Pain vs. career


I'm 19 years of age and have been accepted to start my nurse (adult branch) training in March 16. I've always wanted to work in healthcare since a young age and I am over the moon to be accepted on to the course. I suffer with servere hypermobility (possibly Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome or another Connective Tissue Disorder awaiting further testing), which comes with chronic pain and currently struggle some days doing my current role as a HCA/ATO. I'm determined to get the career that I have always dreamed of, but I am a little concerned about whether I will be physically up to the demands of the course. My Rheumatologist has said that I am fine to go for the course and that I should (hopefully) not have too many problems. I'm just wondering if anybody has thought anything about a change in career path or how they have managed to cope long-term, I know everybody is different in just interested in other opinions.

Thank you x

22 Replies

  • Okay, that is a good idea, thank you.

  • You'll know yourself what you can and cannot manage however there are expectations within your training where you will be taught manual handling procedures and be expected to participate which I'm sure you are well aware of being an HCA it's no different with your training you'll be doing more practical procedures like meds paper work I.V's etc . To keep yourself right always inform the ward manager on your many placements to enable safe practise to protect yourself and the area your working in. I have days where I struggle and I'm exhausted and I work in a very busy dept it can be very demanding, I ensure I assess how I am each day and make sure I don't put myself patients or other staff at risk. You are right to be worried but don't be , one piece of advice do not let wards use you as another pair of hands your there to learn. Don't trust anyone ensure you cover yourself with your practise at all times. It may seem a harsh statement however I'm speaking from experience .

    Good luck you'll be fine just space yourself and don't be shy to ask for help x

  • Thank you, that's really helpful :) x

  • Pace not space

  • Hiya,

    I sadly had to give up my career in design as I could not manage the long hours. I also was a workaholic and could not bear to do the job 50% as it really needed to be done full time and with everything I had. it was a tough decision and I dod not realise what a knock it would have to my confidence etc, and I was thrown for a few years. I did a lot of volunteer work and ended up getting stronger health wise, getting my first diagnosis and worked in a school with teenagers with behaviour issues - yes a big change, but holidays helped and working hours were less. However, as my health deteriorated with the EDS and Gastroparesis, my work was not supportive, despite my honesty. Endless OH visits, question etc took their toll and added stress, but I was glad to be working and was also honest with my colleagues. Make sure you keep all paperwork regarding any time off, expectation from employees and note down date and details of any issues you struggle with or are related to your health and job. Make sure you have a union and keep in contact with them for future use. Nobody can stop you from working but it is thought to deal with discrimination, which sadly id there with some HR managers and even colleagues. Stick with the supportive people and do your best to grit your teeth with the others. Keep within legal boundaries, do your best and good luck. I am about to be made reundant after 10 years in this job. My health is pretty bad now, and I have no idea whether anyone will employ me in the future, but I hope they will. I am lost without having structure in my life, which a job does, along with the finances etc. I wish you well! x

  • I hope that everything works out well for you in your future. And I will just have to see how I go, thank you for all your advice! X

  • It's easy to say... but YOU have one life... nobody has your life, nobody knows your pain, your energy, how much you can cope with but you. What have you got to lose from trying... nothing. You have more to gain, so go for it. I truly hope you work your way through it and get the support you deserve. If you want a career in nursing, you will be great because with what you have to deal with, it qualifies you more than most to have empathy and know what the patient feels! Good luck hun x

  • Thank you honestly it does mean a lot, I've always been determined to get to where I want to be, and I'm sure will get there. X

  • Hiya stretchy girl, I am replying to you as a mum who has watched her daughter go through trying to have a career in nursing. I don't know how much you know about the course but the part my daughter has struggled with the most is the academic side, please don't be put off by what I tell you I just thought it would be worth knowing what her pit falls were. She started with 19 weeks in uni, the course is now an independant learning course, she had very few lectures most of it was put on line for her to look at herself, there were workbooks to go through but they are not marked so you don't know if what you did was right, there were 4 assignments to do each were 2,500 words each, the hard part was they had to be evidence based, she had to look for books or medical articles to prove that what she was saying had been researched. The other two parts to it are a multiple choice A an P test and a self medicate test, ie how many tablets you would give someone looking at the prescription etc. I didn't say what was wrong with my daughter, she is suffering with severe stomach pain which she has had since May 2013 which is still to be diagnosed. The placements where 2 blocks of 12 which she coped with well under the circumstances. As you have been working as a HCA you know what ward work entails as someone said previously tell the ward sister what support you need you should be fine they have been very good with my daughter. The main thing you really need to push is support from the tutors on the academic side, it's so easy to say I'll do it tomorrow if you're having a bad day with pain, try to keep on top of academic work as much as you can.

