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Nurses with Rheumatoid Arthritis

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by ssanders80 ssanders80 (Member)

2,322 Profile Views; 64 Posts

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Hi All:

I worked and completed all my nursing prereq's w/ the hopes of becoming a RN (this would be a second career for me). I ended up being rejected from every school I applied to for an ASN b/c of my 10 year old SAT score and rejected from a BSN program b/c some of my documents were lost.

After all this happend, it became more of a fight to become a nurse rather than a desire b/c I kept being told no so many times. For a few months, I stepped away from nursing and took some time for myself. Recently, I've gotten back on track and my desire to become a nurse has come back...for the RIGHT reasons.

My new and ongoing dilemma is my RA. I'm 27 and have had it since I was 22. My Rheumatologist and I have worked together over the years to improve my joints and strengthen my body to prepare me for nursing. I feel great, know my limits. I'm scared that when/if I become a nurse, the frequent lifting will cause my body to breakdown and then I can no longer work as a nurse or work at all. Patient is the first and foremost priority, but I don't want to risk their lives b/c of my physical limits.

Is there any advice anyone can give me. I've researched other career options in healthcare and they are very promising, but I still feel this strong pull to become a nurse, I'm just scared of how my disease would affect my work and my body.

Thanks!

Steph

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22 Posts; 1,462 Profile Views

Stephanie,

Hi. I can totally empathize. I developed RA at 27. I am trying to get back in the game now. When I became ill, there were no "biologic modifiers" and I was started on traditional crappy drugs, couldn't work, lost my job, lost insurance, ended up on disability waiting for Medicare who wouldn't cover anything. Nine years later I got insurance through my husban'd job and started Enbrel mar 15th. I am now getting my life back. I am angry that I was robbed, cheated, and had no insurance. My student loans sat and collected interest and went from $40K to $75K that I now have to pay back. But I don't care. i want to work again.

My advice is to always put your RA as a priority. I put RA behind my husband, daughter, dogs, house, business, everything and all it got me was ill, depressed and suicidal. Yes, I said suicidal. Even though I worked part-time from home, because I was getting disability, people acted like I was lazy and exaggerating my illness. Even my own spouse. Like I wilingly walked away from a good job only 2 years out of a BSN. Now I can only hope someone will hire me after this many years out but I am going to be optimistic and keep up my meds, exercise, etc. and not let it control ME anymore.

Find a drug cocktail that works and take it faithfully. I used to think the Plaquenil, etc. helped, but I still couldn't hold a job because I was always stiff, tired and inflammed. That is gone now. I didn't realize how ill I had become.

I just started posting here but look for my posts and you get get some more info. I hope I helped.

Hugs,

Teresa

:redbeathe

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64 Posts; 2,322 Profile Views

Thank you for sharing your story with me, I will continue to have my RA as a priority in my life, but I've learned a lot about myself while having this as well. I was letting my RA control my mind, causing me to fear the future and what I would think I could and could not do. I know how to take care of myself, I know my limits, so I have no reason to let it deter me from anything I want to do!

I'm hopefully going to start on Orencia soon, so hopefully that, along w. all my other meds will keep me going for a long time.

Good luck, I know everything will work out for you and like you told me, keep taking your meds and don't give up!

Steph :zzzzz (I just got back to work from lunch and I feel like that face...sleepy!)

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ssing45 specializes in Critical Care (MICU, CICU, TNCC),.

31 Posts; 1,558 Profile Views

I am 53 and was diagnosed with RA five years ago. I did not do well until I started enbrel and now I am good. I do have flairs that I suffer through. The problem for me was not so much capability rather it was being immunosuppressed and having to care for sick patients, patients who might kill me or cause me to have to go off my enbrel. I am an ICU nurse and have recently moved to IT nursing. Of course I miss bedside but one has got to do what one has got to do.

I really want to emphasize this. If you are on any type of immunosuppressant you put your health and life at risk if you continue to work around sickies.

Edited by ssing45
addition

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64 Posts; 2,322 Profile Views

Thanks for your input, I've thought about the fact that I'm immunosupressed and taking care of sick patients. I believe that what I plan to do (hopefully) is work in the doctor's office as a nurse for a rheumatologist or going in nursing research. I feel healthwise, this would be the best option for me.

