I had been working as a nurse for about 4 years before I changed jobs and landed in an office nursing job. I was working odd shifts and the regular schedule of an office was something I was looking for. I was looking for something less fast paced because of my anxiety. I worked for an MD who was really great. Some of my duties included rooming patients, vital signs, some medical history info, med info and the like. I’m sure you’ve ran into one of me at one of your doctor appointments. I called in prescriptions and worked on insurance things.
Since this was a totally different type of nursing job I was learning new things. I had difficulty remembering what I was supposed to ask my patients. In between their answer and inputting their responses I’d forget and have to ask again. I might forget how tall they were so I’d have to remeasure. I might forget to have them change into a gown. Sometimes I’d forget which room they were in. Medication calculations….and I was never sure of myself, ever. I couldn’t memorize anything. If I were being given new instructions or shown a new job to do I would blank out and find myself starring out at the person thinking of something else. I’d ask to have it repeated and pretend to understand or know what I was supposed to do.
Because I was a good employee, kind, caring, willing to work I was given passes. But it never went away. I passed this all off to A.D.D and even got treatment for it which possibly made my anxiety worse. Who knows. I was finally diagnosed with Lyme and it has made me wonder if the Lymes got into my brain…:sigh:
I ended up quitting my job after 5+ years in a manic, paranoid period. I was sure that everyone was against me. As my depression worsened I was sure that something was seriously wrong with me and decided between the plethora of health issues like migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, fibro, lyme and anxiety that I was going to try and get myself better. I knew working was causing my body so much stress it was taking a tole. Stress was the single biggest factor in my migraines which was as bad as they could get. I’d be getting migraines 6 days a week.
I filed for SS disaility about 6 months after I left my job. Social security did not accept my new pyche APRN since she wasn’t a MD so they sent me to a psychologist. At this point I knew that I had bipolar. I learned about the cognition problems that can occur with extreme anxiety or depression. I know I have both of those.
She informed that she wouldn’t be able to tell me if I was approved or not for SS disability. That was her first statement. I was surprised she was so reserved and seemed very judgmental as she went over my meds with me.
Her first question was “why do you feel like you cannot work any longer”. For some reason I never expected that question so I hadn’t prepared an answer at all. I tried to explain in my stupid dumb way that I wasn’t able to function at work and I was overwhelmed and incredibly depressed. I tried to explain how I’d forget which rooms the patients were in or tell the doctor the wrong room AGAIN. I told her how I’d forget words or situations. She observed the same when I would tell her I couldn’t remember.
The exam continued on and she learned of my manic episodes. I tried to make sure she understood the extremes of it and I was embarrassed. Finally, she was the first person I explained ALL of my mania to. She asked about therapy and why didn’t I do it. Why didn’t my psyche nurse or GP recommend therapy. I explained how embarrassing this was and I didn’t have it in me to do. Then….I remembered I went to therapy. She noddded. I said (again!) I forgot but I did go to therapy (briefly) years ago when the manic symptoms began but I didn’t continue and didn’t realize at the time that I had bipolar disorder.
When we got to the memory/cognition part of the exam at the end I was nervous. She asked me to count backwards by 7’s from 100. I know so many people who say they couldn’t do it either. I had tears streaming down my face and I wouldn’t look at her, closing my eyes and counting on my fingers. When I knew I was wrong I looked at her and said, please….and she said no….two more numbers and I’d have to try and go back counting and it was a mess.
At the end of the exam I apologized to her for my tears and she assured me that she gets that all the time. I mentioned something else and told her I couldn’t remember the word I was looking for…..and she point blank asked me if I have trouble like that often. DUH.
I never had to go to my scheduled MD visit for my migraines because I was approved with a mood disorder alone. I found out fairly quickly and since I had been out of work I was awarded back pay to the time I quit my job unexpectedly. I think it was all due to my lack of or decrease in my cognition.
These days I’m not working and it’s really no better. I talk without thinking sometimes (I think that’s what I do!). The other day I was at my friends house admiring her new puppy. Her chickens were out and they started to follow the puppy…….I said look! The kittens are following him! I mean CHICKENS. I switch words like cold for hot. I don’t know if this is dyslexia or what it is. But I’ve done it since I started that job.
Of course this all makes me nervous thinking about dementia and Alzheimer disease. Or Parkinson’s. Or anything I read about with memory issues. I do believe that Alzheimer’s is more of forgetting HOW to do stuff. How to drive or what a fork is for.
At least that’s what I tell myself. I’m just tryin not to add to the stress. 🙂