Is Chronic Illness Threatening Your Nursing Career? Here's a Way to Stay in the Game

  1. Are you a nurse with a chronic illness that is threatening to take you away from the bedside? Do you desperately want to stay in the healthcare field but are unsure what you can do while dealing with your illness? Fortunately, there are several ways to utilize your nursing knowledge while working from the comfort of your home.

    Is Chronic Illness Threatening Your Nursing Career? Here's a Way to Stay in the Game

    My first migraine attack occurred years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I had just showered after PE class in 8th grade and was walking to the lockers to get dressed when I started seeing stars. It was an odd sensation, but I kept going. I later realized that was a big mistake. As the day progressed the head pain I'd later come to know all too well reared it's ugly head and made it clear it wasn't backing down.

    My 14-year-old self learned an important lesson that day; playing chicken with a migraine is never a wise move.There's a saying that goes "If your head hurts, it's a headache. If you think you may die, it's a migraine."

    I was sure I was dying.

    The fuzzy stars, extreme head pain, and nausea that accompany migraines have affected my life in ways I couldn't have imagined at such a young age.

    As a teenager, the migraines took a toll. I missed school from time to time, couldn't always go out with my friends and was sick more than I would have preferred, but, I still managed to do most of the things I enjoyed, including competitive dance, drill team, and drama.

    By the time I was a young adult, I had found ways to control my pain enough to function well most days and decided to pursue a career in nursing. Nursing school was hard, and I suffered several migraines while there, but I graduated!

    Once I got my first nursing job, things were going well as the constant stress of nursing school was gone, and my body seemed to be cooperating with me again.

    I'd been at my first job for about four months when I became pregnant with my third son. It was bad. I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, and my migraines came back with a vengeance. I had to call in sick several times, which obviously became an issue as we all know nursing isn't a job you can "do tomorrow."

    I eventually resigned my position.

    I had my fourth son only 18 months later and quickly realized that going back to a traditional nursing job just wasn't in the cards for me at the time. The truth is at first I was mad- I mean truly angry- at life for taking away something I had worked so long and hard for.

    However, I believe the saying, "Once a nurse, always a nurse" is a true statement and I desperately wanted to find a way to stay involved in health care in some capacity.

    During nursing school, I'd read my textbooks, but when I wanted to learn about a disease or condition and how to truly care for someone, I'd look for blogs. I remember wishing I could find a website that had all the stories I was looking for in one place, and even considered creating such a site. The thought left me then but crept back up almost three years later.

    In October 2015, I decided to create Living the Diagnosis, a medical story sharing site. Many amazing people have shared their stories. I've learned a lot about professional blogging, social media marketing, curating content, writing, and editing.

    Although I love sharing other people's stories, I've also always enjoyed writing my own, so I started searching for ways to write in the healthcare field. That's when I came across a "Nurse Writer" and was intrigued. I researched the profession and decided to try my hand at freelance writing.

    Becoming a blogger and freelance writer focusing on healthcare has been an amazing journey. It has given me the opportunity to continue working in healthcare, but in a way that my chronic illness will allow.

    My reason for sharing this story is to encourage anyone who has had to quit bedside nursing and loves to write to consider freelance writing. It has been wonderful to feel like I'm helping others even if it is from my home, or sometimes even in bed!

    All nurses, just like everyone else, have their own challenges. Your challenge may put you on the bench from time to time, but don't let it keep you out of the game.

    Is chronic illness threatening your nursing career? Have you found a way to stay in the field while dealing with your illness? Tell us about your experience.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 14, '18
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  2. Visit vickywarren profile page

    About vickywarren, LPN

    Once a nurse (LPN) until chronic illness took me away from the traditional bedside role. Now a freelance healthcare content writer and social media manager.

    Joined: Feb '17; Posts: 14; Likes: 35
    Freelance Writer, Ghostwriter and Social Media Strategist; from US

    Read My Articles


  3. by   Ashley Hay, BSN, RN
    Awesome article, Vicky! Thanks for sharing
  4. by   vickywarren
    Thanks, Ashley!
  5. by   jag nurse
    I think that's great! A couple of questions--

    1. Is the pay anywhere near what you were making on the floor?

    2. How do you cover the legalities that may come up, i.e., with this being such a litigious society, do you worry about someone coming back on you regarding advice given?
  6. by   vickywarren
    Making as much or more than you do as a nurse is totally possible, but it will not happen right away, it takes time to build. That said, many freelance writers begin building a portfolio and clients before they step totally away from their current position. Adding chronic illness in makes it more time consuming to build, but still doable.

    You bring up a good point about the legal part of it all. So far, the writing I've done has gone through vigourous editing, so of course you never know, but so far, I feel pretty confident that things are ok. I feel that most online publications do a good job of reminding people to talk with their healthcare professionals, but we know that it doesn't always happen. Also, many nursing/physician/medical professionl blogs have disclaimers on their sites. So, yes, the concern is there, but I love the work, so I'm willing to continue, knowing that is a possibility.

    If you ever want to chat more about it, let me know, I love talking about freelancing!
  7. by   jag nurse
    That’s great! I’m glad it’s working for you. :0)
  8. by   jaliff86
    Thank you for posting, Vicky! I, unfortunately, find myself in this position. I've always had migraines, but they were 3-4 / a year and easy enough to deal with. When I got in my 40's and my hormones started fluctuating, they turned into beasts. I've only been a nurse for 5 years and am working PRN now, but my migraines have gone to daily and I need to find something I can do from home. I would love to hear more from you about freelancing.
  9. by   Khohns0613
    Love this post. I'm an ICU Nurse who suffered an MI. I currently do case management at home and love that I can still communicate with patients. I love to write and would love to spread my wings to add to my career. Can you lead us to your blog and I would love to know how you found your start. Just so you know, you can purchase nursing insurance through the different Nursing associations. It's not that expensive and worth having. Home nursing for those who can't bedside nurse but still have so much help to give is priceless! Thanks for sharing. Kathy, RN

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