Back injury: stories & support for an injured RN - page 3

I'm writing this because i'm feeling like i'm holding on to a thread. I've been out of work for 2 months already which is even worse to say that I have only graduated in may and just started my... Read More

  1. by   SnowShoeRN
    Christie 0307,

    I am sitting here reading this thread and crying. Your story has given me so much hope and even though it's been "only" 4 months since I had my injury I can be so discouraged sometimes. I felt like I was starting to make progress back in November, but then an unrelated emergency surgery set me back again.

    I have a L4-L5 annular tear and herniation from lifting an unconscious 300 lb patient to a standing position. Unfortunately he was in a very small space at the time and we were unable to use the lift.

    I hurt all the time. On a good day, it's just my buttock, but most of the time it's a 6-8/10 radiating down to my foot. I'm getting workers comp, so I'm incredibly thankful and lucky for that but I'm also terrified that there will be a time when I'll be asked to leave. My facility is union so I'm not sure about what they can and can't legally do, but I feel so useless. I'm trying to work modified shifts but how much can I really do if I can barely even bend a few inches from the waist? Someone wrote about being unable to properly wash her hands and I could really relate. When I try to tell the NP at employee health or my spine MD about how painful it is, all I get are suggestions like "Have you tried putting your foot on a stool?" or "bend with your knees." It's SO frustrating! Like another one of my doctors said "You can have the best body mechanics in the world, but our discs weren't made to support our weight AND the weight of a 300 lb unconscious person."

    It's so upsetting to me to think that I'm as young as I am and still have to deal with this. I thought maybe it would happen eventually, but I never thought I'd have a back injury "at my age." I had so many dreams for myself: travel nursing, working in ICU, and just generally being loads more active than I can be right now. It's so heartbreaking to go from someone who used to walk nearly 10 miles a day and love hiking and mountain climbing to someone who can barely tie her own shoe or cross her legs from the hip pain. I'm doing PT, benefiting from roboxin, and have gotten 2 lumbar injections. But it's hard to tell if any of it is working. My friends don't seem to understand anymore and they're tired of ferrying me to my appointments. I just feel so lost and so useless.

    I know things will get better and to take things one day at a time. I have a great family and co-workers have been very understanding. I'm also a HUGE advocate for my own health so that helps too. But I AM worried. I want to avoid surgery at all costs. And it can be so hard sometimes.

    I'm just so glad I have this forum where I can read stories like mine and feel not-so-quite-alone. Thanks.
  2. by   Ruby Vee
    [font="comic sans ms"]if the pt isn't working after four months, the injections haven't made a difference and the physician who is treating you is unsympathetic, it's probably time to find a new care team. the time frame i was given was 12 weeks to see if pt was working before escalating treatment. it didn't work until after i had surgery.

    i'm trying to figure out why one would want to lift an unconscious 300 pounder to a standing position -- i wouldn't put it past one of our intensivists to write such a dumb order, but i've said no to him before. i know you're not in a jovial mood right now, but when you can, tell us the story. we could all use a good laugh.

    one thing i discovered over my six month medical leave with a back injury -- laughter really does ease the pain and elevates your mood for hours. a daily dose of "america's funniest home videos" right before dh came home from work did wonders!
  3. by   SnowShoeRN
    PT was actually working pretty well (albeit slowly) for the first 6 weeks, but then I had an unrelated emergency surgery and couldn't do anything really for another 6 weeks. So I had a setback. I'm not losing hope though. I've only been able to resume PT in the past 2 weeks. Plus I have my next appt with the spine MD next week and am going to ask about trying yoga and using an exercise ball to bounce very gently. I've read good things about both of these things helping to improve blood flow to the area. Anyone have good or bad experiences with either?

    As for my patient, he vagal-ed out in the bathroom (though I wanted to strangle the aide who got him up after I TOLD everybody not to and wrote "bedrest only" on his board beside his bed) after having a pacemaker placed only hours before for a heart rate in the high 20's. So...hard to get an EKG and vitals and stat head CT while someone is basically curled behind the toilet. But yeah, it was certainly annoying. To say the very least.

    I'm in better spirits today. The sun is out and the woods in my backyard are beautiful with all the ice and snow on the trees. Roboxin works well for me and I've been trying to read and watch funny things and keep myself distracted. I'm still a little scared, but I'm taking a page out of the 12-step programs and just trying to control only what I can and take things 1 day at a time. It can just be discouraging sometimes.