    My daughter had to take 12 months off the course in June 2014, she went back this June but has had to take another 12 months off again this month, she is hoping to do some bank work to keep up to par with the practical work and hopefully get a diagnosis and some pain relief. She has been told she can start where she left off when she goes back, you are meant to complete the course within 5 years but she can have longer due to her health problems. I am so sorry it's a long reply but I hope it will help you get the career you so want, if you go in to it forewarned hopefully you will be able to nip any problems in the bud before they become a problem.

    I'll leave off by saying I wish you all the luck in the world we need caring people like you in the profession, we have already lost excellent nurses since it became a uni course it should be vocational. Take care and look after yourself hugs and love Sheryl

  • Thank you Sheryl. It's great to hear, I understand that not everybody's situation is the same, I just wanted to hear other people's views. I will make everyone aware, I'm just hoping that everyone is as understanding as my current colleagues/management or at least take the time to try and understand what I am going through.

    I will look after myself don't you worry! Thank you, Kirsty x

  • Ok hope that you enjoy the course and wish you every success for your future

    Big hugs Sheryl

  • Just go for it but just take it easy and listen to your body, we only get one life and nothing would be worse than wishing you would have tried it. at least with a physical job like nursing you keep your muscles strong. I have EDS myself and have worked until recently in a physical job, sadly had to let go of it after 15 years as I hardly can walk at the moment. Looking back on my life so far is that Im really happy that I have traveled extensively when I was younger, now I can hardly walk to the corner of my road but have lots of fond memories. Life your dreams!!!

  • I will do, thank you!😊

  • You are capable of doing the course. You are 19. Come 40 you will be washed out and on the scrap heap. Investigate what happened at Mid staffs and what happens at hospitals up and down the country in their treatment of nurses and the long shifts they are expected to do.

    Look at Alexander Teacher Training. You will learn how to handle your disability on the course. You will have access to some of the best people who know how to treat people with health difficulties and chronic conditions.

    You will be of benefit to many people and you will be able to set your own work load. Pay £30 plus per hour when working after qualifying in about 3 years.


    for more information

  • Not being rude are you talking private or NHS at £30 per hour as newly qualified nurses are on no where near £30 per hour

    This isn't questioning your post I was just wondering

  • I am talking private. In the future it is likely that Alexander Teachers will be employed by the NHS because of there unique skills.

    Kingston Pain clinic uses an Alexander teacher. With people having personal Healthcare budgets as NHS patients there is likelihood that more skilled complementary medical practitioners will find NHS employment. For the simple reason that their treatments work.

    The NHS has paid for my McTimony Chiropractic treatment since 1994.

    Hope this helps.

  • Thanks for that John it would be good if that did happen

    Take care Sheryl

  • Thank you.

  • I wish you every success in your career, you seem so determined and dedicated . And I'm sure you're aware that if the physical aspects of nursing did become too much for you at any time, that your wish to care for people and nurse them back to good help would be an excellent attribute in other areas of the heLth service that may not put such physical demands upon you. I guess I'm thinking about therapies to do with hearing, mental health, occupational health ....many areas where your dedication and care would be very well received. So at the back of your mind, you must know that you wouldn't have to completely come away from an area of work that you loved but that you could keep alert for opportunities and career choices that are out there. Having said all that, very best wishes for your course, and congratulations for achieving a place.

    Ps. I don't seem to be able to get back into the text and amend my spelling mistakes.sory about that.

  • Thank you, I do try; I know where I want to be and very little will (hopefully) get in my way. I currently work in a department alongside audiologists and it is my back up option if things do get difficult.

    P.S. it's fine about the spelling mistakes, I didn't even notice them!

  • Hi Stretchygirl,

    I suffer from chronic pain most of my joints which has developed over a couple of years. I wouldn't say I am "getting things right" at the moment in terms of dealing with my pain and adapting my life, but I have just finished my first year as a teacher, which was also my training year, so I thought I'd reply.

    I don't know much about nursing, but I guess teaching is similar in that you are on your feet all the time, you are responsible for looking after other people, it is a high pressure environment and it can be very stressful. This kind of job is tough anyway and I know that compared to the other people on my course it was especially difficult for me because of the pain, but I made a decision that nothing was going to stop me getting there and I have now qualified and will carry on teaching next year. I would echo what has already been said about being entirely honest with colleagues because there are probably times when you will need their support, and if you are not open about that it is then more difficult later on. One thing I have not been good at (and am still not) is being honest with myself about my limitations and realising when I need to stop and when I need to appreciate that I cannot always do all the things I would make myself do if I didn't have the pain. Definitely go for it and I wish you all of the luck in the world, but even though you know you will need to be strong and push yourself, please remember to be kind to yourself as well (kinder than I have been) because otherwise you end up in situations where you are feeling worse than you were in the first place. You'll do a great job x

  • That does sound about right. And thank you, I have learnt over the past few months, not too push myself as much as what I am used to doing. X

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