I graduated nursing school in 2003. Both of my parents are nurses, so it was kind of inevitable. But it is hard being a nurse and being chronically ill. You hear of chronically ill people becoming more health aware and more educated. But what if you already KNOW?
In some ways, my education is a bonus. I know what is dangerous, I know when I TRULY need to go to see the doctor, go to the ER, etc. I can make more informed decisions regarding treatment and medications. I know people “in the biz” that will give me completely unbiased opinions on doctors, hospitals etc. I have a stethescope, bp cuff, and I know how to use them and what the numbers mean. My docs tend to trust me more when titrating medications. They tend to give me more leeway when starting a new medication or weaning off a med. I know I have more cred when it comes to calling the doc, saying “hey, I need this, please call it in”, I usually get it without having to see the doc. My PCP especially trusts my own assessment of myself. And if not, she trusts my mom’s assessment.
But again, I know. I tend to put myself LAST. I know how long I can go without a certain med without DIRE effects. I know what the “danger zone” is for vitals. I never, ever want to ever go into the hospital, so I will rationalize every little symptom that in someone else, I would advise them to see the doc.
And again, I know. Therefore, I will Dr. Google myself to oblivion. I will wonder if the little twitching of my eyelid means a tumor.
One good aspect is that I am much more empathetic toward my patients. I rarely let on that I have my own health issues unless I am directly asked. But I tend to understand chronic pain a heck of a lot more than some of my colleagues, probably because I experience it. I have been on some of the meds my patients are on, and I truly understand when they describe the “tingling” experienced with Topamax or the “zombie sleep” of Trazodone.
I understand the frustration when docs are patronizing, when they talk down, when they blow off patients. And I’m in the same field as they are!! I can’t imagine what patients feel!!
So there are some pros and cons from being a nurse and being chronically ill. But I’m glad I have my experience to back me up.