living with a chronic condition

  1. Just wanted to find out if there are other nurses who live with a chronic condition and how they handle it at work? I have a chronic condition, and most of the time I feel pretty good. However, when I get really stressed out (we all know how nursing can be stressful, esp on a new grad!) I can get a flare up of my disease. Just wondering how others might handle being sick yourself (with something chronic) and nursing?

    I'm a recent graduate and have been working on a medical unit, and very soon I will be off orientation. I really enjoy my job, like the unit, etc. This morning I had to call in sick because of a flair up of my disease. I've been very stressed lately (work and some other outside of work issues).

    So I guess what I am wondering is...obviously I don't want to tell my employer about the disease, but now I am worried about having to call in sick, and praying that my body starts to feel better. I guess hearing about others who are successful as a nurse, and live with a chronic condition would give me some hope....I guess I just needed to vent too! Thanks!
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   ashley_michelle
    I might not be much help.. but a friend of mine who I graduated with has Chrone's disease... and working has caused it to flare up.. Not necessarily working.. but not being on a regular schedule. She said that working days helps because her body gets used to the hours.. but she's had a hard time adjusting to nights and her chrones does NOT want any part in it.
    Our employer does know about her condition.. which I think helps when she does have to call off. They KNOW it's not just a headache and she just doesn't want to come in. It's something that she has no control over... and if she could make it.. she'd be there.
    Unfortunately, the people on dayshift do make it worth while to switch for her. Being a new nurse... i think it comforts you knowing that you have people willing to help you if you're in a pinch. ( which on nights.. our group of people are WONDERFUL in helping if someone needs it ) During the days.. it's almost every man for themselves. So she'd rather stick with nights and be miserable.

    Like I said, I probably wouldn't be much help. But I would suggest telling your employer about the condition you have... so if you do have to call off.. they'd be more understanding and probably willing to help you in any way they can.

    Best of luck!
  4. by   nessa77
    Thank you very much for your reply....I keep going back and forth on whether or not I should mention it, I definitely think there could be some benefit mentioning, on the flip side, there are some definite concerns about mentioning it...Thanks again
  5. by   meme_911
    will i dont have achronic disease my self but my freind dose and she is a nurse too,she was born with it,and due to the medication(cortison)she had complications in her heps and she was only on her 2end year in nursing when the docter sed she has to do hep replacment. after 3months since the surgery she came bake to school useing a weel chair another 3months after she was walking thank god,i never sow her sad she is allways happy and obtemestic she loves nursing pretty much and it helps her to understand and deal with her condition more,(she realy is soooooooooo cool,cute and fationabol)and every one loves her,up tell now she is going to the doctor every 3months(the doctor is in another sity it taks her 5 to 6 hours by car to araive there.
  6. by   augigi
    I assume you have mandated sick leave, so calling in (and/or getting a medical certificate) should be enough "proof" that you're sick. Just make sure you give as much notice as you can before calling off so they can make up the short staffing.

    You'll have to find a unit and schedule that suits you, as your health is the most important thing, but it's definitely doable. Good luck.
  7. by   RN1263
    I have multiple sclerosis (15 yrs. now) and i'm in my 3rd sem. of the r.n. program. i'm sure that once i have a nursing job i will eventially tell my employer. i don't work right now, but when i was an E.R. tech (my last job) i told them and i was glad that i did & never regretted it. i prefer for others to know in case of an emergency or if i would need time off because of it. i understand your not wanting your employer to know, but you do have "some" job protection under the americans w/ disabilities act.
  8. by   nessa77
    Thanks for all the suggestions...lots of good information to think about. I guess I'm just worried that as an employee with a chronic condition, they may try to figure out a way to let me go- since they may think that my condition (I have Meniere's Disease an inner ear disease that can cause vertigo issues and hearing loss) may be an issue with missing work, etc. When I have a relapse, or an "attack" I really can't function and sometimes it can take a day or two to recooperate. I am so worried if they found out they may find some way to let me go...
  9. by   RNKay31
    I am so sorry to hear that, I will keep you in my prayers, remember prayers changes everything
  10. by   RN1263
    if you only need a few days to get over an attack i would look into your hospitals "leave policy" (paid &/or unpaid), you would probably have to show documentation of your illness though.

    also, you can look into the "family and medical leave act", but i think this act is for longer times than just a few days....not sure?

    anyway, in my other post i already stated that i have M.S. & well i have also had vertigo during an attack. yep, it's totally miserable!!! the last time it happened not only was everything spinning, but then my vision was jumping up & down! so, i feel for you!

    now, back to your worries about your employer letting you go..... yes, they may have concerns over patient safety, BUT if your up front and honest w/ them & tell them you will notify them A.S.A.P. if you are having problems & need a few days to recover, they would have to show "undue hardship" to not allow you to take the time off as long as you had medical documentation.

