assaulted by my patient--one year later

  1. 4
    I was assaulted by my patient approximately one year ago and now that it has been the anniversary of my injury, I wanted to share how my life is now and how I am still affected.

    Summary--original post for further reading
    One year ago I was attacked by my patient, suffering a back injury and resulting in debilitating chronic pain. My patient had no organic cause for his agitation. My hospital turned it's back on me and said it was all in my head. I was off work for months. I sunk into a deep depression.

    I had to sue the hospital because they denied my worker's comp claim and I had to settle for a much lower sum of money because I was destitute and SDI was taking months. I never received a dime of SDI despite having paid into it each paycheck.

    One Year Later
    Finally I was able to get off all my medications and return to work at a new job because as a condition of my settlement I had to forfeit my job. I have been working there for a few months now.

    The unit is much lower acuity. Even though it is bad for my career to go down in acuity, I chose it because I thought I owed it to myself to be less challenged after the year I'd had.

    Things were good for a few months. I was in pain every day but it was manageable and I resigned myself to the fact that I would be working through pain. I was happy and able to get active again and enjoy my days off.

    The unit appeared like a great fit initially, but I've already suffered a reinjury because they never staff our CNA and we have no lift team. In my interview I was told there would always be a CNA to assist with turning, but they are only staffed three days each week and the other nurses are all so busy that it's difficult to find help.

    I had to miss two days of work last week but I didn't want to let anyone know why, because I don't want them to know about my stigmatized back injury. I feel better after resting and swimming, but my ROM in my neck is diminished and I am still in increased pain.

    I had to take a couple percocet this week and I'm all out and I'm leaving it this way. I don't want to get back into that cycle of treating my pain because I'm always in pain and the medication is only a temporary fix that comes with the setback of tolerance, dependency, change in personality, etc. And you can't take it at work anyways.

    But the problem is that I am miserable and irritable when I am in pain. I am just not myself and not as good of a nurse to my patients either.

    I have realized that even though my last unit was hell, every unit is going to have it's problems and nothing is really much of an upgrade. I don't want to switch somewhere else because it could be worse.

    My Dilemma

    At this point, I feel like I have to go back to grad school even though I don't want to because I can't risk being at the bedside any longer to get abused and reinjured. It's only a matter of time before I am rendered debilitated again and workers comp was already impossible without having a recent injury to cast doubt on my claim.

    I really don't want to go back to school yet because my dogs are my life and I can't imagine leaving them home alone for 40hrs/week. I can't afford to switch to a non-bedside position because of the decreased pay and it's very difficult to switch specialties in this economy. I would love to go to NICU because it's still critical care but it would be easier on my back although I think this would greatly reduce my chances of becoming a CRNA one day.

    I feel stuck.

    Trust me, I am grateful I can get off the couch and work through the pain and I know things are better than they have been, but I am still so affected by this injury. I am so young and I have my whole life ahead of me and here I am with the back of an eighty year old.

    When the one-year anniversary of my injury passed it was a surreal moment. I remember how bad it was, how it seemed as if there was no light at the end of the tunnel, how I thought my life was over completely. Now I see how far I have come but there is still so far for me to go and so much potential to fall right back down to where I started.

    Thank you for listening. Any advice is welcome and appreciated. I have always found strength in the support I have received here.

    Random Aside:
    In my OP, people worried that I would be anxious when faced with agitated patients. I don't necessarily feel anxious and I am calm when I handle them, but the entire time I am just thinking "Is this it? Am I going to get injured again? One wrong move and it's back to where I began."

    Hoozdo, betterlatethennever, lindarn, and 1 other like this.
  2. 23 Comments so far...

  3. 5
    Have you considered an online graduate program? Visit the college section here on AN. Some schools also offer hybrids which are part classroom and part online, so even while "in school" you could be with your dogs.

