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Old 01-20-2005, 08:59 PM   #1
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LaniR304 HB User
What should I do now?

I had a car accident in August 2004. I hit another car at about 45 mph (not my fault). When I hit, I came to a complete stop...so I of course ended up with problems with my back. I had muscle spasms in my lower back immediatley. I went to physical therapy for that. Then in October 2004, I ended up in the ER with wry neck/torticollis. Then in December, I started to have a lot of discomfort with muscle tightening in my neck and shoulder area. Finally asked for a MRI of my neck which showed degenerative changes and disc dessication of some of the cervical vertebra (I'm 24 years old). I went to physical therapy for my neck. The muscle tightness is better now, but I have had lots of pain since beginning therapy (of course). But, the physical therapist told me that when I get pregnant I need to be very careful and have good strength prior and during pregnancy to decrease the chance of having problems with my spine during pregnancy. I was told that I have hypermobility in my spine and I will now, most likely, have continuing problems. Initially, I did not have any problems with my neck, but I do remember being thrown forward and then back with the impact (seatbelt, but no airbag). And because of the hypermobility I will need to be especially diligent about keeping the muscles strong.
My main concern is that I am 2 classes away from beginning nursing school (6-12 months away). I have pretty much just pushed aside that career goal because I am concerned about physically getting through it (have bad knees too, but they really aren't a big problem at this point, but due to that, I rely on my back a lot). I know that there are other careers within nursing besides direct patient care, but the two years of school...I am afraid that I wouldn't be able to do it with my back...or would push myself and cause further harm to my back/neck.
I have never had anything more than a stiff neck from sleeping on it wrong, so I don't think that I fully realize the long term problems that a back/neck injury will have on my life. Since I am on the verge of starting school for a particular career, I don't want to realize a few months or a few years down the road that I shouldn't have done it.
Thanks for any input!

 
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Old 01-20-2005, 09:35 PM   #2
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mel1977 HB User
Re: What should I do now?

oh hun, my heart goes to you. I will fill you in on the shorter version of me:
I am 27, but my back problems started when I was 22. I am a CNA and slipped when transfering a pt. It took two years to get it diagnosed right-had a bulge at L5-S1. So, I had a micro-discectomy and was great(I was 24). BUT, after moving 1800 miles had to take a job at a nursing home where I lifted too much and had to quit my job b/c I was afraid I would cause permanent injury. Now, I took a better CNA job and things were going great here in NV (was in CA, MO before that) and all of a sudden, my neck issues started. My last day at work was July15, 2004.
MRI showed a small bulge at C5-6. Loss of "normal lordosis" (curve of neck) and spondylosis. I also had a pinched nerve. I also had two small bulges at L4-5 and L5-S1, a tear, a spur and DDD at both levels. After PT, injections and traction, only the pinched nerve ceased. After a discogram on my two lumbar discs, it was confirmed they were bad. I have since had an anterior/posterior interbody lumbar fusion of L4-5 and L5-S1. I am a little over one month post op. Next, after this heals, I go for neck treatment, though no surgery. I have no idea where I will be working since I cannot return to my job as a CNA, but they haven't "let me go" either. My long term goal? LPN or RN. Infact, I am trying to get into LPN this year, if I don't get in, I will go for RN next year. I am afraid my neck will interfere with my ability to do most jobs,especially if I have to look down, which is why I HAVE to fix me. I will turn to arthritis meds, deep tissue massage, ultrasound and other meds to help me. As an RN or LPN there is a lot of looking down. Since my lumbar surgery, standing should be so much easier. But, I have muscles that are always tight and hurt. Heck, today I was sitting at the table writing thank yous for xmas gifts, and less than ten mins in my neck hurt so bad.
So, I understand your worry. There are many areas of nursing we can work in that should not put our bodies in harms way. If you are like me though and LOVE direct patient care, then be careful. I have to remind myself constantly I can't lift anymore and so on.
I am here if you want to talk more about nursing. If I am right, memaw is an RN. My mom and MIL are both RNS too. I wish you the best and welcome any more questions or if ya just want to talk.

 
Old 01-22-2005, 11:20 PM   #3
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memawhurts HB User
Re: What should I do now?

Hi Lani ,
Mel is right, I am an RN. I won't lie and say nursing school is easy, it was one of the hardest things I have done in my life. But probably more mentally than physical. It is a lot of classes to take plus you have to do your clinicals (which are a couple of hours, a couple of days a week). But you are not in clinicals for long enough to really get into a lot of strenuos activity. At least that was the case in my classes. The major joke is when you actually start work as an RN, everyone says that school did not prepare you for the real world. And it is soooo very true. But I can tell you that I had a laminectomy in 1999 and a fusion in 2001 and I went back to direct patient care until my fall in January of 2004. So I did it for 3 years after fusion. Now I won't say I didn't have some hard days with some pain involved. but it was tolerable. My sister is also an RN, and she had a cervical fusion and has been and still is working in direct patient care for about 3 or 4 years and is doing great. Now if you have to have both lumbar and cervical work done, then I'm not sure how it will affect you, but I still feel like you can probably handle it. You have to learn different ways of doing things, such as squatting to do a lot of things instead of bending, but that should be done anyway. It actually becomes a habit. I just remembered you have bad knees too. This may cause you problems . I guess a lot just depends on how bad you want it.

I would suggest going to the college and speaking with the nursing counselor. Tell her what you have told us, include all of your physical problems and ask her opinion. I think most will be brutally honest with you. It's worth a try.

I will be perfectly honest with you. Unless you have a great love for this profession and just can't imagine doing anything else, I would not recommend anyone into this job . It is very physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. You literally hold people's lives in your hands and that is hard to do and scary at times. I am terrified of going back again. Even though I did ok after my last fusion, I had relief fairly soon after and with this one, I have not had any relief as of yet. And I am afraid to go back, because, basically the job has sent me into 3 back surgeries now.

I'm not sure if this is what you wanted to hear, but I assumed you wanted honesty. If there is anything I can help you with, I would be happy to. Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner but my computer has been on the fritz for a few days.
Best wishes ,
Memaw

Last edited by memawhurts; 01-22-2005 at 11:26 PM.

 
Old 01-22-2005, 11:37 PM   #4
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mel1977 HB User
Re: What should I do now?

OH! Get on the disability list at your college! I did this so now when I go to school they have to accomodate me. Like if I need to bring a pillow to class I can or if I have to get up and stretch every fifteen mins I can etc.. It is a valuable thing to have. There are many jobs in nursing you can do that don't involve patient care, though they aren't as fulfilling in my mind. How far are you wanting to go?
I am so concerned about my neck and back issue as well, and MY KNEES SUCK. Anyway, I think I am repeating myself. I am glad memaw came on here and gave her thoughts. Anyway, we hope to hear from you soon!

 
Old 01-23-2005, 12:20 AM   #5
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memawhurts HB User
Re: What should I do now?

Great idea Mel. I had not even thought of that.

 
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