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Does Anyone Do Shift Work?


summer
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I have been off work for about 16 months now. Finally, after about 13 months of being really sick, I was diagnosed with POTS by an ANS specialist, and started on a combination of meds, dietary and lifestyle changes and am really improving. I finally feel like doing a few things again, but I still need to pace myself, and get plenty of rest. Of course, when I meet people I know, they all want to know how I am doing. I have been so happy to be able to tell them I'm feeling better after feeling rotten for so long. Everyone is now beginning to ask if I'll be going back to work soon (including my supervisor).

I work as an RN and my job requires me to be standing, walking, bending, reaching, pushing, pulling, and lifting for about 6.5 hours of my 8 hour shift. I am also required to do rotating shifts, days, evenings and nights. I'm improving, but I really think my work which is so physically (and mentally) demanding, will make me sick again. My employer is suggesting I start an ease back program so that I can gradually get back into it.

Another concern I have is my brain fog. How can I administer medications all day (or all night) when I can't concentrate? Of course, this is much worse when I'm tired, or when I have been on my feet for a while, or if I have been thinking a lot. Now that I'm improving, everyone naturally thinks the next step is to get back to work. I'm beginning to feel some pressure. I'm not even sure that my GP, who is following me, can understand that although I'm improved, I don't think I can work as a nurse right now (or maybe ever). It's hard enough for me to admit that to myself, let alone try to explain it to others.

My question is this: Has anyone been able to return to a physically demanding job, including shift work? Is it even realistic for me to think I might ever return to this type of work?

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If you put all your energy into doing the job, then perhaps, but I was wiped out when I got home. I couldn't make dinner or do my college homework. I had to make a choice, and I chose school first.

One big problem I had while working was standing for a long time. I had a really sore back and would get majorly dizzy. Also I'd get hungry too often because I'd be burning up my energy. I was allowed to take a lot of water breaks, but the hunger really brought me down.

I honestly wouldn't be able to do your job because of the bending and lifting, I'd definitely pass out, but that depends all on how you're feeling. You might want to test yourself during workouts to see if you can handle it all day.

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It's so hard for other people to understand how disabling this is. I'm feeling good right now because I can do a little housework, then sit or lie down for a while, then do a bit more, then take another break, etc. I can even go out to the mall and shop for an hour or so, but when I get home, I feel foggy, and need to rest.

This is such an improvement compared to where I was a year ago! Relatively, I do feel good! Haven't felt this good in well over a year. But when I tell others I feel better, they think I mean "back to normal" better. I'm not a complainer, and tend not to go into a lot of details about the times I feel 'not so good', I don't know how to make people understand without feeling like I'm whinning.

I guess, really, I know I can't go back right now. I'm just not sure when or if the time will come (or is it here now?) that I have to say, "That's it. I am not able to return to my position - ever."

I suppose, like many others have experienced, I'm going to have to adjust to my new limitations - and life will go on. It will just be different.

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I am going through the same questions...I teach and school starts back in a couple of weeks. I'm worried that once the stress and standing starts again, I will be more symptomatic. It makes me nervous. Hope you are able to peacefully come to a decision that is best for YOU.

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I am going through the same questions...I teach and school starts back in a couple of weeks. I'm worried that once the stress and standing starts again, I will be more symptomatic. It makes me nervous. Hope you are able to peacefully come to a decision that is best for YOU.

Yes, I'm sure that your job is also physically and cognitively demanding. Sounds like you've decided to give it a try. Hope it goes well for you. All the best!

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i USED TOO GET HOME AT 1AM, SLEEP 2-6 GET MY DAUGHTER TO SCHOOL THEN SLEEP 4 MORE HOURS. iT WAS HORRIBLE.

OOPS the capitals were a mistake! I worked nights because I had a young child so dad was home at night. I am SO SO much happier working days.

I feel SO SO much better. Sadly , sometimes finances push us into dilemmas like that. My Dr. thought the issue was failing to get 8 hours uninterrupted sleep.

Hope you find a good solution for yourself.

good luck.....

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You might want to give your body a "test" at working. Spend a few days in a row doing activities that you'd be required of at work, taking only the breaks you'd be allowed to at work... you can't just sit down and rest at work when your body says it needs to, so if you can go a week with working in the house, shopping, lifting things, etc. without resting and continue to feel well, then going back to work might be a possibility for you.

My experience is I tried going back to work and got worse than what I was to start with, so for me it was the worst mistake I've made. Don't let others around you pressure you into feeling like you have to go back to work because your feeling better, because POTS never goes away, you still have this illness. You may want to tell them that even though your doing better, there's a chance that going back to work will cause regression in the progress you've made, and that keeping symptoms at bay is more important than returning to work at this time.

Take care.

