Thursday, March 5, 2015

Night Float

I've decided that I'm going to write the occasional post about my residency experiences. It's not about whining or bragging or anything really. I truly believe that residency is kind of like childbirth -- it is messy and painful but really, at the end of the day, you just get through it. And no matter how much people tell you what is will be like, you have no idea until you're there. Everyone's experiences are unique. [/bad analogy]

This is old and recycled, but I'm pretty sure it sums up Nights well enough.

So night float. It could be worse. In plenty of programs, people do a month of night float. In Charles' (and most?) family medicine program, they do it for one week -- really 6 nights -- each month on service, meaning their "core" rotations, if you will, in inpatient internal medicine, pediatrics, and on the L&D floor.  We're currently mid-way through the fourth of six weeks of night float this year.

But OH MY GOSH!! Night float. Many a tear, much ink, and plenty of liquor/chocolate have been spilled by medical spouses extolling the yuck that is night float.

Before residency, even when we did night shifts in medical school -- you think, how bad can it be? You have visions of early dinners or cozy breakfasts dancing through your head. At least I did.


This is how it goes down for us. Charles leaves on Sunday night at about 4:30 pm. His shift goes from 5pm to 6am. He might admit 6 or 10 or something people, which means he works his tail off for 13+ hours. Meanwhile, I solo-parent my way through Witching Hour, dinner, baths, and bedtime. Then I entertain myself (Facebook, blog, book, Netflix) until my bedtime. I fall asleep with some kind of white noise, deal with night wakings (and usually end up with at least one kiddo in bed with me), and get up by 6 to drink coffee and have my morning quiet time.

Charles gets home when he's done with his stuff -- usually between 6:30 and 7:00 -- and we hang out for an hour or so. Most days, that one teeny tiny hour, is our only sliver of time together for the day, catching up, his decompressing from work, playing with the kids, everything.

At 8ish, he goes to bed in the basement guest room. The kids and I go about our day -- I try to make sure we get out of the house every day, but sometimes sickness, weather, whatever conspire to keep us at home. He gets up between 3:30 and 4:00, just in time to take a shower, drink some coffee, and head back to the hospital.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Survive until Saturday morning.

Most weeks of night float, on Sunday, I'm a super optimistic cheerleader. We got this! It's just 6 days! I'm going to write a ton! I'm going to read a book! I'm going to binge watch a show on Netflix! The kids and I are going to do so many fun things!

By midweek, I'm slugging. I'm getting weary of dinners with no conversation, of evenings with no companionship, but I'm still doing ok. The hardest part are the double good-byes. When he goes to bed and we'd all rather be together, and then again, when he rushes off for the night at work. But I still have goals -- writing, reading, whomp whomp.

By the end of the week, we'll be ready, so ready for the days "off" (post call Saturday and all of Sunday) that come at the end of night float. Yes, maybe Charles will take a long nap Saturday morning, but when he gets up, it will be over. At least for this time. And this weekend, the forecast is calling for warm, sunny weather. I can't wait.

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