Help! Recently diagnosed w/ Lupus! Pre-nursing student!

  1. 0
    Hello.
    I'm 21 y/o female and I was recently diagnosed with Lupus about 10 mths ago. I was always healthy and strong before getting into my first "flare". I even had to get a blood transfusion because my blood count was really low.
    Anyway now that I'm on Lupus medication, (including Prednisone which I hate and made me gain 30lbs) and out of a flare, I'm a lot better than I used to be. but EVERYDAY I'm always left feeling tired, achy joints all over my body, back pain, weakness, & feel like I can't stand for more than like 2-3 hrs w/o feeling so tired and weak with swollen feet.. and the list goes on.

    I'm a pre-nursing student hoping to be an RN and eventually a PNP and hoping to apply for nursing school by 2014. I'm having second thoughts as to being a nurse because I know i would have to work 12 hr shifts, no sitting, possibly no lunch breaks if busy, and so on. Stress, spread of germs, lack of sleep, etc. could possibly set me into a "flare" and being sick for weeks at a time really sucks.

    My questions are for the people that have Lupus or any other autoimmune diseases..

    -How is your day after a long 12hr shift?!
    -How to protect yourself from all the sick pts that come into the hospital?
    -How to minimize back pains and joint pain from working long hrs?
    -Even though I have Lupus, would Nursing still be a great career for me? Or too much for me to handle physically, emotionally, & mentally?

    Any other info would be greatly appreciated & helpful.

    Thanks!
  2. 5 Comments so far...

  3. 0
    Quote from nurselife21
    Hello.
    I'm 21 y/o female and I was recently diagnosed with Lupus about 10 mths ago. I was always healthy and strong before getting into my first "flare". I even had to get a blood transfusion because my blood count was really low.
    Anyway now that I'm on Lupus medication, (including Prednisone which I hate and made me gain 30lbs) and out of a flare, I'm a lot better than I used to be. but EVERYDAY I'm always left feeling tired, achy joints all over my body, back pain, weakness, & feel like I can't stand for more than like 2-3 hrs w/o feeling so tired and weak with swollen feet.. and the list goes on.

    I'm a pre-nursing student hoping to be an RN and eventually a PNP and hoping to apply for nursing school by 2014. I'm having second thoughts as to being a nurse because I know i would have to work 12 hr shifts, no sitting, possibly no lunch breaks if busy, and so on. Stress, spread of germs, lack of sleep, etc. could possibly set me into a "flare" and being sick for weeks at a time really sucks.

    My questions are for the people that have Lupus or any other autoimmune diseases..

    -How is your day after a long 12hr shift?!
    -How to protect yourself from all the sick pts that come into the hospital?
    -How to minimize back pains and joint pain from working long hrs?
    -Even though I have Lupus, would Nursing still be a great career for me? Or too much for me to handle physically, emotionally, & mentally?

    Any other info would be greatly appreciated & helpful.

    Thanks!
    I'm sorry about your diagnosis, but I'm glad that you're feeling improved.

    I don't have an autoimmune disease, but I have multiple conditions that made me worry at one point about my ability to work (I also am acquainted with a NICU-turned-PICU RN with lupus who has similar thoughts as me). I'm a NICU nurse. My NICU is divided in pods. Oftentimes, our patients are in the same pod, which is great because there's no running up and down a long hallway to see everybody. Plus, we're taking care of babies, which is nice because it decreases stress on your joints (i.e., you're not turning adults). Because of that (and because we try to cluster our care), sitting down is possible. We sit down to feed our feeders/growers. I've absolutely had days where I've had a baby crash and I've been on my feet for multiple hours straight to try to save him/her, but I've found that caring for a baby is a lot easier on the body than caring for a sick adult.

    Working on a supportive unit is important. Good hand hygiene and infection control is important, especially in NICU. We're pretty OCD, I've found . We ask sick visitors not to come in, and we will have them leave if they seem sick. Wear good, supportive shoes, and compression stockings; your legs and feet will thank you later. My co-workers all make sure that everybody gets a break at some point throughout the day. It might not be your entire 30 minutes (mine was 20 the other day, but that's happened one time so far), but it's something. We usually get another shorter break at some point during the day, too.

    You can make it work if you set your sights on it, and if you take care of yourself. Talk to your doctors if you have particular concerns about your condition.
  4. 0
    My thoughts are just the opposite of the previous poster. It would be different if you were an experienced nurse who had already invested a lot in her nursing career. In that case, I would recommend that you try to find a supportive employer and a job that was minimally stressful on the body.

    But you haven't even started your nursing education yet. You haven't made the big investment yet. When you graduate and face the job market as a new grad, you will limited options because of your lack of experience and you may not be able to get a job that will be easy on your body. The types of jobs that new grads are most likely to be able to get involve physical labor that will be very hard on your body in ways that will impact the quality of your life forever.

    I don't have lupus, but I used to work with a nurse in her 40's who did. The years of physical labor lifting and moving patients and equipment had been very hard on her body. She had undergone a couple of surgeries on her joints and was under continuous treatment. I don't know the end of her story, but when I moved away from there, she was contemplating having to quit her job and looking for ideas of how she could support herself -- go back to school for another career? -- find some other sort of nursing job that would be less stressful? .... file for disability? etc. She didn't know what she was going to do, but she didn't believe she could continue in her current job of staff education with ocasional helping out with patient care. The years had taken its toll on her body and she just couldn't do it any more.

    There are lot of other possible careers out there -- some of them in health care -- that would be less stressful for your body. I suggest you give them some serious consideration to see if there are any that might appeal to you. Also, I hope you are talking to your doctor about these questions. You need the information on the expected progress of your disease and the effects that the stress and physical labor of many nursing jobs will have before you can make an informed decision.

