I have worked in the Operating Room for 25 years now, doing Anesthesia. It has been a great profession, even though more and more bureaucratic agencies are getting their fingers in the pie over the past few years. We have agencies claiming to develop great solutions for problems in Anesthesia that don’t exist. Imagine that. Bureaucracies out of control, manned by people concerned with process and dissecting things into the smallest conceivable segments. In spite of this, most Anesthesia providers absolutely LOVE their profession and do a great job providing patient care to people at their most vulnerable – in a drug induced coma.
One of the downsides of working in Anesthesia is that you have to wake up at an unnaturally early time of day. Operating Rooms start the day very early. There is much busy work to get ready for surgery. Equipment and supplies have to be gathered for each procedure to be done in each Operating Room. For Anesthesia, we have to draw up drugs and gather equipment specific to the surgeries in our room that day. We also have to make sure that the Anesthesia machine is in perfect working order, and if not, correct the problem so that it is in perfect working order. We also have to have back up equipment so that, in the case of an equipment failure, things can progress in a seamless and safe manner.
The result of having worked in Anesthesia for more than 2 decades is that I reliably wake up at 4 AM. Every morning. Even on weekends and when I am on vacation. In my life, almost no one else is awake at 4 AM. There is not much to do and no one to talk to at 4 AM. It is very aggravating to be on vacation and wake up every morning at 4 AM. I will generally make coffee and watch a little news on the television, then try to go back to the warm bed where my poor wife is having sweet dreams (I hope). When watching television between 4 and 5 AM you are subjected to some unusual commercials from time to time. I have to confess, I have purchased some of the items advertised during this hour of weakness when the rest of the natural world is sound asleep.
As I now approach the end of my career, I wonder if I will ever be able to sleep until 7 AM, like a normal human being. Then, I could stay up until 10 or 11 PM. When you wake up at 4 AM, you don’t stay up as late as the rest of the human population. The result is that you miss many sporting events and movies that start at 8 PM. Regular people try to call you on the telephone in the evening and just end up having to leave a voicemail message. I dare not call them the following morning when I am awake, between 4 and 5 AM. I often fantasize that I will have a normal wake/sleep schedule within a couple months of retiring. This is one of the many things I am looking forward to in life, staying up late like a real adult.