Hosted By

Sherry L. Pierce
Author of "I'M OK"





Dealing And Living With Your Disability
By Sherry Pierce

    When you realize that your disability is going to be permanent, you probably will express many different feelings from shock to fear to anger to self-pity. There is no "guideline" way to feel or react. People generally react according to how much their disability is going to affect or change their everyday life. Those who accept and make adjustments for their new reality will have an easier time coping.

    If you have developed a disability, acknowledge your limitations, but concentrate on what you can do and how you can strive to accomplish even more. Set realistic goals, and meet them (this will build your self-acceptance).  Approach life as a challenge, not an effort or existence. Remember to work on turning your fears into your strengths.

    Sherry Pierce

A Letter from an RN with a Disability


     I would like to start by letting you know what qualifies my contribution to this web site. I am a 45-year-old RN who suffered an injury to my right hand in February 2002. I now have a physical impairment, which prevents me from working in the SICU where I had worked for ten years prior to this injury.

     I have been able, so far, to continue work in the nursing field but my patient contact is almost exclusively limited to phone calls i.e. Pre-procedure, post-procedure and relating results of biopsies. While some may say you�re still able to work, I have to say that mentally I do not find my job fulfilling or challenging.

    As an SICU staff nurse, I was responsible for the total care of one to two patients per shift. In the SICU where I worked there are no support nursing staff, therefore, the RN is responsible for the most basic to the most critical needs of their patients. I loved that one on one contact and I couldn�t imagine ever doing anything else as a profession. Sure, there were those times after an extremely stressful twelve hour shift that I though to myself, what in the hell am I doing here? Couldn�t I have come up with a better plan for a four-year college degree? But I would be right back at it the next day.

    I tell you there is no greater reward for a critical care nurse than to have someone stroll down the hall to the nurses station or call in on the intercom and ask if they could come in to see nurse Judy, and then you look up from your charting and there stands a patient that you spent many twelve hour shifts running to literally keep them alive. After the big bear hug and they tell you what�s going on in their life now, that�s when you remember why you�re doing this.

    After spending ten years in the same SICU, I�ve had plenty such contacts. True I had some bad times there, any critical care nurse that tells you they don�t grieve over the loss of their patient is either lying or they have some emotional detachment disorder (in my opinion). If I woke up tomorrow and my right hand had miraculously healed, can you guess where I�d be?

    Incidentally, I am or I guess I should say I was right hand dominant. While I don�t pretend my disability is comparable to that of someone who has suffered a brain injury such as a stroke, I do feel I have somewhat of empathy for that person. I have those times where I feel inadequate in all aspects of my life. I am a type "A" personality, therefore; I have an innate need to be in control.

    I feel that my disability has taken much control away. One small example is when ordering from a menu at a restaurant. I am limited as to what I can order. Now, what I�m going to say is going to make those in the medical profession cringe. (Yes) I admit it, I love my BEEF. But, I have yet to order a steak or prime rib while eating out since my injury because that would require my husband or someone else to have to cut up my meat. Because of my need to be perceived as totally independent, I cannot bring myself to let people in public see me as being anything less. Now your thinking you need help. And you�re right and hopefully someday I�ll get to that point where I can order that prime rib and enjoy every bite after my husband has cut it up for me. But for now, I guess I�ll remain a closet beefeater and only have this at home after my husband has grilled it for me. This may seem silly and I admit it even seems so to me after writing it down. But, I don�t believe I�ll be planning an evening out at the local steakhouse anytime soon.

    I guess what I�m trying to explain with all of this frustration. As a health care professional and someone who has had two relatives both in their early thirties struck by CVA�S, I had been quite familiar with the life altering outcomes of physical disabilities but still I was totally unprepared for personal loss.

    In my opinion� one of the most important factors in the healing process is the feeling of self worth, self-esteem, confidence in yourself or whatever you want to call it. And one of the major ways to achieve this is with a good solid support system. I am one of the lucky ones; I have a true gem for a husband and a wonderful family. Also, I have my professional background, which gives me an inside track in regards to available resources. If you aren�t one of the lucky ones than talk, yell, scream�whatever it takes until you are heard. Talk to your doctor, therapist or nurse (we listen pretty good).

    As a parting thought, just a bit of information for family members, especially those in the role of a caregiver, Don�t coddle your loved one. Sometimes we need to struggle to achieve even a little goal, such as opening a pickle jar. So what if we end up spilling half the juice on the counter, we will then get to achieve another by cleaning up our mess. I don�t have all the answers. But, I am confident you will find what you need from other contributors to this web site.

    Take Care,
    Judy Kinser, RN

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