One Side Effect of the Graveyard Shift

January 31, 2010 at 3:26 am (Healthcare, Job Satisfaction) (, )


Those of you who are my friends on Facebook have seen many status updates about my high blood pressure and have expressed your concern.  I have been concerned as well!  Let me say first that I do have an appointment to see a doctor this coming Tuesday. 

I feel that my high bp is related to my working midnights.  My normal bp is usually something like 112/74.  I began to be concerned a few weeks ago when I couldn’t sleep because my heart was racing while I was trying to sleep after a midnight.  After laying in bed for 2 hours I reached over for my phone and took my pulse.  It was 128 and my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest!  I started recording my bp before and after a midnight.  It was always around 130/85 after the midnight and I’ve noticed more recently that it has been a little more elevated than usual even on my non-midnight days.

A couple of weeks ago I went to get a refill on my contraceptives.  The appointment happened to be just after getting off a midnight.  The nurse took my bp 3 times.  It was something crazy like 180/88.  I just happened to have my log with me and showed her that it is always elevated after I work a midnight (though not that high).  She was going to withhold my prescription but because of the log she consulted the Dr. and she gave me a one month prescription for the medication I had one month previous with the understanding I would see a GP.  I had to switch my medication earlier to something I could get cheaper at Wal-Mart since my insurance doesn’t cover it (dang you health insurance!).

Since that insanely high bp I have been much more concerned, even afraid to get my heart rate up.  I have been concerned for years about my heart fluttering and now I have no idea what my heart is going to do.  To top it off I went to the Mayo website to look at possible issues with high bp and found things like heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and problems with memory and understanding.  And once a bp reaches 180/120 for your brain to swell, tearing in heart’s main artery, and fluid in lungs.

The last time I took my bp after a midnight it was 168/99.

I have a crazy schedule again this week, for the third week in a row.  I start a midnight Sunday, 10p-9am.  I can sleep for a few hours before I have to get up, shower, and study for my exam for class at 6pm.  I go straight to work, 9pm-9am.  I have a Dr appointment at 10:45am.  I’ll be able to sleep a little longer if I don’t want to see Josh for the second day in a row before I go to work 9pm-9am.  I get to sleep a little over 2 hrs before I have to go back to work for a mandatory meeting at 1pm.  Needless to say, my bp will be high for the appointment.

Some people can handle working midnights better than me, but most people who have done it for years say they have never gotten used to it.  It stinks!  And if you are an employer I strongly advise you to offer your midnight workers a shift differential because of the inconvenience and added health risks associated to working midnights.  I am gobsmacked that an agency such as ours does not offer a differential.

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