Musings of a Nightshift Nurse

Returning to the Bedside After an Injury

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.

nurse and surgeon

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 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Returning to the Bedside After an Injury”

  • Welcome back, fellow Sharpie! I know how it feels to go from nurse to patient to nurse. I’m happy to hear you’ve developed another angle of healthcare from your experience. Thanks for posting your story! – Corinne from SGH

  • Hi
    I just stumbled upon your blog. I had a pelvic fracture
    From a ski accident in January. I work full time as a RN case manager and was able to work at home for six weeks. It was awful. I am so active. I also do per diem on a floor. Missed 2 months of work. I was sore my first shift. I’m doing a lot better.
    You will be ok. Takes time !!! I am never taking my health for granted again

    • So true! I’m very active as well I even hate watching tv and reading just because you’re sitting down! I finally got into it since I didn’t really have a choice being off for 10 months. I’m so glad you’re doing better too!

  • I think that every health care professional should have to experience being a patient. It definitely helps us to serve better! Glad you are recovering well! LOVE your blog! :)) “Somehow” I “stumbled” upon it. I don’t believe it was any coincidence. It is only by the grace of God certain people cross paths <3

  • Your post was so encouraging to me. I’ve been a nurse for a little over 6 years and have had 2 traumas personally. My first was ARDS after aspirating during a c-section. I was vented, rotoproned … the whole shebang! I was super lucky and went back to work 2 months after being discharged. This past November, I was in a horrific MVA and sustained an acetabular fracture, right ankle pilon fracture, broke 8 ribs, cracked my sternum and received a concussion. Almost 9 months, 5 ankle surgeries, an ORIF of my hip, tons of soul searching, later, I’m set to start in the nicu with my gimp limp and all! I’m super nervous but excited to start nursing again. I can relate to your blog on so many levels. Thank you for sharing your experience. You have no idea the impact you’ve had on me.

    • Kelley, thank you so much for your story. That is such an awful series of events. I’m sure it’s hard to want to leave the house after all of that! At least I am after my accident. I’m so paranoid something traumatic is bound to happen again. But I guess you can’t live like that, and I’m so happy you’re going back to work! It helps so much to be back, it gives you some sense of purpose. I’ve still got my gimp limp too so you’re not alone! I hope you continue to recover and thank you so much for reading 🙂

  • Fellow noc shift nurse (cardiac sx ICU) here! I broke my ankle (trimalleolar fx) the last week of June, had surgery that week, and have now been off almost 6 weeks. It was a big fear of mine to have sx and to be unconcious. My coworkers recovered me afterwards, I was thankful for that. I’m hoping to start weight bearing in about a week and still not sure when I can go back to work. I feel like post open heart pts get on with life sooner than these ankle injuries! I still have to ice and elevate quite a bit yet and I feel so out of the work loop! It’s given me anxiety. I’ve got my fingers crossed PT goes well and I can get to steppin on 2 feet normally with post haste! Congratulations getting back into the unit and nice selfie 🤳! I hope you are still making good progress and friends. Thank you

    • Good luck with your recovery! I totally agree, orthodox injuries take foreeever to heal compared to a lot sicker patients we see! The time will fly by I promise, and you’ll be back to work walking well in no time with a changed perspective 🙂

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