Nurses over 50 &/or with health issues affecting work - page 14

I'm sure I'm not the first (or the last) nurse to deal with this issue - I've been a Nurse for over 27 years and now I find myself having trouble "keeping up".(( Due to age? Weight? Arthritis? effect... Read More

  1. by   mattsmom81
    Originally posted by Lizard101
    I am 47 & I have been a Health Occupations teacher for 6 years at the high school level. I love the teens, we go to the nursing home and hospital, I teach them lifting and body mechnaics before we go out, I tell them I hurt my back when in my early 20's and had to leave the beside in the hospital at about 40. My husband was military and we moved a lot, I did many different positions, home health, senior center(in fla), supervisor, hospice, public health and teaching. I would not go back to floor nursing, my health started down at 43, since then several surgeries and fibromyalgia later I am taking good! care of myself first. But I think being in the high school I can give back, and get the kids fired up about the medical field, it is refreshing to me & energizing!
    Good Luck!
    Sounds like a GREAT job....did you go for your teaching degree to qualify for this position or was your nursing degree sufficient? Good for you for teaching safety and body mechanics...are you teaching restraint and forthought as you are automatically!

    I think when nurses rush into things the potential for self injury goes up exponentially, IME! I was not taught it was OK to plan, wait and even refuse sometimes.... and I do think it is necessary to just say NO sometimes in our workplaces.

    Thanks for posting about your job! :roll
    Last edit by mattsmom81 on Apr 23, '02
  2. by   P_RN
    A F O= ankle foot orthosis....a molded acrylic, fiberglas or nylon posterior splint to assist the ankle into neutral. Used in footdrop. It is kept in place with velcro straps. In some cases like mine they are spring loaded at the ankle to give a boost when walking.
  3. by   cbs3143
    Hi mattsmom81,

    P_RN was right on with her description of AFO's. They come in both spring loaded and solid designs. Mine are solid. I've learned that they make quite a resounding crack when they break in half. I guess I was exceeding it's tolerance while working in the ER several years ago, part way through the 1st of two 12 hour shifts on the weekend.

    The medical review coordinator position consists of abstracting charts that meet certain clinical indicators, such as mortality, procedure complications, and similar quality issues. Then I need to arrange for the charts to be reviewed by a physician from a comparable specialty. It does help to be somewhat anal, yet not too much anal. I still have my ER mind set and sense of humor, which helps a lot.
  4. by   bestblondRN
    I have my own version of "The Little Nurse That Could". I had a back injury when I was 18 and working as an aide in a nursing home while going to college. I popped discs, but didn't know I had, and just lived with the pain everyday for years. We had a lousy faily physician who never even bothered to do an xray and labeled it "polymyositis", prescribed Soma Compound (can you believe it) along with Valium, and sent me on my way.

    Flash to age 34, working in the MICU/CCU. Lifted a 300 pound patient up in bed with a nurse over a foot shorter than me and felt the resounding "pop and burn". After 2 weeks, I was able to start physical therapy, and went through about 6 weeks of daily PT with complete resolution of symptoms. I was cleared by the neurosurgeon as well as my internist to return to work. Then I encountered an Occupational Health Physician, who had reently been put in charge of our Personnel Health Dept. He made me come out to his office and perform something called a B2000 (a machine that makes you flex and extend your back in reps with varying degrees of resistance????). I was also asked to pick up a 25 pound crate of books, carry it across the room, set it down and repeat the process 50 times. I did all of this with NO PROBLEM. The O.H. doc called me several days later to inform me that I hadn't passed his B2000 or whatever it's called, and told me he would not clear me to return to work--that I would have to continue PT and see him in 4-6 weeks. I complied and repeated the process, much to the chagrin of the therapist and the neurosurgeon, and he STILL wouldn't clear me to return after the second round! He had the audacity to ask me, "So, what are you going to do with the rest of your life?" I told him, "I am going to be a g*****mn nurse--and you better hope I'm never the nurse taking care of you!" I ended up having to resign my position after being at this hospital for 10 years, and was faced with looking for another job AND having to answer the question why I left the previous employer.

    The kick is that the O.H. doc was terminated from the hospital about 4 months after I left :chuckle , but he had 8 nurses in his bodycount that he refused to clear for similar reasons, and who ended up leaving the hospital. I am now 42 and back working in the MICU, and happy to be a bedside nurse again--I thought I was relegated to being in management for the rest of my working life, but thought I'd take the leap again. I definitely feel the 12 hours of running around, but it's a joy to be back doing what I love.

