I WENT on night duty the other week, OB in our shift code. What I like about this shift is that I get a night differential, a not quite big amount but at least an addition to the basic salary I get every payday.
There are also fewer patients who come for consultations at night, as well as rare gynecological and childbirth cases. Hence, we get to sleep even for a short while after everything that needs to be accomplished is done. Actually, sleeping during duty hours is not allowed, especially if the nurse-shift supervisor is doing her rounds. But we still do it sometimes. That is when the charge or senior nurse is in deep sleep herself in a certain place in the delivery room all covered with hospital linen, either seated or lying in bed. It’s our go-signal to find our own place to sleep, comfortable from the uncontrollable cold air gushing from the AC.
I seldom sleep. Sometimes we consume the hours making cherries or packing gauze. Or sometimes I read a book if my eyes are not too stressed prior. I was reading the book “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini during one night duty I had at the OB Prep Room. It is where we see patients who are on outpatient basis and where we conduct admissions as well. But it is also one of the places in the delivery room where I like to stay; it is not as cold as the other portions of the unit.
The book I mentioned was quite interesting. The story transpired in Afghanistan and is about the life of two women who lived during wartime many decades ago. When I began the book I could not resist reading continuously so I could get to the climax and eventually know how the story ends. I thought that if I got to finish the book, I could then truly say how good the author was and how beautifully the story was written.
I was the labor room nurse at that time but I didn’t receive a patient from the previous shift so I was relaxed and got the chance to read continuously. It was only until past midnight that patients unpredictably came one by one. I was then made busy admitting them. I never thought I was going to be “toxic” that night, and I did not see it coming.
When I got home after the hectic shift, I realized how unpredictably surprising life is. Like the book I was trying to finish reading, I cannot correctly predict what will happen until after I have read what the author has written. And like a certain shift at work, I can never tell how many patients will come and go…
That is what life is like—unpredictable yet surprising. Sometimes you like what it brings you, sometimes you are distraught. I guess what we need to do is accept it. Like the author of a book, only God knows what is ahead of us. He is the writer. We only follow, endure what comes, and enjoy the moments.
Joyce Milante, 25, is an operating room nurse at Cardinal Santos Medical Center.