Nurses over 50 &/or with health issues affecting work - page 13

I'm sure I'm not the first (or the last) nurse to deal with this issue - I've been a Nurse for over 27 years and now I find myself having trouble "keeping up".(( Due to age? Weight? Arthritis? effect... Read More

  1. by   P_RN
    I've stayed away from this for "obvious/personal" reasons. Those of you who know aobut me will understand.

    I will tell you that applying for SSDI was the most humiliating degrading thing I have ever done.

    SS LOST my application twice and I had to get a lawyer to write a letter to the district to even get them to accept a third.

    I was forced to undergo 2 separate "physical" exams from family medicine doctors I didn't know, who were only doing it for the money the govt. paid.

    During one of these exams the doctor talked continually about how everybody wants something for nothing, and I was not the only person on this planet who had a " little pain."

    THEN I was sent to a psychiatrist who gave the usual mini-mental exam....very cold...THEN she found out that I was a nurse and in fact had worked with her husband.

    She called a halt to the exam and said she would send in her report. I found out later that she had recommended me to be accepted. So there, I was a severely depressed RN with little or no chance of rehabilitation.....just what I wanted said about me.

    Then I waited, and waited and waited some more.

    So here I am one of the few, the humiliated, the disabled.

    What fun, what a life.....
  2. by   NurseDennie
    ((((((((((P_RN))))))))))))))

    I hate that you went through all that. Typical government crapola, isn't it?

    And to add even more insult, up until a few years ago, ETOH and other substance abuse was automatically an allowance. Hubby said that he knew several claimants who had their SSI check sent right to a liquor store.

    There should be some pension built into being a nurse. It becomes (literally!) PAINFULLY obvious that it's needed and it would be the right thing to have done.

    Love

    Dennie
  3. by   mattsmom81
    PRN, I am relating to your feelings well...and am struggling to hang on with the level of pain and depression I feel....trying to see a semi-comfortable life in my future (financially, and painwise) but knowing it probably is not in the cards.....now I'm after reducing (rather than eliminating) the pain and all that goes with it.

    The humiliation and loss of control over our destiny is so tough to take...we were strong women with careers who could handle everything thrown our way, then we were hurt and our worlds changed. We spent out lives caring for others to be in total shock to see how little kindness would be there for us, from our employers, our doctors. and the 'system'.

    (((PRN))) I find these same emotions to be overwhelming some days...just take my pills and go to bed with the covers over my head ...

    This is personal stuff but I write it to 'get it out of my system', also I know there are others in my shoes who may need to hear they're not alone. I know it does a world of good for me.

    I am glad to hear that pain management is changing. I think you should report and/or sue that doc who asked why you couldn't 'handle a little pain'. It probably could fall under 'intentional infliction of emotional distress'. I hope you told him off but good, but then again I know we just get tired of fighting all the time too...

    I'm going to share here that I'm now reconsidering my upcoming neck fusion surgery because of the financial consequences to my family. I don't have any promises from the surgeon or my attorney re: outcomes, and my poor hubby has been through so much with me. He is, I fear, developing a drinking problem worrying about our future losing our good credit rating, our retirement funds, and possibly having to file for bankruptcy...it's hitting his pride hard..he has his own health problems too and all this stress will quadruple if we go into debt further......we may lose everything we have worked so hard for all these years. Maybe I should cut my losses now and go for pain management vs surgical attempts.

    I have written a list of 29 nurses on this BB who have shared their struggle with disabling injuries on many levels.

