I want my very own placard.
On my commute to work today I saw one of those “Baby on board” placards that people put up in their SUVs so that first responders will understand the urgency of their rescue. Granted, infants need extra care, and are just starting out in life, and heaven knows they should not be punished for their parents’ stupid driving habits. But still…
I know this isn’t exactly politically correct, but…
I am sick and tired of being undervalued because I didn’t procreate.
I want that ambulance driver to feel every bit as much urgency when rescuing me. I want a tax cut by virtue of the fact that I haven’t added to the crowding of an already overcrowded planet. I don’t want to be made to feel guilty for asking for a holiday off simply because I’m the only employee without kids. I want to be able to take family sick leave when my dog needs to be rushed to the vet. I want a gift for putting up with you when you’re pregnant, instead of having to give you one for being pregnant. I want you to keep your screaming child away from my public space. I don’t want to have to constantly justify my choice not to have children.
Most of all, I want my very own placard.
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After 12 years of working crazy shifts here on the drawbridge, often two or three different shifts in the space of a week, I’m now discovering that there is an official name for my constant state of mental fog, my messed up immune system, and my apparent inability to lose weight despite all efforts. It’s called Shift Work Sleep Disorder. Classified as Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder in the DSM-IV, I can now say that what’s going on with me can be taken seriously, for all the good that does me.
Symptoms of this disorder include:
- Lack of sleep. (Well, duh…)
- Increased stress.
- Increased risk of infections, including colds and flu.
- Increased risk of breast and prostate cancer.
- Higher cholesterol.
- Increased risk of heart attack.
- Increased risk of obesity.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Reduced attention span.
- Gastrointestinal and digestive problems.
- Decreased production of Melatonin, causing decreased immunity, and increased production of tumors.
Some other fun facts about shift work are:
- We are twice as likely to have a work related accident.
- Sick leave is reported in 63 percent of shift workers as opposed to 34 percent of day workers.
- 30 percent of us are single, compared to 20 percent of day workers.
All this due to a disruption in our circadian rhythms. I’d love to say “Now I don’t feel so bad,” but actually I feel just as bad. Now I just have a name for it.
There are some things you can do about it, but I’m just too tired to write more. So just check out the sources for this blog entry: