Mrs Absentbabinski managed to score some free tickets to "Ghost Stories" this week. It's a play which is a little slice of genius and genuinely scary in parts. One of the stories (and I don't really think this is a spoiler) involves someone being awake and at work in the early morning and it made me think about night shifts and the quiet terrors they can generate.
I was reminded of the numerous night shifts at St Clabert's hospital (name changed to protect the... Innocent?) Generally once the excitement of drug rounds and cups of tea had settled and people were dropping off to sleep, I would take wandering around the ward (if I had nothing more immediate to do). The ward was divided into 4 six-bedded bays, one per nurse. I would slip into mine and sit in a chair at the far end of the bay and just listen to the breathing of my charges.
Around 3am I am fairly sure that there is some nadir of lots of the hormones that keep the crazy voices out of your head. At this time, if I had nothing more pressing on my mind, I would become convinced that one of my patients would try and die on me. It was irrational and I knew this. But I was sure that something was terribly wrong, so back I would walk, into the bay and I would stop at the foot of each bed listening and playing the beam from my pen-torch over the patient, just to sure.
I would also worry that there was something outside, that is to say that out in the grounds of St Clabert's, something evil was pacing around, just waiting for an unsuspecting nurse to look out of the window and see it and... Well, whatever would happen would be awful. Go figure.
I don't miss night shifts, and ironically I think the things that really should have got my pulse racing (the 3am biochemistry abnormal results, the haematemeses, the people who would go off (mentally) the minute the sun went down, these things never really scared me. They were tangible and I was trained and/ or experience enough to be able to deal with them. The occult, hidden (and often ridiculous) things that the night holds, they pressed all the right buttons in my lizard brain that had been left running the ship whilst my higher functions had gone off for a nap.