Back injury: stories & support for an injured RN

  1. I'm writing this because i'm feeling like i'm holding on to a thread.

    I've been out of work for 2 months already which is even worse to say that I have only graduated in may and just started my new job in september and hurt my back in november. I was in a car accident in 2002 and had a weak back ever since. I'm only 22. Im a ward nurse however i injured my back while I was brushing my teeth and coughed. The immediate pain sent me falling to the ground unable to get up. I herniated a disc and tore the disc membrane.

    my friends I've grown up with dont understand the pain that I go through.
    Everyday I find it hard to tie my shoes, or even get out of the car. Every week I feel like there's hope, because I've been able to do a new activity such as do the dishes with not as much pain as the week before, only to discover an hour after doing it I start to feel the pain all over again. I feel like I'm driving my boyfriend crazy w/ all the emotional and physical attention I need, even though he is such a compasionate RN. Some days my motivation just to get out of bed is non existant... But almost everyday I hate feeling so dependent, out of control and down right sad. I have been slowly getting better, but the days like today when the pain catches me off guard I start to feel like I just can't take it anymore.

    I know there's got to be lots of stories nurses have on back injury.. if so please share. Not only how you congured it, but sharing the feelings, thoughts and hardships that you went through would really help me feel like I'm not the only crazy person experiencing these hard times!

    thanks!
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  2. 31 Comments

  3. by   christie_0307
    Actually funny stories would be really good to.. like:

    How the percocets I was initially on made me so dellusional, I wasn't really sure if I really watched Chronicles of Narnia or if it was just a bad dream !
  4. by   blueyesue
    That sucks that you have to go through this. I definetely can "feel your pain" I have a back that goes out, and I become bed ridden or have to walk like a slow duck. I get to a point where I can't even put two hands under the faucet. I have to hold on to the sink with one hand while washing the other. My whole upper body becomes visibly twisted. One hip becomes higer than the other, and my shoulders tilt to one side. Then, a few days later I am all better. I pray you heal quickly and can get back to what you love.
    :icon_hug:
  5. by   clemmm78
    Oh boy, can I identify with you. I hurt my back early in my career and now, at 45, it still haunts me. I do, however, have a funny back injury story for you.

    At 23, I had been dating my boyfriend (now husband) for several months and I had renewed my back injury so I was off work for a bit. I lived by myself, my DH lived with his parents still and I had just given him a key to my apartment.

    One morning, I woke up and tried to get off my (waveless) waterbed but I felt a sharp twinge in my back. No problem - I figured I would just use good body mechanics and roll to my side and push up off the bed. Nope, didn't work - that shot agonizing shocks through my back. Ok, I figured, I'd roll on to my stomach and get on my hands and knees to get up. Nope, that made me dissolve into tears from the pain. So, there i was, lying on my bed, in horrible pain and unable to get up.

    I reached for the phone and dialed my boyfriend's phone number. His mother answered the phone (it was 7 a.m.!) and I tearfully asked for her son. He got on the phone and all I could do is wail, "I can't get out of bed, my back hurts and I have to peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.........."

    Lucky thing I'd given him a key. He came right over, lifted me out of bed and I was fun. It was just a spasm and I was really ok after that. But I've never forgotten that phone call.
  6. by   puggymae
    I was "down" in my back one time and could barely walk. At church I had went into the restoom and my nephew was out in the hallway. Some one asked where I was and he told them "She's in the bathroom, it may be a while because she can't pull her panties up!" Out of the mouths of babes! Although it was true, I don't know how he knew that little detail! Talk about mortified!
    Back pain is especially bad because it hurts when you move not only your torso but your legs, arm... hurts if you cough, sneeze.... hang in there - hopefully you will heal soon.
  7. by   Ruby Vee
    i just got back to work after a six month absence with a back injury -- i haven't even gotten my first full paycheck yet, but i'm sure looking forward to it. so you injured yourself brushing your teeth and coughing, eh? that could be a really funny story if you told it right.

