Depressed: I just don't know what to do anymore

  1. Hi fellow allnurses. I just need to get a few things off my chest right now.

    Last year I had a back injury at work and went on workcover. I have two herniated discs, one of which has an annular tear. I managed the injury last year and went back to work.

    A few weeks ago I went into severe spasm. I had to stay on and work for an hour and a half before I could go to ED. I was made to feel pressured into staying because of short staffing, I kept requesting relief and was being told that when so and so has their break you'll get relieved but no one came. Afterwards looking at the coordinator's list allocation I could see several ways in which I could have been relieved in a more timely fashion. I have written a complaint against this person outlining how their lack of actions has breached duty of care to me and the patient. This is being followed up but in the meantime I have to work alongside this nurse and it's all I can do not to scream at them.

    When I went to ED the registrar filled out a workers comp form but did not put restrictions on it. As I was on morphine and not really coherent at the time so I didn't pick up on it. When I returned to work I was expected to work in an environment with another staff member who could not scrub so I would be standing all day. All I get is 'everyone's off sick'. I was still in pain and refused to go along with it. I told them that I felt my safety was put at risk and that I would not stay if this was not going to be rectified. I was told by the CNC to 'go home and not feel persecuted'. The DON witnessed this exchange and I went home. I rang the DON later on that day and discussed how I felt that my safety was put at risk the day of the injury in not being relieved and that it is unfair to expect myself to work short staffed after being injured. She agreed with my decision to leave and encouraged me to document the entire thing.

    I then went to the GP and got a full list of restrictions. I have been on desk duty ever since. I was pulled into managements office and asked to explain my actions leaving early that day. I told them that the DON was supportive of my decision to leave as they saw the entire scenario. I told them that given I was left in an unsafe situation the day of my injury with no support whatsoever, I have no confidence in the department's ability to provide for my safety and rather than risking further injury it was best for me to leave. Obviously someone complained to management. After hearing my side of the story management have backed right off.

    Anyway since then I have noticed that there is a double standard in how staff are treated. One staff member punched their refrigerator at home breaking two metacarpals yet they were immediately put on desk duty. Another staff member gets to leave early so they can look at wedding dresses with their mother. But I injure myself at work and have to stay on.

    I sit at the holding bay desk fighting back tears of rage, the nurse who went wedding dress shopping came out and complained to me about having to stay an extra 15 minutes. It's all I could do not to break down. At home I feel physically sick of the thought of having to work in the OR as a scrub/scout again. I have requested to be moved to anaesthetics, an area I am really interested in and there is less manual handling, lifting and standing in one spot all day long. The nurses in charge of anaesthetics are far more supportive of their staff. I don't want to be one of 'those nurses' who you don't want to work with because of restrictions, meaning you have to do the majority of the heavy work. This puts other people at risk and we have enough people on restrictions in the department anyway.

    I try not to feel depressed but I can't help it. I don't know what I'm going to do if I can't move to anaesthetics. I no longer wish to work under people who are incapable of providing for safety and treat people equally.
  2. Visit Scrubby profile page

    About Scrubby

    Joined: Oct '07; Posts: 1,390; Likes: 2,125
    Clinical Nurse; from AU
    Specialty: 6 year(s) of experience in Operating Room Nursing


  3. by   tokmom
    Aww, I'm sorry about your back . I have back issues and I'm in disbelief they made you still work! I can't even imagine!!
    I hope you can transfer to anesthesia, and if not, can you try a different venue of nursing all together? What is your second love?

    Good luck and I hope it works out.
  4. by   Scrubby
    Quote from tokmom
    Aww, I'm sorry about your back . I have back issues and I'm in disbelief they made you still work! I can't even imagine!!
    I hope you can transfer to anesthesia, and if not, can you try a different venue of nursing all together? What is your second love?

    Good luck and I hope it works out.
    Thanks for the reply. Given that I have a dodgy back my options are limited. I may try for informatics or occupational health and safety.

    I have applied to study law, I find out this Friday if I get in. If I do then I'll cut my hours down and work 4 day a week and study part time. I'm looking for a way out.
  5. by   Patient_Care_Asst
    um.. The only person that can take care of you is you. The fact other people may or may not understand this is irrelevant. Regardless of what other staff members who are "pressuring" you to continue working because they are "short staffed" are individuals who are also "short sighted" in my opinion.

