Monday 20 April 2015


"I'm so tired." - Lili von Shtupp, Blazing Saddles
I'm fucking tired.  Not sick and tired, just tired.  Sometimes it feels like I haven't had a good night's sleep in years, though that's probably a gross exaggeration - it's more like decades.  The day after I'm on call (especially a rough one where the Call Gods have their deranged fun at my expense), I'm less than useless.  My eyes constantly feel like they're being dragged down to the floor harder than Yoko Ono dragged down the Beatles.

I don't sleep enough, and even when I do it usually isn't good quality sleep.  I constantly worry about my patients, and I constantly worry about my children.  I don't worry about myself much at all - Mrs. Bastard takes care of that for me.  Of course, that doesn't leave anybody to worry about her, but don't feel too bad for her - she's a very tough lady, as her bout with pneumonia last year clearly demonstrated.

Anyway, my brain always runs at full speed, and that isn't conducive to anything even remotely resembling real rest (alliteration is cool).  Naps are out of the question - I invariably wake up more tired than when I went to sleep, completely defeating the purpose.  So I don't even bother trying.  I think the last time I took a nap, bell-bottoms were in style.  The first time.

Oftentimes when I'm not-as-tired-as-usual, I find my awake-self talking to my nearly-asleep-self, since at least I know I'll be good conversation.  Some time back I started keeping a log of things that Awake Doc says to Sleepy Doc (with apologies to Disney for hijacking two of their dwarves' names).  What follows are the things I wish I could say to myself as I find myself slipping into a sleep deprivation coma.

"The light is green. Go, idiot."
I haven't fallen asleep at the wheel in over 10 years (and fortunately that was at a red light), but the prospect of doing so again scares the shit out of me.  The last thing I want to do is end up a trauma patient in my own hospital.  Or any other hospital for that matter.  Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, so I try not to do it.  If I find myself falling asleep, I pull over for a few minutes.  And I always try to have a coffee before I leave.  Speaking of which . . .

"No, don't pour that into your coffee.  What do you mean 'Why not?'  Because it's orange juice, dumbass."
I've done this.  Believe me, it isn't pleasant.

"Stop mixing up your children's names."
One is a girl, the other is a boy.  Neither name is androgynous, they don't start with the same letter, and they sound nothing alike.  There's no excuse.

"Milk does not belong in the cupboard."
More than once I've woken up in the morning to find a nice, cold empty plate in the refrigerator exactly where the milk belongs, and room-temperature milk in the cupboard.

"Don't forget to set your alarm, stupid."
I have enough trouble remembering to do this when I'm not dead tired.

"Brushing your teeth with shaving cream won't get them very clean."
Speaking of which . . . 

"Don't shave while you're half asleep."
Gentleman, do you enjoy intact skin on your face? I apparently don't, because I still try to do this.  Speaking of which . . .

"You really want to shave now?  Fine.  Wondering why your razor isn't working, dummy?  Maybe you should stop shaving with the back side of the razor."
Doing this is surprisingly ineffective, as I've learned the hard way.  Multiple times.

"Hey, you forgot your belt."
No this isn't a huge deal, unless I'm wearing that one pair of pants I own that are just slightly too big.  Speaking of which . . .

"Hey, you forgot your pants.  Again."
Yes . . . again.  Seriously.

"Eat something."
I can also hear my mother (MomBastard) telling me that I'm wasting away, I'm only skin and bones, I need to eat something, what do I have in the refrigerator.  But sometimes I get so tired I either forget to eat or am just too damned tired to make myself chew.  It's a very effective diet plan, but not one that I would recommend to anyone.

"Put the seat back down."
Fine, I will admit I sometimes forget to do this even when I'm not tired. 

"Get some sleep.  Because you have to do this all over again tomorrow."
No matter how much I get done, there's always more to do, and some things get put off until the next day.  Fortunately Mrs. Bastard has a way of getting me to pack it in for the night and go to sleep.


  1. This is fantastic. How many nights a week are you on call and don't get a chance to sleep?

  2. Jeez, Doc, this post is rather worrisome. You either just need a break, or to see someone to help you with your sleep issues.