    there were days when i was barely hanging on by a thread -- i know my poor husband bore the brunt of a lot of my emotional diarrhea. i'm a much happier person after six months off (and a back surgery)! i was scared to death of surgery, but it was the best thing i could have done. my leg is still numb, but the motor nerves are working great! i can walk and talk at the same time again!

    i'm trying to think of a funny story to cheer you up -- but it's almost 2am, i'm working my first night shift since last june and funny isn't coming easily right now. at least not a funny back pain story. but the surgery resident i'm working with just announced that "this is the time of night to break out the 'maxim' magazine! i can't think much." he announced it to three women, then proceded to whip out the magazine with the naked picture of eva mendes on the cover.
  8. by   jetscreamer101
    I've been there with back/shooting pain in my right leg so severe I could hardly walk. I could sit, or lay down, but walking was beyond me. I went back and forth with my PCP: xrays, therapy, etc. It got to the point finally that I went to ER. Even they gave me a rough time, until the MRI results. Then they were all nicey nicey and do you need something for the pain. I did end up having 2 back surgeries and have residual nerve damage, but I can walk. It was most definatly a repetative lifting injury, but the worknan's comp person told me he'd fight it, and I didn't want to deal with that, so I didn't file a claim. In retrospect, though I didn't have 1 incident that I could blame it on, I should have persued workman's comp.

    I am returned to work full duty although my surgeon recommended permanent restrictions. I still have back pain, but it's not constant and seems to respond to vicodin well.
  9. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from jetscreamer101
    i did end up having 2 back surgeries and have residual nerve damage, but i can walk. it was most definatly a repetative lifting injury, but the worknan's comp person told me he'd fight it, and i didn't want to deal with that, so i didn't file a claim. in retrospect, though i didn't have 1 incident that i could blame it on, i should have persued workman's comp.
    [font="comic sans ms"]i didn't go the workman's comp route, either. i started out with the leg pain -- my muscles were in spasm continuously for two days before i caved and went to the er. dumb me -- i thought i had a leg problem, not a back problem. then i got the mri! looking back, i can pinpoint the injury -- i felt a distinct "pop" in my back while turning a 200 kg patient (with help). but my back never hurt, so i didn't make the connection until weeks later when i'd had the mri. by that time i was already on short term disability, and my surgeon advised me to forget the workman's comp.

    a co-worker tore a rotater cuff when a panicked patient grabbed her. she went directly to the er for x-rays and was off work for six months. she did the workman's comp thing, and says the entire process was a nightmare. by contrast, std was pretty painless.
  10. by   JaneyW
    Do you have surgery planned? Are you doing PT? Has it helped? I popped a cervical disc being leaned back in the hairwashing chair at the salon when I was still in orientation as a new grad. I kept limping along until I had no sensation left at all in the two fingers of my R hand I needed most as an L&D nurse! My PCP thought it was a shoulder issue, but I took myself to a neurologist who ordered an MRI and like others are saying everyone was impressed at that point. Have you had an MRI? I had surgery shortly after that and was back on the floor (at a different hospital that would take me part time at that experience level) about 3 1/2 months later.

    Can surgery help you?? Is it being discussed? Be careful about not waiting too long as the body will have a harder time with chronic pain the longer you have it. Don't be scared of meds--especially the anti-spasmodics. I still take a valium two or three times a month when I feel the spasms sneaking up. Good luck and be proactive in your care. Your symptoms are real and so is the pain--surgery may be the answer although it is scarey!
  11. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from janeyw
    do you have surgery planned? are you doing pt? has it helped? i popped a cervical disc being leaned back in the hairwashing chair at the salon when i was still in orientation as a new grad. i kept limping along until i had no sensation left at all in the two fingers of my r hand i needed most as an l&d nurse! my pcp thought it was a shoulder issue, but i took myself to a neurologist who ordered an mri and like others are saying everyone was impressed at that point. have you had an mri? i had surgery shortly after that and was back on the floor (at a different hospital that would take me part time at that experience level) about 3 1/2 months later.

