos of 999: Emergency! while I liveblog and tweet what I’m up to. Hopefully it will be a bit of an education – I can’t wait!