    I am praying for them all daily---for strength and courage, for comfort, for good caring people around them including docs, for the right help at the right time. God bless you all and email or PM me anytime....I have nothing but time now and spend a lot of it visiting with friends on this BB, and reading inspirational books to keep my spirits up. I have a best friend who I see several times a week but I hate to burden her much with my problems, she does not understand and I can see it troubles her....it is good to talk to those who understand. Luv ya'll and hope you will also keep me in your prayers.:kiss
    Last edit by mattsmom81 on Apr 22, '02
  4. by   kaycee
    I understand how some of you feel. I am 47, and had back surgery in Jan for a cyst wrapped around the cord. I was having right leg pain. I had some relief from that but the leg pain persisted. Now they have discovered I have severe DJD in the R hip. No joint space to speak of. It's pretty much bone on bone. I am still working in the ER. I have a terrible waddling limp and by the end of my shift I can barely make it to my car.
    I had an injection to that hip last Tues under Fluoro. I had relief for 1 day. I have been told by my ortho I will need a hip replacement.
    Geez I never expected at 47 yo to need a new hip.
    I have a daughter that will be starting college in the fall. My son is soon to follow. My husband has been wonderful through all this, but I know he's worried. He's a police officer and we depend on both incomes, although he wants me to be better more then anything else.
    I've been keeping my eyes open for non hospital positions that are less physical but as you all know they don't pop up often, and frequently don't pay as much as I'm making now.
    I have worked ER for 20yrs and have been in the same hospital for 24yrs. My co-workers have been supportive and won't let me do certain things that are hard for me. I hate it though, I've always been a worker. I don't want to work anywhere I can't pull my weight.
    I could just cry some days and find myself rather depressed at times. I now understand how chronic pain can do that to someone.
    I don't know how understanding the hospital will be if I'm off again for another surgery, plus I used up most of my sick time with the last surgery. The only sick time I used was the medical leave. I never call out sick normally and haven't since the surgery even though I'm extremely uncomfortable every day I work.
    We already are down 1 fulltime and 1 part time position and if I'm off they will really be up the creek.
    Oh well I know there are any quick fixes out there but I appreciate this forum just to be able to vent with others that are in similar situations.
    I will certainly keep all of you in my prayers and hope we can all overcome these obstacles in our lives the best way we can.

    Lynne
  5. by   chandra
    I am into nursing for 27 yrs, and allthose yrs worked in a cardiac surgical intesive care unit. I have been enjoying my work. I must thank God for keeping me healthy and active even today i work faster than my fellow and junior nurses. Positive thinking. Meditation and pure Veg. diet and walk is what keeps me fit
  6. by   NancyRN
    I feel betrayed. I went to school at age 45 to become an RN, figuring if I worked hard with my brain I wouldn't need to use my back! My instructors even said "I'm training RN's, you wont have to do the heavy work!"
    Now I find myself at 50 physically able only to work an 8 hour shift every other day. It's not even enough money to pay back my student loans.
    And chandra, I have worked out at a gym for over 10 years. I am more fit than most 25 year olds.
  7. by   mattsmom81
    Chandra, I pray you stay well and continue to have good working conditions so that you and your coworkers can protect your health. Unfortunately, too many money grubbing administrators here rarely staff us well enough to handle everything safely and efficiently, so we work stressed and chronic short staffed. Over a period of time Murphy's Law dictates something will go awry and boom...a nurse is hurt.

    I agree Nancy, nursing school does NOT prepare us for the physical load of our jobs and common sense teaches us the human factor can override the most careful of body mechanics. Hospitals are too cheap to buy us the lift devices we need, and are too afraid of offending 'customers' by telling them their nurses' health is more important for example, than dead weight Granny being total lifted out of bed every hour to the commode. Then there's always the docs who refuse to order appropriate sedation for violent, combative patients and they hurt us too. No wonder we have such a nurse shortage at the bedside! Those who give 110% usually pay for it by being the first ones injured. I have seen it so many times, and as charge nurse I have seen my staff injured despite ALL the precautions we could possibly use. Things like a bed wheel locking unexpectedly while we rush a patient to ICU, causing a nurse to lose her balance and fall, injuring her back requiring surgery. Luckily, she documented this (and I witnessed it) so the hospital was forced to assume liability; many times I see the hospital dodge their responsibilities to injured nurses and it's a crime, IMHO. And hospitals are experts at blaming nurses for their own injuries...how unfair and unkind.

    Kaycee, how frustrating for you to have made it through one surgery to find you now need another! Remember your family medical leave rights...they have to grant it to you by law, you shouldn't feel guilty. It's not like you asked for this disability. I'm learning to be an advocate for myself and toughening up my act a bit...nurses deserve to be treated fairly in the workplace too!
    The ADA is fairly clear regarding reasonable accomodations and I think we should all start becoming savvy when we acquire disabilities. We aren't trained to take care of ourselves, so we have to 'adjust our attitudes' to do that.....

    Prayers and good wishes for all my friends here.:kiss
  8. by   P_RN
    Do nurses "eat their ELDERS". I haven't seen it put that way before, but that is almost exactly the way I was treated.

    First you get the "sympathy...we'll work together" THEN you call in and you hear by the grapevine that you aren't reliable.

    THEN when something really happens.....well that's when the collective back is turned. My NM actually told me that SHE had 3 nurses out on FMLA! Imagine that...what a hardship....nothing at all said about the THREE nurses....one later died.....and she said that now she could fill the position!

    Don't count on your hospital returning the favor. Don't grin and bear it......believe me....most of the time all they want is to get rid of expensive excess baggage (us) and bring in new "floor stock" younger, cheaper, better.