    Not all "non bedside" jobs pay less than bedside jobs not sure why you think that? You are going to have to think outside of the box. You can't say you won't get hired until you try. There are a lot of nursing jobs that you CAN do so focus on what you CAN do and not what you can't.There are Dr offices where you would not be lifting. Outpatient type of jobs have a lot less lifting. Occupational Health, Case Management, research nurse, telephonic nirsing, health insurance company,school nurse etc. You could also try public health working for the state or local govt. I have a friend who is a public health nurse. She gets busy during flu shot season, but mostly she just does bp screenings etc. I'd kill for her job. She has great hours, holidays off, and great benefits.

    Hope you feel better soon! Glad to hear it is getting better. Try to stay positive and focus on that. Don't let the past be your present. Was the offender arrested? Did he have any consequences? I really hope he did.
    fiveofpeep, Hoozdo, lindarn, and 2 others like this.
  4. 1
    There really are a great deal of online options! Best of luck to you and your endevours.
    fiveofpeep likes this.
  5. 1
    I am so sorry this happened to you. You could definitely do an online option and still work as the PP mentioned. Most offer part-time and full-time options, and obviously, the part-time option will take you longer to complete. I assume you went from ICU to m/s? I guess you were hoping not as much total care in m/s, but like you said, most positions in the hospital are going to require a significant amount of lifting.

    How long have you been in this other position? NICU would be a good fit for you, and who knows, you may decide to do a NNP program instead of CRNA. Your back pain sounds pretty severe; do you think you would be able to complete and work as a CRNA?

    Maybe you could do something that isn't as strenuous as bedside nursing. Even as a CRNA, and NNP, you will still have to be more mobile, and have long hours. How about something with shorter hours like clinical nursing research? You'd do a great deal of sitting, too, but still be challenged. You'd probably be better off with 8 hour shifts, and I don't know that CRNA's really have that luxury. Don't they have call hours, too? Maybe go to the CRNA forum to see what they say. Best of luck to you!
    fiveofpeep likes this.
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    Would NICU really decrease your chances of getting into CRNA school? Why? It was my understanding that CRNA school wanted to see 1-2 years of ICU, and NICU is certainly critical care. I'm not a CRNA, so what do I know, though.
    fiveofpeep and lindarn like this.
  7. 1
    Good luck, sorry for your travails. Have you tried chiropractic and/ or yoga? Works wonders for my back.
    fiveofpeep likes this.
  8. 3
    my heart goes out to you as i type this. reading your post angered me. in just a few years of practice, i have already met other nurses with scarily similar stories. it is sad indeed when the hospitals refuse to step up and assist our injured colleagues. our jobs are difficult enough; having to deal with the threat of violence then be left to deal with it alone is beyond the pale. i would echo the pps and suggest online programs (totally understand you not wanting to leave the dogs for long periods of time). i know you mentioned crna, but have you any interest in education? you could be an amazing asset to a nursing program, particularly with clinicals within icus. would a msn in education really throw you off track in your quest for crna (honestly not sure what all requirements the crna programs have).

    i guess i mostly just want to send you good thoughts and gentle, virtual hugs. good luck in whatever you choose and may no nurse ever have to deal with this again! (fat chance, i know)
    fiveofpeep, lindarn, and SHGR like this.
  9. 2
    I just wanted to say I wish you all the best and I hope you eventually lead a pain free life and get back to really enjoying what you love. Hugs!
    fiveofpeep and Nurse Leigh like this.
  10. 1
    Most programs don't consider NICU as the critical care component. We have people leave to go to ER or ICU's to get the experience. I wish I could help you, but I do wish you the best.
    fiveofpeep likes this.
  11. 3
    i was attacked by a 400+ pound ****'* angel when i worked psych. he outweighed me by at least 325 pounds and was more than a foot taller. he grabbed me by my right shoulder and left hip and suddenly i was airborn! that was my first shoulder tear.

    i missed several weeks of work while i healed. my hip was badly bruised but it healed eventually. my shoulder has torn again and has
    begun to separate, but i am no longer a candidate for surgical repair.

    i was terrified when i first returned to work and, yes, he was still there. he could not see my fear though. he was eventually charged with assault and battery and pled no contest.

    i wish you well and send you many many hugs.
    fiveofpeep, lindarn, and SHGR like this.


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