LPN going deaf. What kind of nursing can I do?

  1. I am an LPN, working on a hospital Geriatric Psych floor. I like my job and want to continue being a nurse. Several years ago I was diagnosed with Meniere's Disease, and over the years I've become completely deaf in one ear. I work on the 3-11 shift, so the second part of the shift is pretty quiet, but recently I've been finding it harder and harder to hear during the first part of the shift when things are more hectic and there's a lot of background noise. Hearing aids won't help with my deaf ear. It's profoundly deaf. I've made an appointment with my ear doctor to have my hearing checked again. He has told me in the past that I had a 50-50 chance of the disease eventually affecting the other ear. I fear that is happening now. I've worked a few times on the graveyard shift to see if that's better since it's quieter, but my Circadian rhythms are thrown off so much by staying up all night that it exacerbates the Meniere's symptoms of dizziness, etc the next day. I would love to hear some of your ideas of nursing jobs that would not be so stressful. Also, I'm interested in knowing if there are any deaf nurses out there and what they do.
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  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   explorer
    Quote from nursnancy
    I am an LPN, working on a hospital Geriatric Psych floor. I like my job and want to continue being a nurse. Several years ago I was diagnosed with Meniere's Disease, and over the years I've become completely deaf in one ear. I work on the 3-11 shift, so the second part of the shift is pretty quiet, but recently I've been finding it harder and harder to hear during the first part of the shift when things are more hectic and there's a lot of background noise. Hearing aids won't help with my deaf ear. It's profoundly deaf. I've made an appointment with my ear doctor to have my hearing checked again. He has told me in the past that I had a 50-50 chance of the disease eventually affecting the other ear. I fear that is happening now. I've worked a few times on the graveyard shift to see if that's better since it's quieter, but my Circadian rhythms are thrown off so much by staying up all night that it exacerbates the Meniere's symptoms of dizziness, etc the next day. I would love to hear some of your ideas of nursing jobs that would not be so stressful. Also, I'm interested in knowing if there are any deaf nurses out there and what they do.
    I don't have a hearing problem that is as severe as yours is at this time. I wear hearing aides in both ears. What I do is work for the Veterans Administration in Kansas City MO. I am an LPN and I work as a medication nurse. Most of my work is on the computer. The patients come to the medication room and I scan the patients armband and the computer tells me what medication to give the patient. I don't have alot of background when I am talking to the patients. The computer program is called BCMA. If I can be of any help let me know.
  4. by   Dixiedi
    Does your LTC facility have a quality assurance nurse? If not, they probably need one and you should suggest that you'd be great! And, you pretty much work alone except when you call someone into the office to ask them to clean something up, sigh off, whatever.
  5. by   veteranRN
    What about inservice coordinator at a LTC? Our LTC has an LPN doing this.
  6. by   nursnancy
    Thanks, you guys, for your input. I will consider these things.
  7. by   CSLee3
    HI, here is some ideas.......most hospitals have nurses doing some form of reviewing charts, authorizing charges, staffing, quality control. Also Legal Nurse Consultants now have been advertising LVN/LPN's may also get certified. Here you can work from you home. Also data or medical transcribing from your home or office. Just some ideas.......hope all turns out well............Chuck
  8. by   llg
    I am totally deaf in one ear, but have normal hearing in the other. While a hearing aid will not allow you to hear in your deaf ear, you could improve you overall hearing by wearing a "cross-aid." You wear a device in your deaf ear that is basically a microphone and transmitter. You then wear another device in your hearing ear that picks up the sound. I am surprised your ENT or audiologist hasn't told you about that option. Please investigate it with them. I have chosen not to wear a cross aid, but I have friends who like theirs very much.

    llg
  9. by   llg
    I thought of something else ... Forgive me for being so blunt, but as someone with a hearing impairment who knows other hearing-impaired nurses, I feel I should be totally honest.

    I think it is real important for you to make plans for losing more of your hearing while you are still can. Your future possibility of having a nursing career may depend on you getting additional education or special types of experience (not necessarily an RN, but perhaps ... or perhaps some type of certification). If you think it would be difficult to go back to school now, just think how difficult it would be with most of your hearing gone. Whatever "move" you are going to make, you need to do it NOW, while you still have enough hearing left to cope with whatever changes you are going make, courses you need to take, etc.

