A few days ago, I ate out with friends from work. Most of us have gone to this place together at least once — a well-rated, published all-you-can eat sushi restaurant. Here, they prepare each order fresh, made-to-order unlike buffet restaurants.
I skipped my usual order which included raw fish and eggs in sushi. I just sat there with my Udon noodles, fried rice, and California rolls. I enjoyed the short ribs that I ordered as well but I would rather have the sushi close to me — the ones my friends and the man next to me were devouring. Because of chemo, I am protecting myself from food poisoning that I may get from uncooked fish. I have to live with restriction. I don’t want to go back to the hospital anytime soon, if not ever.
Speaking of restriction, my plastic surgeon has put me on fifteen pound lifting limit. He does not allow me to lift heavier than that. What can I lift that’s fifteen pounds or less? A friend said, “A cat. You can lift my cat.” Hmp. Working as an adult intensive care nurse where I face very sick patients twice as heavy as me, I need to be able to lift at least fifty pounds to move a patient with a mechanical lift or with a conurse’s help. Needless to say, I cannot go back to work. Not yet.
“Can I at least work on modified or light duty?” I asked the Employee Health nurse who looked over my permission to work and medical leave of absence papers.
“It is against the hospital policy. If you get hurt while on restriction, we will get in trouble. Besides, we only offer modified-duty if your inability [I think she meant disability] is caused by an incident that happened at work.”
My supervisor answered my e-mail about my dilemma and she suggested it is best to stay at home for now instead of being exposed to germs at work. She is right. However, I make more money by working compared to sitting at home collecting base income-pay sick pay. Besides, my accrued sick time runs out this week and I will be forced to go on short-term disability. I will have to arrange with Human Resources to pay for my portion of benefits since my paycheck won’t be coming from my employer anymore. I will receive payments from a separate short-term disability company.
I haven’t worked since December twentieth. Hard to admit, I miss going to work as a nurse– that long twelve-hour shifts, the chats with co-workers, the joy of seeing patients get better from day to day right in front of my eyes. Ten days ago, on my last day in the hospital as a patient, I heard CODE BLUE overhead-paged multiple times and the nurse in me wanted to get out of bed and help revive the patients. I had to remind myself, I am a patient, not a nurse, not right now.
Oh well, I might as well-knit more hats, read more books, watch more DVDs, make more comics, and write more blog posts. Wait, these activities I truly enjoy. Hmm, maybe it’s not so bad after all.