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How would these comments make you feel ??

SueDSSueD Posts: 545
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Phew! Thank goodness that's over with!

When I first went into the room to see the Occupational Health doctor, I was under the impression that he was saying I couldn't go back to work at all. He was saying negative things like: You may have back issues for a long time yet, or even forever, or: It will be difficult for you to return to work in a Primary school environment, or: You may experience difficulties doing your job, etc. etc.

Towards the end, however, I made it clear that I COULD do my job and that it wasn't my fault that the children sat on very tiny chairs with very small desks etc. That I felt it was an environmental issue rather than my personal inability to carry out my duties!

The upshot is that he has now agreed that I am fit to return to work on Monday 4 October, but with recommendations like:

1) A phased return over 4 weeks
2) To be provided with a comfortable chair AND desk in ANY classroom that I work in (I currently work in a secondary and primary school)
3) No bending, lifting, twisting or undue pushing/pulling
4) To avoid restraining pupils until I am fit enough to undergo the training (which he says at the moment, with my back still healing, I cannot do the training yet or may not be able to in the future)
5) That my back issues (after having had 3 spine operations) do indeed fall under the Disability Discrimination Act
6) Any time off relating to my back should be granted by my employer (including Hydrotherapy sessions, physiotherapy and hospital appointments, etc)
7) He couldn't confirm that I would not need more time off in the future due to my back problems
8) He wants to see me again after I've had a review appointment with my surgeon in approx 6 weeks time.

That's basically the gist of it. I'm really relieved that, in the end, he has agreed to me going back to work, but I'm worried about how my managers in the two schools will feel about the above points, especially in 2) above. I know they think the chairs in their secondary school are adequate, but to be honest, because I am tall I found sitting on their chairs were too short and uncomfortable before my surgery in July 2010. I don't think they're going to agree to me having a taller chair/desk in any classroom that I work in. Ha! We'll have to see how this issue progresses with my managers! He said it's up to them to try and make the adjustments. However, if they feel they cannot accommodate me, then I can probably apply to 'Access to Work' to try and obtain the relevant furniture - but I'm sure it won't cover ALL of it. My managers can consultant the Occy Health doctor again if they feel there will be a problem with me. I can also contact him again at any time should I need to.

Fingers crossed!

How would the comments make you feel? I'd be interested to get your views.


2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!


  • Yay! I think that's awesome. I sure hope your school doesn't make it hard on you!
  • Well, even my rubbish school did provide me with a supportive chair - it makes sooo much difference. I would hold out for one if I were you!

    A phased return over 4 weeks is a good idea - it is quite hard when you first go back, well I found it hard. I was tired and needed to rest.

    I think the recomendations are sensible and I think having something "official" like this to back you up when talking to the schools helps. I just had to tell my lot what I wanted.

    I have also had to make all my appointments for PT etc in my own time, so having official direction to be given the time to go seems good to me!

    Enjoy your last 2 weeks of freedom!
  • I think all of his recommendations are spot on! The schools need to recognise that not everyone who works for them can sit comfortably in those wee chairs!! I don't have a back problem and I couldn't sit in one every day!

    At the firm where I work we have a solicitor with back & neck problems and his office is fitted with a raised desk and a special chair. The firm was responsible for meeting his needs and your schools should be too!

    Good luck and take it easy! Don't try to do too much.I'm sure you will enjoy being back at work again and having some normalcy in your life. I wish you well.

    Peggy x

  • to have all that spelt out officially, and I am sure that it will give clout to encourage the schools to provide what you need.

    As you know, I also work in a school, and my return had a shakey start. I went back to my full hours, but failed in less than a week. I had to be signed off for another week, and now I am a phased return. I am still finding it quite hard, and now I am being very strict with myself to not bend. When you are supporting children seated at low tables, it is very tempting to just bend to read something they have written or help them. I think that has caused me all sorts of problems and a flare up higher up my spine. Now I am getting a chair put next to the most needy pupil and I get the others to bring their work to me. I think it is helping.

    A chair AND a desk for your use will help. I was trying to do some work on a classroom cupboard with the chair next to it. It meant I had to twist my spine because the surface was beside me. Wow! That didn't do me any good at all!

    Your Occupationall Health Doctor is really looking after you Sue. Now all you need is for the schools to comply!!

    I wish you so much luck with your return. Do be strict with yourself about obeying the rules.
    Let us know how you get on. We are all thinking of you and want to know how things go. :D
  • I had to laugh because you said "Do be strict with yourself about obeying the rules" and just above this you mentioned "I was trying to do some work on a classroom cupboard with the chair next to it. It meant I had to twist my spine because the surface was beside me" - what are we like?

    We are great at giving advice on NO bending, lifting or twisting, but it's so difficult to put it in practice sometimes isn't it?

    If it happens to you again, you should insist on using the chair they provide you with at a SUITABLE desk (not next to a cupboard!) - otherwise you may be in danger of jeopardising your surgery. Ha! I was often doing work on a cupboard whilst standing - the bending over was excruciating and I won't be doing that ever again!

    Thanks for all your comments.
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • THat is great news. I wish I had something like that when I went back. My job didn't care about anything.

    Will he notify the school or do you have to? If I were you I would check with both school this week to make sure they will have what you need. I've learned to never leave anything to someone else.

  • Good for you Sue.
    I'm really happy for you.I saw our Occupational Health some time back following back surgery in March and weaning off morphine I went back to work at the prison on a phased return but the pain returned.
    I'm on the waiting list now for fusion and removal of my pedicle screws.
    In the meantime I've got to go and see the ATOS(OH provider)Doctor on October 8th and depending on his report depends whether I'll still have a job to go back to.

  • You are so right Sue. Trouble with working in a school is that it is so full on that you just get on with things. :-)

    I have also had to work on desks or cupboards whilst standing. Sometimes there is a lot of cutting to be done, so I have to stand like that for quite a while, leaning and twisting slightly while I use the paper cutter. I am going to try hard to take my time and plan how I can work without causing pain.

    Do keep us up to date on your progress.
    I love to hear a success story :D
  • That's awesome news and hope the Managers will go for it, well they have to don't they? I wish every Employer had an OT Dr. to bring these things into fruition. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Kris-NY - the occupational health doctor will notify my mangers - he also said he'd email me a copy which I thought was really nice of him. I will feel better knowing exactly what he has written!

    Charry - actually, my managers don't HAVE to agree to his recommendations at all if they have genuine concerns about implementing them.

    Incidentally, he also advised me that it wouldn't hurt to contact my Union for advice (which I have done), so hopefully they will come back to me before I start work on 4 October.

    I'm feeling a little more optimistic - hopefully I can report later on that I've resumed work and everything is fine and dandy!
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
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