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nowhere-child 06-20-2006 05:23 AM

Who works?
I've lived for years with chronic pain, but I'm limited in what I can take due to my job. [COLOR=DarkRed][REMOVED][/COLOR], and can't risk even the possibility of any impairment from pain meds. I had a ruptured disc a few years ago, and though it was repaired I still have pain each and every day. Not working is not an option. Disability would not begin to cover our expenses. I simply have no choice. I have to work.

I have to admit I feel jealous and angry when I see people who are on disability with bad backs, and I have to work every day with mine. (I'm not saying this to diss anyone here at all..but I want to be honest). I have a couple of coworkers who have special "easy" assignments (they also have back problems) when I take a full assignment for fear of losing my job if I make waves (some of these co-workers ARE in jeopardy of losing their jobs).
I'm especially angry when I see a patient who is in for "pain control" when I'm out there busting my behind 40+ HOURS A WEEK with the same injury/problem.

Meds make me really drowsy and nauseated, so I can only take something at night, and not often. Besides, any possibility of impairment is very dangerous in the nursing profession. I just get through each day the best I can.

So, who out there works while on pain meds, or while in pain? How can I get over my resentment of those who don't work? I have a good friend who "can't work", but engages in strenuous physical activities with her family and kids (sports, building an addition to her house, grocery shopping etc), while I struggle to get out of bed each day to go to work. Yet she's disabled, and I'm not.

I suppose there is no good answer to this anyway. I'll just shut up and listen to what ya'll have to say.

BlueSteam 06-20-2006 08:51 AM

Re: Who works?
Hi Nc, I can understand where you are coming from. I ruptured a disc in my lower back the first time when I was 17. I worked for twenty years with the pain. I saw the same things you are seeing now. I didn't take meds either. I did get angry when I saw people "abuse the system" It is also not fair when people really need help and can't get it because of these abusers. I recently injured myself again. This time it is my neck and my lower back. I just couldn't do it again. I am worn out from all the pain. Sorry, but I am. I, for the most part don't take pain pills, just an anti-seizure med for the headaches caused by the neck injury. I had to make a hard choice, disability, or work--in my case it is work comp. I am having a very hard time paying my bills, and I have also had people make comments to me that aren't fair. For instance---if you can do this or that, why can't you work? Well, you are stuck at your job for 40 hours a week, you can't go lay down or cradle your head or throw ice on your neck when you need to. You don't know when that next step you take is going to send shockwaves of pain thru your body. If I am having a good morning I may go out and try to do something in the yard or with my kids, then I can come in and lay down and recover from it. Mind you, I will pay dearly for whatever I have done. My children are only young once. I try to test myself to see if I am better by doing some things. And really, I do have some good days, where I can do things, but not always. If you were off of work, you would more than likely be doing the same thing. A person can only lay around the house for so long before you start feeling totally worthless, and it's not good for your mental health either. Your spouse, if you are married will start to resent you and on and on. So a person tries to do things just to keep a good mental state going. Plus, my doctor tells me to try to get out there and do what I can. I don't know if this will help you, I know that once I was actually off of work myself and in someone else's shoes, I had a better understanding. As a nurse you also have to remember that everyone's pain levels are differant. You may have a higher tolerance than some of your co-workers.

I can't help but add that I really hope that when I go see my dr, that his nurse doesn't resent me, I mean, ouch! I don't look forward to grocery shopping as it is painfull to go walking around the store, but it HAS to be done. My daughter really does have to talk me into some of the things I do with her, and so does my husband when it comes to the work on our ranch. As for fun activities, those are choices that I make depending on my day and how bad I really want to feel in the end. But I feel that it's not fair to be left out of everything, so once in a while I will particpate depending on what's going on. I can't be hurt any further, so why not try.

Anyway, I hope you get the answers you are looking for. I would try to not be so angry, you have to remember that it's not your co-workers or your patients fault that you have to work.

Advice seeker 06-20-2006 08:58 AM

Re: Who works?
My husband worked for several years with chronic back pain. He would come home in tears some days. But he has been unable to work for over two years now...not only from the chronic pain, but a host of other medical conditions. I think that him working for so long enduring the pain caused his system to get down and led to his additional problems.

Most people can make it on less money. It took almost two years for his SSDI to get approved, so we had to adjust our spending habits. (Eating at home, we sold his truck, no vacation, and cutting out other non-essentials.)

