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Cut my losses now?


Hi. I am almost done with my prereqs, have maintained a 4.0, and scored over 90% on all sections of the HESI exam. All ready for nursing school next fall...

Except that, I was just diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Vasculitis. I go in later this week to meet with my Rheumy to discuss treatment options, which will most likely consist of steroids, low-dose chemotherapy, and immunosuppressants. Doc says she is hopeful that I can be put in remission and can resume my normal activities with no limitations, but that I will need to take medication for the rest of my life -- which come with some serious side effects.

I am more interested in working in the OR than I am floor nursing, but I'm also hearing impaired and I don't know how well that would work out for me. But if I'm immunosuppressed and at higher risk for infection myself, how can I take care of people with active illnesses and infections?

I don't know what to do. I'm sick and scared....

Ultimately this can only be your decision, but... you've come so far. You've just been diagnosed, and I'm sure it's a shock and you're dealing with it. I think you should continue on. Clearly, this is the path for you - you've maintained amazing grades and have a passion. I believe that, despite obstacles, you will make a fantastic nurse and can do this if you want it!!! I know a few people with RA in demanding positions, and once you've learned to manage what you've been dealt, you'll be able to do anything you set your mind to :)

I just Googled "nurse with RA" (with the quotation marks), and got a bunch of hits, several from our own allnurses.com. The stories and experiences of other nurses with RA may help you with your decision-making. And if you do decide to keep going, I encourage you to contact some of them to have some support from people who understand.

HouTx, BSN, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

Devil's advocate here . . .

It is a very bad idea for an immunosuppressed person to participate in clinical training because it would be impossible to avoid exposure to all the "cooties". I would advise waiting a while - until the OP's RA is stabilized. The OP should focus on her own health first.

at the risk of sounding like i don't see both sides...

I think you should go for it. My best friend and room mate of 2 years got diagnosed with RA freshman year of college. She's in an extremely demanding program and working in a lab with live bacteria, and so far has been in remission for almost 3 years and hasn't had any illness that's even needed a basic antibiotic. she had to play around with different drugs/doses, but once those got straightened out she's been symptom free and functions totally normally. it can be done :)

I would not make a decision until I had exhausted all means of investigation and have given it a great deal of thought. BTW, once worked with a nurse who had a severe case. She found a job working in an advice call center and did home care. When things got too bad for her to be at work, she took off. She made a comment one time, that she had no intention of ceasing to exist because of her illness.

I saw my doctor today and am feeling better about things. Still nervous about my long-term prognosis and probably will be until after I start treatment and see how it goes. I will know within 3-6 months if the medication will work and is safe for me.

My doctor said that as long as I respond well to treatment and don't have any severe side effects to the medication (Methotrexate), I can go to nursing school in the fall and work in a hospital. She said I would need to take the ordinary precautions of washing my hands and using gloves and masks when necessary, but that I will not be so immunosuppressed that I can't be in that enviornment at all. If I do get sick or injured, I will need to contact her - probably for preventative antibiotics.

So at this point, I'm continuing with my spring classes (A&P II and Logic/Critical Reasoning) and finishing up the application process. And hoping and praying for the best.