Continuing the ‘Troopie Yoga’ series, let’s look at the pressures on the body of the Remote Nurse or Health Worker. I’ve never been out bush with a Remote Nurse, and I base this post on what I am presented with when someone enters my massage clinic.
Here we look at the residual effect and what is commonly highlighted by the client.
Firstly there is the effect of long distance driving. Rotator Cuff injury and locked up subscapularis muscles are common. This comes from sitting in a position with your hands in front of you whilst having to negotiate endless small corrections with the steering wheel. In order to do this you need to constantly squeeze the muscles under your arms and around your lower rib cage – these are very small muscles and can become fatigued – to counter this, whenever you stop take a moment to raise your hands above your head and stretch.
Secondly there is the effect of loading and unloading your vehicle. You will often be lifting weights above your head or at strange angles. This job is often carried out when tired so you may not think about correct lifting techniques, or you may be required to lift more than is appropriate for your size, gender or age.
How do you know that you have passed beyond simple sore shoulders and are experiencing an injury? Don’t ignore any of these symptoms – you may shorten your career if you don’t seek help.
- Stage 1 – pins and needles in the hands, often at bed time
- Stage 2 – weakness and having difficulty lifting the same amount as you once lifted
- INTERMEDIATE STAGE – waking at night in pain, experiencing pain when rolling over on your shoulder in bed, finding you need to change your sleeping position due to discomfort.
- Stage 3 – restriction of movement of the shoulder – eg can’t do the freestyle swimming stroke
- Stage 4 – unable to lift the arm or turn the hand over
On arrival at your destination, after unloading the vehicle and attending to it’s security, you may need to clean your accommodation. Also, people may have been waiting for your arrival and you will need to deal with prioritising their needs, you may have a handover with someone else anxious to leave and you also need to report back to base that you arrived safely.
- It is possible that the boundaries of normal business hours won’t be adhered to and you may have interrupted sleep due to happy camp dogs howling into the evening
- Plan ahead and get advice from others about the character of the place you are visiting
- If time, you may like to pull over and take a little tea break somewhere before arrival at the destination - so you arrive with a smile
- Be prepared for accommodation surprises – have housework music at the ready on your ipod if that helps. You may want to bring your favourite cleaning product so it smells like home.
- If you aren’t coping tell someone – I’ve seen many a good professional slowly decline into an abyss of not coping. There is no shame, it’s a tough environment in the NT.
- Ensure you had appropriate rest whilst ‘in town’ – sometimes this involves refusing to shop for things for others and may involve booking some body work as well. Prioritise looking after yourself so you can be useful to others at a reasonable level.
There is no need to be superman, even he had time off as Clark Kent in between his hero acts.
Coming soon - Suggestions about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle with this job