Invest in ME Conference 12: First Class in Every Way
OverTheHills wraps up our series of articles on this year's 12th Invest in ME International Conference (IIMEC12) in London with some reflections on her experience as a patient attending the conference for the first time.
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Would I be able to work as a nurse or GP? Health struggles!

Discussion in 'Finances, Work, and Disability' started by AdAstraPerAspera, Jun 22, 2017.

  1. AdAstraPerAspera

    AdAstraPerAspera

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    Hi all,

    I'm 19 and just beginning university in Australia. I've lived with moderately severe ME/CFS and POTS for around 4 years now, I experience severe fatigue and have days where I can't leave bed, along with the general cold/flu symptoms, insomnia, GI issues and most debilitatingly apart from the fatigue, awful POTS symptoms such as blacking out, having trouble standing for long periods without racing heart (around 85 resting with betablockers on a good day, around 150 resting if it's bad) and tachychardia. Despite this I've been hopeful of living at least a functional life with meds, a careful diet, and counted spoons.

    However I'm finding university and living alone quite a struggle, and I have not enjoyed the first semester of my current degree. University is such a toll on my health that I feel it's too hard to push through without a sort of purpose. I have always been interested in medicine and am considering nursing (as a possibly easier on my health option, though I am worried about standing work) and preferably being a doctor, in the hope that I can help other sufferers of chronic illness by being an empathetic and knowledgeable practitioner - which is sorely lacking! Despite this I'm concerned about qualifying as a GP, as the internship hours are very long and hard, and I am afraid that pushing beyond my limits for so long would drive my health into the ground and prevent me from working for a few years.

    I was wondering if there are any doctors/nurses on here who know if the workload is manageable for someone in my position or if people think that it would be worth the risk? Would I be able to help people and make a difference? Or should I just try to get a desk job where I don't have to stand and can hopefully cope with the work more easily?

    TIA!!
     
    ScottTriGuy, Joh, Jennifer J and 3 others like this.
  2. Kati

    Kati Patient in training

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    Hi @AdAstraPerAspera welcome to the forums!

    I am sorry you are sick and facing schooling and a career with this condition.
    I am a registered nurse on long term disability, since the very first day I was sick. During my career I work labor and delivery/ maternity, then bone marrow transplant and outpatient chemotherapy.

    The outpatient chemo was probably the better job for POTS and not having to stand so much, but my full cognition was required and I could never have done the work, due to the energy it takes to have full cognitive function. For me in the course of my illness, talking is also an effort which causes me to crash if i do it too much. So as a registered nurse, you are using all of your physical, emotional and mental capacity, and the work is over 8 or 12 hours, often time rotating days and nights. It's hard work!

    The last thing you want as a health care professional is make any mistakes that will impact the patient. When one is brain fogged and on the verge of blacking out, how are you supposed to make the correct decisions and dispensing the right medication, the right dose, at the right time?

    You are giving clues that school was very hard and that you had a rough time getting through. I am not blaming you a second. You may be demanding too much of yourself at this time and you may be the one requiring care before you can work or go to school full time.

    I wish you the very best.
     
    Manganus, Snow Leopard, MEMum and 7 others like this.
  3. AdAstraPerAspera

    AdAstraPerAspera

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    Thank you so so much Kati! :hug: I completely agree, and I would never want to risk the health of any patients because I was too sick to take care of them myself! I'm concerned about talking too, but I love people so much and I was so social before I got sick - I just hope my health improves enough that I can enjoy taking care of others without it being draining. I should note I've been able to handle the uni workload, but the problem is it's at the exclusion of basically everything else - no little walks or socialising for me. I don't mind making the sacrifice if it's for a good cause but it's a tough ask otherwise. Do you think I'd have any better luck as a GP or maybe medical researcher? I don't mind tough study if I can handle the workload once I'm getting employed!
     