    can surgery help you?? is it being discussed? be careful about not waiting too long as the body will have a harder time with chronic pain the longer you have it. don't be scared of meds--especially the anti-spasmodics. i still take a valium two or three times a month when i feel the spasms sneaking up. good luck and be proactive in your care. your symptoms are real and so is the pain--surgery may be the answer although it is scarey!
    [font="comic sans ms"]if you're asking me, i had an mri. it was, as i understand, quite impressive. and i've had surgery. and now i'm having pt!
  12. by   christie_0307
    I haven't got an MRI yet.. it might take months until I do.. I don't really know what to do to skip the wait.. my back specialist said he'd put it out there that I'm an RN to get me going.. but I honestly don't know what good that will do. I'm glad (re: JaneyW) are saying not to be scared of taking meds.. because I took 1 1/2 of t3s (i'm a puney) and I was feeling a bit tooo good haha Presently i'm starting to question whether I should go back to working in the hospital.. and that this is a sign or something (my dream never was to work in the hospital)

    Thanks everyone for your stories..i hope it keeps going!
    its really helping me feel not so alone...
  13. by   meownsmile
    I had back surgery in 1997 for a herniated severed membrane that was floating into and pinching the nerve coming out between L4-L5. I had the numbness down the front of my left leg (swore i had a blood clot or something). Well i had surgery 30 days after the initial injury. The neurologist that did the surgery said i was lucky i got in there when i did because there was just a small part that was still visible that he could get ahold of and pull it out from between the bone and spinal cord. Otherwise i would have had permanent scarring and probly lost quite a bit of use of one leg.
    After about 6 months recouperation i have been back at work full time, full steam and only had one time i missed a day(for a back problem) because of different back problem that was found in the CT i had when this came up. (I had a broken vertebra in jr high and didnt know it) Ya the back hurt but i kept cheerleading because we didnt go to the dr for little things back then).
    Anyway,, have the surgery if that is what they are recommending. I am sooo glad i did and would do it again if i had to. I couldnt stand the pain,, nothing helped it. I hate taking pills in general, and found the pain med and the flexeril gave me horrible nightmares. I spent 30 days in bed, having a hard time even getting up to the bathroom(and i had 3 little kids at home). Even though it took a while to recouperate, id go through that surgery all over again.
    Last edit by meownsmile on Jan 28, '07
  14. by   rehab nurse
    hi there, OP.

    just wanted to chime in and say i have suffered with back injuries for 7 years now, two years on chronic treatment now. i don't work now due to my back and a dx of Ca that i'm currently fighting. it's hell going through chemo.

    but back to talking about backs, i have four herniations with anular tears, all in the lumbar area. i had a discogram done, and a few MRI's. the original injury happened as i was helping a heavy elderly lady from falling out of bed without help. i was young and dumb, just a nurse for a couple years. never been the same since. however, in that instance i herniated just two discs. a repeat MRI done showed i had herniated two more at another time, unknown to me. my back hurts 24/7 even with some heavy duty meds. i don't "get high" off them, and i don't work anyway. they barely take the edge off. i didn't want to go on meds either, but i had to. if you PM me i'd share my story more personal than i'm willing to go here.

    i have a ton of medical problems, and i have two small children. i was just fired from my job due to using up FMLA last year and now needing time off for chemo. jerk of a DON (no flames here please) who didn't like me from day one. i'd been there 6 years, she less than one, and i was her target. it's a small employer too, so i think they cut me so their group rates don't go haywire. i have a lawyer reviewing.

    i really feel for anyone with pain that's chronic, esp back pain. it's so hard to control. i'm trying to lost a bit of pounds around the middle (i have metabolic syndrome and PCOS and it's very difficult to lose weight) so i can lessen the strain on my lower back. the pain's incredible. it definately affects my every day life. can barely get out of bed, and i have two young children and no spouse, and their dad won't pay child support. i'll stop yapping about my sob story now.

    but i know you're in pain, and i'm sorry for that. feel free to pm if you want to vent, anytime. now that i don't work, i'm on my computer a lot unfortunately.

    i wish you well. sorry had no good stories for you.

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