I hope this does not sound too much like a pity party. I feel pretty down, so I fear it might.
I have been a nurse for one and a half years. I worked one year at a hospital that was so far away I had to stay at a hotel for work, and moved afterwards to an ICU closer to home. I had truly found what made me happy as a nurse.
The work was hard. There was pain all around and patients with so many needs, I could never fill them all, but it was fulfilling. I finally felt like I had come to where I was meant to be....a place where I can help. A place my smile and cheerfulness, along with nursing care might make a difference in people's lives. I was happy.
Then it happened...
It didn't happen AT work, but the first day of vacation. My back began to hurt more than I had ever experienced. My right leg began burning and I was unable to walk without a pronounced limp and assistance.
I returned to work after the painful vacation (spent mostly in the hotel room watching TV, due to pain), and tried to work for a total of 6 days. Then I had to give in and call the doctor. I had an MRI and was written out of work indefinitely.
I have been in treatment for three months now, and am only moderately better. I have Degenerative Disc Disease (L-5/S-1) and sciatic nerve radiating pain. I have had three steroid injections and am in my second round of physical therapy.
The doctors have said I need to stop working at the bedside because of the added stress and strain that works puts on my back. If I am going to get relief, and maintain it for any length of time, I need to find work that is not at the bedside.
I truly don't mean to complain, but I don't even have two years in as a nurse yet and moving from the bedside to outpatient care or any other nursing job is not easy with as little time as I have in nursing. Plus, I have only been at my most recent employer for 6 months and am already in need of something else. They have told me they have nothing for me. Too small a hospital to have nurses who cannot do bedside care, no matter what official "role" they are employed in.
I am searching and have applied at numerous outpatient offices, with no positive results...all say I need office experience. That sounds crazy! I am in my second career, (first was banking--is that not enough "office" experience) and can certainly maintain records and perform well with computers. I have also been on an Intensive Care Unit, I am more than capable of taking vital signs and updating records for doctors prior to them seeing a patient. What experience am I lacking?
Beside that frustration though. My heart is broken. I keep recalling my time on the ICU and the times I sang to a sedated patient while bathing her, or spoke uplifting words as I changed a dressing. The memories of stories I listened to, shared by the patient moving to hospice care that afternoon, and the time I held a patients' hand and silently cried as I witnessed his passing as a 'No Code" without family. My heart is that of a bedside nurse and I cannot imagine being a nurse without the opportunity to give and receive the love that is shared when we (as patients) are at our worst and the nurse (me) is there to try to relieve pain and assure dignity and healing.
I am honestly depressed. I know I must find a job that does not require leaning over a bed, or pulling up patients, or such, and I know I am capable, but not only does my heart break over the loss of the role that had finally fulfilled me, but also the difficulty of finding a job with such little nursing time under my belt.
What do I do? How can I find peace in this move? How can I actually move anyway?
Please forgive me.