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I've been off work for just over a year now, and am looking to go back to doing "something." I was in a medium stress sales type job that required lots of "muti-tasking" and dealing with people on the phone. THere are still several times during my week that I can't make a "intelligible sentence" due to "brain fog," and I never know when its going to come about. So going back to the same job doesn't look too likely. I have been doing much better lately, but it seems just when I feel like I can "think" about going back to some work, I'll "hit a wall" and have several days that are just terrible.

I used to teach and sub/teach. I think I may try subbing again. At least, as a sub, I only have students for about 5 1/2 a day and several breaks. And I can accept or turn down assignments at will. It will be "tricky" to see how it will work as I can feel good in the morning and rotten by 10am. But at least I won't have a daily commitment. And, fortunately for me, I have a wife that has a great job along with some outside sources of income. I can't imagine what some must go through who don't have that kind of support.

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Joe B. - I was subbing while I worked on my Master's Degree. The school was an online program or in the evenings. Don't know when you last subbed, but I did that just last year, and those kids are nuts! (This coming from a 24 year old) I can't remember being that bad as a student. Problem with my POTS is that stress triggers it and if I had a rowdy class I was in trouble and when the POTS kicked in there was no energy to deal with the troublemakers. (And believe me, the principals don't want to help) Just a heads up.

I work at a college campus getting my PhD. I have talked extensively with disability services, as I declared the Ehlers-Danlos and POTS during the employment interviews. I work about 4 hours a day, in two hour blocks. That's all my body can do. My hours are flexible enough that three days a week, I come in when I want. (Yes, cushy, I know). I also plan out my day so that I only go into work to set up the experiments and collect data. Any analysis is done at home, in a recliner.

Sara

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quote name='Tammy' date='Jul 22 2008, 11:12 PM' post='97305']

You might want to give your body a "test" at working. Spend a few days in a row doing activities that you'd be required of at work, taking only the breaks you'd be allowed to at work... you can't just sit down and rest at work when your body says it needs to, so if you can go a week with working in the house, shopping, lifting things, etc. without resting and continue to feel well, then going back to work might be a possibility for you.

Tammy - I know you are absolutely right, but the thought of trying that, even here at home, is totally overwelming! I guess that kind of indicates I am not ready. Also, although I could replicate the physical demands of my job at home, I could not include the stress of dealing with emergency situations, cranky doctors, etc. that are part of my work everyday. After improving so much, I can't stand the thought of relapsing back to that place of illness.

Melissa - I'm glad that you mentioned pain, because I hadn't been thinking about that. I also have a lot of pain (back, neck, shoulders, headache) with prolonged standing. I just haven't had to stand that long recently.

Pat - Glad to hear you were able to improve you work situation to support your health. Working nights is very tough even for those without health issues.

Joe - I can so relate to the difficulty with multitasking and recurrent brainfog. Also, I can feel "good" (the new "good") in the morning, and rotten by 10. Days can vary so much. It's hard to know what I'm able to do on a consistant basis. Tough decisions!

Sara - Sounds like you've worked hard to make a job situation that works for you and allows you to study as well. Great job sorting it all out!

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Guest tearose
My question is this: Has anyone been able to return to a physically demanding job, including shift work? Is it even realistic for me to think I might ever return to this type of work?

That is the toughest part to figure out.

I wish there was a formula for that. I kept thinking I would get back to my old self so I kept trying to get back out there and work. I never did manage for long and I would relapse. I hated to face the realities then because I felt I was too young to have these issues. And, I was getting pressure "to push and overcome" from some who had no clue. Fact is, it was too much and I did not have the physical abilities anymore. So, it is very much a trial and see for you summer. But learn to know the difference between what is right for you and what is good for others. If I could do it again, I would try to be "retrained" while younger so I could have changed my field and not stressed my body so much. I wish I had learned a lot more computer skills while learning was easier. Now it is so hard to retain new information.

I think you may consider this retooling if you love nursing but can't handle the standing, walking around. Could you be a nursing administrator? Could you teach nursing sitting down?

good luck with this tough decision,

tearose

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I kept thinking I would get back to my old self so I kept trying to get back out there and work. I never did manage for long and I would relapse. I hated to face the realities then because I felt I was too young to have these issues. And, I was getting pressure "to push and overcome" from some who had no clue. Fact is, it was too much and I did not have the physical abilities anymore. So, it is very much a trial and see for you summer. But learn to know the difference between what is right for you and what is good for others. If I could do it again, I would try to be "retrained" while younger so I could have changed my field and not stressed my body so much.

Tearose - Obviously, you have been where I am. That is so much the way I feel - like eventually, I'll get back to my old self, like I'm too young to be ending my career... but maybe I'm only ending this phase of it. I appreciate your encouragement to look at other possibilities in nursing. Certainly, it is a profession of options. I always said I'd never want a desk job - but that's actually starting to sound pretty good! You're right, maybe I need to start considering some changes and figuring out what is right for me. Thanks so much.

Summer

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