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returning to physical job after surgery

dbullwinkelddbullwinkel Posts: 224
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am a special education teacher. I have been injured multiple times; this past school year was the worst ever! That is why I ended up having surgery.
Anyway, my principal "promised" me a "good" class for this year...low and behold my assistants are keeping me informed and the class is real tough. Younger, aggressive kids who drop to the floor and hit/head butt without warning. There is a lot of restraining going on. I am not happy to say the least. It has only been six weeks since surgery, so I have time. I plan on explaining the situation to my OS when I see him on the 26th. of September (he will x-ray my neck then). I am real scared about going back to work when he says I am ready.
Attorney says I have disability case but honestly I can't think about not working yet..and I am exploring other options while I have the time at home.
I am just looking for people who have gone back to tough jobs and "survived". Thanks.


  • Well that is a tuff call as you probably already know.
    Your right in asking the Dr their opinion first. ;)

    I personally would not take the chance. As for having so many injuries in the past.
    I went back to the nursing home as a CNA 4 months after my cervical. It was TUFF to say the least. The turning, lifting you name it. Even with lifts it was not easy.
    So at that point I decided to take a job in the activites dept. Which was a bit easier but of course I had other issues as fibro etc.
    Then I decided to go off to nursing school.Almost made it all the way through and boom fibro flare along with whole body pain. So that was also a dead end.

    In the end it is up to you and your dr what you decide.
    I imagine someone else will come along soon with just cervical issues that may have some more positive outcomes.
    With mine being combined with other things it was a dead end road like I said..

    So wish I had a better story for ya on my end.. I do not mean to bring you down in anyway :X
    Just wanted you to know that I was here for ya!!!!!! >:D<

    Take care
    Terri O:)
  • I work in Autistic Support and Emotional Support as an OT, sounds just like what you are describing. My doctor estimated 5 months for my lumbar fusion, but I have described my job in detail to him and he has said he will work with me. He said he would have never guessed the physical aspects of my job if I hadnt explained it to him.

    Your doctor may think a teacher stands behind a desk and doesnt have physical contact. Let him know exactly what your day consists of and what a restraint consists of, show him if you need to. I think that is your best bet.

    You also have associates to help you, maybe certain unpredictabale students can be supervised by them. I all ready have a list of students that will need another therapist when I return. You can always hope that by the time you return to school the children may be a little more adjusted to following a routine and outburst should be less. Just make sure they are handling these things correctly now! Can you tell I have thought about this for the last 3 weeks, lol.

    I wish you a good recovery and a safe return to school.


  • Shell74...I am sure you know what I am talking about! Most of my students have autism as well.There are five students in my class this year with 2 assistants and they said it is non-stop and very physical all day.
    MY doctor is pretty aware of the physical aspect of my job, so that is a help. He said he would be more cautious with me than he is with the NFL players returning to the field. (he is the surgeon for NFL team)...so I know I have that on my side. I guess I am feeling a little let down by my principal because she went back on her word (which is no surprise). I love my job but am worried and feeling very sad today. thanks for listening.
    Hope all goes well with your return to work.
  • Wow, is it worth taking a chance like that? These kids sound completely unpredictable and that is scary. They could really hurt you, I would really question this. Amazing that the Principal promised an easier class but did not come through. Management! They always say they have your best interests at heart......

    I am going to advise you put yourself first here. Having a good recovery gives you the best shot at many more years to work and be helpful. Injuring yourself now while recovering will likely set you back a long time and maybe even make it so much harder to correct.

    Dunno, I know you want to work and get back to it.....be careful.
  • I have to say HATS OFF to all of you that are involved in
    nursing , special ed care or senior care . I don't know how or why you do it .Watching the nurses during my stay in the Hosp . made me realize the knowledge ,strenght and , passion involved is well beyond any skills I have as an engineer . It must be a calling of some sort , the money can't compensate for the work involved ! hope you get well sone , Bless you
  • Sometimes they only know of the kids from a piece of paper. I try and remember that the beginning of the year is typically the worst, it gets better.

    On a good note, I got a call from a teacher on Monday, one of my first graders in an autistic room asked where is Mrs. L, he said "she coming to me". He got on the phone and told me he "missed my rice" (sensory rice bin to play in). They are a blessing and just need a different way to learn what they need. I wouldnt change the kids I work with for anything.