    I would be concerned about any staff member who is working with an injury because this not only affect you, it could also result in a patient injury. So the next time you are "pressured" ask that person if taking that approach would be in the best interests of the patient.

    Secondly, they cannot "detain" you if you have an injury or an accident which occurred at work. Seeking medical attention for an injury occurring on the job is not "optional." By law, you are entitled to immediately cease all working activities as a result of any such injury and to seek immediate attention, without any delay. Obviously, common sense would dictate to continue working with an injury might even make the problem worse!! DON'T DO IT!

    Does the safety department know about this occurring? I'm sure they would be outraged not to mention the idea that the facility is positioning themselves for a HUGE lawsuit. What kind of place is this anyways? ..Sorry, but I wouldn't give a rats posterior what other people might think about "those nurses", or how your injury might affect their staffing problems. Quite frankly, it's not your concern, nor should it be your concern for that matter. Your only concern should be the injury and how it is VERY much their concern, if they fail to immediately cease the work you are doing and delaying any process involved with the idea of seeking medical attention. It's simply not thier call to make that judgement.
    Last edit by Patient_Care_Asst on Jun 19, '10
  6. by   Scrubby
    The thing is that suing is not that easy in this country as it is in the US. It doesn't really work that way here. The DON told me last week she will be forwarding my letter to risk management and she wants me to speak with a member there about my concerns. I just want something done about it because it's affecting me mentally. I'm so angry and bewildered. I'm not against workplace flexibility but to allow someone to leave early to try on clothes and keep an injured person going is just mind boggling.

    When I was injured I was told that I'll be relieved in 5 minutes, it turns into 10, 20, an hour. I keep ringing and saying that I need to go to ED and all I get is someone is coming etc. Well they didn't. I had to wait until the surgery was over and leave.

    If I could go back in time I would have pressed the emergency duress button and requested nurse assistance. If the TL was too incompetent to pull someone out of another theatre (there were about 3 theatres with extra staff) then I should have gone over their head.

    After this experience I will never allow myself to be put in an unsafe situation again. This is why I left the next shift when they would have left me short because it would have happened again.

    The funny thing is that we've just been told that short staffing is the 'new era'. At a recent meeting management came and told us that we need to work together, not against one another. It was all I could do not to laugh in their face. If this is the dawn of a new era then I'm outta there.
  7. by   VivaRN
    I know this is the real world but I still find it disgusting that they ran right over an injured employee on their way to the bank. And they wonder why our generation doesn't trust employers? I think it's awesome that you may pursue law and it sounds like you've thought through other options. A door will open. I have a feeling you're right on the cusp.
  8. by   gentle
    I think you were very brave and mature in how you handled the situation. I don't know if I would have done as well or not. It's very difficult.

    I too believe that you are making the correct decision to exit that type of nursing. I would do likewise.

    I don't know that I would file for a lawsuit, even though I live here in the US. It just isn't my personality. I've been wronged etc and do believe that I could have filed a lawsuit against my last employer but, it wasn't worth the emotional stress to me. I already had enough stress.

    Please rest your body mind and soul. And best wishes with all that you do. I would also recommend writing those offensive people's names on toilet paper and flushing it down the toilet. Rude I know but it's easier on me than jeopardizing myself by accidentally backlashing. Oh yes, I also have many other coping techniques that I use. I journal quite a bit. I talk about the situation with my friends- we pray together. And other types of coping that I've had to learn.

    Many hugs, hon. And you're doing great with a bad situation. You also know what to do: you are stepping back, reassessing your situation, setting your goals, and have started working toward your long and short term goals. You are doing wonderfully.
  9. by   Patient_Care_Asst
    Quote from VivaRN
    I know this is the real world but I still find it disgusting that they ran right over an injured employee on their way to the bank.
    Well stated
  10. by   NRSKarenRN
    moved to our nurses with disabilities forum for support and guidance.
  11. by   TDCHIM
    If moving to anesthetics doesn't work out, I'd suggest investigating HIM (if you are interested in staying in health care, that is). I suffered severe injury to my spinal cord almost a decade ago and am currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in HIM (I'm specifically tailoring my degree towards health informatics). It might be worth investigating for you, as it's a field that is growing rapidly and can accommodate those with physical disabilities. The AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association) website might be of some use to you: I'm not sure if there's an international or Australian version.

