A re-cap of where I have been…in case you were wondering. I have been keeping busy with work, I got a puppy who doesn’t like my kitten, my car’s have been in and out of the shop, I got a couple new tattoos, my dad’s sick, and I hate the holidays. But here we are…or rather, here I am. In this post, I want to talk about my overnight shift and the effect I believe it had on my physical and mental health, and most importantly, how I am healing.
On August 15, 2019, I started a new assignment at work with normal hours. Yes folks, it is true…I finally got off the overnight shift! The National Sleep Foundation says that, “Long term night shift work is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, as well as metabolic problems, heart disease, ulcers, gastrointestinal problems and obesity.” And from experience, I believe all of that to be true, as well a negative effect on my mental health. I spent 12 years on an overnight shift, and over the past year, it really started wearing on me. I wanted off of it, and I couldn’t figure out how to do it. But after gaining a little bit of confidence and realizing I really needed to do this for myself, I spoke with people and made it happen. During my time on the overnight shift (2-10am), I had gained weight, I was always sick, and just generally felt terrible. My self esteem was also at it’s ultimate lowest. I also felt really overwhelmed with life and wasn’t sure how to deal with things anymore. Now while all of this is not completely the overnight’s fault, some of it contributed.
Over the last few months, my stomach/esophagus issues have presented themselves again (same issues I had a few years ago). I was put on some acid reducers for awhile and they were helping, but not. I was experiencing anxiety symptoms every time I had to eat. My meals were getting smaller and less frequent and I was starting to freak out. My gastroenterologist had scheduled an endoscopy for me – which was done last Friday. Good news…hiatal hernia is gone, stomach looked good, and Grade A esophagitis. So he’s keeping me on the acid blockers for now, but said my problem is most likely just my anxiety and that I should try to talk to someone and learn how to cope with it (which I am already doing). Every day is a little bit better than the day before, unless my anxiety acts up – which I’m learning how to get through it much better. I was getting this feeling like there was something squeezing my throat…I believe it’s called Globus Sensation. If you don’t know what it is, Google it. The most important thing I read is that it can come from stress and anxiety.
I have had a lot of stress and anxiety over the last few months, but it is starting to subside. All the hard stuff at work is finally wrapping up, but my dad is back in the hospital. I am trying to occupy my mind and time with things that distract me. I clean obsessively, I organize and then organize again, I start art projects, I re-arrange furniture, I throw out stuff…I do anything that will keep my mind busy. I don’t mind do any of this stuff, but I see this as a better option then perhaps having a drink.
Now between a shift change, and eating less – 1. because I’m not up all night eating at work and 2. my stomach wasn’t happy with eating for awhile – I lost about 40 lbs. since August. The doctor understood this, but still said he felt concerned and said he wanted to do a stomach emptying study on me – but I declined. I would rather not expose myself to the radioactive food.
So the eating has gotten easier than it was and I’m not losing weight as fast as I was. I’m okay with that. It will go down, I just want to make sure I’m healthy. I’m off for awhile in December so I will be doing the Peloton often. Currently, I’m still working normal hours, getting sunlight, taking the pup on mini hikes…and therapy has been amazing. I don’t think I will ever be able to go back to an overnight shift. The way I feel being off it is so wonderful. I get to sleep. When I drive, I feel alert. I don’t have to fight to stay awake at work. It has only been 3 months since I have been off of it, so I think by my birthday in March I will feel 10 times better, and hopefully be a few more pounds lighter.
I was eating anything that I could get down comfortably, but now I am focusing on a high protein, low fat diet. I have to focus on eating things that won’t make my acid reflux or esophagitis worse. It’s paleo-esque. I am working on getting back to Paleo. One day at a time.
If anyone has a similar story, please share it.
“Self- care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.”