Critical care nurse with migraines on disabilty

  1. Hi everyone. I need some advice regarding returning to work after disability. Long story short: I've had a hell of a time. 9 years ago, I developed a migraine--and it never went away. I graduated from nursing school in 2006, and managed with this migraines until last January, when my boss told me, in careful terms, that I could go out on disability or be fired. So I went out on disability. In May, I had surgery: an occipital nerve stimulator. It all but cured my headaches. I was off all narcotics, ready to go back to work, excited...and then after 7 weeks, my implant developed a massive infection. After two surgeries, it was removed. The headaches returned almost immediately--and now, because of the nerve damage from multiple surgeries and the infection, they're worse.

    Because I'd been out so long, exhausted my FMLA and my short term disability, I lost my job. Thank god I paid for long term disability insurance. COBRA ain't cheap.

    Good news: the stimulator is going to be replaced in December, and believe me, I am counting down the days. Here's my question: how on earth do I go back to work? I left the unit on decent terms--yes, I'd had a lot of absences, but they were due to headaches--once the new implant is in and the headaches are gone, the reason for my call-ins is gone. Shouldn't have any more sick days than a "normal" nurse. That being said, I don't know if they'll hire me back.

    So I developed a new plan: go back to school! Critical care NP, there's a great program here...but I can't get in until May. I'll be long-healed by then...hell, I'll be healed by what do I do for 5 months? See if my old job will hire me back perdiem? Try to get a new job(for 5 months???) Wait around, study, get ready for school? See if I can take classes as a non-matriculated student? Ideas, anyone?
    Last edit by Joe V on Sep 27, '12
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    Joined: Sep '12; Posts: 6; Likes: 2


  3. by   morte
    not an answer to your question, but would botox work for you?
  4. by   reagansm
    Look for a PRN job, possibly hospice? That way you can work more hours now, and work occasionally when you go back to school.
  5. by   theremotejen
    I've tried Botox--it didn't work very well. The FDA recently approved double the dose of what I had tried, so we are giving it another go, but I'm not terribly hopeful.
  6. by   wooh
    Ugh, migraines suck. I've been exposed to so much that I rarely get sick anymore. My call-ins for the last few years have all been migraines except for an episode of food poisoning. Hope the surgery helps and maybe the botox will help in the meantime. Mine are mild compared to what some of my friends suffer and sounds like you're worse than they are.

    Is the NP program full-time? I know most of the NP programs around here are part-time. I've got lots of coworkers going through NP programs and all except for a couple (that both have jobs at the school as well) are working full-time.
    Would that be an option, at least working part-time while you're in school? I think it would give your old job or a new one more incentive to hire you if they could hire you part-time rather than full-time for a few months.
  7. by   bayareastudent0711
    Ask for your old job back! You're back and ready to work so why shouldn't they hire you back? =) No need to spend any money on training you because you already know the policies and procedures and how the unit works. They cared enough about you to give you a heads up about going on disability vs getting fired. So try it. and if it doesn't work, then start studying to get ahead in your NP program. Good luck =) and I'm glad you're feeling much better, it sounds like a long journey that you came out stronger from.
  8. by   kensmith
    Are you really ready to go back to work?How are your migraines controlled@this point?Staying busy and making money @ the same time is good for the person in so many ways,yet you hav'nt had the new implant so whats to make your job think youll be any better than when you left?Im with others who say go back to your old place and request part time or per deim, but wont that screw up your income stream from your disbility?Anyway ,go back and work pt/pd and when your new implant is in and your ready you can slip right back into fulltime or work registry.Good luck to you.
  9. by   afjgnp
    My heart goes out to you. Please tell me what happens. I am in the same boat. I have MS and crohns. I thaught I was going to retire, went to SSA and found out that because my hubby is also on SSA, we can't get medicaid because we make too much and medicare won't pay for everything. My hubby had a colonscopy and It cost $200 out of pocket. Now I have a job in a wound care clinic, running my butt off only one day a month off, and guess what? I am home now because I had an MS excerbation. Off a week without pay because the job is "per diem" Paying $600 a month for COBRA. I too graduated as an NP in 2010, but it is too many hours and nobody wants a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, they want family or adult. Sorry for unloading, but I have the feeling I am going to lose my job too( a week off and I have only worked there for 3 months). I wish you the best of luck, please let me know what happens.
  10. by   monkeybug
    I have some questions for you, if you don't mind answering them. I have chronic migraine. I travel 600 miles one way to see a doctor (in fact, I'll be flying to see him next month). He's one of the best migraine specialists in the country, and he says I'm one of his most difficult cases. I am not out on disability (although my doctor has suggested that many times), I have made it on intermittent FMLA. A recent job change has made my life much easier and the migraines better, but I still hurt every day. Where did you get your stimulator? I'm desperate for something permanent. Are you in the US? Did insurance pay for it?
  11. by   RNGriffin
    I would work Per Diem or PRN, even part time. If you have UI utilize it and simply prepare for school. If you have no UI and Disability is running out, returning to work may be the only feasible option. But, since you threw in the other possibilities you can possibly start taking some of the basic study courses towards your degree until the program begins. Also try a couple of CCRN courses( if you are not already credentialed), refresher courses, or become certified in all of the fields you are qualified for. No better form of proactive preparation than making yourself enviable to a company.
  12. by   lawandaluxnurse
    I am sorry you are going thru this. I have been going thru something similar but for a different health reason. I think I would go the prn job route and if you can then go 0.5 or whatever they require for insurance. Have you considered weekend programs? Good Luck! I will be praying and thinking good thoughts for you as well as the nurse with ms. We have to stick together , it is such a cruel world out there. pm me if you want anytime.
  13. by   needshaldol
    Good luck to you. As for those stimulators.......I am not a fan of them. I worked with the implantation of them for many years and it seemed most, not all, but most implanted patients had issues. I will say that I only had to deal with one infection out of hundreds of implants. The others always needed too much care. Either lead replacements, battery replacements, and the list goes on. We even had one patient go to Germany (implants to head were not legal at that time) and of course he ended up going twice due to complications and now it is out for good. So, be careful.
  14. by   llinwyn
    Hi I live in the UK & like you Ive suffered with severe migraine for 30 years im on morphine transdermal patches 140mgs which are changed every 72 hours plus a bucket load of meds but my Occupational Health Dr has told me that mine come under our disability discrimination act so they would have a job to fire me, plus they knew I suffered with them when they employed me 12 years ago! Ive had 1 formal sick review where I took my union rep in with me, & as luck had it I was only off once in 10 months so I was ok. But recently my migraines have changed from having the pain on alternate sides of my head(plus vomiting & diarrhoea, photophobia, aurophobia) to only above my rt eyebrow, but my rt eye swells up & closes up every time now which its never done before, so I am now on the waiting list to have Botox injections. When I do get a migraine I have to phone my Dr who comes to the house & has to give me an Intramuscular injection of Diamorphine plus an anti emetic, so I am disabled for up to 4 days at a time as the morphine IM gives me severe muscle spasms in my back & I have to have diazepam injections IM for those with my Dr. I am under the top migraine specialist in the UK & he cannot do any more for me there is no trigger factor they come on out of the blue, but I have had good support from my ward Sister whose changed my shifts to suit as much as she can & if I phone in to say Im ill she knows I am really ill. So I hope you can sort things out with your work & your migraines stop because anyone who doesnt have them doesnt understand