    Sorry about the running on and on......
  5. by   mattsmom81
    Wow, Bestblond, I wish I could get through this surgery and rehab and go back to ICU, like you're an inspiration! Amazing the hoops we have to jump through!! I have tried for several low physical jobs but as soon as they find out my medical hx and see I take Celebrex, Ultram, Prozac...they don't want me. I'm a risky hire...

    Chuckand PRN, thanks for the info..I am also a tad 'anal' so I should do well here...LOL....I'll look into a position like this once I get medical clearance.

    You guys can tell I'm not an ortho nurse...I appreciate the explanations! Thanks everyone for posting...I get a boost of confidence reading your stories and comments!
  6. by   sammie22
    Quote from nursewoman
    I know exactly what you mean. After working 22 years in the ER and ICU, my back was completely gone. I have to make lists to remind me of things i need to do throughout the day. I have developed tendinitis in my hand from repetitive tasks, charting, and now computers. My salary was almost the same as new graduates, and I got no support from my hospital where I worked loyally for many years. When I asked to work 8 hour days instead of 12, I was turned down. I finally decided to find a position that would be less stressful, less physically difficult, and with more autonomy. I took a job as a nurse in a probation detention center. I have 8 hour days, less stress, almost no physical requirements and every weekend and holiday off. I get paid more than I did in my last job and I actually get a thank you. The downside is that I am bored beyond belief, but I thank God for the opportunity to stay in nursing. A little cooperation would have kept an experienced ER/ICU nurse in the hospital, but I couldn't get it. Don't give up hope. I would look for other options. Hang in there. You can teach an old dog new tricks.
  7. by   healer_energy
    Wow! what a lot of responses. It warms my heart that I am not the oldest nurse on the planet. I am 60 and work in a nursing home. Lots of old nurses there. And those that aren't old have bad backs, cricked necks, bad knees, allergies and are all on psych meds, it seems. There is always someone on light duty.

    I went through the agonies of looking at SS just some weeks ago when something went horribly wrong with my knee and I thought I couldn't work. Fortunately it got better rather quickly with some physical therapy. I only work 2 days a week - Baylor 12 hour shifts and my aim, since my husband died 4 years ago is to find a way to live on the amount I will get for SS. Since I now own my house this looks possible, which is why I don't work to get that much more than that. I also want to be content not being in the working world and to be used to doing other things such as my work in alternative healing, poetry and making the rounds of my friends.

    Through the ordeal with my knee I worked through some heavy duty fears and insecurities and suddenly I am now going back to school to get a graduate degree in Psych Nursing. Then I will get into that field and I might have to start working full time again! You just never know what is going to happen next. There are so many careers for nurses that are not at the bedside, it is worth looking about, I think.

  8. by   sparkplug
    I am turning 52 this Nov and am really worried about retirement. My husband has none and my 401K is only about 60,000. right now. I know little about mutual funds and such. Plus I worry if I will be able to keep pace soon, I think about a degree but then wonder if I am too old.
  9. by   MissPiggy
    Quote from sparkplug
    I am turning 52 this Nov and am really worried about retirement. My husband has none and my 401K is only about 60,000. right now. I know little about mutual funds and such. Plus I worry if I will be able to keep pace soon, I think about a degree but then wonder if I am too old.

    NEVER too old! Using your brain can keep you mentally sharp - proving the point "If you don't use it you lose it!". I am 53 and about to graduate with a MA in Clinical Psychology. If I can do it anyone can - if they want it badly enough. Hang in there and take that first step ASAP.
  10. by   sammie22
    Quote from kaycee
    I understand how some of you feel. I am 47, and had back surgery in Jan for a cyst wrapped around the cord. I was having right leg pain. I had some relief from that but the leg pain persisted. Now they have discovered I have severe DJD in the R hip. No joint space to speak of. It's pretty much bone on bone. I am still working in the ER. I have a terrible waddling limp and by the end of my shift I can barely make it to my car.
    I had an injection to that hip last Tues under Fluoro. I had relief for 1 day. I have been told by my ortho I will need a hip replacement.
    Geez I never expected at 47 yo to need a new hip.
    I have a daughter that will be starting college in the fall. My son is soon to follow. My husband has been wonderful through all this, but I know he's worried. He's a police officer and we depend on both incomes, although he wants me to be better more then anything else.
    I've been keeping my eyes open for non hospital positions that are less physical but as you all know they don't pop up often, and frequently don't pay as much as I'm making now.
    I have worked ER for 20yrs and have been in the same hospital for 24yrs. My co-workers have been supportive and won't let me do certain things that are hard for me. I hate it though, I've always been a worker. I don't want to work anywhere I can't pull my weight.
    I could just cry some days and find myself rather depressed at times. I now understand how chronic pain can do that to someone.
    I don't know how understanding the hospital will be if I'm off again for another surgery, plus I used up most of my sick time with the last surgery. The only sick time I used was the medical leave. I never call out sick normally and haven't since the surgery even though I'm extremely uncomfortable every day I work.
    We already are down 1 fulltime and 1 part time position and if I'm off they will really be up the creek.
    Oh well I know there are any quick fixes out there but I appreciate this forum just to be able to vent with others that are in similar situations.
    I will certainly keep all of you in my prayers and hope we can all overcome these obstacles in our lives the best way we can.

