Saturday, October 7, 2017

From nurse to patient to disabled nurse


Danielle M. Fullen MSN/Ed, BSN, RN


       All my life I wanted to work in healthcare.  I graduated high school in 1996 and went to a university majoring in pre-med.  In October, my whole world turned upside down; my mom was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).  It was extremely hard for me to concentrate on school.  I started failing and eventually quit. 
       My mom is the reason I became a nurse.  The nurses took such good care of her. They sat and comforted her, talked with her without rushing her, listened and cried with her. I thank God everyday she survived.
I started nursing school in 1999 at St. Francis Medical Center School of Nursing (no longer exists). It was tough, but I loved it.  I graduated in June 2002.
      My first nursing position was on an adult cardiac step-down floor. Even though I loved working there, I had a nagging feeling that my calling was —working in pediatrics.  In 2003, I accepted a position in the pediatric intensive care unit.  I immediately knew I was meant to be there. 
         Over time, I dreamed of becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner or a flight nurse.  My dreams were crushed in May, 2004.  I started having lower back pain.  I thought I was working too much and it would go away.  It didn’t… it just got worse.  An MRI showed that I had both Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) and a Herniated Disc (HD) between L4 and L5.  An x-ray showed I had a fracture at L5. 

I refused to give up!

      Physicians said, “You are too young to have back surgery” and “I don’t want to keep giving you narcs”.  I did not want surgery and I did not want narcotics.  I wanted to be better and go back to my life. Physical therapy helped, but only when I was there.  After PT, the pain returned with a vengeance.  I also had 3 Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections (LESI), which did not help.  On September 7, 2005, I had a spinal fusion from L4 to S1.  My recovery went as planned. I was in PT and the medication and therapy were helping.  I thought my plight was finally going to be over.  I was wrong, very wrong. 

I refused to give up!

         Sometime in 2006, I started having severe, sharp pains in my lower back.  Suddenly, I could barely walk.  There were times I could not get out of bed, and when I tried, I screamed.  I would be awake most of the night crying.  My meds weren’t working anymore. 
         I was back to work in the PICU.  I had such a hard time walking that I had parents, whose children were dying, asking me if I was okay! 
         I went back to my surgeon and had x-rays, CT, MRI, and he could not figure out what was wrong. I ended up losing my job and my remaining dignity.  For a second opinion, I found a reputable orthopedic surgeon. He could tell, just by the x-ray, that all the metal in my lower back was loose.  So, I had my second back surgery, a re-fusion of L4 to S1 with a left iliac crest bone graft.  My recovery process was rough and I never had complete pain relief. 
I refused to give up!

         I tried to work as a floor nurse to no avail.  I ended up having to take a light duty position as a case manager.  I loved it!  But, three months later, I was told the position was temporary and I was forced to resign. Then, I worked at a pediatrician’s office and then told I needed surgery again. 
         I had my third back surgery—a re-fusion at L4 to S1, a fusion at L3 to L4, a laminectomy at L3 and 2 partial laminectomies at L2 and L4.  Since then, my pain has been horrible and excruciating.  My surgeon said I needed to see a pain doctor.  He also told me something I will never forget:

“Danielle, you do know that your nursing career is over now.”  I remain determined to prove him wrong!

         Depression consumed me. Thankfully, I found a wonderful pain management group. They listened, helped, and treated me like a human being.
        In 2009, I applied for Social Security Disability and was denied. My pain doctors gave me medication, spinal injections and a rhizotomy.  The pain remained unbearable.  They decided I should see another surgeon to see if I needed another surgery or if I could be a candidate for a spinal cord stimulator (SCS). 
         In 2011, I saw my third surgeon, for my forth major spinal surgery.  This surgeon tried his best to control my pain. On March 7, 2011, he performed a spinal re-fusion L3-L5 and Dynamic Stabilization between L2-L3.  My recovery was rough. No PT as the pain might increase and interfere with my recovery.   

I refused to give up!