  4. Kati

    Kati Patient in training

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    Working at your own pace with the capacity to work reclining is best suitable- and in fact research work may be very well suited if you are able to handle the cognitive load. It is great to see how motivated you are- just be very mindful of your energy and make sure to back off if you get more and more symptoms. You may want to visit your university dean or disability office to discuss your physical limitation should you choose medicine, so that your assignment/ clinical experience are adapted to your needs.
     
  5. Hutan

    Hutan Senior Member

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    Adastra, have you considered public health? My daughter had aspirations to be a doctor but the impact of ME in her senior secondary years and some residual effects meant that that was very difficult. Instead she has studied statistics, epidemiology, public health and geography in her undergraduate degree. She is now planning to do a Masters degree in Public Health.

    The scope to effect change that helps many people is probably greater in the field of public health than working as a medical doctor. And people who have personal experience of what it is like to live with a chronic health condition will have useful insights. It's a field that needs smart people. Some of the jobs you could do with a qualification in public health would be compatible with mild CFS.

    Best wishes with whatever you choose. I'm sure you will do well, you sound very determined. I agree with @Kati that you should be careful to reduce your workload if you find your health is getting worse. An extra year or two to achieve what you plan won't make a lot of difference in the long run.
     
  6. heapsreal

    heapsreal iherb 10% discount code OPA989,

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    Shift work is no good for normal people let alone cfsme. Something to consider when working in health.
     
  7. Valentijn

    Valentijn Senior Member

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    Nursing is far more physical than being a GP - they're on their feet pretty much all day, may need to lift or otherwise maneuver patients, etc. But even as a GP, there's a lot of walking back and forth, sitting upright all day, and a schedule with no flexibility - you won't be able to cancel appointments when you're having PEM.

    But there's a lot of other ways to help. One possibility would be going into medical research. It should be much more of a desk/lab job, and easier to do part time or stay home sick as needed. Then you also miss out on the sleep-deprivation hazing that interns go through.
     
  8. trishrhymes

    trishrhymes Senior Member

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    Hi and welcome to PR.

    Great credit to you for wanting to help others.

    My suggestions would be, if it's the interaction with patients you want, how about clinical psychology? We need psychologists and psychotherapists who understand the impact of physical illness and can help us cope with it.

    Alternatively if it's medical science and trying to find the underlying causes of illness and better treatments that interest you, how about medical/ scientific research. A biochemistry degree might be a good starting point, or any of the biological sciences.

    I was a teacher, and when I finally saw a consultant who knew a bit about ME to get a report from him to support my I'll health retirement, he said teachng was one of the worst things for people with ME to do because you have no control over your timetable, so cannot pace yourself according to symptoms, and because it involves lots of social, physical, mental / intellectual and psychological demands all at the same time. I think the same applies to nursing and medicine, so do be careful.

    Good luck, and let us know how you get on.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017
  9. trishrhymes

    trishrhymes Senior Member

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    An additional thought. We need science journalists who really understand the science. Julie Rehmeyer's book might be an inspiration for this, and I notice in your intro thread you like writing. Also David Tuller is doing great stuff for us.

    Obvious advantages, you can work from home, freelance and at your own pace. If you can get yourself a science degree that would be a great start. In the UK you can do this from home through the open university. I don't know what the equivalent is in Australia.

    The Daily Telegraph science editor has just published an uncritical article about the latest nonsensical trial from the same source as the discredited PACE trial. We need good journalists to do the job properly!
     
  10. jpcv

    jpcv Senior Member

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    @Kati is right, being a nurse requires lots of hard work.
    I´m a Clinical oncologist and i can say that I wouldn´t be able to graduate from medical school if I had ME during my university years. I got sick two years ago, at that time I had a lighter working schedule; even so I had to quit one day of work because I needed more time to rest .
    Focus on your health and treatment.
     
  11. MEMum

    MEMum Senior Member

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    Hi and welcome.
    Just to let you know it is possible to recover from ME. One of the patients in the Rituximab pilot trial in Norway had been an ER doctor pre ME. She had to attend her first infusion sessions in a wheelchair, but recovered fully, well enough to return to work as a doctor.
    The Phase 3 Clinical trials in Norway on Rituximab will end in Sep 2017. The results will be unblinded and published in 2018. Not everyone responded, but they are trialling other immune agents.
     
