Over the past week I’ve been doing work experience at a huge hospital with over 5,000 members of staff. I spent time in many of the different departments/wards; orthopaedics, the dementia unit, anaesthetic area, A&E etc., and spent time with tens of different staff members including theatre support staff, nurses, receptionists and doctors.
Some of the things I saw in places like A&E and the intensive care unit were just that… intense. Being surrounded by sick patients, ill elderly people and those who were severely injured wasn’t a very uplifting environment (as you could probably guess), and on top of that there were many distraught families, relatives and friends coming to visit their loved ones in the hospital, which really did constantly remind me that every patient wasn’t just a number on a sheet, but they had a whole lot of people worried about them.
I only spent a week there, and by the end of it I was absolutely exhausted and was considerably humbled by my experiences.
I began to question how these doctors, nurses and staff did this every day. They see the very pinnacle of humanities’ disregard and dis-ease, so how on earth do they handle it?
When I tried to pinpoint what it was, I came across a pattern. When talking to staffs, in their hand, or on their desk was almost always a cup of coffee or tea, and after spending time in around 10 different staff rooms I knew their tea was most certainly not decaf! A lot of the staff (particularly doctors and physiotherapists I noticed) looked incredibly tired, often with bags under their eyes, but the constant intake of caffeine allowed them to suffer through and keep going.
This ‘buzz’ kept them quite distracted too – they were fast when discussing patients and moved around the wards/hospital at the speed of light (I could never catch up!). For me to say that I’ve only noticed this behavior at the hospital would be a lie – I observe it with a lot of adults, but also nowadays a lot of kids and teenagers are relying on caffeine (mostly in the form of energy drinks) to keep them awake through the day after only getting 5/6 hours sleep each night.
Caffeine is not as harmless as you might think, according to the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the number of people seeking emergency treatment after ingesting energy drinks doubled to more than 20,000 in 2011. There are also some pretty serious withdrawal symptoms (caffeine is addictive after all) including headaches, muscle pain and difficulty concentrating.
Getting addicted to the substance as young people just increases our body’s dependency on it, so when we’re older and less naturally energized we will just need more and more of it (as shown in the hospital). Instead of learning to take care of ourselves from a young age – have a decent amounts sleep, eat well, rest well, at 14 or 15 we are already trying to find ways to give us boosts during the day to support our activity. If that 14 year old went on to become a doctor or nurse, they would likely find that environment ten times more intense, and their job could very easily exhaust them, so the danger is that caffeine literally could become the reliant substance of their entire lives.
This is something to seriously consider when buying your next energy drink….
All of the blogs on From Our Eyes have been written by young people. They are about the kind of issues and problems teenagers face on a constant basis, as well as worldwide epidemics that not only youth, but EVERYONE experiences day to day.