         In 2012, I hired an attorney and applied for social security disability once again. This time I got it! 
         Overall, I had received over 30 epidural steroid injections (ESIs).  Not one ESI ever worked longer than 2 ½ weeks.  The pain doctors wanted to continue giving me the ESIs but I found that they are not FDA approved due to the potential for paralysis.  So, I moved on.
         I found a new team willing to help alleviate my pain. With their help and guidance, I decided to have a spinal cord stimulator (SCS) placed.
         On August 7, 2014, I had the SCS trial and it worked!  It helped decrease my pain by at least 55%.  Since the trial worked, I had another surgery – and the SCS was permanently placed.
         The permanent SCS started out working well; and decreased my pain by about 55%. I finally thought I could go back to work. But once again, I was disappointed.
         For three months, the SCS was effective. Then the pain increased despite the fine tuning. I had this foreign object in my spine doing nothing. On July 6, 2015, I had my sixth spinal surgery – I had the SCS removed and ended up with thoracic pain due to the procedure.
         In spite of the pain, I went to Chamberlain College of Nursing online and graduated with my BSN in 2011.  I then graduated with my MSN in 2013 and later obtained a post-graduate specialization in nursing education. 

I refused to give up!
My nursing career is NOT over!

         Currently, my pain doctors and I are working on a medication combination. The excruciating pain is in my lumbar spine, shoots up to my thoracic spine, and into my left hip and thigh. I have been diagnosed chronic lower back pain, degenerative disc disease, lumbar radiculopathy, lower extremity radiculopathy, spondylolisthesis, spinal fracture (L5), spinal stenosis, lumbar pseudo arthritis, herniated disc (L4-L5), lumbar discogenic syndrome, post laminectomy syndrome, spinal hemangioma, and left hip bursitis.

Through all this excruciating pain, I remain positivePositive that one day, I will have some relief and get back to work in nursing, as a nursing instructor.


Danielle Fullen can be reached at:  chloebear3@hotmail.com

        

8 comments:

  1. Back pain can be caused by many different diseases and conditions. Some of these conditions can be very serious but fortunately, they are for the most part uncommon. These serious conditions include; cancer, tumors, neoplasm, inflammatory arthritis, and infection.

    Click here to know more information back pain murrieta

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very nice and informative article written on back pain causes and treatments. I would like to give you one more idea of getting rid of back pain at home. Use recliner chair or posture corrector for supporting back and neck. Click here for more information about it before buying or finalizing it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. INSTEAD OF GETTING A LOAN,,  I GOT SOMETHING NEW
    Get $5,500 USD every day, for six months!

    See how it works
    Do you know you can hack into any ATM machine with a hacked ATM card??
    Make up you mind before applying, straight deal...

    Order for a blank ATM card now and get millions within a week!: contact us
    via email address::{Automatictellers@gmail.com}

    We have specially programmed ATM cards that  can be use to hack ATM
    machines, the ATM cards can be used to withdraw at the ATM or swipe, at
    stores and POS. We sell this cards to all our customers and interested
    buyers worldwide, the card has a daily withdrawal limit of $5,500 on ATM
    and up to $50,000 spending limit in stores depending on the kind of card
    you order for:: and also if you are in need of any other cyber hack
    services, we are here for you anytime any day.

    Here is our price lists for the ATM CARDS:

    Cards that withdraw $5,500 per day costs $200 USD
    Cards that withdraw $10,000 per day costs $850 USD
    Cards that withdraw $35,000 per day costs $2,200 USD
    Cards that withdraw $50,000 per day costs $5,500 USD
    Cards that withdraw $100,000 per day costs $8,500 USD

    make up your mind before applying, straight deal!!!

    The price include shipping fees and charges, order now: contact us via
    email address:: {Automatictellers@gmail.com}

    Visit our Website for more Info: automatictellers.webs.com
    ®

    ReplyDelete
  4. Enthusiastic words written in this blog helped me to enhance my skills as well as helped me to know how I can help myself on my own. I am really glad to come at this platform.
    เรียน ผู้ ช่วย พยาบาล 6 เดือน

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for sharing article with us.Through all this pain, You remain positive.thank you for sharing this positive energy.alpha pain and wellness center provide good treatment for back pain.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Your Blog is Awesome! Thanks to Admin for Sharing tips for back pain. I Bookmarked this Link and Keep Sharing such good Articles. We have MYOFASCIAL TOOLS, IASTM Tools that targets larger muscle groups like back, lats, chest, upper arms, upper and lower legs. Do try it and share your views.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for sharing the informative article about back pain. Best herniation treatment in delhi and Back pain.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for sharing this valuable information with us keep Blogging !!
    Drs Homeo

    ReplyDelete