The Graveyard Shift Diet--How to Get to Your Grave Faster

They call it the Graveyard Shift Because You Go There Faster

"SJ! Are you gonna wash your vitamins down with a coke? Really?"--asks my co-worker at whatever o-clock in the morning, during the graveyard shift at the hospital.

Expressionless, I open my vitamin pack. "I'd wash them down with bacon juice. But you would judge me."

"You really are crazy," she shakes her head.

"Ahhh. My reputation proceeds me. And that reminds me--my bacon levels are critically low right now. I should replenish," I yawn. that you, or just more of my night shift hallucinations?

It is nursing school that teaches that nurses as "good health crusaders" is basically propaganda. We learned that generally, the health of others will come slowly, but surely at the expense of our own. For instance, many of the students I went to nursing school with smoked. They could light up directly after watching graphic shots of diseased lungs, and graphic shots of dying cancer patients. If anything, it messed with their nerves so much they felt they had to have a cigarette afterward. When nursing professors would urge them to quit, citing cancer and emphysema, they would swear that as soon as they finished the hell that nursing school was they'd quit. Amused, our professors told them, "if you think this is bad, wait until you are a nurse."

We ate so poorly in nursing school that the majority of our meals should have had crime scene tape around them. I once made a list of what I'd eaten throughout the day, just to do so, and what I had written looked like a shopping list for a 6 year old's birthday party. When we weren't eating out of take-out containers, we were eating out of vending machines. Actually, we emptied whole vending machines. When you know your dinner's "number" by heart, you know that you have a problem.

"E-65? No one told me we were getting fancy, ladies. Where's my lip gloss? I would've dressed up if I knew we were going to have E-65 tonight."

Nursing school is where you learn to practice your most pitiful, "feed me now, or lose me forever," expression to use on your significant other. I actually learned to cook almost entirely due to the fact that so many of the men I knew could out-cook me. It was completely embarrassing.

Most of us made it through nursing school,and some of us who graduated went straight to the devil's paradise--night shift. Night shift is where you come to envy the dead for all the wonderful sleep they're getting. Night shift is where you learn to disconnect from logic, and healthy habits. Night shift nurses consider charting to be cardio, and lifting the coffee pot to be weight-training. Night shift is where you learn to eat absolutely anything--except vegetables, and to bully those who choose to eat healthy on your team. That's mutiny.

Night shift nurses eat junk food to a level that would make Ronald Mcdonald dry heave, that's a fact. And while I'm at, Doctors on overnight call are not better. One of the pregnant doctors I knew literally was eating so much cake she was hiding it like a bulimic.

"Just cake. Any kind of cake. Tell them to bring cake," was her end of telephone conversation at the nurse's desk. I quickly prayed not to be the nurse who'd be helping to deliver her 12 pound baby.

It is a myth that nurses are healthy, especially the ones who work at night. It's a high-stress job, and we often don't manage the stress well...or we manage it with cake.

The Essentials to the Graveyard Shift Diet:

1) Caffeine, and lots of it. Whatever form it takes. If you can get an RN friend to start an IV for you and get it that way, all the better.

2) Junk food. A broad term--but it basically encompasses any food you'd deprive a child of for their own good.

3) Caffeine.

4) Change for the vending machine.

5) Popcorn. Popular night shift food staple. Just so no one can't say you're not eating vegetables.

6) An open mind. You're going to need this, as everything else in you will be clogged if you stay on night shift and continue to eat like this.

7) Prayer. Graveyard shift workers (police men, fire-fighters, pilots??, convenience store owners--all graveyard shift workers die statistically faster, making peace with your Maker is an excellent idea.

Comments 19 comments

William R. Wilson profile image

William R. Wilson 6 years ago from Knoxville, TN

I've been there on third shift and I can relate. I hope you don't smoke anymore!

Nicely written. :)

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 6 years ago Author

Hi William. Night shift will kill you, hope you've come to the light! They can not pay night shift enough. I work them occasionally as favors, but if I never work another one, I won't put up a fight. I work with, and went to school with a few smokers, but I've never smoked in my life. To each his own, but if I can avoid dying young and hideous, I'd like to. I've seen way too much lung cancer, emphysema, COPD, yellowed nails and teeth and it smells terrible. I'm good on all of it. Thanks for reading!

ExpandYourMind profile image

ExpandYourMind 6 years ago from Midwest USA

Eye opening :) I enjoyed this; keep sharing.

KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

Love your sense of humor. I've been on the graveyard diet myself. I worked graveyard shift one Christmas season when my children were small. I didn't get much rest that year. You do tend to grab what you can to give you that temporary serge of energy. It's a miracle some of us live through it.

carrie450 profile image

carrie450 6 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

A very informative hub. I can relate to all of this. I worked night shift for many years until I retired and never got used to it. It was so tough to sleep in the daytime. I'm glad it's over now and I can get a good "nights" sleep.

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 6 years ago Author

Thanks, kkg, I can't be happier to be off nights, but I miss the girls! We had more fun at night. I also started gaining weight on nights, between the way I was eating and the lack of sleep.

Carrie, thanks for coming by and commenting!! One of my old roommates told me she won't let her husband take a night job because of how withdrawn, quiet, and out of it she watched me become working nights. My body really can't take it for extended periods of time. I am an entirely different person working on days...thanks for coming by!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

I worked evening shift on OB in a teaching hospital, which was only marginally better than nights. Microwaves (and therefore nukable popcorn) hadn't been invented yet, but certain items like a can of soup could be heated in the autoclave. The cafeteria didn't cook anything new after after 5 or 6 p.m., so it was brown bag it or be prepared to hit the vending machines if you couldn't get down there before the real food was gone. Is it any wonder I was thrilled to be "stuck" on days every now and then? ;D

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

LOL!! Heating things in the autoclave, that is hilarious! A new one. Haven't tried that. What'd you do on the OB unit?? Once during my stent working nights, I was dating this guy who worked overnight at a grocer's. I don't really know that much about him, it's kind of a blur. Actually we might still be dating since I don't recall breaking up with him, uh-oh...:-)

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Back in the Dark Ages before computers, I was a Ward Secretary, which in the hospital pecking order was several cuts above the med students who rotated through every month. Most of my experience was on OB, but I was put on Geriatrics for a month, an experience I never want to repeat...wayyyy too depressing. You probably didn't have a WS on nights; the med center I was at didn't except in the ER. Being a WS in a teaching hospital, btw, made me over-qualified for the same position in the county hospital in my hometown. Go figure. (Read my "Real Hawkeye and BJ" hub.) ;D

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country

This must have been very tough, even though you made it hilarious. Love your definition of junk food.

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

JG--Ward Secretaries are alive and kicking on OB, night shift too. In the 17 hospitals I've worked in, I can only think of one that didn't have one at at night. We call them Unit Clerks...I think it's the toughest job on the unit. I'll deal with screaming babies, crime-scene looking deliveries, and dueling grannies ALL DAY LONG rather than have to be very organized and have everyone asking me for things, and where things are all at once. I work in chaos, organization does not come easily to me, and while I get everything done in a whirl that not even I comprehend, no one can follow it. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you "Attention Deficit Disorder"--please don't feed my label. I'm trying to teach him tricks.

Hi, Rochelle! Thanks for reading...I had to go and see what I wrote for my definition of junk food and that's about right. I agree with myself. Thanks for stopping by!

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Actually, I thrived -notice that's past tense - in the midst of chaos, so Ward Sec or Unit Clerk or whatever suited me just fine. Well, except for being stuck as the messenger between nurses who weren't speaking to certain doctors and vice versa. That part was akin to being the only grown-up in a nursery school. ;D

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Ah, JG, all they said we had to do was graduate. They never said we had to be mature, and actually communicate. Good thing too! How funny to see that kind of counterproductive nonsense isn't just regional...

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Never looked at it quite like that! lololololol!

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

:-). Well, thanks, anyway for putting up with it when you did. Anything we can all do to help avoid killing the patients.

Express10 profile image

Express10 5 years ago from East Coast

Funny, but not so funny now that my niece is in her 1st year of nursing school...

Put yourself first sometimes, you definitely deserve it!

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 5 years ago Author

Thank you for reading, Express10. Most nurses don't even think about putting themselves first, that doesn't make sense to us. But I'm all for vacations as needed! :-). Best to your niece, she'll be okay, don't worry.

angied83 profile image

angied83 4 years ago

Nicely written and very funny hub, ahostagesituation! i would prefer not to go to my grave early so i think i better plan on getting a daytime job soon! ;-)

ahostagesituation profile image

ahostagesituation 4 years ago Author

So sorry for the delay, I space on this account sometimes! Yea, if you'd like to stay healthy or something close to it, stay AWAY from the dark side. It's really tough. I'm a pretty tough cookie, so if I'm saying that it's definitely true. :-) I appreciate you stopping by to read this and enjoy the sun!

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