Disabled, but not unable: the rebirth of a nurse!


Disabled, but not unable: the rebirth of a nurse!

July 2012 was a time of joy, second only to my May 2012 wedding (married my best friend) and the birth of my children 20 something years ago. I had just completed my MSN and was ready to take on the world with the limitations that Paget’s disease and a sacral fracture would allow. I wasn’t in perfect health, but I could teach and mentor nurses, and, let’s face it, one of the great perks about been a nursing instructor is that you always have a lift team at your disposal. Then it happened. The pain from my lower back started radiating to down through my gluts down my legs.I could not move, sit, stand, walk or lie down without the stabbing pain from my hips down to my legs. Nothing made it better! A few weeks later my pain management doctor explained to me that due to my Paget’s disease my affected bones were being remodeled in a way that was impinging nerves from my lumbar spine to the sacral area, and that it didn’t help that my lumbar spine and hips were festered with arthritis. His prognosis: “this is a good as you will get”, and that I would likely experience pain similar to those with bone cancer. Needless to say, I was in a bad place.

I could no longer provide for my family. I could no longer provide bedside care. I could no longer make a difference in the life of new nurses. I couldn’t even help out at home while the love of my life was out there doing it all for us. Soon, depression set in. I asked myself daily: What was I worth, if I couldn’t work and support my family? Many sleepless and pain ridden nights went by, as I fought pain rather than medicating, so that I could at least spend quality time with my loved ones. But one of those sleepless nights turning the TV changed my life. As it if were meant to be, a documentary about people with disabilities was being shown when the TV turned on. Missing arms, missing legs, blindness from birth, and yet each one of this remarkable people had succeeded into becoming self-reliant and independent. They were mothers and fathers, some professional and artisans. They made the impossible look normal and they were happy! I asked myself, “How could that be?"

I realized then that they didn’t see themselves as limited. They simply rose to the challenge with the tools that they had. They had needs, desires, and dreams that they wanted met. So why couldn’t I muster that same strength? After all, I was able to speak, to write, to educate, to advocate and to empathize. Soon my cane went from being the symbol of my weakness to being the symbol of my perseverance. My pain went from being my shackle to being my anchor and my wind. I was free! Free to live my new life, to set new goals, to reset old goals, and to let go of those goals that were no longer part of my reality. I gave myself permission to dream again, to give again and to once again feel worthwhile.

I still reminisce of how things could have been, but no longer as the defeated human being that I was. I may not be able to run somewhere, but I can still get there. I may not be able to lift 20lbs, but I can still lift spirits. I know no bounds! I am a disabled nurse, I am proud!

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

4,477 Posts

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

Awesome. What have you ended up doing?


193 Posts

Specializes in RN, CHPN. Has 25 years experience.
my cane went from being the symbol of my weakness to being the symbol of my perseverance

Amazingly powerful words. Thank you.

Specializes in Pediatrics, Emergency, Trauma. Has 18 years experience.

Powerful words from one disabled nurse to another, there is always a will and a way. :)


184 Posts

You just did lift spirits! This is so inspiring!

I'm starting nursing school in the spring, and I constantly worry about what would happen if my physical abilities were limited or altered. It's nice to know that a nursing career doesn't have to end, even with physical hitch.

Best wishes to you as you chart your new path! Maybe you have a little Patch Adams in you.

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

142 Articles; 9,981 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 26 years experience.

What an incredible post! Your words made me feel that I too still have the potential to do great things, even though I'm disabled by mental illness and can't work right now. Maybe I can find fulfillment and give back to the world in other ways besides work.....thank you for offering your perspective on life as a disabled nurse. :)


6 Posts

Thank you for putting a different spin on being disabled in the nursing field. Your story is much appreciated. Good luck and God speed to you and yours.


14 Posts

Has 3 years experience.

Loving the inspiration and encouragement found here! About the time of the last post here, I was recovering from the fourth surgery in my left eye within eight months' time to treat glaucoma and cataracts. There is no light perception in my right eye since late 2011. I have less than 17% visual field in my "good" eye where glare/lighting, contrast and magnification is EVERYTHING.

I found I needed to be my own best patient advocate and am receiving help through the Michigan State Bureau for Blind Persons with equipment at home to function somewhat and taking technology training using audible keystroke commands to navigate a computer screen. I'm also hoping to find a job at home using my nursing degree which I received later in life and shortly before I lost so much of my vision (thus only 3 or so years of "experience") and live in a remote town in Michigan. I turned in my driver's license late last year.

I had started a transcription course in 2010 and wanted to continue, but my hearing is also diminishing and different accents would be a problem in listening to what needs transcribing. I'm only 57 years old and am holding on to my hard-worked-for degree. Billing and coding was mentioned in my vocational rehabilitation counseling, but I'm feeling the state is looking for a shorter term goal.

Not looking for sympathy (got enough of that from myself at times!) but looking for a way to still be useful.


5 Posts

this is really a wonderful post. Most of us have a lot of negativity hanging around us and sharing your story lifts that. Thank you!


8 Posts

I am sitting here and to me your the answer that God sent me. I am will be finished with my prerequisites by the summer and then start nursing school. I am in my forties. I stared in 2010 however due to an accident I had to stop. I currently have a nuero stimulator in my spine and have pain but my passion to learn and help people superceeds it. I know that nursing is more than the physical aspect it is mental and emotionally able to deal with sickness and death. You have to be able to treat patients with respect, treat them like people not like patients with respect. I truly think that I can make a difference. I may not be able to lift them but as you said I can lift their spirits and that is a cure within it's self. Thank you so much for the words you have written. I can't wait. God bless and feel better. Future nurse Brighteyes


4 Posts

Redefining self is the key to break through the barriers.


4 Posts

Thank you for taking the time to read it and for your comments!