    I will be very conservative about returning myself, if it takes all school year then so be it. No sense going back to soon and getting hurt, then what good am I. Just protect yourself and if you have any concern make sure the doctor fully understands why you feel the way you do!

    Take Care,
  • I worked with adults with developmental disabilities and had L5-S1 fusion. I got hurt at work. Before the surgery the doctor said I would eventually be able to go back to that work. At each appt after the surgery we would talk about work and restrictions would be longer then he thought initially and maybe I should think about something with no lifting or restraints. I was able to get a job with the same agency that met those restrictions even if they were permanent (which they now are). I personally cannot imagine lifting people or doing physical restraints now and am very happy I don't have to. Can you work with the school district to get a different class?
  • This thread is right along the line of what has been on my mind this week. I am a registered nurse and my NS says I will be able to return to my profession. I work in mother/baby, so not as bad as some areas, but is still very exhaustive 12 hour work. We do a lot of pushing, bending, leaning over, and running around like crazy. I am only 5 weeks out, so maybe I'll feel different in another 5 or 7 weeks, but right now I am so stiff and tender, I can't imagine doing my job. I've been looking at the job postings at my hospital trying to think of what other area I could transfer to that might be easier. I just so do not want to get hurt or have to go through this again. I really despise the thought of a desk job, but I do have a BS that will open some doors if it comes down to it. I have considered NICU, (preemies), they are light and at waist level :) , but I really dislike that unit (I have floated there before). They are very clicky and snobbish. I loved pediatrics, but many of those patients are larger and often with chronic illness, total care, CP, etc. This has been one of the scarier parts of this process, is the fear I'll loose my job over it, from simply not being able to preform it any longer. There are very few 8 hour positions for nurses where I work, which I think I would tolerate better. I do believe there are some in the OR areas. At my job there is no such thing as returning with decreased hours or limited duty, it is all or nothing. Scarey :( :( :(
  • I'm still not too sure I will be ready to return to my mail carrier job in 3 weeks.( I'm out on FMLA and due back Oct. 10Th) As a rural mail carrier I drive from the passenger seat of my car which means stretching my left leg and foot to the driver side pedals. I also stand bend lift and pull on heavy trays of mail all day. I have to jump out the car and tote packages across peoples lawns. There is NO light duty or half days, it's work 8-10 hours or don't bother... and no work means no pay. There are a lot of perils to my job as it is but adding saving my back and it seems impossible. My job pays very well but I'm not sure it is worth it to risk my back. Now with PT making me hurt again I am even less sure of it all.


  • Kelly Jo, We shouldn't be having this stress! It is not good for our healing :SS , but I know can't help but worry about it. You need a European car at least with everything on the right. Is there any chance of getting a job in the postal office instead of delivery? Even if I find somewhere to transfer, I would probably have to go to night shift, since it takes senoirity on each unit to get to days. And I have teens at home that don't need to alone at night, so it is a problem. I'm hoping to feel loads better by the end of October when I run out of FMLA. Good luck to us with getting back to work :)
  • thank you for all your advice. what my concern is that I was promised an easier class for my return this year..but she went back on her word and gave me a tough group. I don't know how to address this issue. My principal always sings my praises as one of the best teachers in the program..blah.blah. blah..so I am so confused why she did this. I know I have time before I have to return..but that doesn't lessen my stress level.
    I plan on making some calls to the psychologist and social worker who cover my class to ask if they have any insight. If needed, I will call my union for assistance.
    I have researched other positions within my district that would be less physical. There doesn't seem to be any right now and I don't know who to turn to to discuss this issue.
    Sorry to ramble, I am very stressed and hurt by this turn of events. I do really LOVE my job, that what makes it even harder. thanks for listening.
  • I would think if the doctor says "light duty restrictions" they may be required to find you a position following your restrictions based that the injury happened from work.

    Unfortunetely, that may be someone saying that you may be in your same classroom but avoid these situations. This is better said than done! If you are with a kid that comes at you while you are instructing, you must be the one to restrain, you dont have time to call for help, not to mention follow thru with behaviors (I think you know what I mean).

    You will need to have your doctor be very, very specific! I am frequently alone with my students and I will not go back before I am totally cleared due to these issues.