Sammiejoe 06-20-2006 09:20 AM

Re: Who works?
Hi nowhere :)
I can't work and haven't been able to since 1999. My back & neck simply won't allow me to hold down a full time job......It's not as if I haven't tried though. I took a position at my daughter's school working in the cafeteria and I barely made it through the day. I came home and the pain was so severe that I couldn't get out of bed for the next three days. I couldn't even get up to brush my teeth or take a shower. I felt like a complete failure and I let my family down because I was of no use to anyone for days following ONE day at the cafeteria. I was in pain and miserable and I took it out on my family. I don't get disability from my previous employment and I was denied SSD several times, so I have no financial help at all. By taking the job in the cafeteria, I put my SSD application at risk and I only managed to get through 6 hours of work. In retrospect, I was being selfish for risking my SSD when I should have realized that I couldn't hold down a full time job. My back/neck barely allow me to take care of my house and go grocery shopping, so thinking I could work all day and come home and do it all was just stupid on my part.
Please don't think it's been easy on my family. My inability to work has been financially devastating. Right now, my mortgage is close to foreclosure and we don't have the money to catch up. It's been terrible and I feel so guilty because I can't go out and get a job to help my family.

You mention, "Not working is not an option. Disability would not begin to cover our expenses. I simply have no choice. I have to work".
In my case, I don't even get disability. We have nothing and soon we may not even have a home. I wish I could turn down disability because, "it wouldn't begin to cover our expenses".
You, also, talk about coworkers who take, "easy assignments" but, you take, "full assignments for fear of losing your job if you make waves". Do you think your coworkers don't worry about their jobs? [COLOR=DarkRed][REMOVED][/COLOR] I would love to be able to push myself and go to work,but, I can't. You have other options such as disability and taking an easy assignment, but, you made the choice to turn them down.
Some of us don't have choices, we take it day by day and pray it will get better.
You, also mention, "meds make you drowsy and nauseated, so I can only take something at night, and not often". Do you know, if I didn't take my meds, I couldn't get out of be at all? To be able to make a choice not to take meds because of the side effects would be GREAT. Again, you've made the choice not to take meds. [COLOR=DarkRed][REMOVED][/COLOR]

If I could work 40+ hours and not take any pain meds, except for occasionally at night, I'd be thrilled. It's terrible to want to work and support your family and not be able to do it. The guilt is tremendous and the worrying about money is constant.

Instead of being, "angry & jealous" think about how blessed you are that you can go out and work. [COLOR=DarkRed][REMOVED][/COLOR] .
Good luck

wolfmarket 06-20-2006 10:19 AM

Re: Who works?
I guess I am the luckiest because I am self employed. I write two stock market newsletters for option traders which i started 15 years ago. The only problem I have is that i have to use a computer and I am not able to sit in front of it for as long as 1/10th the time I used to be able to.

I really feel for those of you who cannot work. I know a relative who claims to have an injury and is getting disability. in the meantime, she goes to the gym, parties, etc.

Too Sweet 74 06-20-2006 10:23 AM

Re: Who works?
Hi nowhere,
I am not sure exactly where to start. SammieJoe was right about alot of things. I am layed off from work because of a comp injury. Their idea NOT mine. Their IME doc said I was fine,my doc said no way and wants me on light duty for fear of more damage and also the unknown nature of a neck injury from an EMG that has left me with headaches every day for more than a year on top of the nerve damage in my dominant arm.I'd LOVE to be back to work.I don't miss the full duty job I had,mostly because of the attitudes of the other women I had worked with.People who I had thought were my friends. Turns out the guys I got to know on light duty were the best thing that happened to me. They were understanding and helpful. I miss them everyday.I miss being useful .I get angry because I know me not working is adversly affecting my family. My husband works 7 days a week because of it. I am not getting any comp at all. The bills are not getting smaller and now our blazer went down.Could be over a grand to fix it. Money that would be there if I was working. I hate this every damned day. So please don't lump people together .Yes there are creeps that abuse the system and hopefully they will have to pay for what they have done. Those people are another reason I think the comp and disabilty systems are so hard to deal with.
I don't want to beat you up over this I don't. I understand your need to work. I do. But can I make a suggestion. Look for another job,perhaps in an office or private practice. Are you in pain management at all? It has been a Godsend for me. I was considering suicide before I went to mine. There alot of things available for you. Please see about it. Please worry about how you are and making you feel better so you can do what you need to.Don't worry about everyone else out there.

