Who/what am I? Wordy, sorry.


I loved ER/Trauma nursing so much I honestly couldn't believe they paid me to do it. Started in healthcare in the late 1970's. Taught CPR and First Aid, orderly, EMT, EMT-I, LPN, RN, CEN, BS, Trauma Nurse Specialist, lots of certifications, Certificates of appreciation from State of NM, American Red Cross, Presidents Volunteer Action Award. If I didn't have it, it hadn't been invented, YET!

Always expected to work till the day I died. As I went to punch out, they'd have my coffin waiting at the time clock.

Back pain. What nurse Doesn't have it? But in 2009 I could no longer stand erect. Doctor after doctor. I respect the docs who admitted "I don't know." Most had really dumb answers. No income and my insurance fighting me till I had to live and seek help paying with credit cards. My Army combat medic daughter carrying me to appointments. A year to the day, an answer "Polymyositis." Worst of all, never to return to work.

The point (finally)! 6 years out of work, I can care for myself (barely) with Humira and Methotrexate injections. BUT WHAT AM I? I'm still struggling to define my identity. I can barely lift 30 pounds now. Too many side effects and weakness to work or volunteer. So much experience and knowledge, but can't use it. Nursing school didn't prepare me for the day I became disabled. My license is inactive, I guess I'll always be "A Nurse" but it's wrong to add "registered" without painfully adding "former."

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

142 Articles; 9,981 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 26 years experience.

Once a nurse, always a nurse!

I feel for you, dthfytr. I became disabled last year due to a combination of mental and physical illnesses that made it all but impossible for me to work. I'm on disability now but I refer to myself as a "retired RN", because that is what I am. I still hold an active license, but even when it goes inactive I'll still call myself a retired nurse.

Life as a disabled nurse can be challenging, so let's not be too hard on ourselves by calling ourselves anything but "nurse", whether inactive or retired. Nothing can take that away from us. Ever. (((((HUGS)))))

Specializes in ER, Trauma. Has 30 years experience.

Thanks for the reply. The irony just dawned on me that now I need my fellow nurses to help me with my identity crisis.

Cricket183, BSN, RN

1 Article; 237 Posts

Specializes in Oncology (OCN). Has 20 years experience.

I can so relate to this. I struggle with this as well. I have been on disability since March 2008 due to RSD/CRPS. My license is on inactive status so I cannot use the title RN but I still see myself as a nurse. Like Viva said, "Once a nurse, always a nurse!" I don't feel like a retired nurse because I haven't totally given up on the hope of being able to return to nursing some day (although at 47 with more and more health problems it is seeming less likely all the time :( .)

Specializes in CVICU, MICU, Burn ICU. Has 27 years experience.

I know this is old, but how are you doing? Two things strike me as I read your story: 1) you obviously have TONS of knowledge to share-- and there are LOTS of nurses who need you to share it. Have you thought about writing a blog or educational materials? Or even being a frequent contributor here? and then 2) Depending on your state, I wonder if there is a way for you to keep up your RN status..... you are a nurse without it, no doubt.... but it could come in handy for you to have. There might be more you can be active in nursing-wise than has occured to you. I hope this finds you well and content despite your struggles. I know that is a tall order, but I have people close to me, like my dad-- who lives with chronic pain and disability show me that it is possible.

Specializes in ER, Trauma. Has 30 years experience.

Diagnosis changed from polymyositis to rheumatoid arthritis. I'd been taking motrin, Tylenol and ultram every 8 hours to keep working that finally my body had had enough.

To paraphrase a sign I saw; once a nurse always a nurse. It's like being in the mafia. You can never quit because you know too much!

allnurses Guide

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

4 Articles; 4,721 Posts

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life). Has 21 years experience.

I think Nurses are kind of like Special Forces operatives and Eagle Scouts. You never stop being one. I remember I once told someone my husband had been an Eagle scout and they commented back that they didn't know he had passed away. If you reactivated your license could you use it another way like tele-nursing?