    I wish you the best of luck -- and a long, happy career -- whatever you decide.
  5. 0
    HI, I am in a similar situation, so I know how you feel. I am 24 and have type 1 diabetes and fibromyalgia. I have worked in this field as a nurse aide in several different types of settings for 8 years. I have flares with my fibro every once in a while, so I know how hard it can be. What you really need to decide is how passionate about nursing you are, that will answer all your questions!!! I know that for me, even with the ups and downs, Nursing and caring for other people is worth it. I have known that since I was diagnosed at 9 with diabetes.

    As for your questions, here is what I can tell you!!!
    1. 12 hour shifts are very tough, but doable if this really is your passion. Remember there are all sorts of avenues in nursing, not all are 12 hour shifts.
    2. As far as staying healthy, infection control in and out of patient rooms, plus taking care of you are key, As nurses or to be technical future nurses, we tend to focus on everyone else and not on us. I have learned this the hard way. If I don't take care of me, then I will never be able to care for my patients the way they deserve.
    3. As for minimizing pain, take care of yourself and use mechanical lifts and the help of others whenever possible. Getting a good back brace, not only reminds you to use good body mechanics, which are taught for a reason, but for me, it also helped with lower lumbar pain, and Use a gait belt if you have to transfer without a lift.
    4. The last question is one that you have to dig deep and figure out what you are most passionate about. If it is nursing, then you will be able to handle whatever you come to. If not, don't waste your time and money.

    MY LAST PIECE OF ADVICE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I CAN TELL YOU TO DO: TRUST GOD AND KNOW THAT HE HAS ALLOWED THIS FOR A REASON AND HE WILL BRING YOU THROUGH IT, AND HE WILL LEAD YOU IF YOU ALLOW HIM TOO!!!! I will be praying that He does just that and that He heals you. Also, remember that if He doesn't heal you, He always holds you.
  6. 0
    I know many nurses with autoimmune problems, two of whom have lupus. One recently retired; she worked about 30 years or so, with a lot of old icu experience, and in the year or two before she retired, I noticed she had a lot of problems with getting her tasks done. Basically it felt like giving report to a student, and it was just as difficult to follow. I am putting all that down to brain fog because she put 100% of herself into good effort every time she showed up to work, but eventually realized that she needed to do something else. I'm glad she was able to retire, instead of being stuck financially. (And please don't read this wrong; I really like the person, but you may find that some people are great, just not to work with.)

    One other nurse was an LPN for 20 something years, sometime during that time she was diagnosed, and went on to become an RN. She's one of the smartest, hardest working people I know, and she does not EVER complain. She only ever mentioned her disease once. I have also worked with a wide variety of nurses with rheumatoid arthritis, and a bunch with osteoarthritis. They just work, and the only time disease is mentioned is if there is something new that crops up, or someone apparently is having trouble walking. I really want to know how these courageous women "make friends" with their pain, because it is a skill I apparently lack.

    I don't know what I have, other than a lot of pain and an upcoming rheumy appointment. I do feel like I can handle nursing with whatever is presented to me, but I may have to adjust and not work all my nights in a row, or not work overtime. I think that if I felt like this when I was thinking of school, I would have tried a different career path altogether. The reason I think it's doable, for me, is that I have experience, a good job, and a sense of how to organize my life to make 12 hour nights something that I enjoy doing. It's really good most of the time, and that means that when it's really bad, I have ways to destress and it kind of averages out. Plus there are all these wonderful people that inspire me to keep on going.
  7. 0
    Quote from nurselife21
    Hello.
    I'm 21 y/o female and I was recently diagnosed with Lupus about 10 mths ago. I was always healthy and strong before getting into my first "flare". I even had to get a blood transfusion because my blood count was really low.
    Anyway now that I'm on Lupus medication, (including Prednisone which I hate and made me gain 30lbs) and out of a flare, I'm a lot better than I used to be. but EVERYDAY I'm always left feeling tired, achy joints all over my body, back pain, weakness, & feel like I can't stand for more than like 2-3 hrs w/o feeling so tired and weak with swollen feet.. and the list goes on.

    I'm a pre-nursing student hoping to be an RN and eventually a PNP and hoping to apply for nursing school by 2014. I'm having second thoughts as to being a nurse because I know i would have to work 12 hr shifts, no sitting, possibly no lunch breaks if busy, and so on. Stress, spread of germs, lack of sleep, etc. could possibly set me into a "flare" and being sick for weeks at a time really sucks.

    My questions are for the people that have Lupus or any other autoimmune diseases..

    -How is your day after a long 12hr shift?!
    -How to protect yourself from all the sick pts that come into the hospital?
    -How to minimize back pains and joint pain from working long hrs?
    -Even though I have Lupus, would Nursing still be a great career for me? Or too much for me to handle physically, emotionally, & mentally?

    Any other info would be greatly appreciated & helpful.

    Thanks!
    I was diagnosis with Lupus and RA. The most important things you should know is: you will require more rest a lot more. I have a hard time working 12hrs. You may need to work a day off a day. My coworkers really look out for me. I was never assigned TB pt's, or isolation patients. You will always have pain if you do not get the rest you need and if you do not live stress free life. We all know nursing is very stressful.
    Yes you can still be a nurse. Nursing has so many avenues you can take.( case management ,telephonic, teaching, ) Nursing school is very hard and demanding. The stress of school will cause you pain.
    I have been on medical leave for year. Pain in my feet have cost me to not work.


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