    Now if the school refuses to find you a position or puts you in a position that you feel is not following your restriction you can file a greivance. Stick to your guns!

    Take Care,
  • shell: thanks, I plan to stick to my guns :)))
    My principal was sure to tell me "there is no light duty, doctor has to write "full duty" (Or something to that extent) But then she went on to say she could do whatever she wants "off the books"...(but yet she went ahead and gave me a tough group of kids) I don't know if she is just saying that, I plan on finding that out from my union rep. thanks for your support. I understand your position being alone with the students...not easy. We both need to be very careful!
  • I am still shaking my head about this. Dave had his a week before you, and he isn't going back until Nov. 23 at the earliest!! He had 2 levels done. No one realizes how stressful and tiring teaching is , except for another teacher!!

    I just retired, after 34 years. In my district (Detroit), I could take up to a year off, and still keep my position in that school. Otherwise, any longer than that---they could put me in another school. We got 15 sick days a year, that could accumulate to 200. So, if I had the days, I could take off more than a year and get paid. Otherwise, I could take off without pay.

    We don't have "light duty". If a person is in a cast, they are supposed to stay home, unless the principal looks the other way, for example.

    I will be interested to hear what your union says. Detroit has one of the strongest unions in the country---I'm sure you've read about our strikes. I have a feeling they aren't going to be able to help you out.

    BTW, principals always give the most capable teacher the most difficult kids. They are interested in saving themselves aggravation, first and foremost!! I have heard the same story from others for 34 years!! Plus, you never know who is going to come from another school to stir up your class!!

    Linda MI (who is almost missing it right now and not enjoying retirement because of husband's infections post surgery)
  • LindMI..thank you for understanding. I hope your husband continues to improve. I don't even have a date to go back yet..I am sure I will be home a couple more months. Of course it depends on my doctor's orders. I am just worrying already because the class I am slotted for is tough. I plan on having a "serious" discussion with the principal and then take it from there. You are so right about giving the good teachers the tough classes! I am really starting to believe it doesn't pay to work hard :(
  • dbull,
    I haven't been around the board in a while....just saw this post. I don't know what state your in, and I know each state works differently. Call your Union's local Uniserve office, they can guide you and will provide legal representation if needed. :S
    I taught Autism for 20+ years, and loved every minute of it. I am now recovering from my 2nd surgery in as many years. The district I work in is large and my supervisor and I discused a different type of classroom at the beginning of the summer. She then callled me with severeal options, I chose 7th grade in class support. @) Unfortunately, when you are dealing with Autistic kids, even the best of them can do things to injure you if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. You are walking and holding their hands quite often (I had K-2) they jump, or turn away from where your going or drop to the ground.
    It was a difficult decision for me to make. I cried for a week before I made it, knowing I had to do something, and another week after I made it! I have not yet been released for any kind of work. :( Which is kind of interesting, becuase I really don't even know the full scope of my job yet...having not ever done it before! Maybe I should call the sub and ask her what I do for a living. =))
    In my district many of those changes are made by central administration, unless it is an in school change. Talk to whoever you neeed to and get some kind of resolution, before you get into a situation and get injured yet again.
    Hope this helps.
  • I understand what your job requires.... And it is a physically and emotionally demanding job. My son was in special education preschool for 3 years, and just now started Kindergarten. I've spent time in his class observing and seeing the kids react to certain things... And my personal knowledge and experience with my son... Special education children are QUITE the handful, especially in areas which require some flexibility on the child's part (which, as I'm sure you know, kids with disabilities on the Autism spectrum can have a hard time with). I hope you're able to return to work, and with as little pain as possible. Are the paraprofessionals proactive in the situation? I know some can be a bit hesitant and standoffish.
  • Lo..my paras are wonderful. I couldn't ask for better girls. At the end of the school year, i was basically just in school, but not able to deal with the kids due to the pain. I was trying to save my days for after the surgery. I cant tell you how many times they literally pushed me out of the way or dove to pick something up before I did. They are working so hard now with a sub. That is another reason why I wanted a less physical class for this year; so I could pull my weight like I am used to! they get paid so little to work so hard. I will have to see how this all plays out...but for now I must just concentrated on getting better and stronger! Thanks. It is just one month until your scheduled date! I am sure you wish it was sooner. I remember waiting..not easy.
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