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Aaargh! Work - what would you do?

SueDSSueD Posts: 545
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:47 AM in Chronic Pain
If you are aware of my situation, then you’ll know that I need to return to work as soon as possible for financial reasons.

I’ve had the necessary Occupational Health doctor’s confirmation that I am fit enough to return to work – but with ‘reasonable adjustments’. He has sent this report to my Manager, as far as I know.

On Monday (27 September) I emailed my Line Manager to say I can return to work on Monday 4 October, in line with Occy Health, but wanted to know where I should go (because I’m timetabled to work somewhere else on Mondays) and at what time should I meet her. I believe I need to have a back to work interview first where we can discuss the Occy Health Doctor’s recommendations etc.

No response from my Manager.

I emailed her again on Thursday. I received an email back saying that she would phone me tomorrow (i.e. today, Friday) to discuss my return to work.

I waited in ALL blimming day and, yes, you guessed it, she didn’t bother to phone me. I left a message on Occy Health’s answerphone to ask for advice as I didn’t know what to do.

After discussing it with my family, tonight I have sent another email to my Manager (with a copy to Occy Health) saying that because I haven’t heard from her, I will arrive for work at 9.00am on Monday (where she is based). I don't even know if she'll be there, but that's not MY problem. She should have phoned me.

I seem damned if I don’t and damned if I do – if you see what I mean. If I don’t turn up on Monday, then she can say I should have done so because Occy Health agreed to it. However, when I do turn up, she might then say I shouldn’t have until I had spoken to her first. I wrongly thought that if an employee was off sick (it’s been 11 weeks) their manager has a responsibility to keep in touch with you, ha! I’m the one that has instigated any communication between us. I even went into work 2 weeks ago to hand in my sick note to her personally. My sick note was until 2 October and the Occy Health doctor has signed me fit to return from Sunday 3rd – hence my return to work on Monday 4th. I told her then that I hope to return on the 4th. Coincidentally, my occupational sick pay ceases on 4 October, that’s why it’s important for me to return.

Aaaaarghh! I’m so blimming angry.
What else am I supposed to do?
What would you do in the same situation (just turn up for work or wait for her to call you on Monday)?

I'd be interested to hear your views. Thanks!

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 !!


  • <:P Idiots! But I must say I love this blimming word...where are you from?

    I would have done exactly what you did. Good for you. Go Monday with bells on...if your manager is not there find another manager and check in...then go home.

  • I'm a Londoner living in South Yorkshire (for the last 20 years). They talk funny up here and at first I couldn't understand what they were talking about, ha!

    Where are you in this big wide world?

    I'm so pleased you would do the same and just go into work. That makes me feel a little better.

    I wonder if anyone else has any 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 !!
  • Howdy Sue,

    I too would have done similar as you did. The only thing different is after lunch (having not heard from the manager) I would have called her. Then if she didn't answer, leave a "I'll see you Monday morning for my return to work" voice mail.

    Other than that, like was said, go in "with bells on" and hook up with her or another manager. See what flies from there. Good luck!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Sue I would do exactly what you are doing. Sounds perfect. It is very inconsiderate of your manager not to have called you. Maybe she will call you over the weekend and give you an update?

    When I was off for both my surgeries my manager called me like every few days to check on me and ask me questions about my Region he was covering fromout of State. I was a little angry since I was on the clock but he has been outstanding to deal with as far as the back problems go. His wife has very bad spinal problems so he knows what it is like to have a mind that is willing but a body that can't.

    Good luck,

  • i want you to rest up more and get stronger but i know about your financial situation too please promise me that you will do the uppermost to take care of your back ..and thank you for your support recently when i was down
  • I think you are making the right choice to show up at the office. You made contact to let her know what your plan was. Maybe she thinks all is set in her mind since you checked in with what you would do Monday. You mentioned you checked in 2 weeks ago so she knows you will do it again. Go for it, do your part to show up. That puts responsibility in her hands to decide how they will meet the requirements requested for you. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

  • wife laid off, need to work with back pain. have to keep family on insurance. If i retire i can substitute for health benefits. 2-3 years away. if i could afford to retire, i would. i've worked with back pain for almost 10 years now. no choice
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I'd do what you have planned, show up and be ready for work. You've informed her and it could come back to bite you if you don't go in.

    In my opinion, you're handling this exactly the right way.

    Good luck on going back to work. I hope that you're able to do it.

    Please keep us posted.
  • I would agree. You are handling this correctly.

    You have informed your employer you can return to work. Have provided them with your restrictions. It is now up to them to decide wether they can comply.

    The ball is in their court.

    I would show up ready to go.

    Good Luck. I'm sending up positive thoughts or prayers (whichever language you prefer) that you are able to manage the job and perform accordingly.

    Do keep us posted!
  • I'd do exactly as you have done/are doing. I'd go in because I wouldn't want to give them the opportunity to say I Didn't show up... I'd be angry because I tend to expect at least as much courtesy and professionalism from my boss as I give them... unfortunately, I'm often disappointed ;)

    Keep on, keeping on!
  • And as usual a dollar short, when ever I have been off on medical 4 times over the last 4 years, ugh.
    Anyway, I went with my paperwork. I would get the releases signed, talk to my direct supervisor and sent everything into Human Resources. Sometimes they chose to call and get everything signed and dotted before I returned to work. Sometimes it has been TWO WEEKS later.
    As long as my Direct Supervisor is aware, we just did what the release papers said and pretended H.R. had signed off on it.
    After all, it was not our fault they chose to fail to respond in a timely manner!

    Not sure how things work, they differ from company to company, state to state, country to country.

    I suspect you are already in the mix of things and hope it all works out in your favor!
  • I hope it went well, Sue. I agree with everyone, it was your only choice.
  • Thinking of you!