    There are very few nurses who lose more than 75% of their hearing who are able to keep their jobs. Unfornately, the nursing world is not very accommodating to its members who require any special arrangements, etc. Nurses tend to have little patience with colleagues who don't "pull their own weight." It's wrong, but that's the way it is.

    How much does your current employer know about your situation? How have they reacted to your current level of disability? You may not want to tell them about it unless you are fairly confident of a positive response (or unless you need to because of an obligation to protect patient safety.) On the other hand, if you are confident of a positive result, you might want to sound them out about possibilities should your hearing deteriorate significantly in the future. Is there a way you could do that without giving them too much information about yourself? Could you just explore job options with them without telling them why?

    llg
  10. by   nursnancy
    Quote from llg
    I thought of something else ... Forgive me for being so blunt, but as someone with a hearing impairment who knows other hearing-impaired nurses, I feel I should be totally honest.

    I think it is real important for you to make plans for losing more of your hearing while you are still can. Your future possibility of having a nursing career may depend on you getting additional education or special types of experience (not necessarily an RN, but perhaps ... or perhaps some type of certification). If you think it would be difficult to go back to school now, just think how difficult it would be with most of your hearing gone. Whatever "move" you are going to make, you need to do it NOW, while you still have enough hearing left to cope with whatever changes you are going make, courses you need to take, etc.

    There are very few nurses who lose more than 75% of their hearing who are able to keep their jobs. Unfornately, the nursing world is not very accommodating to its members who require any special arrangements, etc. Nurses tend to have little patience with colleagues who don't "pull their own weight." It's wrong, but that's the way it is.

    How much does your current employer know about your situation? How have they reacted to your current level of disability? You may not want to tell them about it unless you are fairly confident of a positive response (or unless you need to because of an obligation to protect patient safety.) On the other hand, if you are confident of a positive result, you might want to sound them out about possibilities should your hearing deteriorate significantly in the future. Is there a way you could do that without giving them too much information about yourself? Could you just explore job options with them without telling them why?

    llg

    Thanks, llg. I am actually already starting to study for my RN. I have joined the College Network and am working on my BS in nursing (which will be through Indiana State University through distance learning). No matter what happens with my hearing, I don't feel like it will be a waste. No education is ever a waste in my opinion. My hearing specialist did tell me about the cross aide about a year and a half ago. At that time, I wasn't that interested because my left ear had compensated so well that I wasn't having that much trouble, and my insurance wouldn't pay for it. But now I will explore it again since my hearing seems to have gotten worse. I am also hopeful that if I do go completely deaf, I will be a candidate for cochlear implants. Thanks so much for your input.
  11. by   purplemania
    I worked with an RN who had your problem. She bought a special stethescope and, with hearing aids, was able to work. What a challenge!
  12. by   llg
    Nursnancy: I am happy to read that you have done as much planning as you have and are aware of some of your options. I couldn't tell that from your first post and worried that you might not be "plugged in" to all the resources that might help you.

    My hearing ear is still pretty close to normal and not expected to deteriorate much, but I have thought about the possibility of losing it, too.

    Good luck,
    llg
  13. by   nursnancy
    Quote from llg
    Nursnancy: I am happy to read that you have done as much planning as you have and are aware of some of your options. I couldn't tell that from your first post and worried that you might not be "plugged in" to all the resources that might help you.

    My hearing ear is still pretty close to normal and not expected to deteriorate much, but I have thought about the possibility of losing it, too.

    Good luck,
    llg

    Thanks, llg! Good luck to you, too!
  14. by   Jay-Jay
    I have a moderately severe loss in the left ear, and a severe loss in the right. Recently, the hearing in my right ear has deteriorated further, and I now am down to 10% in that ear. I'm not sure what the left is percentage-wise.

    I do homecare nursing (visiting) and have almost total control over background noise. No night shifts, only the occasional evening. Might be worth looking into!

    I have an amplified stethescope, and a really loud cellphone, and I get along pretty well. The cellphone can be a challenge, though, as a great deal of our communication is via voicemail.

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