  12. bombsh3ll

    bombsh3ll Senior Member

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    This is a big issue for me just now, I am a GP working in the UK 2 days a week in a largely sitting role with understanding employers and I am really struggling. I became ill 3 years ago when already in my current job, before that I was completely fit and well. My onset was very sudden, it was not a gradual decline. In terms of ME severity I would put myself at moderate. Other than work I mostly stay at home as I cannot stand for more than a few minutes. There's no way I could have done medical school then all the hospital placements with standing and walking all over the hospital on ward rounds etc in my current state.

    Ironically my own GP suggested this week that I am not well enough to be working - yet not sick enough to warrant any treatment on the NHS!!

    There are, as suggested by others, different routes by which you could pursue a career contributing to science and helping improve lives, & I hope you manage to find something that is rewarding yet compatible with your health needs.
     
  13. AdAstraPerAspera

    AdAstraPerAspera

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    I totally agree. I've started looking into a biomedicine degree - and it looks like it would be much easier to study/work part time and manage the load. Brain fog gets really frustrating but I think I'd enjoy the mental challenge of it if I am careful with my energy levels. I'm inquiring about special consideration while studying now :redface: thanks so much!
     
  14. AdAstraPerAspera

    AdAstraPerAspera

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    Thank you Hutan! I hadn't considered that, I didn't even know it was an option. Looking at everyone's replies, I definitely think nursing/GP work would be too much of a toll on my health so I'm looking at what other options I have now, including biomedicine and public health! That could be a fantastic way to advocate for people with chronic illness and spark some change without the same practical workload. :thumbsup: I'll let you know what I decide.
     
    Hutan likes this.
  15. AdAstraPerAspera

    AdAstraPerAspera

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    I'm looking into it right now. Thank you so much for the advice - nurses being on their feet is a really good point, especially as I struggle to stand for long periods of time with the POTS symptoms. Looks like I could be much better off with a microscope and a chair than a stethoscope and a fainting spell :rofl:
     
    Valentijn and Hutan like this.
  16. AdAstraPerAspera

    AdAstraPerAspera

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    Great suggestions Trish, thanks a ton! I have already considered clinical psychology, that's actually my current major :thumbsup: the problem I've realised with it is, I think I'm a bit too empathetic - hearing people's sad stories all day and not being able to help the root of the problem would make me so sad/frustrated on their behalf, I'd probably cry more than my patients haha. I also love the puzzle of medicine, I think a biomedicine degree could be a perfect fit. The possibility of science journalism is fantastic too. I didn't even think of that, and it would combine two of my favourite things to be able to do good - perfect! Thanks for letting me pick your brains :D
     
    trishrhymes likes this.
  17. AdAstraPerAspera

    AdAstraPerAspera

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    I'm so sorry that you struggled with the work. Thank you for the advice, I definitely don't want to sacrifice my health or treatment for a job that I couldn't end up doing!
     
    trishrhymes likes this.
  18. AdAstraPerAspera

    AdAstraPerAspera

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    Oh wow. Thank you, it's always great to have some hope! I've never even heard of Rituximab. I hope the results are successful! How does it work?
     
    trishrhymes likes this.
  19. AdAstraPerAspera

    AdAstraPerAspera

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    Oh you have all my sympathy, so ridiculous the NHS doesn't recognise how sick you and so many other people are :( I know the struggle of being a homebody - something as simple as waiting in line for food can be deadly - slightly ruins a night out haha. Thank you for the advice, it looks like a different route is a good plan. I'll keep you updated! :love:
     
    trishrhymes likes this.
  20. jpcv

    jpcv Senior Member

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    Rituximab is an anti lymphocite B antibody, it depletes lymph B that probably are invovlved in the production of auto antibodies.
    It is used in the treatment of Bcell lymphomas and other auto imune diseases. Its activity in ME was discovered by accident in a patient with lymphoma and ME.
     

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