    Hugs, feel better soon!

  3. Just put some Adderall in solution, dilute it a few million times and take that.... *grin*

    1. I have ADHD (so meds are all prescribed and legal), and I can tell you first hand this is a terrible idea. Adderall on severe sleep deprivation is not a joke. It can range from harmlessly making you think you're thinking clearly and logically ie: Doc now understands it's a fantastic idea to put the orange juice in the coffee because oranges have vitamins and he'd being healthy AND waking up... to paranoia ie: Doc now understands Mrs. Bastard is deliberately putting the orange juice where he would grab it and put it in his coffee, thereby deliberately trying to sabotage his morning, make him late, get him fired from his job, oh and.. she probably hates him. Not to mention that the crash will either make him fall asleep on the spot, or it will keep him up at night because even though it's no longer helping him focus it'll still keep his body up at night.

      I know Doc isn't this stupid, but I put this out there for anyone else that thinks "focus pills" are harmless. There's a reason they're prescription only.

    2. He's making a homeopathy joke...

    3. ...Oh. I guess that makes me the party buzz kill. Well, that's what happens when you take everything literally.

    4. nah - it's refreshing that you care enough to give warnings to people.

  4. oh, ugh. I pull in-station duty shift Friday nights, so I often joke about my Friday ending some time Saturday. This week my Friday started at 8:00 AM Friday and ended at 10:00 PM Saturday. fortunately, the call gods were asleep at the switch during the night, both nights.

    but yes, I've stopped at green lights, put refrigerate stuff in cupboards and unrefrigerated stuff into the fridge - fortunately catching them quickly, forgot to turn the alarm back on (I turn it off Friday morning so it doesn't interfere with Mrs Ken's sleep), have to fetch stuff from the wrong place (I don't often forget my belt, because I hang my pager on it), forget to put the seat own, and sometimes have to be reminded to go to bed.

    1. (and my "d" key is being lazy so I have to be extra careful proofreading, which I see I wasn't.)

  5. Melatonin/valerian/lemon balm if you like herbal. L theanine if you like nutritional. Amitryptiline also works well, but leaves me a bit buzzy in the am. I've said some funny thing to clients who call me at odd hours including telling one client that I was coming to see her dog (at midnight), but that I had to pee first.

    1. can't do that sort of thing when you're on call.

    2. ...unless you're one of the rare birds like me who found out the hard way that valerian, in addition to smelling and tasting godawful, actually wakes us up. Yes, really; not common, but it does indeed happen.

      Anyway, I've been having troubles with insomnia myself, Doc, so I feel at least some of your pain. Here's hoping we both can get enough sleep, and sooner rather than later...

  6. I am going to do everything in my power to never end up in your trauma bay and damn, you need a sleep study. I went for one after falling asleep at a red light and waking up in the middle of the intersection with other cars swerving around me. It was a life changer for me. I found out how painful sleep deprivation really is when I finally got a good night's sleep.

    1. there's a difference between having a sleep disorder and not getting enough sleep. people in emergency services tend to have times when getting 8 hours of sleep in a row just doesn't happen.

    2. Pardon me for assuming, but aren't you *already* doing everything in your power to not end up in a trauma bay, ANY trauma bay?

  7. Sleep deprivation is definitely no laughing matter, I learned that the hard way.

    My partner and I were working hard for weeks on taking down a drug ring. By the time we caught the scumbags, neither of us had slept in over three days, that's how determined we were to close the case.

    My partner went home that night and zonked out in bed, not even bothering to change out of uniform. We were all exhausted.

    Sometime in the early hours of the morning he had an asthma attack, and in hiss leap reached for his inhaler. He mistakenly grabbed his service revolver, put it in his mouth, and blew his brains out.

    The M.E. and at guardian both ruled his death accidental, most likely caused by something known as Sleep Deprivation Paychosis.

    I learned that 72 hours without sleep is like being legally intoxicated, that's his out of it you can get.


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