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Nurses with scoliosis out there?

Posted
by Selke Selke Member

Are there other RNs with scoliosis out there? Especially severe scoliosis with noticeable rib hump (the Quasimodo look), spinal fusion, metal instrumentation, chronic pain issues, especially in low back/hips, which is a recent development for me. I have all of the above and am always scared of losing my job, which happened once and I got blackballed by Northwestern Memorial in Chicago. I have to do a song and dance with every preemployment evaluation. I also have narcolepsy from longstanding insomnia. Depression -- well we won't go there.

psalm, RN

Specializes in Staff nurse.

Sorry to hear it. I had a friend in the 1980s who worked as an RN and had the same situation. She had a metal rod in her back and would complain of how cold she got during our Michigan winters...had trouble with pt. care sometimes due to her short stature also. Can't help you with any advice, but wanted you to know there are other nurses out there with scoliosis. Do you work nights? Is that contributing to the insomnia? Just a thought.

No, I don't work nights, but when I did I couldn't cope with it. I lost those years of my life, I was just a zombie when I was off work. It derailed my ambitions for grad school and I lost two years of my daughter's lives. I think working nights those two years started my problems with insomnia, although anxiety causes most of it. Sleep studies require a hefty copay which I haven't been able to afford yet; I'd like to get the anxiety treated but it's hard finding a therapist who will do that.

I wonder what others do with noticeable deformities, when you catch coworkers on the sly staring at you, and stress out over anticipating managers saying something to you. Coworkers who give others backrubs ignore you. It's awfully humiliating. I think legally they can only ask so much; I would only tell them that I have never filed workmen's comp and never been injured on the job (all true). Most RNs I know have chronic back problems or history of injury, anyway, so I don't see myself as worse off than they are, but there is prejudice.

I've had scoliosis since I was 14 years old. Had corrective surgery when I was 18 (Luque wire technique). Orginially, my curvature was about 60-65 degrees top and bottom (S-shaped curve) that's been corrected to about 40 degrees.

I have worked on and off for 20+ years as an RN and gave birth to 4 kids vaginally (not all at once). I've used my experience as a patient to improve my ability to care for others. In fact, it was my hospital stay for the surgery that helped me decide to become a nurse.

Good luck with your situation!

Cindy

... I've used my experience as a patient to improve my ability to care for others. In fact, it was my hospital stay for the surgery that helped me decide to become a nurse.

Cindy

Yup, these experiences while young change you in weird ways. This is what got my interest up in health care. I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon for quite some time. That, and I never had confidence I could support myself as an artist. (Maybe in my next life.)

Journey_On, BSN, RN

Specializes in Occupational Health. Has 12 years experience.

I am not an RN yet, but I have scoliosis - I was diagnosed when I was 13 with a 32 degree curve. It went up to 38 degrees four months later, and I wore a Boston TLSO for about a year. It was a really hard time for me, but like some of you have expressed, that experience had an influence on my passion for health and medical-related things. I remember checking out books from the library about scoliosis and learning all about the surgeries (even though I never had surgery for it. I too remember when I kinda wanted to go into orthopedics - I even shadowed an orthopedic surgeon for a day in 9th grade and really loved it!

I haven't been back to an orthopedic surgeon since before I went to college - I am very curious to see how my spine is doing now. I have a not-so-noticeable rib hump.

Cindy, wow, 60-65 degrees! That's a really major case - that's good that you got surgery for it.

The last time I saw an orthopedic surgeon for my back was back in 1994 after I delivered my youngest. Was having tailbone pain and wanted to get checked out. Other than having 1-2 broken wires at the very bottom of the fusion, I was fine.

Hope your scoliosis doesn't interfere with your nursing career.

Cindy

I have scoliosis and have worked as an RN for 28 years; I had spinal fusion surgery in 2001; spent the bulk of my nursing career as a staff development instructor so I was running around hospitals doing eduction then standing in classrooms when I wasn't demonstrating CPR.

Nursing definitely did not help my physical status. Good luck.

when i was 15, i was dx'd w/scoliosis.

at that time, it was 36 degrees.

somehow (don't remember), my surgeon knew that i was too late for a brace.

by the time he said i needed surgery, it was 84 degrees.

had 12 vertebrae fused (t1-t12), w/bone taken from my hip.

anyway, and knock on wood, i haven't had any problems.

my back is strong and any pain is easily traced to the hardships in nsg.

btw, my surgery resulted in near perfect correction of 10-11 degrees.

leslie

Journey_On, BSN, RN

Specializes in Occupational Health. Has 12 years experience.

Leslie,

WOW, 84 degrees - that is a very extreme case - I cannot believe how fast it progressed! The amount of correction that was done was wonderful! Glad to hear that your back is doing fine.

- Iris

Leslie,

WOW, 84 degrees - that is a very extreme case - I cannot believe how fast it progressed! The amount of correction that was done was wonderful! Glad to hear that your back is doing fine.

- Iris

omg, it was incredible, iris.

dr. k told me that at the rate i was slipping, i'd be totally crippled within one year.

in months time, i noticed my shoulders were uneven, as were my hips.

big protruded scapula.

no pain, but even i noticed the physical deformities.

and they decided against hardware when they saw the correction they could get w/o it.

