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Retiring Too Soon

Retired   (707 Views 10 Comments)
by ertoclinics ertoclinics (Member) Member Nurse

87 Profile Views; 16 Posts

I have been a RN for 22 years. The last 5 have been in the clinics because I could no longer do bedside nursing. I was an ER nurse prior to that. I have been off work and medically disabled for the past 2 years. I had a ton of medical problems prior to my diagnosis of cancer at 41. Chemotherapy along with my previous medical problems, mental health problems, and severe cognitive delays due to the chemo has caused me to no longer be able to work as a nurse. I was on short and long term disability and now Social Security Disability. The reality is that this will be permanent. I have had to be on short or long term disability 8 times during my last 3 employments over a 5 year span. (I've been "let go" because my FMLA ran out each time.)

My license expires in 2020 and then I will have to place it in an inactive state or give it up completely. I am not sure what my state does. I live in Nebraska. I am having a hard time accepting this fact and it is causing a lot of problems with my mental health problems (mostly anxiety and depression but there is a long list). I am seeing a therapist (not for that reason but I am going to mention it). How did those who have had to give up their career overcome the guilt, feeling depressed, being lonely, accepting of the lose of the career you absolutely love? 

My husband has been so supportive. My children (21, 16, 16) seem to take advantage of my cognitive problems and confusion but they are pretty overprotective of me as well. Thankfully, the Social Security provides a decent income along with my husband's salary so we just have a small change in our lifestyle. I no longer can drive or go anywhere alone because I now suffer seizures too since the chemo.

Any advice is welcome. I am new at posting, but I have been reading posts for years.

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traumaRUs has 27 years experience as a MSN, APRN, CNS and specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

15 Followers; 160 Articles; 20,955 Posts; 189,470 Profile Views

I am so very sorry for you!  It must be very difficult. I'm sure you've heard this before but focus on what you CAN do versus what you've lost. 

Some suggestions:

1. Volunteer in some capacity? Maybe at a pet rescue or dog pound?

2. Volunteer at a nursing home reading to those who can't read?

3. Assist at a school as an aide?

 

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llg has 40 years experience as a PhD, RN and specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

5 Followers; 13,134 Posts; 58,411 Profile Views

I, too, would recommend an approach of "looking for ways to be helpful" rather than looking for a job.    If you look around, you can usually find people who are worse off than you in some way.   Helping them in some way can provide you with an outlet for that nursing instinct that you still have.

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Daisy4RN has 20 years experience and specializes in Travel, Home Health, Med-Surg.

1 Follower; 1 Article; 987 Posts; 6,467 Profile Views

I also am sorry for your situation. I have a very similar situation to yours having a chronic autoimmune illness, it hasn't been easy. I gave up full time work a few years ago, and because I felt like you and didnt want to give up my nursing career yet, I have been working per-diem here and there. My license also expires in 2020 and I am faced with the same question, to renew or not to renew! I have had to work through those same feelings as you state and it has been a significant challenge. I worked through them in part by treating it as the loss that it is, and also through my faith. I will more than likely not renew. (For me) I think I will just be trying to hold onto something for no other purpose than holding onto it. I think that having the license will just make me feel worse (false hope) and impede the completion of the "grieving process". Give yourself some time and room to grieve and work through the feelings, and yes, I would let your therapist help you with this. At some point it will become a distant thought and you will be able to move forward with what ever you want and are able to do!

Wishing you well!!

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VivaLasViejas has 20 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

8 Followers; 142 Articles; 9,674 Posts; 248,585 Profile Views

I'm so sorry you're enduring these circumstances. FWIW, I had to put my license in Retired status this year due to the fact that I haven't had any practice hours in the past five years; I'm on Social Security Disability too and I'm afraid that's a forever thing. I have degenerative joint disease and bipolar I, neither of which are compatible with nursing at this point in time, and while I miss nursing, I know that it contributed to my major malfunctions and I can't imagine any situation that would make it possible for me to resurrect my career.

Yes, it is a loss. It can be overcome by making yourself useful in another manner, such as has been suggested by previous posters. But you've got to get right with you first...like getting counseling and perhaps some medication for a time until you feel better, and treating yourself like you matter---which you do! There's no need to feel guilty; you are not a failure and you deserve good things in life. You are merely a member of a minority of nurses who for many reasons are unable to continue in the profession. There's no shame in that. It sure took me a while to realize it, and even longer to accept it, but it happened. Just like you will accept it eventually; in the meantime, find something that makes you happy and fulfills you. And don't forget self-care!

Wishing you the very best. Viva

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16 Posts; 87 Profile Views

Thank you everyone. It means a lot to me that you mentioned the kind words and suggestions. I had major surgery as a result of the cancer I had almost 2 years ago today and I explained to the staff that I was a nurse but I am now disabled and it was nice to hear them say I will always be a nurse. I would love to volunteer, but because of the cognitive problems, I am no longer able to drive or be without a family member with me because of sudden onset of confusion. My 16 year old daughter will be getting her CNA this next summer and hopes to get a job in a local retirement home in October (future nurse) serving trays and helping to feed dinner meals so that may give me an opportunity to volunteer if I get better.. My husband has been the best through this so even though the depression and anxiety is bad at times, he gets me out of the house and takes me places I enjoy. Thanks again to everyone. At least this board gives me an opportunity to share my wealth of nursing knowledge with others.

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Bella_25 specializes in BSc.

5 Posts; 58 Profile Views

Hi.

I hope you are doing well. 

I can relate about not being able to work anymore and the the guilt. I too had to leave my 20 years of nursing.

I am grieving that part of my journey and slowly saying goodbye.

But as I  grieving I am realizing that it's ok. I too have health concerns of my own. It's tough at times I feel like failure to thrive. But I don't want to give up on life.

I am tired but I don't want to quit life. I am slowly learning to accept what my new circumstances are. It's ok to be sad it's ok to cry. 

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16 Posts; 87 Profile Views

On 8/26/2019 at 10:11 AM, Bella_25 said:

Hi.

I hope you are doing well. 

I can relate about not being able to work anymore and the the guilt. I too had to leave my 20 years of nursing.

I am grieving that part of my journey and slowly saying goodbye.

But as I  grieving I am realizing that it's ok. I too have health concerns of my own. It's tough at times I feel like failure to thrive. But I don't want to give up on life.

I am tired but I don't want to quit life. I am slowly learning to accept what my new circumstances are. It's ok to be sad it's ok to cry. 

Giving up on life has been a hard one but I know my children need me. My husband took me out for errands today and my girls wanted me to take them Homecoming dress shopping. My husband drove. (I lost my license a year ago). I promised my twins and son I will stay healthy and will see each of them graduate (my son will graduate college in April 2020) and my twins graduate high school 2022. One day at a time. 

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Bella_25 specializes in BSc.

5 Posts; 58 Profile Views

Yes exactly one day at a time my friend.

As a nurse when I worked at the bed side. I felt immune to sickness, in my younger years of nursing. I worked to my full capacity. Missed meal breaks, to make sure my patients were ok. I am sure you also have similar experiences. We provided a heart giving service. So now it can be a heart warming memory. I am happy you went out with your family. It's really good to hear that. 

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45 Posts; 225 Profile Views

"My children (21, 16, 16) seem to take advantage of my cognitive problems and confusion but they are pretty overprotective of me as well."

The *expletive* ?

LOL

So how much cash do you still have in your purse? Any weird charges in your credit cards? This would be elderly abuse.

 

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