SammieJoe, I am saying a prayer for you and your family, I hope things get better for you soon. Do you have a lawyer to deal with SSD ? See about it ok? My thoughts are with you. Take care

nowhere-child 06-20-2006 10:26 AM

Re: Who works?
Thanx. I have all those problems, PLUS I have to work, too.
I guess that's my choice. Thanks again.

ARANGER 06-20-2006 10:41 AM

Re: Who works?
Hey No-Where,

Its great that you are able to continue to work. But some people really can't continue. Of course there will always be people who abuse the system, and if you're in the medical profession, you probably see it a lot more than others. But to say that everyone that is on disability is abusing would be a bad assumption.

I'm in chronic pain from mulitple surgeries, fusions, etc. But I'm not on disability. However, that does not lower my view for people that are. For instance, my father is a disabled police officer. After years of service to the public protecting people and risking his life, he finally got into the fight that would end his career. My father hates being at home and not working, but he has no choice. He is disabled and cannot work anymore.

As far as pain meds and working, I know many, including a nurses that work while taking meds. A thing to remember is that everyone responds differently to pain meds. Tolerance grows and what may effect you, may not effect the next person. On my last surgery, the nurse that was assigned to me, was on the Fentanyl patch. She functioned just fine and had been on it for years. So for her, the impairment would be little to none.

My PM doc which was in the top of his class during med school (Board Certified in 3 specialities), and he told me that there was a study that showed chronic pain patients actually worked better while taking meds. Of course this would be people that have been taking meds for a while. But if you think about it, are you more impaired while being in severe pain, or while on pain meds? I would think that if you are in severe pain, that may limit your abilities to do things you would normally be able to do at work. If you have some pain relief, you may be able to do more.

With most pain meds (Methadone possibly being the exception), the sedation, drowsiness, and other side effects, go away with continued use. So unless you are uping the dose every week, those things will not effect you like a new person to opiates. I know for me, I don't experience many side effects with pain meds. I've been on them for a long time.

If you're able to work, then thats great and I hope that you will be able to continue. However, the day may come when you cannot anymore and you may view SSDI in a different light.

Just my opinion though. Take Care

shawley 06-20-2006 10:57 AM

Re: Who works?
[QUOTE=nowhere-child]Thanx. I have all those problems, PLUS I have to work, too.
I guess that's my choice. Thanks again.[/QUOTE]
Hello there , first let me start off by wishing you the best at your pain level.
I'm on workers comp also but after breaking my back ay work and living in this pain everyday I promised I would never again say mean things about people faking back injuries , because like another said on this board , you may see someone outside doing stuff but you don't see what their like afterwords , I pay so bad for doing the simplist things , my neighbors are always telling me to suck it up and find a job , It kinda hurts my feelings because ALL my life (40yrs old ) I busted my hump doing anything for a buck and for someone telling me that they know someone who is in worse shape than I am makes me wanna scream . I have no plans on recieving SS I want to go back to work with my friends I hate sitting here everyday but If it's what I need to do to make the payments I will.

What has your doctor said to you about all your pain ? Maybe if it's that bad you should seek another opinion. I wouldn't want to go to work being that mad at injured people when you work as a nurse, thats just not right.
I hope you start to feel a little relief from your pain and anger, its normal , heck somedays I feel like I hate the world when its hurting bad.

Too Sweet 74 06-20-2006 11:02 AM

Re: Who works?
Hi Again,
Just wanted to ask what pain med you are on? Aranger is certainly right about the side effects .I am on Tramadol and it doesn't do anything to me like it used to.It used to keep me from sleeping till I got used to it. I have a wonderful friend who has RSD from an accident in bootcamp. He is disabled at 31 .He just wanted to serve his country.Took a fall from a training tower and got a crush injury to nerves in his shoulder.His advice to me was be consistent in taking your pain meds ,you as a nurse should know that too. Maybe you need to try another med with fewer side effects too. Don't give in to the anger either. Like I said worry about you.Find something that works for you to feel better somehow .Don't give up. Do it for you and your family. I hope things get better for you .


badoldback 06-20-2006 11:23 AM

Re: Who works?
Hey NC,
I can fully understand being in the position of absolutely having to work no matter what. I am in the same situation myself. When my back pain had reached the point I could no longer force myself to get into the car to drive to work, I sat down and cried. When I finally found a good Pain Management Doctor and could function again, I was worried about making dangerous mistakes because of being overly sedated, but I quickly became adjusted to it. After a week or so it just wasn't a problem. For me, being in extreme pain was far more distracting than any Opiate side effects. ( I did have to stop taking Neurontin however)

nowhere-child 06-20-2006 12:55 PM

Re: Who works?
I'll just keep on. Everything I've ever tried makes me vomit, unless I lay down right afterwards and sleep for a few hours. I can't even take enough time off to try to get adjusted. My stomach is just ultra sensitive.

