Moving Forward - Back to Work

I’ve had a telephone call with occupational health today as my fit note expires tomorrow and it’s been agreed I should start a phased return to work starting on Wednesday, working 4 hours a day, 3 days per week for the first 2 weeks and if all goes well increasing days and hours after that.

I’m apprehensive and sort of looking forward to it at the same time.

I’m hoping the ‘apprehension’ is just that and I’ll be ok, it’s silly really as I’m usually a cup half full sort of person, but since the stroke I doubt myself and my ability, second guessing myself at every turn. I need to get out of the negative ‘self-talk’ stance I seem to have adopted lately.

I’m currently giving myself an internal pep talk, telling myself I’ve got this, all will be ok. I’m hoping it’s just a little insecurity after having had a traumatic experience.

Fingers crossed :crossed_fingers:

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Hi Mahoney I am so pleased to hear your news. I am sure you will be fine. Best of luck Lilian

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Hi @Mahoney - that is great news and a phased return is ideal.
My situation was that I retired after my stroke as I couldn’t do the extensive travelling required (I was 60 at the time). After about 12 months I decided I wanted to return to work and got a job working on an NHS helpline. I could choose my own hours and would be working in one location.
I too was apprehensive about this; it was a new employer, new colleagues and something totally different to anything I’d done before. However, I had no problems learning the new job which gave me a real boost of confidence.
I’d been working a little while when Covid came along and my partner was designated ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’. To protect him I decided to isolate as much as possible and gave up the job.
Not sure you needed to know all that (sorry!) but I mentioned it just to reassure you that feeling apprehensive is natural. This is a big step in your recovery and you can do it!
I’m rooting for you.

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Hi Mahoney, it’s to be expected that you will be a bit apprehensive going back to work but Im sure your colleagues are looking forward to seeing you as well. I really hope it goes well for you tomorrow and don’t worry if you get a couple of things wrong, just remember you’ve been off and survived a terrible trauma, things are bound to be a bit different. Keep giving yourself that pep talk. In a few weeks you’ll look back and think ‘yes I did it’. We are all look forward to hearing how you got on.
Ann

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Thanks Lilian, your encouragement is much appreciated

Thanks @JSCAPM it’s good to know, sorry to hear you had to give up your job if you were enjoying it however the health and well being of your partner definitely had to come first. Thanks for the confidence boost, much appreciated

Thanks Ann, as you say once I get a couple of days/weeks under my belt I’ll be back in the swing of things, your encouragement is appreciated

Hello Mahoney, I went back to work very quickly on a phased return and it worked for me! Occasionally health assessments made recommendations for equipment and working arrangements which my boss readi

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Thanks Claire @claire.charlton, OH have recommended some things, hopefully my employer will take the adjustments on board and implement them, they’ve been great so far, hopefully it will continue

Hi @Mahoney . Aplogies for the slightly longer post, hope its useful.

I had a very similar experience to you for my return to work. I had an OH consultation in June (stroke in May '21) and a follow up at the end of the recommended 6 month recovery period. I felt very ready to go back, as much for the missing social contact as actually working. With all the covid restrictions it’s been a really tough time having even less contact while off.

Work have been brilliant. Supportive, understanding and genuinely interested in progress - I am the first to have a stroke there and they are really keen to learn from me! Staged return was agreed in line with OH report (they are the experts so no reason to ignore this). As with you, started 3 days 4hrs and building from there. All being well full hours at end of Jan '22. It’s taking time to re-adjust to how I now am, concentration levels are lower and re-learning everyday tasks takes time - for me I have the memory but need prompting and time to recover it, I am getting there, seems better than I expected! I do have some “grey” days where cognitive stuff is much more difficult, as long as we accept things will not be the same again that’s half the battle won - frustration with not being able to do what we did before is understandable - talking about it is the big release for me, to the point of tears sometimes :slight_smile:

Ultimately you CAN do this, don’t be impatient, go with what you body and brain tell you, set small (or even tiny!) targets. One of mine was make tea for 6 people and remember what they asked for! Good luck and let us know how it goes :+1:

Hello @Mahoney, I can imagine you are anxious and excited at the same time. This is a forward step, and don’t forget to pace yourself. It’s also a “new” adventure, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself, just gauge things as they arise, and I am sure you’ll work things out as your need requires. All the best with it, hurrah :grinning: Don’t forget you can always touch base with us here about it if you need to offload.