(when i was a youngin', my back was very flexible. i could almost touch my head to my bum.)

anyways yeah, it was a pretty remarkable time in my life.

back in 1973, we were in the hospital for 5-6 months...

and bedbound in a full body cast, for 4-5 months- some even 6 mos.

it seems times have changed?:)

leslie

Journey_On, BSN, RN

Specializes in Occupational Health. Has 12 years experience.

5-6 months, wow.....and a body cast for almost that amount of time!

I agree that times certainly have changed! One can get scoliosis surgery with just a few "holes" in their back, instead of having a long scar down their spine. They can be out of the hospital a week after the procedure and be back to normal activities anywhere from 2-4 weeks post-op. Some may not even have to wear a brace afterwards.

Had to look most of this up at this website:

http://www.iscoliosis.com/treatment-surgical.html

Back in my brace-wearing days, I learned all I could about the surgery and was able to spout out facts about it, but I have forgotten a lot about it so I had to have a little help. :)

Thank you for sharing your story, Leslie.

- Iris

I had a 98 degree right thoracic curve that was straightened to about 30 degrees after weeks of halo-femoral traction, fusion (T6 to L3), and Harrington rod, then another year in a Risser body cast. earle58 and I were treated back in the dinosaur days .... The surgery did not take away the huge rib hump on my back or improve my respiratory function much. My shoulders and hips were even. Since then (1971) my curve has worsened to near 70 degrees, my shoulders and hips are not even, and I've developed pretty bad low back pain. I've seen one of the UCSF surgeons who wants to put off revision surgery as long as possible because the fusion will need to be extended upwards into my cervical vertebrae and my sacrum fused. This will disable me from nursing, that's for sure. He said he can reduce my rib hump and the correction might restore some of my height, but not much. I would be 5'11" if I had a straight spine. I'm 5'5" now.

Journey_On, BSN, RN

Specializes in Occupational Health. Has 12 years experience.

Wow Selke, you have been through a lot. It is scary when scoliosis starts to affect your other organs. I know scoliosis usually does not cause pain (something that other people don't really understand), but when the degree of curvature is that severe, it will. I believe the pain is seen commonly in adults who were diagnosed when they were younger, but I'm sure some younger ones have pain too.

It's amazing how much one can grow when they have a severe curve and have surgery for it.

I hope that things go well for you with your spine.

I had a 98 degree right thoracic curve that was straightened to about 30 degrees after weeks of halo-femoral traction, fusion (T6 to L3), and Harrington rod, then another year in a Risser body cast. earle58 and I were treated back in the dinosaur days .... The surgery did not take away the huge rib hump on my back or improve my respiratory function much. My shoulders and hips were even. Since then (1971) my curve has worsened to near 70 degrees, my shoulders and hips are not even, and I've developed pretty bad low back pain. I've seen one of the UCSF surgeons who wants to put off revision surgery as long as possible because the fusion will need to be extended upwards into my cervical vertebrae and my sacrum fused. This will disable me from nursing, that's for sure. He said he can reduce my rib hump and the correction might restore some of my height, but not much. I would be 5'11" if I had a straight spine. I'm 5'5" now.

i was in a room w/5 other scoli pts.

the ones who had a lower fusion, had casts that went down to their knees.

mine went from jaw down to pubis.

lower fusions, neck to knees.

i gained 4" in height...actually 4.5.

i'm so sorry that you're having trouble again, selke.

why does the spine continue to curve, despite a rod and fusion?

leslie

hai,

I am an cardiac Icu nurse. I have congenital scoliosis with cobbs angle 42 degrees.I have passed the singapore nursing board exam and selected in the interview.but I was told that I am unfit in medical test. what is the standards they havein medical tests.If anyone has idea kindly clarify.

Silverdragon102, BSN

Specializes in Medical and general practice now LTC. Has 33 years experience.

hai,

I am an cardiac Icu nurse. I have congenital scoliosis with cobbs angle 42 degrees.I have passed the singapore nursing board exam and selected in the interview.but I was told that I am unfit in medical test. what is the standards they havein medical tests.If anyone has idea kindly clarify.

I think the US and a lot of other countries are more tolerant on disabilities and work round what is required.

Not sure if you are looking at another country but suggest you check out the International forum regarding process for another country

No, I don't work nights, but when I did I couldn't cope with it. I lost those years of my life, I was just a zombie when I was off work. It derailed my ambitions for grad school and I lost two years of my daughter's lives. I think working nights those two years started my problems with insomnia, although anxiety causes most of it. Sleep studies require a hefty copay which I haven't been able to afford yet; I'd like to get the anxiety treated but it's hard finding a therapist who will do that.

I wonder what others do with noticeable deformities, when you catch coworkers on the sly staring at you, and stress out over anticipating managers saying something to you. Coworkers who give others backrubs ignore you. It's awfully humiliating. I think legally they can only ask so much; I would only tell them that I have never filed workmen's comp and never been injured on the job (all true). Most RNs I know have chronic back problems or history of injury, anyway, so I don't see myself as worse off than they are, but there is prejudice.

I have scoliosis and a learning disability. I have a hump in my back, no rod. An old nursing instructor told me back in the early 90's that I wasn't cut out to be a nurse...she was wrong! Mine isn't as severe, but still I can relate a little. Hang in there. With the nursing shortages, I don't think they will continue to be as picky!

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