Newish RN with new back injury - help!

  1. 0
    I'm a relatively 'new' RN (~2 years experience) with a back injury (herniated disc) I acquired from an on the job injury. I'm being treated for it through work and have no complaints about that - I have gotten great care, albeit extremely slow.

    But I'm terrified to go back to work as the time approaches. I'm worried about re-injuring myself or injuring myself worse and being completely unable to work or needing surgery or worse. My doctor told me I should really consider thinking about my career path and get out of nursing.

    I'm looking for alternate things I can do with my nursing degree (all my experience is in critical care; I also have a generalist MSN that I did as it was the quickest way to become an RN) - things that are alternatives to bedside nursing that are not so hard on the body.

    I know that 2 years isn't that much experience in the whole grand scheme of things, but I figure it might help to get my foot in the door somewhere.

    Any suggestions/leads/ideas? thanks

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  2. 13 Comments...

  3. 0
    I'm sorry. I too herniated a disc about a year and a half ago, and that was a factor that played into my decision to leave bedside nursing (I was an L&D nurse). I now work in perinatal research. Be well!
  4. 0
    Sorry to hear about your injury. After almost a year into nursing, I had a terrible shoulder injury that required surgery, and ended up being a torn rotator cuff. (I was 24 at the time, way too young for that injury!) I was in a sling for about 5 weeks, and still in so much pain when it was time for me to start back to work. Anyways, I felt a lot like you do... I was so scared to go to work (in the ER), and my orthopod told me if I injured it again while it was healing, I would never work as a nurse again. I can't explain the tears and torture it was thinking about it, but it seems you may have a good idea already.

    Bottom line, I did some real soul searching and decided I needed to change jobs, even if it was something I didn't love, just so I would still have the ability to do something I loved in the future. I now work in peds and i LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It was the best decision I ever made.

    I'm telling you my story because I want you to know that even if you switch jobs or postpone going back, or whatever you need to do, dont feel like it is a failure or worry about what others will think. You have to do what is best for you and your future. Also, who knows, you may actually end up loving what you do. Good luck to you, hope it works out.
  5. 0
    You could think about case management, or somewhere like OR/ PACU. You would need to take the OR course, but the workload is much lighter than any of the other floors.
  6. 1
    Maybe transfer to a NICU or PICU since you already have critical care experience. Patients tend to be a little smaller in those firleds- so less lifting.
    roser13 likes this.
  7. 0
    I was going to suggest NICU as well.
  8. 2
    Quote from joanna73
    You could think about case management, or somewhere like OR/ PACU. You would need to take the OR course, but the workload is much lighter than any of the other floors.
    I would advise against the OR. At my facility, all of the nurses with injuries/surgeries eventually transfer to the pre/post op area. There is a tremendous amount of lifting/holding various body parts, in addition to transferring patients from cart to OR table & back. Holding the arm or leg of a 300 or 400 pound person while someone scrubs it it not an easy task.
    GrnTea and TakeTwoAspirin like this.
  9. 0
    It might depend on what specifically you are doing in the OR though. I had a rotation in Cysto a while back. We had minimal lifting in that department. The hours were good, too. 7-330 and 8-430 with an hour for lunch.
  10. 1
    Six years ago, I herniated a disk at work. I was off for six months. When it was time to go back to work I, too had worries about it. I used to wake up in the middle of the night, scared to death to go back to the ICU. I was afraid I would re-injure myself, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to keep up anymore, I was afraid I wouldn't love it as I used to.

    I went back to work, and although the first two weeks were rough, I was back into the swing of things -- and loving it again -- in just a few weeks. I've never regretted going back to the ICU.
    GrnTea likes this.
  11. 1
    Had surgery for two-level herniation many moons ago. Did a lot of excellent PT and when she turned me loose she told me to keep it up, or else. I did.

    At first my goal was to have five lousy minutes pain-free. Then, when I noticed I was getting five-minute periods, I looked for tens. Then fifteens. Eventually I had hour-long periods pain-free; maybe not every day, but I did have them, and then they became more frequent. One of the best things my PT told me was not to panic if I had recurrence of a higher pain level from time to time, but just to keep doing the exercises and walk, walk, walk as much as I could (I got up to 3 miles a day listening to books on tape for distraction, and that was terrific). The other was to really understand the difference between dangerous pain and nondangerous pain, and not to fear the nondangerous pain merely because it was painful, but to keep on going.

    Kept looking for longer and longer pain-free times -- a morning, a day, two days... and they did come. They got more consistent. Then I threw caution to the wind and said, My goal is to forget I ever had any back injury at all! And I laughed to myself, because I knew that was never gonna happen-- who could forget all this misery?

    But you know what? It did happen. And I went gradually back to doing everything I had been doing adaptively-- carrying the laundry downstairs instead of kicking the basket down, then kneeling to fill it up, then kicking it down the cellar stairs; bending over to put the pans away instead of leaving them out on the counter; bending over to make the bed rather than kneeling at all four corners-- it all came back. Now I go months and sometimes years forgetting that 10" zipper in my LS.

    Do what you want for work. Make sure you don't fear nondangerous pain, and do what you want. Your back will recover. So will the rest of you.
    sauconyrunner likes this.


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