    Your situation sounds awful, and I wish there were something I could do to help. I've been in that spot (albeit in another field); you're under pressure to stick it out against short staffing, you're in terrible pain, and you're looked down upon when you finally have to push for restrictions to your duties for the sake of your ability to keep working at all. It's miserable. A little piece of your soul drains to newsprint grey each day you have to work under those circumstances.

    It helped me to know I was working towards a new, better opportunity. Perhaps the law studies you mentioned could provide that kind of hope or goal for you; if not, HIM could be a good option, or you could pursue more advanced nursing education (nursing informatics, for instance). I don't know what your country has to offer disabled workers, but the US has an agency that assists people to pursue educational and employment opportunities better suited to their talents. It also provides help with assistive devices, like improved workstations or appropriate seating. Perhaps you could investigate whether your country offers anything similar.

    I am thankful that your DON has been supportive. Don't worry about being one of "those nurses" who require work restrictions. Your behavior has been beyond exemplary, but you are doing nothing wrong by requesting accommodation! Your employer will not look out for your health. It is uncomfortable to have to advocate for yourself in the workplace, but it is necessary under the circumstances. I know how awful it feels to roll around restlessly in the night, dreading the start of the next workday. The best suggestion I can offer to combat the depression and anger is to pour all that frustration into pursuing new employment and educational opportunities. Having a clear-cut goal in mind and working towards it can really help enormously. Sometimes it helps to vent to someone completely outside the situation, so please feel free to PM me if you need a listener without a connection to you or the situation. Journaling, as an earlier poster suggested, can also be very helpful.

    I hope you find a terrific new path perfectly suited to your strengths and talents. I wish you the best of luck - you certainly deserve it!
    Last edit by TDCHIM on Jun 21, '10 : Reason: Edited due to error in my understanding of poster's locale
  12. by   phlox
    Not that this will make you feel one bit better, it won't, but here is what happened to me, years ago:

    I had such a bad bladder infection that I was huddled down on the med room floor trying to withstand the severe bladder spasms. I was drenched in sweat. A nurse found me and reported my very obvious illness. I was sent home. The phone rang. They were short-staffed. This was a small rural hospital and I knew they needed me. I went back to the hospital. I tried to work but again the bladder spasms kept me bent over. A doc saw me and ordered a UA. The lab called and the specimen was tainted by my menstrual blood. Uh, I have had a hysterectomy and there was no menstrual blood! My DON realized I was in no way making up a severe bladder infection and let me go home again. DANG! It takes a lot to be sick enough to go home...and stay home!
  13. by   Scrubby
    Update: It's been an interesting week.

    I informed the CNC of my intentions to go over to the 'dark side' (anaesthetics). She literally panicked because there is no one else there who specialises in hepatobiliary and no one suitable to take over and she 'needs my expertise'. So I told her I would go back if certain conditions are met.

    I want the freeloading nurses who stand around chatting while I'm lifting and doing stuff gone. I shouldn't have to tell experienced nurses to do their job. I want a good teamwork to share the load so we can all be safe.

    If I have to scrub for long cases I want a comfortable chair at the ready. Sorry but if I only have to stand for 3 hours out of the 6 hour operation then I'll sit comfortably thanks and relieve the pressure on my back. The world is not going to cave in if the scrub nurse gets to sit down.

    I want decent mats to stand on. I'll be looking at some next week and ordering them in.

    I informed her that If I or any nurse I'm working with is injured and no relief is given then I'll press the emergency button and state 'circulating nurse required urgently'. If the TL is incompetent I'll go over their heads and make a fool out of everyone because I will NEVER work injured again.

    I'm also sick and tired of working in the same clinic. I've been there two years and I miss doing other operations. I'll still run hepatobiliary but I want 4 days a month in a different specialty clinic (except ortho and neuro) so I can keep my skills updated and to relieve me of the monotony of lap choles.

    So I'll stay in the OR for the moment and give it a try.

    Physiotherapy has also been very helpful, I've been doing abdominal strengthening exercises which are helpful and stretching my legs to relieve the sciatic pressure.

    Oh and yeah I got into Law! It's going to take a few years but it's something to work towards.
  14. by   caliotter3
    I also found out the hard way that the only person to take care of me is me. Expecting anything sensible or humane out of the employer is impossible. You have to be proactive for yourself and especially careful for those times when you can't be your own advocate. Try to have a family member or friend act in your behalf when you can't take care of yourself. Sounds as if you might be due for a change of scenery before this environment totally erodes your sense of well being. I would look for a new job if you can work around your problems. Good luck.