A typical night shift for me starts when I wake up for work in the early evening. I get ready for work, to start at 7:30 pm. We sit in the seminar room where we get our allocations, finding out where in the Emergency Department we will be working that day. Then, I head up to the department floor. I listen to the handover, get an understanding of my patients, and look at what needs to be done.
I let the area coordinator know now that I am fasting. When it comes to Maghrib time, I take some time out, where I can break my fast with some dates and water. I then head back to work. I do observations, where I take patient’s vitals, carry out personal care, and do any other tasks that need doing. This usually includes, doing ECGs, taking blood, and putting in cannulas, as well as swab patients for Covid-19.
At 10:30 pm I go for my first break where I can finally have my meal. I like to have the same food for iftar as my family so that it still feels like we’re together as much as possible, so I pack up dinner from home before I go and take it with me. I sit in the staff room with everyone else, where so many others are having their own meals too. Non-Muslim staff members are very supportive, and this time encourages discussion about faith.
By the time it is my second break, it becomes time for sehri (the early morning pre-dawn meal before fasting begins). I have something to eat and drink before we begin fasting again, and if I have time, I have a nap, until it is time to go back to work.
The last part of the day is usually the hardest. I am now fasting again, so if I do get thirsty again, I know I cannot eat or drink anything again until that evening.
Around 5:00 am, I start the daily checks. I check that all the trolleys are stocked up for the day staff, replace sharps bins, and check oxygen and suction in all patient bays to make sure they are working well. I then calibrate the blood glucose machines so that they are ready to be used again. The last few hours are usually the hardest. I start to get tired, and definitely thirsty now.
I power through and continue with my tasks, ready to put away our devices at 7:30 am for handover. We hand over to the day team and then leave to go home. I catch a bus home; which isn’t too bad normally but can be tiring on these days when all you want to do is get home as soon as possible. Once home I get changed from my work uniform, and get ready for bed.
The days go a lot better than you expect. There are a lot of Muslim staff members, so everyone knows about Ramadan, and there are a lot of people in the same boat as you, almost making it feel like you have a community with you. It is definitely difficult, as you are more tired. You have less energy, which can definitely leave you with less patience and tolerance for stress.
I didn’t really know what to expect as I had never worked during Ramadan before, but I definitely thought it would be a lot harder than this. I also didn’t expect other staff to be so accommodating, and quickly realised that I and my peers had a lot more support than I initially believed.
For me, Ramadan is not only a time where we are abstaining from food and drink, but it is also a time where we should improve on our faith. I try to refrain from bad habits and try to learn more about my religion and be a better person. I think working in an environment where you are helping others constantly, caring for people, in the absence of their own family members too, makes this easier for me, and brings more meaning to Ramadan. It can be exhausting, but so incredibly rewarding.