December 30, 2009, 6:15 pm

Emerging From the Holiday Coma

constipationConstipated since childhood, but after 63 years, she decided to deal with it on Christmas at 0400.

Okay, not really.

Apparently, if you are constipated you should eat yeast.

Plain squares of yeast.

I don’t get the mechanism.

Yeast rises in a warm environment.

So, if you eat it, does it keep expanding until it explodes everything in front of it out the, uh, exit door?


I will say that the most interesting chief complaints tend to cluster around the holidays.

It goes something like this:

“Hi! I’m Kim and I’m the nurse; what is the problem this cold, icy, rainy holiday morning?”

“I’ve had a flaky left baby toe for a week.”

“Is it painful?”


“Does it itch?”


“What have you done for it so far?”

“I saw my doctor and he gave me a cream, but I don’t want to use it.”

“Really? Why didn’t you want to use it?”

“Because my toe is flaky!”

Well, okay then…


Something is changing on night shift.

Used to be you could clear out the PM patients by 0100 and only have a rare patient before 0530. Left a lot of time for studying.

No more. Now there is a flurry at 2300 (almost all pedi fevers) and a steady stream after that, all the way up to day shift. Croup, abdominal pain, migraines, chest pain, nausea/vomiting, cough, asthma, it’s all there. Can’t blame it on H1N1, either; it’s been like this for awhile. Summer slump? Haven’t seen one for at least two years.

The problem with this is not that people need care – that is why we are there. It’s that the unspoken benefits of working the night shift (the slower pace, the down time) has virtually disappeared.

It’s getting harder and harder to deal with a dissonant circadian rhythm.

Some of my co-workers are older than I, and they work doubles and double-backs and seven, eight 12-hour nights in a row.

Just the thought of a 12-hour shift makes me want to run for Zoloft.

When did I turn into a wimp?

(Could be the constant ingestion of sugar, salt and fat over the last four weeks……nah)

I mean, I am Nurse, hear me roar…

…right after I’m done yawning.


  • Rachel

    December 30, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    The idea of yeast? seriously? sounds like someone would bounce back and forth between two extremes, for sure.

  • maha

    December 30, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    I’m curious about the yeast thing. I may recommend it to my teenaged daredevil cousins next time!

    Nights are hard to work without a little bit of downtime. You’re already exhausted from a lack of sleep and then you have to run around. I’ve only been a nurse for a year and I’m finding that it takes me longer and longer to recover from a string of nights. I used to be a complete night hawk too.

  • #1 Dinosaur

    December 31, 2009 at 4:11 am

    That whole toe discussion is almost verbatim from Chapter 9 of my book! (Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.) Not that I don’t believe you didn’t hear it. Patients are just startlingly unoriginal.

  • storytellerdoc

    January 1, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Fricking funny post. Well, almost funny. I start my first of three overnights tonight and am a little nervous for all the minutia we will see while still trying to treat the serious stuff. Oh well, Monday will come quickly.

    Happy and Blessed New year to you and yours.

  • NPs Save Lives

    January 3, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Hey Kim! I tried to submit to COS and the server kept timing out so here’s my submission!
    Let me know if you got it through the carnival link! Thanks, Jennifer

  • paedsnurse

    January 7, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Hmm, I wonder if anyone is willing to conduct an experiment to test the validity of yeast. Great blog posts Kim! Will definitely be coming back to read more.

  • ER Nurse_JR

    January 14, 2010 at 9:43 pm


    Great post about night shift and I completely agree with you. I hear the nurses that have been at my hospital for a few years talking and they always say how dead the summers used to be and that night shift was always slower than day shift. That’s not the case anymore! We were very busy in the summer, with maybe 1 or 2 nights of twiddling our thumbs, but mostly the summer nights I worked were a blur. Our busy nights used to be Sundays – Tuesdays, now we’re lucky if we get one night a week where the nurses aren’t running from the start of the shift straight through to 3am. Sometimes there’s a lull between 1-5am, but by then most nurses are pooped and do not want to even think about school work, much less do it.

    I do not think you are a wimp because 12-hour night shifts are very difficult. I am 24 years old with no children and still find it tough to work three 12-hour shifts in a row. By the third night, I am sleeping in until the very last minute and my first day off I am a non-productive member of society and my family. I greatly respect the nurses who work several nights in a row, raise their children, and take care of their families on very little sleep!

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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