    Thanks for the support. I love this forum.
  4. by   SnowShoeRN
    Quote from 2jessica
    So if they have a wound and they're immobile I am suppose to tell them, If you cant roll over I cant do your wound, Could you imagine telling that to someone? I am sorry your about to pass out but if you cant walk to the oxygen I cant help you...
    HAHAHA! This made me laugh so hard. I finally just read the entire thread and this cracked me up.

    Yeah I know exactly what you mean. I've thought things like "You're going to have to assess your own lung sounds, sorry." and "Could you please hook yourself up to the telemetry monitor? I can't twist that way."

    "Yeah I know you're total care, but you're gonna have to do your best to give yourself a bed bath. Can't move your arms? Sorry! Guess you're gonna have to use your teeth!" The list goes on.

    Of course I'm being sarcastic and would never suggest anyone do these things themselves (unless they were very qualified, that involved in their care/routinely did it anyways, and able to). I really am a very compassionate person and I adore nursing, but I don't think a lot of non-health-care people or even admin/manager people who don't work bedside really understand JUST HOW MUCH bending we actually DO!

    Oh, laughter is good.
  5. by   Scrubby
    Quote from christie_0307
    I'm writing this because i'm feeling like i'm holding on to a thread.

    I've been out of work for 2 months already which is even worse to say that I have only graduated in may and just started my new job in september and hurt my back in november. I was in a car accident in 2002 and had a weak back ever since. I'm only 22. Im a ward nurse however i injured my back while I was brushing my teeth and coughed. The immediate pain sent me falling to the ground unable to get up. I herniated a disc and tore the disc membrane.

    my friends I've grown up with dont understand the pain that I go through.
    Everyday I find it hard to tie my shoes, or even get out of the car. Every week I feel like there's hope, because I've been able to do a new activity such as do the dishes with not as much pain as the week before, only to discover an hour after doing it I start to feel the pain all over again. I feel like I'm driving my boyfriend crazy w/ all the emotional and physical attention I need, even though he is such a compasionate RN. Some days my motivation just to get out of bed is non existant... But almost everyday I hate feeling so dependent, out of control and down right sad. I have been slowly getting better, but the days like today when the pain catches me off guard I start to feel like I just can't take it anymore.

    I know there's got to be lots of stories nurses have on back injury.. if so please share. Not only how you congured it, but sharing the feelings, thoughts and hardships that you went through would really help me feel like I'm not the only crazy person experiencing these hard times!

    I feel your pain and understand exactly what it's like to live with an injury and people not understanding what you're going through.

    I injured my back about 18 months ago. I was at work and was putting my scrub pants on in the change room when it happened, I could not move at all. I went to ED, had an MRI and I have an L4-L5 disc bulge an d L5-S1 disc bulge with an annular tear. I got through this with medication but my injury was exacerbated 6 months ago. I was left working for well over an hour before I could be relieved and go to ED. When I returned three days later with a note to say 'light duties' they ignored it because it wasn't written on a workcover form. Um excuse me? I was given so much morphine in ED (ended up throwing up) that it could have been written on toilet paper for all I cared. I was told that I had to scrub for 4 lap choles for that day and not to 'feel persecuted'. I told them that as they cannot provide a safe working environment I am leaving right now. I rang the director and threatened the department with legal action over breach of duty of care and an unsafe working environment. I went through workcover again and had to have PT which helped. However, the emotional pain of being treated poorly by the department the day of my injury, and my return has completely taken the goodwill from me. I no longer do overtime, extra shifts or anything else to help them out and I've made that very clear to management.

    I know that my back is never going to be the same again. I can't play certain sport, I'm depressed and I can feel the pain in my back all the time and find it hard to bend down and do the simplest of things. I know that it's only a matter of time before I end up with another injury but I just don't know what to do.My friends and family don't understand what it is like for me. Just today, my cousin asked me to pick up her 18 month old toddler before he fell off the table. I had to say no I can't lift him. Her and her mother looked at me like I was being difficult or something and despite explaining to them about my injury (which they know about) all I got from them was that I had to do something about it and get it fixed etc. I told them that I am doing something about it which is not lifting things that I don't have to (seriously it's your kid, not mine I'm not risking my back because you can't control your kid climbing on everything) and I go to the gym to strengthen my abdominal muscles.

    People often say to me that they are tired of hearing nurses go on about their back injury all the time. Well from my experience you have to remind people again and again because they just expect you to lift all the time. We have this 'no lift policy' at work. What a joke.
  6. by   trinsia
    Hi, scrubby, I admired your gut to fight for your rights. I had back injury at the end of sep2010. Cleared work cover at end of 2011. But my backpack on and off. Last week it got worse and did ct scan had another disc ybuldging. I am working in theatre too. How is your back now..