Thanks @EssexPhil, just got back from the first day and am ready to chill out, feeling a little drained at the moment definitely ready to switch off.

It went well, apart from feeling like the new kid on the block, new software system in place whilst I’ve been off, so just concentrated on clearing my email in box, till I have training on the new system. I’ve got to remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and pace myself.

Thanks for the encouragement and words of wisdom, much appreciated.

Thanks Rups @Rups, it took more out of me than I expected, I’m at home and going to chill out now.

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Hi @Mahoney - I was wondering how you’d been today and I’m so pleased that it sounds like it all went well. You will be tired now so I hope you’re able to rest. Well done!

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Hi @JSCAPM, it did go well whilst I was at work however I ‘crashed’ once I sat down on the sofa when back at home and had to switch the brain off for half an hour, I usually do this by using an eye mask and ear plugs to block out sensations and concentrate on my breathing to try to stop my brain thinking, planning etc.

It took me a while to get myself together, I think my brain was a little overloaded with the new environment, reading emails, using the PC, talking to people, I’ve been quite sheltered since having the stroke, it was quite a change of pace for me.

I’ve got tomorrow to rest and recuperate before doing another 4 hours on Friday. Today was a learning curve and I may have pushed myself too much, I’ll have to factor in breaks on Friday.

Hope it is good for you,I am glad i got up courage to go back phased work,was scary but after the 1st day and everyone knew what had happened to me it was best thing for me, helped me alot,gave me more confidence,got me out,gave me something to talk about at home,gave me a purpose too I have had setbacks but I am fortunate that I can work with my manager to get round them,give it a go you might surprise yourself and now I always think if an opportunity comes up try it,what’s the worst that can happen ?it very nearly did but I’m still here to tell the tale!Best Wishes Bernadette♡

I’ve now been back at work for 5 x 4 hour shifts and it’s been a mixed bag. First couple of days were ok-ish but very mentally draining, it took the afternoon and the morning of the following day before I felt back on track again, then on Wednesday gone, I had an anxiety/panic attack at work, ironically when undertaking the stress assessment OH recommend my employer do, which had to be rescheduled because of it. It appears talking about my stress levels is stressful to me!

Thankfully I recognised the onset signs and said I couldn’t continue or I’d have a complete ‘meltdown’, practiced the grounding technique my counsellor recommended and managed to pull around. Discussed the episode with my counsellor the following day and now have a better understanding of what the trigger was.

Today is the first time I feel ‘still human’ after the shift, so progress (hopefully).

Hi @Mahoney - sounds like it’s been tough but you’ve coped. Well done on recognising the trigger point and managing to pull yourself through it. That can’t have been easy so all credit to you.

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Thanks @JSCAPM, going back to work is so much harder than I imagined it would be. Before going back I thought I would be able to manage 4 hours without much trouble, but I have to say coping and being productive at work is a different ball game to managing at home.

Hi @Mahoney - it’s hard having a stroke at any age but I think it’s especially difficult if you’re still of working age. I was fortunate in that I was aged 60 and able to access my work pension (still two years off getting my state pension).
I had about a week back in work after the stroke and before I retired and I struggled just sorting things out and saying goodbye. I was very emotional and probably not up to it but couldn’t walk away after 42 years without formalising it.
All I can say is that I’m sure it will get easier. As I mentioned before, I was ready to work again after about 12 months and felt much more comfortable (until Covid!). The job wasn’t at the same level as my long-time career so that could have been part of feeling more comfortable.
Hang on in there!

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