It is hard enough to be a nurse, but dealing with chronic pain and working as a nurse may seem insurmountable. Whether you have fibromyalgia, chronic back pain, or any other pain that simply will not go away, you may feel like you have an uphill battle.
Of course, you may not be able to work the bedside with your pain, but that depends on you and what type of pain you have. However, nursing is a very malleable profession, and it can lead to more opportunities than simply the bedside.
The important point to remember is that you can try to work around it. Honestly, sometimes it works, but it may not work for you. You need to explore your options.
Find a job that plays to your strengths
Don’t discount bedside nursing if you have chronic pain. It may seem impossible, but it doesn’t have to be.
With the proper medications and precautions, you could make a go at the bedside, but it would also depend on your chronic pain diagnosis.
If not the bedside, then where? Of course, there are doctors’ offices, but those jobs can be difficult to find and don’t tend to pay very much.
Instead, you could consider teaching, supervisory work, or other nursing jobs that don’t require physical effort. For instance, legal nursing – where you evaluate charts for legal cases – could be a lucrative part of nursing for you.
You need to remember that nursing doesn’t stop at the bedside. Get creative and find a niche that works for your symptoms.
Jealously guard your time off
Your body needs time to rest whether you have chronic pain or not. It is particularly important that you rest when you are dealing with chronic pain.
Although it may be difficult to turn down extra overtime or say no when the manager is begging, you have to resist the temptation. You need your downtime for your body to recover so that you can work your best on your working days.
Time off is a hard proposition for any nurse, but chronic pain can make it so much more important. You need to take care of yourself before you can possibly take care of others.
Find a cocktail of medications that work for you
Pain management is a difficult subspecialty of medicine, and sometimes it is hard to get your medications just right. When you are struggling to control your pain, turning to your doctor for help is usually the best bet.
Medications can be mixed and matched to provide the best level of pain control for you, and your nursing career will hinge on that. If you are taking narcotics, though, it is important to know how they will affect your judgment.
For this reason, some medications may preclude you from working at the bedside, but getting the medications right can make your life easier and more enjoyable. Controlling your pain is the best way to work as a nurse.
Don’t discount holistic and alternative medicine treatments, either. You never know what is going to give you the edge over your pain so that your work as a nurse can continue.