Returning to work?

Hi there,

I had a radical hysterectomy 14 weeks ago and have had a really slow recovery. It's only in the last 2-3 weeks that I've been able to start swimming, driving short distances and walking/standing upright without groin pain. If I do have a walk or a swim I'm then wiped out for a whole day afterwards.

My fit note expires at the end of this week and I'll see my GP on Wednesday. I'm really not sure what to do about going back to work. How 'fit' and able should I be? I realise I am a long, long way off 'normal' and won't be going back to work bouncing with energy but how do I know if I am ready?

I've gotten so used to struggling through everything now that I don't know if I should struggle through work in the hope I feel better eventually, or if I should push for more time off to get some strength back?

I went away last week for 2 nights and have ended up pretty down since. I'd built this break up so much as being A Big Thing but I've come back feeling so tired and frustrated. I didn't even do much whilst I was away!

If anyone has any advice on how they felt when going back to work, physically, and if it helped/hindered them I'd be really greatful.

My employers have been great. but they keep referring to the last 4 weeks I've had off as 'extra' time, as they agreed to pay me for 8 weeks to begin with. I know it's not up to them to deem how long I need but I already worry they will work out a way to get rid of me if I take any more time :(

xx

 

 

 

 

Hi Jo,

So sorry to hear that things have been such an uphill struggle for you. Well done for getting through it so well so far.

I think that if you are this unsure if you're ready to go back to work, you probably aren't ready. It's not just the physical exertion of being at work, it's the mental and emotional fortitude you need to deal with the work itself and, probably, interacting with more people ina day than you've seen in the last 3 months! Going back before you are really ready could slow your recovery significantly and I think this is a time to put your health and wellbeing first.

Sounds to me like your employers have misunderstood what your treatment involves. A radical hysterectomy for the treatment of cancer is not the same as a 'normal' hysterectomy and it often takes longer than 8 weeks to recover. I think you might need to gather your sources of support and use them. For example, my employers were very supportive and patient, but my GP did offer to speak to my HR department if necessary if they decided to be difficult about fit notes, phased return etc. I'd have a proer chat with yours about it when you see them tomorrow, you might be surprised about how helpful they can be.

In terms of your employment rights, remember that you are covered by the Equality Act and have the same rights and protection as a person with a disability. They cannot get rid of you for being ill and are obliged to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate you, even if you have been given the all clear. I am sure you don't want to be officious with your employer but you should not be put into a difficult and stressful position while you are vulnerable.

There is really good information about work on the Macmillan site for employers and employees and they will advise you if you want any clarification or support. They can even give some financial help if you run out of sick pay. http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Livingwithandaftercancer/Workandcancer/Supportforemployees/SupportForEmployees.aspx

Take care of yourself Jo and please don't push yourself to do too much too soon. You'll get there and you're worth the investment of a little time and care.

Much love x

Thanks for your reply Rosehip,

I’m sure I’m not ready yet, so will hope the GP listens. My employer doesn’t offer sick pay but gave me discretionary sick pay. It’s been a bit of a nightmare having to ask every month what will happen. I’ve still no idea what my pay cheque next week will look like, if it will be SSP or actual pay. Groan. Being paid or not won’t make me get better faster but surely you should be told. My HR manager was supposed to come to my house last month to let me know about pay going forwards and didn’t even show up!

I will ask my GP about speaking to my employer. I did last time ask how I manage their expectations but he just said 12 weeks is average for any abdominal surgery and it’ll take as long as it will take.

Anyway, I’ll just keep up with my little walks and swimming and get there on my own terms. Slow and steady wins the race!

On a positive note I had my hair cut last week and it was the best thing ever. Finally rid of the fluff and a new hairstyle. I felt a million dollars afterwards.

Hope you’re doing we’ll. did you get anywhere with e job you applied for?

Xx

Good luck to you and well done for the swanky new 'do'.

Re the job, I did actually get an interview (which I was chuffed about). Was ok, but I thought it was bit of a long drive and that the place itself didn't seem much fun. Heard yesterday that I didn't get it but they gave me good feedback so I feel ok about it all in all.

Have since spoken to someone who used to work there and he confirmed that it wasn't a jolly place to work and (as you may have noticed) I do have a bit of a naughty sense of humour so I don't think it was for me.

Onwards and upwards!!

 

 

Hehe, I couldn’t work in a place without a sense of humour either!

Just had a reply from HR and it’s SSP only from last month. Best start playing the lottery! Xx

Just an update, my GP’s signed me off for another 4 weeks so I can work on getting some strength back.

Bloody hard work this recovery lark!

I do want to say to someone that they should give more realistic guidelines to patients about to have this surgery. I was told 6-8 weeks, max 12, so I took this info to my employer. After surgery my nurse and GP kept saying 12 weeks is average for this surgery. If I’d have been able to tell my employer 12 weeks to begin with I might have had a chance of being paid still rather than being told I’m on SSP for the ‘extra time’ I’m taking. Grumble grumble.

Xx

Xx

Just an update, my GP’s signed me off for another 4 weeks so I can work on getting some strength back.

Bloody hard work this recovery lark!

I do want to say to someone that they should give more realistic guidelines to patients about to have this surgery. I was told 6-8 weeks, max 12, so I took this info to my employer. After surgery my nurse and GP kept saying 12 weeks is average for this surgery. If I’d have been able to tell my employer 12 weeks to begin with I might have had a chance of being paid still rather than being told I’m on SSP for the ‘extra time’ I’m taking. Grumble grumble.

Xx

Xx

I agree - it isn't a realistic timeframe and I think it puts us all under ridiculous pressure, not to mention the financial implications you've experienced. I am sure some women are bouncing around after 2 months, but I am also sure they are exceptions .

so, make the most of the next 4 weeks of convalescence. Don't forget to pace yourself and you'll be surprised how much you'll improve in that time.

good luck x

Hi Jo

just wanted to give you a few words of encouragement as i have had such a rollercoaster experience of returning to work.

please do what is best for you and ignore pressure!!

i am self employed and was under no pressure to return to work except from myself!!

Half of me was desperate to return because i was going crazy at hone at 8 weeks and i felt i was getting depressed with too much time on my hands:(

i now realise emotionally i was not ready and its not easy :( BUT if i hadn't gone back maybe i would have been  even worse ??

thank goodness fir a lovely supportive hubbywho keeps   our business going because there are days when i still don't feel ready to go in x

i hope you find what is best for you xx

Kath xx