Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Disorder is Flaring Up

I have a disorder.  I diagnosed it myself.


Maybe you haven't heard of it.  It is called Shift Work Disorder.  It seems to primarily affect those who work odd hour shifts, such as a nurse who might work 7p-7a.

I have all the symptoms:
- insomnia and/or excessive sleepiness associated with working the odd hours  WOW- I'm SO glad they have discovered that working all night can throw off your sleep!

... and I quote:
"The symptoms coincide with the duration of shift work and usually remit with the adoption of a conventional sleep-wake schedule."  Excellent.  Previous to my diagnosis, I would never have guessed that the difficulty sleeping would start when I went to work and resolve when I stopped going to work.  This is groundbreaking science, people!

I also find myself experiencing some of the major side effects of this crippling disorder:

•Trouble focusing No wonder when I am awake for 26 hours then sleep for 2 I can't remember certain things.  I never could figure that out.

•Sleep-related accidents  Also why I don't operate heavy machinery after being sleep deprived for 2 days.

•Reduced work performance I'm just fine until about 3am.  Then I want to crawl in bed and suck my thumb.  Luckily if anything is happening the adrenaline starts pumping and I'm as good as new.

•Missed family and social activities Why didn't anyone warn me that if the family has an event at 8pm and I'm at work I'm going to miss it??  I'm really glad they funded this earth shattering research!

•Increased irritability Yep.  Oh yea.  Got that one.  No question.

•Worsening of heart and stomach disorders Yeah, that one too.  Not so much the heart, but my stomach isn't the same for about 2 days after working.

They didn't mention my favorite side effect, although it may only affect nurses using the particular hand cleanser that is at my hospital.  About 3-4 days after going to work, I get what I call "sloughing skin disease".  It is just a fancy way to say that the top layer of skin all over my hands flakes off.  Similar to when a sunburn peels, but not nearly as nice.  I'm either aging my hands by years, or I am getting a free weekly chemical peel.

SWD!  Just trying to raise awareness, and finally feeling part of the club since I now can be diagnosed with a "real" disorder!

Also, does this mean I don't have to try to control my (ahem) irritability since it is part of the disorder and I really can't help it??


Valeni said...

It sounds like you have been doing more than usual at work lately. So sorry that you are having a hard time. Maybe it's time to try a regular shift and not do night work? Please let me know if I can help....I could come up if you would like me to.

ali said...

what you really need is a color and an awareness month. then we'll get you your own 5k!

Shanna said...

Ah, Thank you, Ali!! I appreciate the support! I will be sending out puce ribbons, and if you could wear them on the nights I work, it would really help!!

Melinda said...

August should be your month--nothing going on then anyway. I will get some t-shirts and the schools can do an awareness week. Sign me up for the 5K!

Shanna said...

We definately need a week. And a facebook guilt post. "If you or anyone you know is affected by SWD, please post this for one hour. I think I know those who will."

ali said...

with a little hard work, we'll be able to raise that ever elusive "awareness" that everyone keeps talking about...

Shanna said...

yes, yes. Awareness is key. Not sure why, just know that it is!

Jennifer said...

You forgot a symptom- makes cynical yet funny comments about this condition.

Shanna said...

what can I say? SWD brings out my snarky side.