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How Do You Know When to Call It? (Career)

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As the title states, how do you know when it's time to throw in the towel? Especially if you are nowhere near retirement age?

A little history: I am currently being treated for an autoimmune process that has yet to be named. I am being treated with a drug most often prescribed for SLE, Sjogren's, and/or RA. The symptoms I experience are debilitating, and wax/wane with the wind.

That being said, I have "tried" to quit nursing twice now, only to end up going back for the money and ability to work a reduced schedule as I can't for the life of me maintain a 40 hr workweek. I only work e/o weekend because of the cognitive/physical issues I experience. Even that has become a challenge.

Physical issues aside, the issue that scares me the most is the cognitive dysfunction. I have questioned my ability to make prudent nursing decisions and question whether or not I am truly safe to practice. There are times I seem to be unable to process or sequence thoughts/activities and often have trouble with recall and finding words. Fortunately, no one has been harmed (to my knowledge.)

I guess I have answered my own question. I know in my gut that I should take an extended leave of absence at the least. I also know that it is probably dangerous and morally/ethically wrong to put others in harms way by continuing to accept assignments knowing that I am not consistently cognitively intact.

So, for the foreseeable future, I am throwing in the proverbial towel. It hurts. It's defeating. It's demoralizing. Gonna cry now.

Thank you for reading.

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There's no shame in leaving if it's not working out! Your health and sanity are always number one.

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I'm so sorry you're experiencing this. I pray you find peace with your decision and that healing and recovery will be swift for you.

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I am so sorry that you are going through this. I hope you get a solid diagnosis and a workable treatment plan soon.

I think you made the right decision for all the right reasons. Perhaps you can find some comfort in knowing that you last act as a nurse was taken to protect the patients.

Take care.

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I am so sorry you are going through this. I also have an autoimmune condition that can be debilitating at times, and is especially hard when others cant "see" your illness. Like you I had to stop working full time and now only work per-diem (very per-diem). It is difficult to not be able to work when you want to and give up your career, there are many questions with no answers and emotions that you will feel/think; however, those (emotions) should NOT be demoralizing or defeating (you never know what can or will happen). At this point, even if you decide to stop working now, you don't know if it is forever or just temporary. You may react well to medications and be able to go back to work. Please take care of yourself, wishing you healing and wellness!!

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I just want to salute you as a very, VERY good nurse. So many would not perform this self assessment or would only give lip service but be unable to face this painful moment. You are still a nurse. You will always be one of us. Get healthy. Come back to us. Hang in there.

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As the title states, how do you know when it's time to throw in the towel? Especially if you are nowhere near retirement age?

Physical issues aside, the issue that scares me the most is the cognitive dysfunction. I have questioned my ability to make prudent nursing decisions and question whether or not I am truly safe to practice. There are times I seem to be unable to process or sequence thoughts/activities and often have trouble with recall and finding words. Fortunately, no one has been harmed (to my knowledge.)

My empathy for you echoes what the other members said, bluegeegoo. My heart goes out to you.

I can identify with you, not in the realms of your illness, but in terms of making prudent nursing decisions due to my age and attitude. In this way, I have discussed my concerns with my medical nurse wife Belinda and close coworkers and have asked them for their feedback. When it is a consensual perspective that I need throw in the towel, this I will do.

In fact, Belinda and I were discussing this subject just last night. She foresees no problem leaving nursing when it's time. That surprised me and she said, "It's only a job. It's not who I am."

I on the other hand see myself as a nurse and foresee that I will feel a little like a duck out of the water. I feel a need to paddle around in my profession and nursing does define part of me as who I am.

I encourage you to continue what you have already started, bluegeegoo: Discuss your thoughts, concerns and feeling with others who opinions matter. Others' opinions should not be the totality of our major life decisions, but their perspective always needs to be considered.

My very very best to you.

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You have my sympathies. I had to quit nursing five years ago for similar reasons...cognitive impairments such as being unable to learn/retain new information, short-term memory loss, and difficulty with multitasking. I didn't want to retire at 55 but I could no longer care for patients in good conscience. I've been on Social Security Disability for almost four years now because of severe mental illness and moderate physical limitations, which make it all but impossible to do other work.