Nurses who continually seek out pain meds are often labelled as drug seekers. I can't expose myself to that kind of risk.

Again, thanks for the replies. I probably am more depressed, seeing that other people have the option to take care of themselves, while I just have to work in order to eat and keep a roof over my head, pain or no pain. And I do get crawling on the floor kind of pain. I just have to do it anyway, just get up and function every day.

Usually, I feel better focusing on work rather than pain anyway. My own little painkilling secret, I suppose!

Shoreline 06-20-2006 03:13 PM

Re: Who works?
Hi Nowhere child, I understand that you were not trying to dis anyone that does or doesn't work but for some reason that always happens when people start a post with that line. True disability is not something you have a choice about. You either are disabled or not disabled. Disability is the inability to work regardless of any accommodations that can be made or amount of medication someone can or canít take. If your suggesting all pain and disability is something you can just suck up and work through due to responsibility, obligation, financial commitment or simply a matter of timing and convenience, you view on disability is extremely jaded. You could always see how the folks malingering the day after back surgery respond to your view on how to cope with pain when you have responsibility.

You should count your blessing you actually have choices left in life. You can choose to find a less strenuous field in nursing. A doc once told me if you can sell pencils from a tin cup your not disabled and thatís pretty close to the social security admins position on disability too. IF you ever make to a SSD hearing you would find a state vocational counselor in the hearing to tell the judge just how many blind , one armed nurses with multiple disc bulges there are presently working in your state and across the country..

I am disabled, There is no amount of medication I can take orally or have this pump deliver that allows me to stand or sit for more than an hour, There arenít enough accommodations any employer can make that would allow me to work. I actually miss working, the adult interaction, the financial freedom of living on 4 times what I do now. I miss the feeling I used to have from my hips to my knees. It wasnít a convenient time to loose my home and forget every plan, hope and dream I had for the future, not to mention my wives. I was 35 when my 3rd fusion failed. I didnít call my accountant or financial planner and ask him if I would be able to enjoy the freedom of disability. We had no food in the house and had taken out a second to pay off the credit cards we lived on during the first 2 years waiting for a positive answer. Of course by then I couldnít afford the first or second on a 250 K house living on SSD..

There are other factors involved in the determination process for disability aside from a doc willing to say youíre disabled. Things like age, education, work experience, but those factors are generally used against a claim rather than to support a claim of total permanent disability. Having a college degree and being a RN, means youíre intelligent, able to learn new skills, transfer skills or adapt to any new position. You would be perfect for insurance, reception, collections or telemarketing. You have a choice to change careers to whatever would make your back hurt less should you choose to do something less strenuous that allows you to take enough meds to take the edge off.

Itís still your choice. Something someone truly disabled doesnít have. Yes it sounds insulting but thatís what being disabled means. Not just unable to be a nurse, but not able to do anything considered meaningful employment. SSD definition of meaningful employment at the time I applied was any job that grossed 600 a month. That might be a little more now with inflation and all that..

Being disabled is not a choice you wake up one day and decide youíre too uncomfy to ever work again. If you believe it's a choice than one would assume that anyone can just suck it up, push on and stop whining about how much they hurt like you have. This also implies that you can suck the pain up and learn to live without meds, change careers and sit in a booth selling cigarettes. There is no such thing as over qualified or over educated in the eyes of social security. If you can roll joints for people with glaucoma, youíre employable.

Just because you are able to suck it up, or feel that you have had too doesnít mean everyone on disability or workmanís comp is scamming the system. Right now you have choices, which is so much more than many others that have more wrong than a bulging disc. If all SSD required was a documented bulge or documented DDD, half the population over 40 would be eligible for disability.

Personally I would love to be able to go to work, walk through Busch Gardens with my daughter or simply unload he dishes without having to lay down.. I miss the simple adult interaction, I miss feeling useful, I miss working and selling my home wasn't a financial decision I made when it was convenient.

