For those of you who are not familiar with the world of emergency medicine, the night shift is a peculiar form of torture visited upon those of us who staff emergency departments far and wide. Even as a young, nascent Cranky resident your host had a problem with this. The words “night shift” to an emergency physician are synonymous with the words “bug house,” or “squirrel’s nest.” “My goodness,” you might ask, “has Dr. Cranky lost it, yet again?” No, the problem is this: anyone in good health, of a reasonable disposition or in posession of a sound mental state likes to be asleep at three o’clock in the morning. Those who remain (and usually end up in the ED) tend to be, shall we say, slightlynon compos mentis. There are other synonyms Dr. Cranky can think of for these people, who frequently present more than a little lubricated with alcoholic spirits; loonies, nut-cases, squirrels, bedlamites, crackpots, screwballs, etc. Thus, it is only natural they should end up in an emergency department, since one has to be truly unbalanced to work there in the first place! It is simply a case of birds of a feather flocking together.
Now, before Dr. Cranky gets reported to the State Medical Board he would like to say that yes, there are truly sick people who grace our doors in the wee hours and we are happy to provide whatever care we can. These are exactly the sort of people who need our services and we recognize that illness does not operate on a nine-to-five schedule. These poor souls don’t bother us. It is the various and sundry creatures of the night who give us dyspepsia
No matter how one might slice it, the night shift tends to be painful; physically, mentally and emotionally, for yours truly. Dr. Cranky has never “done” nights well and the job has not gotten any easier as he has gotten older. Fine wines might age well, but your humble servant has not. Several days will be required for complete recovery. As an added bonus, Dr. Cranky has just looked at his calendar for the next week and has discovered that, thanks to the vagaries of the computer used to formulate the schedule, he will be working two more night shifts next week. Thus, dear reader, there shall be more down time to come.
Your correspondent is so happy, he could just spit.