when illness interferes...

  1. So I have a problem... this has not been my year for good health. I've been struggling since January with all sorts of things... asthma, appendicitis, the flu, colds, mono, and now my newest diagnosis... SHINGLES!

    My school only allows so many absenses, 2 clinical days and only a handful of lecture. We have our first final next week too. Sitting in class sucks, because the longer I sit, the more I hurt and itch. To make matters worse, I need to get a rubeola vaccine, and I can't get it until I'm completely recovered from shingles. I have to have it by next Friday! I talked to the DON today, she was real iffy about letting me stay in class and flat out told me I would have to miss the first week of clinicals (starting 11/13). I told her I would just get the shot early then against doctors orders. She again got all iffy and I told her I COULD NOT miss class or clinicals. She told me that since our first week we're not around patients too much, she my be able to let the vaccine slide unti the next week. I have to talk to her tomorrow...

    I have a feeling that tomorrow she's gonna renig on what she said today, tell me to go home and I'm going to be screwed. I can't miss class!!! I am willing to sit through lecture and be miserable, even if they want to sit me in a corner and put me in a bubble! Does anyone have any suggestions on how to fight it if they try and keep me out of class and clinical?

    (By the way, my doctor said that I should be fine by my clinical start date, and that she didn't have a problem with me going to class.)
  2. Visit raekaylvn profile page

    About raekaylvn, LVN

    Joined: Sep '06; Posts: 218; Likes: 378

    16 Comments

  3. by   Lisa CCU RN
    I'm just a nursing student, but shingles as well as all the other problems at age 23 seems a little excessive. Do you have another underlying issue with your immune system? I assume you had chicken pox earlier in life and shingles usually only affects those immunocompromised and a lot later in life to my understanding.

    I'm sorry you are going through this.

    edited to add: I just did a little research and apparently younger people do get shingles, even babies, though rare.

    Wow though. Again, I'm sorry you are going through all this. The stress of nursing school must be getting to you and with all the late nights, bad food choices etc.
    Get some rest, exercise, and eat better and hopefully you'll get over this rough spot and you instructors will turn out to be understanding.

    Good Luck.
    Last edit by Lisa CCU RN on Nov 2, '06
  4. by   Daggummit!
    Wow, it sounds like you're having a really tough time. I can't imagine how your ailments are compounding the STRESS you're already under from nursing school. I would get the doc to write a letter stating that you shouldn't take the vaccine until after the shingles have cleared up. You'd think the DON would be a little more understanding of the situation; it's not that you are going to miss the deadline due to carelessness or lazziness, you are going to miss it because you've received medical advice not to take the vaccine before your shingles clear up. Unless they make the deadline an issue I don't see how they can bar you from class/clinical when your physician hasn't given you any order to stay home.

    Good luck, and hope you feel better soon.
  5. by   ICRN2008
    From what you are telling us, it appears that nursing school (or other factors) are really taking a toll on your health. I hope that you recover soon.

    Have you considered asking your program director for a leave of absence until next semester? It might be a good idea to get your health in order before undertaking something as stressful and physically draining as nursing school.

    (As an aside, the measles vaccine is a live attenuated vaccine. It is highly advisable that you follow your doctor's orders and make sure that you do not have an underlying immunodficiency before taking the vaccine).

    Best of luck to you.
  6. by   ICRN2008
    I wanted to add that shingles can be contagious; according to my geriatrics professor the varicella virus can be passed if your lesions are not crusted over. Going to clinicals (or class for that matter) before this has happened has the potential to put your patients and classmates at risk.
  7. by   traumaRUs
    I would say the stress of nursing school is really taking a toll on you. I'm so sorry. Shingles is so very painful. I wish you the best of luck. Listen to your physician as he/she knows you the best and please take care of yourself.
  8. by   augigi
    I agree, better to take care of yourself and take some time off. Your body is obviously trying to tell you something.
  9. by   caroladybelle
    Quote from Daggummit!
    Wow, it sounds like you're having a really tough time. I can't imagine how your ailments are compounding the STRESS you're already under from nursing school. I would get the doc to write a letter stating that you shouldn't take the vaccine until after the shingles have cleared up. You'd think the DON would be a little more understanding of the situation; it's not that you are going to miss the deadline due to carelessness or lazziness, you are going to miss it because you've received medical advice not to take the vaccine before your shingles clear up. Unless they make the deadline an issue I don't see how they can bar you from class/clinical when your physician hasn't given you any order to stay home.
    Shingles are terribly contagious in the hospital environment, due to the compromised patient population. I do not know ANY reasonable facility or school that would permit a student with shingles to care for patients until they are clearly not contagious (generally until all lesions are dried up and have stopped shedding). I know of nonimmune staff members that were exposed, that were not permitted to work with patients for 10 days because the risk is considered that great.

    Your MD really has nothing to do with that part of it - it is a determination of your school and the facilities it has clinicals in.