    I am hoping they worked with you and you had a pain free work day!

    (Is there such a thing as a pain free work day?)
    You know what I mean!
  • how did your day go ..did you go??and could you manage to last thee day out?? and are you having a large one tonight !{drink that is}
    sorry not rung you too many problems at the moment {with the roof }
  • and arrived earlier than I had said. When I went into the office I was told that my Line Manager had just gone home sick! It was 8.40am. Obviously I didn't have a back to work interview and went straight to the primary school to work for the day.

    I lasted until 3.30pm. I was totally shattered, my back was aching (after I had taken as much pain meds as I was allowed). Apart from about 15 minutes, I stood for the entire time because the chair they thought would be comfy - WASN'T! I stood up for 20 minutes during assembly and signed (British Sign Language) to our deaf/hard of hearing pupils. That hurt my back as well!

    I was told that there is no problem at the secondary school because ALL I needed was an 'adult' chair. Are they having a laugh? I actually need a back-friendly chair with lumbar support. I cannot envisage standing up again for a whole day - it hurts and is too tiring.

    I've emailed my Line Manager to wish her better etc. etc. and that I'll wait for her to call me (as I know she's very busy).

    I will also phone Occupational Health tomorrow - I need to find out if I'm allowed to ask for a risk assessment, or if it's my Line Manager's responsibility. I also want to talk to them about suitable chairs. I also would like a raised loo seat (because there are no disabled toilets in the building) and their toilets are too low.

    I came straight home, went straight to bed and laid down.

    Thanks everyone for your kind words of support - going to work today WAS the right decision.
    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 !!

  • I know that feeling of getting home from work and straight away going and lying down!

    Would the chair be ok if you had a lumbar cushion to support your back. I have a few different types of cushion, and they do help turn an ordinary chair into a 'back friendly' one.

    My school have now said that they want me to talk to an Occupational Health person, and I have had to give my permission for them to speak to my doctor. It seems a bit late now, but perhaps better late than never. I think our head is learning about procedures with me! :-)
  • i am glad you managed the day at work .i just wonder how you will be feeling on Friday night!! you know i wish you well and have your best interest at hart.but as your friend i still think you went back TOO SOON ..tx
  • So glad you were able to go back to work today, albeit painfully. I hope they can get things adjusted (chair, loo) so your pain won't continue to be as such. Are you going in tomorrow? If so, go slow, and take care. Gentle *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • over 4 weeks. This should have been agreed with my Line Manager today. In her absence, I have chosen to work one full day this week, two full days next week, 3 the next and we're off on half term the last (4th) week in October. Hopefully, after that I should be back to five days = full time.

    I knew going back would be difficult, but I'm disappointed I couldn't last the whole day. It's now nearly 12 midnight, and I've just started to feel a bit human again (but my hubby & daughter have both gone to bed and I've got nobody to talk to now!). I have rested completely on my back (apart from the ten minutes it took to post my earlier message).

    Jellyhall - I could use a lumbar cushion on the chair in the primary school, I suppose, but the trouble is, I work in another school that is on 2 floors, with no lift - so I'm not sure what can be done there. Also, I don't know about anyone else that's had a PLIF, but when I sit for too long, I get an awful pain in the base of my spine (tail bone?). I didn't have this before the op, so I presume it's all part of the healing process. Has anyone else had this?

    It's been a bad day all round. I got some really bad news today about a close member of my family (who lives over the road to me) and it's floored me. I need to be strong(er) at the moment.
    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 !!
  • Sue,

    Sounds good. Hopefully like others who have gone back to work in such a fashion, or similar...your strength will increase, pain will decrease, and your energy will start coming back. :) Good for you in setting that up!!!! Midnight? 7pm here. (East coast).

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Are you in the USA I am sorry I don't remember. If so, they have the ADA Americans with Disabilit Act. This states that your employer is to provide you with necessary items to help you in your job. Obviously the requests must be not over the top. It cannot cause a hardship on the company and you most likely need documentation from your physician that these items are necessary for you to function.
    Did your physician give you restrictions for returning to work? I am very happy you went in and even early otherwise they would have had you for sure. Not returning when you were supposed to. It sounds as though you are working with an Occupational Health person to assist you. That is great. I returned on my own due to the fact that my insurance would have been cut off. My CEO would not follow any of the dr's restrictions which forced me to tag on two weeks vacation and begging them to please bring my equipment downstairs as I could not do stairs and the elevator was farther than going up the stairs. Upon my return to work nothing had been moved. I worked two hours one day and two hours another having to take time unpaid. When I told CEO I needed to go home she actually said, why? Is their a problem. I had just had an ACDF four weeks earlier along with lumbar issues and a torn rotator cuff due to injuries at work which were not reported correctly. After my consult with my dr he put me off work forever. I was devastated as my husband is totally disabled and we were now not going to have ins. Things are starting to work out but we lost our home and I still have pain 24/7. I don't think I will ever get over how I was treated. I should have been less loyal to the company and more concerned about my health. Just remember to put yourself first. Don't overdo it and find out what laws are out there to protect you.
    Good luck to you and I hope you recover nicely each and every day.
  • Hey Sue,

    Is there anyway you can take a mat and lay down and unload for 5-10 minutes every hour or so while you are working? I know after my PLIF when I was on my feet all day just laying down in a corner for 5-10 minutes would be heaven. A simple Yoga mat would work and isn't to expensive.

    Also- I wore my turtle brace on my long days when I was on my feet/sitting upright for too long driving, It made a big difference. I took it along and put it on after the first 3-4 hours. I needed to build up my strength, so I didn't start off with it but added it after I started to get tired.

    Good luck,

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