    Bitter? Who me?
  9. by   cbs3143
    I'm still only 49, but haven't been able to work in the ER for the past three years. I developed a left footdrop about eight years ago. I was fitted with an AFO and was able to work in the ER for another five years, even though the strain broke one of my AFO's in half. I saw neurologists locally and at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester without a firm diagnosis.

    I had some thoracic disc disease and underwent a thoracic laminectomy, which was the worst thing that I ever could have done. My back has been very painful since that time. The worst that I rated my pain following surgery was 7/10, and I worked with pain that I rated 5/10 many nights in the ER. I worked an additional five years in the ER after my back surgery. It's been like I aged 15 years in those last five that I worked in the ER.

    My NM was very supportive and is a dear friend to this day, but the heavy workload and the 12 hour shifts were killers. By the way Mario, if you work a twelve hour shift and get off on time, you're lucky to get home and have ten hours before you're due back the next day. Figure six to eight hours of sleep if you're lucky, and a couple of hours to spend with the family.

    I was lucky enough to get a position as a medical review coordinator, after missing several other non-patient care nursing positions. There are positions out there that become available from time to time. Best of luck to each of you struggling with health or age related work challenges.

    When I left the ER, I could barely get back up on my feet after starting an IV. My disease has progressed to wearing bilateral AFO's, and I am beginning to experience some upper extremity weakness now.

    The neurologist from Mayo described me as an enigma in a letter to my physician, and my blood tests for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease came back negative last summer, so I'm still without a diagnosis. At least the back pain has settled down to a 1-2/10 on average, and I rarely take more than a dose of ibuprofen a day. My faith in the medical profession was severely damaged by my surgical experience, and being a medical review coordinator doesn't help much either LOL.

    Thanks for letting me ramble on. There are too many hurting nurses out there.
  10. by   mattsmom81
    Cbs, your disability sounds very frustrating and perplexing....your symptoms remind me a bit like a coworker of mine whose dx is now RSD 'by default'....

    I have a question if not too personal...what are these AFO's you speak of? An orthopedic device?

    Also is medical review like utilization review, or is it an audit position? I am detail oriented, have done bill audit, and was on chart review committee my last facility and am curious. (I'm always looking into possibilities for future employment...LOL!)

    I have begun to have quite a bit of thoracic pain myself...sometimes wrapping around the ribs....my PCP says more arthritis....sigh. Add it to the neck pain and the old low back fusion pain and it's a real challenge to keep going. You have my empathy and best wishes!

    (((Hugs))) to all in this forum!
  11. by   Lizard101
    I am 47 & I have been a Health Occupations teacher for 6 years at the high school level. I love the teens, we go to the nursing home and hospital, I teach them lifting and body mechnaics before we go out, I tell them I hurt my back when in my early 20's and had to leave the beside in the hospital at about 40. My husband was military and we moved a lot, I did many different positions, home health, senior center(in fla), supervisor, hospice, public health and teaching. I would not go back to floor nursing, my health started down at 43, since then several surgeries and fibromyalgia later I am taking good! care of myself first. But I think being in the high school I can give back, and get the kids fired up about the medical field, it is refreshing to me & energizing!
    Good Luck!
  12. by   Sandra Bennett
    :kiss
  13. by   Sandra Bennett
    I HAVE BEEN ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES. I AM 59 YRS OLD AND HAVE BEEN A NURSE SINCE I WAS 17. I WILL WORK UNTIL I CODE GOING DOWN THE HALL, GOD WILLING. THE HOSP I WORK WAS WILLING TO PLACE ME ON NIGHTSHIFT WEO SO THAT I CAN MAKE AS MUCH IN 2 DAYS AS I DID IN 3. I WAS MADE A CHARGE NURSE AND I HAVE A TEAM UNDER ME SO THAT I DON'T HAVE TO DO TOO MUCH PHYSICAL LABOR. WHEN I WAS HAVING TO WORK OVERTIME TO MAKE CHRISTMAS FOR MY FAMILY, I HAVE 2 ADULT HANDICAPPED CHILDREN AND 2 GRADESCHOOLERS I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR, THEY GAVE ME A CHRISTMAS PARTY WITH OVER 1,000.00. IN GIFTS FOR THE FAMILY AND TOLD ME TO REST. SOME PLACES STILL CARE FOR THEIR EMPLOYEES. I HAVE ONLY WORKED THERE 5 YRS AND HAVE HORROR STORIES ABOUT OTHER JOBS. I'LL PRAY YOU CAN KEEP THE HEALTH YOU HAVE.

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