Returning to the Bedside After an Injury
Hey guys! So for those of you who are interested, I’m FINALLY back to work in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, and so far so good. I was definitely nervous to go back as I had been out of work for almost 10 months, and didn’t know how my leg was going to be able to handle a 12 hour nightshift.
I was very surprised how long I lasted before I started to get really limpy. Regardless of limping, I was able to WALK which is incredible and didn’t have any pain. The limping is due to muscle weakness. My leg is still nowhere near what it used to look like, there’s still a lot of muscle atrophy. I started off doing a one night on, one night off schedule so my sleeping pattern was not great. I’ve progressed to do two shifts in a row this week and I was able to recover quickly enough! Man was I tired though. My endurance is still slower than before my accident.
In regards to ICU knowledge I also surprised myself. Things came back to me like I never left, which was so comforting since half of my anxiety was thinking I was going to forget so much important knowledge and accidently kill someone. Yay for not doing that.
I am loving being back to work, I finally feel like I have a purpose again! The days on leave were so long and unfulfilling. I’m exhausted, but it is so worth it. There’s lots of new nurses that have been hired onto the unit since I’ve been back, but other than that, it feels like I never left. I love my coworkers, they have been nothing but supportive and encouraging.
I still feel like I have a ways to go progress-wise as I’m nowhere near being able to run (or line dance), but I have seen so much progress this year and I’m hopeful that it will continue. As of my last doctor’s appointment, I still have a nonunion of my tibial plateau. A nonunion means that my bone still hasn’t completely fused together. I guess it’s safe enough to walk on – I have a follow up CT scan in 5 months to see if I’ve made progress.
Last week, I admitted one of my surgeon’s patients into the SICU. It was so emotionally incredible to see him at work as a coworker, and not in his office! I remember dreaming about this moment all the time when I was out on leave. We took this awesome selfie.
I was fortunate enough to have been treated at home with a lymphatic massage last week. I wish I would have known about what this was in the early stages of my recovery. The purpose of lymphatic massage is to stimulate the lymph and interstitial fluid to flow where it’s supposed to go normally. The lymphatic system does not have a pump like the cardiac system. Thus, it relies on muscle movement and contraction, pressure changes, and physical stimulation like massage. This specific type of massage decreases swelling after surgery, improves your immune system, flushes out toxins, and helps with pain. It’s very gentle and relaxing, AND it was done in the comfort of my living room! I had never heard of this type of massage before, and if you know anyone recovering after surgery, I highly recommend trying this out. If you’re in San Diego, I got mine through Solace Massage.
If you’ve had a bad injury and have returned to work, I’d love to hear what worked for you, or listen to your story. I never imagined something as traumatic as my accident would ever happen to me, but I have learned so much and become a more empathetic nurse because of it. And you better believe my patients get their pain medicine within a minute 🙂