I hope you will be able to find something else that pays the bills and makes you happy. Congratulations to you for recognizing that it's time to hang up the ol' stethoscope...some nurses who should, don't. Best of luck to you.

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Think about another nursing field... someone mentioned per diem, except I'd say per diem private duty- you'd only have one patient... so no juggling of multiple patients with multiple needs. And you'd only have to work when you want to. Some agencies have you call in by a certain time and tell them you are available, others just call you to offer the shift, and you can accept or decline at that time.

 

Also consider the possibility that your cognitive issues could be a side effect of your meds, or if you were having issues when your illness began, your meds could be making it worse. You should discuss it with your doctors and see if they have any suggestions. My docs put me on an Alzheimer's med when my MS caused cognitive dysfunction for a time. But I first had to bring myself to tell them. I thought, if I know I'm not as sharp or "smart" as I used to be, then I can't be that bad.... while at the same time feeling like the stupidest, slowest-thinking person ever. It's terrible to find oneself in such a foreign place.

 

But there are people who can help....

Consider asking to be sent for a med-psych work-up. They can do testing to see if your cognitive processing is actually getting worse or if it is stable. Unfortunately, when you are having cognitive difficulties, you are not really able to gauge severity accurately. That's because when you know things aren't "normal", it's hard not to let your mind jump to worse-case. But there are standardized tests that can give you an accurate measure. Who knows, you may find out that your function is better than you think. That's what happened to me... it turned out I was doing better than I thought I was... I was very fortunate because my functioning went mostly back to normal as time went by and I went into the remission phase of my MS.

For me, the cognitive changes were harder to deal with than any physical disability I developed. I suddenly understood the bumper sticker: "Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." What was once kinda humorous, became my truth.

 

Above all else, remember-- you aren't alone!

 

{{{{ Hugs }}}} :wavey:

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I am so sorry that you are going through this. I hope you get a solid diagnosis and a workable treatment plan soon.

I think you made the right decision for all the right reasons. Perhaps you can find some comfort in knowing that you last act as a nurse was taken to protect the patients.

Take care.

Thank you for your kind words. My residents were at the forefront of thought when making the decision to leave. I could not live with myself if I were to hurt someone knowing well ahead of time that my ability to practice was compromised.

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I am so sorry you are going through this. I also have an autoimmune condition that can be debilitating at times, and is especially hard when others cant "see" your illness. Like you I had to stop working full time and now only work per-diem (very per-diem). It is difficult to not be able to work when you want to and give up your career, there are many questions with no answers and emotions that you will feel/think; however, those (emotions) should NOT be demoralizing or defeating (you never know what can or will happen). At this point, even if you decide to stop working now, you don't know if it is forever or just temporary. You may react well to medications and be able to go back to work. Please take care of yourself, wishing you healing and wellness!!

Exactly! It is hurtful to get "those' looks from coworkers. I recently had a coworker say to me, "Oh my back! My knees! My hips!" All I could do was look at her and walk away. I know people don't understand, and that I "look" healthy. But there's no need to be just plain rude.

I was only working 3-4 hr shifts a month. So, like you, very per diem. My difficulty with keeping even that very reduced schedule is that I can't plan ahead. I may have a good morning today, but be barely able to move by this afternoon. All of my "plans" are tentative, subject to change in a moment.

Due to the nature of this/these disease(s), I make no long-term plans. I base my current decision on the fact that, in the last year, I have continued to decline physically and mentally. But, never say never. I will say, not right now.

Thank you for your thoughtful response and I hope you find healing as well.

Edited by bluegeegoo2
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I just want to salute you as a very, VERY good nurse. So many would not perform this self assessment or would only give lip service but be unable to face this painful moment. You are still a nurse. You will always be one of us. Get healthy. Come back to us. Hang in there.

Aww, thank you! Made me tear up!

I know I am making the right decision, and yes, it is painful. But, in pain there is growth. I know I will be a better, more compassionate and understanding person when I come to accept my new reality. I feel confident that my new reality will not be "bad," just "different."

I will be here as I have learned, and will continue to learn so much from you all!

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