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2 Posts; 683 Profile Views

Hi,

I am a 37 yr old LPN and have been for almost 4 years. I am married with 4 children. I was diagnosed with RA in 2001 while I was 8 weeks pregnant with my 3rd son. I was relatively symptom free with some not so bad flares for 7 years. Now everyday that I wake up it's truly an adventure. I am so exhausted everyday. I have no energy for much of anything. I work in a rehab nursing home full time at night. I feel like something is going to give but don't know what or when. I have to work full time and keep the benefits but it is becoming excruciating. I have severe anemia, insomnia, and Afib also. My kids are having health issues as well. I hurt everyday but not always in the same places but lately my hands and feet are in terrible condition and makes performing ADL's more and more difficult let alone pt care. I am so frustrated and don't know what to do. I am currently on Methotrexate, Prednisone, and supposed to be starting Enbrel soon pending insurance approval. So far the meds are not doing much. The insomnia and anemia is also being tx with not so much improvement seen yet. Any advice or comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

nurselady06:nurse:

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224 Posts; 2,354 Profile Views

I was diagnosed with JRA when I was 13. I'm now 25 and going back for my RN (I have a BS already). I'm lucky that I only have occasional flareups or when the weather is bad it's an issue (at least my RA my ankle issues are another problem). If I ever get to the point where I'm not able to do bedside nursing, chances are I'll go back and get an MSN in Nursing Ed so I can teach. I hope not to reach that point for a long time.

My JRA is one of the bigger reasons why I want to go into nursing. I know what it's told to be told that I'm to young to be in chronic pain...it took me years before I got my RA under control.

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dragonflyaltoids has 3 years experience and specializes in ED, MS, CC.

53 Posts; 2,638 Profile Views

I was diagnosed at 22, after having my wisdom teeth out, I am now 31. After years of methotrexate and prednisone I am happy to say I am in remission and have been for the past 4 years.

Currently my medications are Topamax 200 mg, Something about it helps with my pain from the RA so if you have joint pain- you can check into it or neurotin adderall 15 bid ( on working days) Buspar 15 mg twice day then 10 mg once a day I've been a nurse since 2007, was a hairstylist before then, only problem I've had is knee pain bilaterally but the topamax is for my knees, I was taking tramadol and I got tired of being dependant on pain pills, and didn't want to be a drug seeker, and the topamax worked better than anything I've ever tried and it didn't give me headaches!

My sister is a Physical Therapist and she got diagnosed in 2008 after a dental surgery as well, she also works in a hospital she's on plaquenil, methotrexate, and prednisone.

The best part about working in healthcare is that after about 6 months to a year you build up such an immune system, that nothing seems to phase you!

My Advice- Get you a really Really good pair of shoes, and I'm not talking a pair of Nikes, I mean go to a orthotic shoe store with about 300 hundred dollars, (this is after you've worked 3 12 hour shifts- and you've gotten your tax return or some christmas money 'cause its expensive) and tell them where your feet hurt, or knees, or back, and these shoe people know bodies, because they have you try on numerous pairs of shoes and they are so worth it--- and the best part is usually you only have to replace the insoles when they wear out, so you only intially have to shell out the expensive part once- the insoles are about 60-70 and if you wear the heals down- (mine had to be shipped to switzerland to be resoled ) for free! Just pay shipping and handling 24.95 So really its all worth it! And since they are orthotic shoes, they're tax deductible-sounds even better, right?

Nothing is better than good comfy scrubs, for quality nothing beats the greys anatomy scrubs, I wish you all the best, Good Luck

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12 Posts; 1,145 Profile Views

Hi,

I am a 37 yr old LPN and have been for almost 4 years. I am married with 4 children. I was diagnosed with RA in 2001 while I was 8 weeks pregnant with my 3rd son. I was relatively symptom free with some not so bad flares for 7 years. Now everyday that I wake up it's truly an adventure. I am so exhausted everyday. I have no energy for much of anything. I work in a rehab nursing home full time at night. I feel like something is going to give but don't know what or when. I have to work full time and keep the benefits but it is becoming excruciating. I have severe anemia, insomnia, and Afib also. My kids are having health issues as well. I hurt everyday but not always in the same places but lately my hands and feet are in terrible condition and makes performing ADL's more and more difficult let alone pt care. I am so frustrated and don't know what to do. I am currently on Methotrexate, Prednisone, and supposed to be starting Enbrel soon pending insurance approval. So far the meds are not doing much. The insomnia and anemia is also being tx with not so much improvement seen yet. Any advice or comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

nurselady06:nurse:

I also have RA and am 48 (RA factor this year was at 217) and i feel your pain, i am a full-time LPN out of work since late last month and will be returning very soon on transitional/light duty. I am on Methotrexate but on again/off again due to 2 bad ulcers that resulted in MRSA infections twice and cellulitis infections 3 times in 2 years (the most recent one being now),my infection has healed and i am due to go back on the Methotrexate soon. I also have Type 2 diabetes (under control, thankfully!;) ) and mild anemia and a heart murmur. The RA started in 2006 when my factor was just elevated but was not fully diagnosed until early in 2009 (my factor started at 55, then 110, then 114, now 217, so i have a feeling that it will just keep going up and up) I've noticed over the past few years the aches, fatigue, and flair-ups have gotten worse, i am forced to sit a lot on the job because the prolonged standing and walking have become difficult for me to do ( i work full-time in LTC since i was in my 20's, constant moving and multitasking). I, too, can relate to the exaustion after an 8 hour work day. I also have a post DVT of my left leg ( i wear a jobst stocking) so i have venous insufficiency, (hence the leg ulcers) and the swelling increases with prolonged standing. I continue to walk with a slight limp (people do notice) and people at times ask me if i'm ok because i always look like i'm in pain (i try not to). This is my 3rd time being on short-term dbl and due to the same problems ( increased pain, with ulcers) and my fear is that it will keep coming back from time to time.

My employer is trying to find me transitional work right now with the possibility of going through vocational rehab, as i feel that this type of nursing just has just become too much for me with my conditions, i have worked this way hanging on praying that i would get better, and what had kept me going was the thought that there is always someone else somewhere who is worse off than me.

Best of luck to you and your family, hoping your insurance approves to for the Enbrel, have a wonderful holiday and let me know how it goes for you. I wish you the best

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Rascal1 specializes in Med-Surg., Agency Nursing, LTC., MDS..

230 Posts; 6,163 Profile Views

You are all in my prayers for all your courage and strength are to be applauded. I was dx'd in 2006 w/ R.A. and last year dx'd w/ F.M. and have a wait for a disability hearing sometime in 2011. (Please God make it so) Anxiety related itchy skin eruptions,infections and scars also plaque(sp) me.And Lately I'm on and off my Meth.,and Enbrel due to this.

I recovered from an alcohol addiction in 2008,but of course not without a tremendous amount of struggle. My Rheumy. retired in the summer and I have met w/her replacement once so far. It seems as if my tolerence for meds. have changed in such a way that previous doses of meds. such as Robaxin or flexeril don't help me like they used to. I can take Percocet one tab. every 12 hours if needed, which I've never abused. And I've needed to take it lately, but one is not effective for me.

I now have the state insurance and have my appmnts. at the hospital clinic(luckily is manned by my doctors group). I must really pray hard and frequently because my next appmnt.is not until January 12. I don't want this new doc. to think I'm a "drugseeker"!!` Tough it up.. I will and I'll also have all my questions/concerns written down for the new doc. !!

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2 Posts; 559 Profile Views

Hi to everyone. I am a 34 year old stay at home mom of 3. I was diagnosed with RA at 24 years of age. Had a long and hard battle with the illness. At present, the RA is under control. I have days when I feel like I can do anything and then I have days when I feel very limited in what I can do.

I have always had a dream of working in the medical field. But due to the RA and having little kids I have not taken any steps in that direction yet. However, lately, I have had a strong desire to become a nurse. And I think, I would be good at it. I have a college degree but not in science. So I will have about 2 years of prereqs to cover.

My question to you all is: Do you think it is worth it to put myself in a long training and become an RN about 5 years from now, when I have RA?

Also, those of you who are nurse; think it is doable physically with controlled RA?

l would very much appreciate your comments....looking for advise very badly.

Thank you.

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89 Posts; 3,296 Profile Views

I appreciate this thread SO much! I am an RN living with RA, OA, Fibromyalgia (and depression now, duh?) and severe cervical arthritis. I have worked in case management since 1992, have been unemployed for 3 years and looking for 6 mos. I cannot find a job I can do. I take Methadone for pain at the moment, along w/Neurontin, Tylenol, and Relafin. I am allergic to Tramadol, which would be a better choice if I were to get drug-tested for a new job. I had to stop MTX and Humira in 2010 due to recurrent MRSA infections. I have been turned down for SSD 3 times and have had my case in appeal for 11 months. I WANT to work and know I have a lot to offer if someone would give me a chance. I obviously cannot work full time, but feel part-time is very doable. I have sent out probably 50 resumes/applications in the past 6 months and have gotten a tepid response at best. Very frustrating, as I also have applied for jobs for which I am overqualified (LPN, MA positions). This is a terrible time to be unemployed and disabled in the US!

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