    Most schools and programs have to provide proof that you have had "X" number of clinical hours. If you miss any at all, it is very problematic to make them up. And if you do not have X number of hours, they cannot legally graduate you. This is a state/regulatory REQUIREMENT, not necessarily a school issue, and to make allowances could put their program in jeopardy. It is not merely the program trying to be hard on you, but truly a necessity

    As far as the MMR, how long have you known that you were to have had it? You usually know several monthes in advance.

    Given your circumstances have you though of taking a semester out to fully recover and return in better stead?
  10. by   raekaylvn
    Quote from caroladybelle

    As far as the MMR, how long have you known that you were to have had it? You usually know several monthes in advance.
    I found out Monday I needed the shot.
  11. by   I RN A
    Don't let the NS stress get to you! Just take care of your self. Think about it: you can always come back to nursing school but can never get your health back if it is seriously compromised. Don't get a shot against dr.'s order. May be you can take a leave of absence. Talk to your advisor at school. Illness is a valid reason for the leave of absence. Sorry all of these happened to you. Hope you will get better.
  12. by   JentheRN05
    First of all, this is the second time I have had to repost this, I hit a wrong key and lost the whole darn thing which was REALLY long. So I will start over

    I did a google. Found this which answers alot of questions alot of other posters have mentioned.

    http://www.ahmf.com.au/shingles/essential_facts.htm

    Shingles, also called herpes zoster, causes a painful rash.

    The rash is made up of many small blisters and it usually appears on one side only, in the area supplied by a single nerve root from the spinal cord. The pain is often sharp and burning in nature. If shingles is not treated, it can last between 2 to 5 weeks.

    Shingles is most common in elderly people and those with depressed immune systems (for example, after a transplant or when on treatment for cancer).

    But anyone who has ever had chickenpox can develop shingles. If you are young and healthy and develop shingles, it does not necessarily mean there is a problem with your immune system.

    People who have shingles are not highly contagious.

    If you have shingles, you can't pass on the VZV virus to people who have had shingles, because it is already dormant in their body. People who have never had chickenpox have a small risk of coming into contact with the virus if they touch the rash of someone who has shingles. Usually the rash is on areas that are covered by clothing, which provides protection.

    So to me that says that suggestions to the OP that she might be 'immunocompromised' or have some weird auto-immune disorder is going to make the poor girl a hypochondriac. So lets just support her and not scare her to death.

    OP - I have a couple of ideas for you.
    1. Try meditation (or any other form of relaxation techniques I know many) give it a month before you try number 2.

    2. Seek our your health care professional for anti-anxiety meds. I can say that with upmost sincerity that I have been there. I was a junior in a diploma program when my personal life took a turn for the worse and I ended up being put on clinical probation due to 'anxiety'. My instructor suggested I get on some anxiety meds. Yes my INSTRUCTOR told me to. So I did, it did a world of good.

    Another story I have about immunosuppression was when I was working nights. I was sick for 4 months straight, no breaks in it at all, I had strep throat, larangitis, ear infections, and even pink eye. All because my body could not handle the stress of changing my sleeping habits, and causing my body undue stress. So needless to say I tried the anti-anxiety meds and they did help, but not enough. I ended up quitting nights and I will never ever do that to my body again.

    Reason I said start with meditation and relaxation techniques is twofold. I am a holistic practitioner, I made it through the first 2 1/2 years of nursing school on meditation/relaxation techniques. Many can be readily found by doing a google search. My favorite, and one I started with was simply sitting in a dark quiet room with only a candle lit. Sitting in front of the candle and allowing your body to zone out just staring at the candle. Seems strange, but I'm telling you it got me most of the way through nursing school.

    I wish you the best of luck in whatever you do. Be strong and try suggestions I have given you. You will be fine. You are just overwhelmed, we all were in nursing school and your body just doesn't know how to accept the extra work your putting it through (even though it is mostly thought) but to your body it is work nonetheless. Keepin ya in my thoughts.
  13. by   caroladybelle
    Quote from nurserach
    I found out Monday I needed the shot.
    That is rather poor planning on their part - don't they post these requirements in advance? They do so in most programs to give people plenty of time to get them.

    Also, per the CDC, exposure to shingles by a nonimmune person (not vaccinated/had chickenpox) may give you chickenpox. Therefore shingles cannot be "caught" by someone -they would get chickenpox instead. This is also listed at the above Australian link. Still a danger, that most US hospital will not take/let you work among compromised patients with.
    Last edit by caroladybelle on Nov 3, '06
  14. by   raekaylvn
    Well I talked with my DON today. She doesn't have a problem with me going to class or clinicals with shingles. But, she says that I have to have the vaccination before I start clinicals. She suggested I finish up next week, take my final and wait until the next class to get to 106 (the second half of term 1) and join them in Feb. I'm pretty much planning on taking my chances and getting my shot, probably a bad idea but I do not want to wait 3 more months.

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