  11. by   Straydandelion
    Quote from oldgal
    I don't know about the rest of you but I find it very distressing that when nurses are not able to continue working, we have no assistance at all. Unless your employer has a decent retirement program, your only option is filing for Social Security. And it sounds like we all know how well that goes. I has to withdraw all my retirement at a substantial penalty in order to live while I'm trying to get some permanent income. If I get my S.S. I will receive about $1300/mo. and along with my husband's SSI we will have to live on that small amount. Nurses do not take care of themselves and do not provide for themselves. The young uncaring nurses forget that someday they too will age. Again, please feel free to e-mail me. I only have time at this point.

    I also find it pretty distressing. I don't feel the young nurses are uncaring however, but most don't consider their retirement when starting out, did we? If someone DOES have a good retirement option, I'd sure like to hear about it! (this may be a no no to voice in this forum so please delete if so, but no matter how I have been against it when younger and thought unprofessional, a union might have helped with conditions as they are??)
  12. by   mattsmom81
    I suspect I will always be working part time somewhere in nursing...til I'm getting around with a walker...LOL! Who can afford to retire in this day and age??? And I can't get SS now til I'm 69 1/2 or so...if there's anything left by then...there won't be if our politicians keep stealing from the fund.

    I think the best retirement plan for us is to vote OUT SS and privatize it so people can make a nice nest egg for themselves without fear of gov't stealing it. Some areas have opted out of SS and have privately invested the SS dollars...they are retiring as millionaires, while the rest of us have our SS date pushed farther and farther back out of reach (they're hoping we die before we can collect it) GRRR.
  13. by   rn/writer
    I wish I could give all of you great big hugs. These stories are so familiar. I have a bad ankle from an internal break that was misdiagnosed, a repaired elbow tendon, a tender knee and, just recently, a little heart thingy (that I refuse to call an attack because there was only teeny weeny residual damage). And I'm diabetic, though fairly well controlled. I took five years off to care for our adopted son who had severe problems with mental illness. Never thought I'd be able to go back to floor nursing, especially after doing a refresher course on an ortho-neuro floor! But I have found a home on a postpartum unit.

    I thought I was applying for an LDRP position and was disappointed when I first found out that this giant hospital where I now work, only has LDR and PP. Even so, I assumed that nurses would be routinely cross-trained, but when I asked about it, the other nurses looked at me like carrots had just sprouted in my hair. I was soooo disappointed and, boy, did God hear about THAT.

    Turns out he knew better, after all. (Do you think he ever gets tired of being right all the time?) L&D is waaay too physical and too time-pressured for me. I did an observation there a couple of weeks ago and thought, "This is NOT what I want to be doing." The nurse had to chart every 15 minutes, and this was good old-fashioned paper charting, and there was a lot of commotion up to and including the birth. She had no time to connect with the mom except to tell her when to push.

    I love the kinder, gentler pace of PP. No heavy lifting. No holding the mom's leg while she pushes. Just meeting basic needs, teaching, and encouraging. Yeah, we're busy and there are nights when I'm on my feet a lot, but I like helping the moms learn to breastfeed and cuddling the kiddos.

    I'm exceedingly relieved to have found a job that won't kill me. If this gets old, I thought I'd look into NICU or antepartum. I know that both of those entail more learning (which I love) and more pressure, but they also offer a chance to bond with longer term patients. At any rate, I'm so thrilled I'm not in LTC (did subacute when I was younger), or psych (totally burned out there), or med-surg (I'd rather be the patient), or ortho-neuro (words fail me).

    I'm also encouraged by the fact that there are quite a few nurses on my unit that are around my age (just turned 50) or older.

    Maybe the babies will rub off on me and keep me young.

    God bless every one of you!!!