It is a constant battle. Everyday I go to bed and hope, prey that when I wake up I will want to go to work. I prey that when I wake up I will be excited to go to work or at the very least I will want to go to work. Unfortunately that’s not happening.
Three months ago I injured my back at work. All I did was slip on a tiny puddle of water. I didn’t even fall and hit the floor, I jarred my back trying to balance myself and stop myself from falling over. I have a pre-existing back condition and it is because of this condition that I found myself on bed rest and basically going out of my mind for three weeks. Three weeks of laying around the house for someone who doesn’t do well with alone time is a long time. Three weeks is an extremely long time for negative thoughts and insecurities to seep in and perceptions of yourself to change, let alone when you’re struggling to recover from an injury.
CT scans and physical examinations revealed that I basically sprained the muscles in my lumbar spine (my lower back) for which there is no real treatment except rest and pain management. I don’t take pain killers, I don’t like them, codeine makes me nauseated, tramadol basically knocks me out. I experienced back pain prior to this accident I basically refused to take the pain killers because I don’t want to build a resistance so the first three weeks of this experience were hell for me. Codeine during the day and tramadol at night, not being able to be hugged by my partner, not being able to do anything, to drive my car, to leave the house, this is not an environment that leads to a positive mind set.
What this leads to is a mind full of doubt and insecurity.
I had to call my boss and tell her that I basically couldn’t do my job, a job which I had only been employed to do three weeks prior, a job that I am good at but a job that I was already feeling insecure about because of the toddler-like private surgeons that I was having to deal with. I am good at my job and I love it but I was already feeling inadequate in an environment where I was unwanted as a new person and was unfamiliar.
Three weeks, I had plenty of time to lay there and feel old and decrepit, to let the seeds of insecurity that had already implanted in my brain fester and spread. Not to mention the flare up of my binge eating disorder. My life sucks.
I am a big girl but pre injury I was at the gym six days a week, it helps keep the bulimia and depression in check. What do I do now? I stay at home recovering and eating because I am overcome with the urge to eat. I can’t explain it. What I do know is that I struggle daily with not only the anxiety but my bulimia and binge eating disorder. This injury has taken everything I have that helps me get through my day, it’s taken my job, its taken my healthy diet and its taken the gym from me. Who am I now?
Back to work in week four and things were so different. Four hours a day, four days a week, I was unable to scrub, unable to do my job. My manger was amazing, she gave me jobs to do but they were not my duties, they were not what I was hired to do. I felt like I was useless. The people who knew, looked at me like I was breakable, they wouldn’t let me touch anything. People who didn’t know looked at me like I was lazy because I wouldn’t help move the patients or lift heavy things. I couldn’t work consecutive days because I went home in agony and needed a day to recover so i felt old. I felt old, fragile, lazy, and i felt anxious because I was so scared that I would hurt myself again. I was so scared. I still am.
So now, it’s three months on and I have called in sick for my fourth consecutive day because I am scared. I can’t sleep, I’m restless and I lay awake at night worrying about the fact that I have no money, that I can’t do the job that I am employed to do, a job that I love. I wake up in the morning and can’t move because all I can think about is what if I hurt myself again? What if I don’t get better, what if I just get worse? I can’t go to work and handle having people looking at me like I’m going to break or that I’m lazy, I can’t keep walking around my department not having anything to do, I can’t.
This week I was offered my dream job, a job that I have worked tirelessly for four years to build my experience so that I would get the job of my dreams, so that I could become the best trauma scrub nurse in history but now I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know if I am capable of doing this job, I don’t know. I just don’t know. I have worked so hard and now because of my stupid back my dreams are falling down around me.
I am scared. Scared that I am old before my time. I am scared that I won’t be able to progress in my career, a career that I had only just decided to embrace. So I lay in bed in the morning and call in sick, I call in sick because I can’t bare to look at my colleagues looking at me like I’m breakable, the respect that I should’ve earned by now, absent from their eyes. I lay in bed because I am afraid that I will do more damage and that I won’t be able to accept the job of my dreams. So I lay in bed at night, I lay in bed in the morning petrified. I avoid work like the plague because then, when I am at home I can pretend that I am still good at my job, I a still a rock star in the OR and I prey that one day, please god, that I will be able to accept the job of my dreams and save people’s lives.