Returning to work as an RN with long Covid
Hello all. I am experiencing long Covid symptoms. Mainly it’s palpitations, insomnia, and very little activity tolerance. I’m able to do things around the house but as far as exercise I overdo it easily and get chills and flushed and fatigue. I’m wondering if there are any floor nurses that have returned to work with these symptoms? I’m afraid I’m not able to perform at full capacity returning as a bedside nurse for three 12 hour shifts. Wondering if anyone else has experience with this and how they navigated it.
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Hi @aroselu, there are quite a few nurses dealing with long COVID in the support group, like @pattykakes @lkfrn93 @rinadbq @sandeen @dlplechaty @smernigegm @joelf and @sueinmn's daughter, some of whom have returned to work.
Returning to full capacity workload with such a demanding job and long shifts sounds quite challenging. Is your employer aware that you are experiencing long Covid symptoms?
My daughter found it necessary to transition from 12 hour ER shifts with the attendant chaos to 8 hour OR shifts with a 4 day a week schedule. Even so she was exhausted by the weekend.
Are shorter shifts an option?
I’m not sure. They keep telling me they don’t have light duty available. I just sent an email asking this. How long was your daughter out with long covid?
6 months then one year on phone triage. Then back to the OR where she got injured in a freak accident. OR was not light duty it was schedule accommodation. Now awaiting clearance to return to full duty in OR because they have no light duty. I guess it depends on how large the facility is.
I am 2+ years with long covid-after becoming infected working as an ER RN with covid patients, before vaccines were FDA approved. I am not able to return to nursing in any capacity. Simulating CPR caused profound shortness of breath and a heart rate in the 130's. I tried lifting 35 pounds with the same result. Cognitively, I am certain I would be unsafe with medications. In short, I would not want me for a nurse, let alone for my family. I tried to simulate what a shift would be like to test myself. Add up the time you need to get ready for work, leave the house, travel to work, bending, lifting walking at a brisk pace, complicated abstract thinking in a noisy environment with constant interruptions. After all of that, manage getting home, preparing a meal, managing your finances. I tried 4hr. vaccine clinic shifts, 3 times a week to start with-I lasted 5 spread out shits. I forgot to ask about allergies before giving an injection. I 'crashed' after the first day.
Best of luck to you-I hope you make it! Nursing was a huge piece of me that I have lost.
I'm not an RN but have similar symptoms after having a mild case of Covid almost a year ago. Have you found anything to help with your symptoms, especially the insomnia?
Simple sleep hygiene helps: no caffeine after 2pm, no computer or tv in bed, go to bed at the same time, no alcohol a couple hours before bed. I have tried over the counter sleep aids with mixed results-Melatonin works best for me. When I am wide awake in the middle of the night I read in bed, no tv or computer and eventually I can fall back asleep.
I do all the sleep hygiene recommendations. I tried sleep restriction therapy for 3 weeks and it helped me initially fall asleep but not with going back to sleep. I take 2.5 mg of Melatonin which seems to help me fall asleep. I also take 100mg Trazodone but it only works 50% of the time to help me sleep, and I sometimes wonder if things would be the same if I quit taking it. I had an overnight sleep study recently and slept better there than I ever do at home. Now I'm wearing an actigraphy watch and working with a sleep Dr.
I had a sleep study as well which, of course, was ok. My neurologist gave me Flexaril to help with sleep. It isn't habit forming and I usually wake up feeling refreshed without a 'sleep hangover' that I had with Benadryl. I also have used some sleep meditations from the 'Calm' app on my phone that have helped me to slow down that racing mind of mine.