    also, if you have been able to fufill your job requirements when this illness does not affect you & they let you go because of your illness you could slap them w/ a discrimination law suit!.... & they know it!

    trust me i'll be dealing w/ these same issues when i'm done w/ nursing school & it's scary, but i think you're putting MORE stress on yourself by trying to keep this a secret. when i have an attack it doesn't take a few days to recover, but weeks. soooo, i'll probably have to fight to keep a job, but that's why the "family and medical leave act" & "americans w/ disabilities act" try to protect employees w/ medical conditions as much as possible.

    okay, i don't know if any of my babble here helped, but i wish you luck w/ whatever you decide to do!
  11. by   Epona
    Hi nessa77. I am sorry to hear that. I too suffer from a chronic condition. I take medicine everyday for it. Sometimes it acts up, sometimes it does not. I have wondered too how I will get through nursing school and then work. In my past career, it has not hindered me much and in my past jobs I have had a lot of responsibility. I was talking to my Mom about it last night. You just have to go for it. Really... anything can happen anywhere. You could be shopping and get an attack, you could be on a trip and get an attack... same for me with my situation.. BUT you can't live in a box either. When I start school and then my RN job, I am going to tell my teachers and my employer. This is a TOUGH field and requires us to be on our toes at all times. It's a lot. By them knowing we have a condition, they will be more prepared IF we have to call out, and it will be a relief off our minds to know we have told them. IF they decide to fire us, as an RN we can probably find another job. It's not the end of the road. AND... I am no attorney, but IF they fire you and you feel it's for an unjust cause... THEY better watch their backs IF you have told them you a previous medical condition and for some reason they let you go. A good lawyer could make a case. So anyway... be up front and do your best. That's all one can do.

    Best of luck to you! Epona
  12. by   PANurseRN1
    Quote from ashley_michelle
    I might not be much help.. but a friend of mine who I graduated with has Chrone's disease... and working has caused it to flare up.. Not necessarily working.. but not being on a regular schedule. She said that working days helps because her body gets used to the hours.. but she's had a hard time adjusting to nights and her chrones does NOT want any part in it.
    Our employer does know about her condition.. which I think helps when she does have to call off. They KNOW it's not just a headache and she just doesn't want to come in. It's something that she has no control over... and if she could make it.. she'd be there.
    Unfortunately, the people on dayshift do make it worth while to switch for her. Being a new nurse... i think it comforts you knowing that you have people willing to help you if you're in a pinch. ( which on nights.. our group of people are WONDERFUL in helping if someone needs it ) During the days.. it's almost every man for themselves. So she'd rather stick with nights and be miserable.

    Like I said, I probably wouldn't be much help. But I would suggest telling your employer about the condition you have... so if you do have to call off.. they'd be more understanding and probably willing to help you in any way they can.

    Best of luck!
    Unless you live with migraines, you have no idea how offensive the "just a headache" comment is.
  13. by   PANurseRN1
    Quote from dijmart
    if you only need a few days to get over an attack i would look into your hospitals "leave policy" (paid &/or unpaid), you would probably have to show documentation of your illness though.

    also, you can look into the "family and medical leave act", but i think this act is for longer times than just a few days....not sure?

    anyway, in my other post i already stated that i have M.S. & well i have also had vertigo during an attack. yep, it's totally miserable!!! the last time it happened not only was everything spinning, but then my vision was jumping up & down! so, i feel for you!

    now, back to your worries about your employer letting you go..... yes, they may have concerns over patient safety, BUT if your up front and honest w/ them & tell them you will notify them A.S.A.P. if you are having problems & need a few days to recover, they would have to show "undue hardship" to not allow you to take the time off as long as you had medical documentation.

    also, if you have been able to fufill your job requirements when this illness does not affect you & they let you go because of your illness you could slap them w/ a discrimination law suit!.... & they know it!

    trust me i'll be dealing w/ these same issues when i'm done w/ nursing school & it's scary, but i think you're putting MORE stress on yourself by trying to keep this a secret. when i have an attack it doesn't take a few days to recover, but weeks. soooo, i'll probably have to fight to keep a job, but that's why the "family and medical leave act" & "americans w/ disabilities act" try to protect employees w/ medical conditions as much as possible.

    okay, i don't know if any of my babble here helped, but i wish you luck w/ whatever you decide to do!
    FMLA would not apply until the OP has worked for the emplyer for one year and at least 1,250 hours.

    FMLA does not have to be taken in a large block of time. It can be taken from several hours to a total of 12 weeks. It can be used for intermittent episodes of illness for one's self or close family member. The max. time covered is 12 weeks; after that, it's up to the facility if they want to continue someone's employment.
    Last edit by PANurseRN1 on Nov 18, '06

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