I worked Monday night, third shift.  Tuesday, I was a zombie.  I did rouse myself early enough to take the children for their flu shot (alternately called ‘flea shot’ and ‘fly shot’ by my daughter, age seven).  But I felt achy, sleepy and a little irritable. In short, I felt…alive.

I used to work nights.  Full time nights for seven years, to be exact.  It worked well, but did leave me very tired at times.  Oddly, the fatigue was a kind of euphoria.  Maybe I adapted to my falling cortisol levels with increased endorphins.  Who knows?  But there was a delightful tingling and numbness, a deep, achy sense of being alive.  And the first night off, the first night I lay in my warm, soft bed in the dark, by my warm soft wife, well it was a slice of heaven, to be sure.

Fatigue is much maligned.  When we are tired, it is usually because we have worked, struggled, striven, achieved.  It is good to lie down in bed, after our labors, and rest.  It is a sense of accomplishment.  And it always seemed to me a sort of validation.  A self-recognition of my worth, my place, my duty and calling.

One can be too tired.  But one can certainly be too rested.  As much as we want physicians to have enough sleep to make good decisions, as much as everyone in every job wants to work with a clear head and healthy body, we must be careful.

If we expunge fatigue, if we demonize our weariness, if we banish that sleepy, sore, well-earned sense of achievement, we will be diminished.

Pain, they say, is a sign that we are still alive.  Fatigue, I suspect, is a sign that we are still useful.

God make me tired and sore.  I have much to do, and want to do it all before I’m full rested and entirely pain free.

God bless you all and make you wonderfully weary,

Edwin

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