Lessons an ICU nurse learned from a serious injury
Nurse Carmelita Kinjo was eager to begin her night shift in the intensive care unit at the Veterans Administration hospital where she worked. As her thoughts turned to the evening that lay ahead of her and the patients she would tend to, she slipped on a wet floor. Someone had forgotten to replace the sign warning that it was wet. Kinjo fell backward, hitting her head and slamming into a wall. Despite experiencing some back and head pain, Kinjo spent the next two hours providing care to her patients before another nurse took over her shift and she could be seen by a physician at the hospital's emergency room.
She didn't know it at the time, but Kinjo's life was about to change. Diagnosed with cervical and lumbar stenosis and nerve damage to one of her hands, Kinjo was unable to return to her job as an intensive care nurse. What is more, she ended up enduring years of shooting pain and numbness as she struggled to cope with the health-care system and her disability.
Kinjo’s experience inspired her to write a book, Stop the Pain: God's Answer to My Unanswered Prayer, in which she admits that she made three errors that could have been avoided:
1: Believing that her employer had her best interests in mind. She now wishes that she had been more assertive with her supervisor, taking the time to show her the accident scene. She also advises others who are injured on the job to borrow a cell phone to take a photo of the accident scene and attach statements from witnesses to fully document the accident.
2: Not double-checking the advice she was given by her supervisor. She trusted the people who advised her on filing her disability claim paperwork without verifying that it was accurate.
3: Not making sure that the specialists she worked with were covered under Worker's Compensation rules. She also advises others in similar situations to check out any facility they are considering before selecting it. That includes doing due diligence about the facility's reputation through reading online surveys and by chatting with patients.
Before her accident, Carmelita Kinjo spent 20 years working as a critical nurse in California and nearly as long working in holistic health care in Japan with American and Japanese missionary doctors. Stop the Pain is her first book.