It just cracks me up when folks say they canít afford to go on disability or the timing isnít right for surgery. It was all pretty black and white for me. Loosing control of my bowels and bladder when I hit a speed bump meant a 6 level fusion that failed was no longer elective and something had to be revised.

Unfortunately sucking it up is not an option for everyone. The last surgery failed too, Iíve broken this set of hardware and this fusion failed too. I have hardware that toggles and hangs in the screw holes and I crunch, squeak and grind when I walk. It doesnít matter how much morphine or dilaudid my pump delivers, I still have the same physical limits and nobody is willing to give me a job that allows me to lay down every hour when sweat starts dripping from my nose.

What your not considering is that there are people so much worse off, they are jealous of those that can take enough meds or change careers and not be stuck at home when their family goes to Disney, travels or can sit through a movie without having to walk out. Thatís assuming you can afford to take your family to a movie on SSD.It doesnít matter of you made 100k a year, or 50K ,the max benefit remains the same.

For those that believe being disabled is a choice, ask any quad if they checked with their acountant before applying for disability. If being disabled is a choice than the person isnít disabled. There really needs to be a seperate forum for the disabled and the folks that think being disabled is a permanant vacation.

The fact youíre working and not dependent on opiates to walk, doesnít mean youíre tougher or have more responsibility. It means youíre luckier than some and not as lucky as others, I would trade places with you in a NY minute.

Do you really think disability is a vacation just because some people are content doing nothing with their life? There is a difference between intractable pain, chronic pain and just beng a lazy bum. Not everyone with chronic pain needs to be on SSD, Intractable pain is a little different and you should know that being a nurse. You have choices. Work for an Insurance co, be a visiting nurse, be a school nurse, be a private nurse, teach or sell pencils.You can reduce your pain by simply changing jobs and almost any job change will make you more than SSD will ever pay you.


milimoki 06-20-2006 03:15 PM

Re: Who works?
[COLOR="DarkRed"]REMOVED - stay on topic[/COLOR]

You also might need to see a PM Dr. You said you get nauseas from pain meds. Have you ever tried phenergran? Its a great drug and after a few weeks you get used to it and it wont make you so sleepy, and that way you could take pain meds and work. I think you should feel lucky that you can even work at all and not be in a wheel chair your pain is so bad. I know it makes you feel bad seeing others that have it easier, but you cant blame them or take it out on them (not that you do, but your headed in that direction, I guarentee) You said nurses that seek pain meds are labelled as drug seekers, and you cant risk that. I have no idea what you mean by that. You work as a nurse, thats your job. You going to a DR or PM Dr has nothing to do with anything. Do you think your PM DR is going to call your boss and tell him your seeing a PM DR??? Are you afraid a PM Dr. wont take you serious cause your a nurse? What risk are you talking about. I dont get it. Anyway sorry to have got off track a few times but nothing makes me more mad when a health care person doesnt act like a health giver. Meaning if you have all these resentments, I guarentee you are taking it out on your paitents, maybe even subconsiously .

Also I dont want you to feel like I am saying your a bad nurse or you do any of the things I mentioned I just think you need to do something before you start acting badly towards people. So sorry you are having problems and in pain. Sometimes it helps to come on here and talk to other people.Are you married? Or single? Make your husband get a second job and take better care of you. Muahahaha!!! Just teasing. I am lucky I can stay home and be sick and not work. You are commended for going to work and doing what you have to do, you can at least take pride in yourself for that. You must be a very strong person. I know I couldnt do it.You work every day with terrible pain and you are taking care of sick fragile people who need you and your support, you should feel proud of yourself :angel: keep us updated

countrykid 06-20-2006 05:03 PM

Re: Who works?
Nowhere....With all your comments I don't know where to start!!!!!
You make me mad and very sad.....I don't want to make this a long comment because most of the other comments have covered my thoughts completely except for one.....


I too also didn't want to stop working and I tried numerous times to continue but when my condition interferred with someone else's life I took a long hard look at what I was doing and I wasn't in a position that was responsible for someone's life....I only dealt with their money and my error could be fixed with no harm to anyone....not like your job!!!!

One final note........You worry about how would you survive if you didn't work...Think on this "How will you survive if you loose everything because of being sued because you goofed big time?"!!!!! Because you were in so much pain you couldn't function at work and it was just you and the patient.


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