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Return to Work...Mistake?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have received clearance to return to my teaching job (HS Science) at the end of October. To try and get myself back into the groove and to build up my endurance, the last two days I have started back to school and have been co-teaching with my sub. We plan to do this for half days until the end of October, when I will start full time with just me, myself and I, plus 140 students. When I got home these past two days, I was exhausted, and I was only at school for three hours. Last night I slept for 12 hours. This leads me to wonder if I will be ready for full time in three weeks? My students really want me to return, and I know that three weeks still gives me time for improvement, but now I wonder if I will be ready. My day doesn't end at 4:00, because of grading and planning. Typically, I am up at 6:00, at school by 7:30, and home by 5:00, with an evening of papers ahead of me. My principal is a real stickler about if you are at school, you need to be 100%...no sitting down on the job.

I know that we are all individuals, and heal at different rates, but those of you with similar surgeries, do you think I should call the NS and say that I am just not ready for full time? I am stressing over this, and I know that stress does not help.

Thanks for any advice,


  • Hi,

    Teaching is a wonderful but exhausting job - you have to be "on" all the time - I totally understand your concerns about being ready. And it is such a temptation to get back to work - especially if it doing something we love and being with people we like. Some things you might ask yourself:

    How tired were you at the end of a full day of teaching, etc. before surgery? Will you be more tired now?

    Will you be able to give your students what they need AND give yourself the exercise and rest you need to recover?

    How many plan periods do you have and is resting even an option during your plan? Or are these taken up with meetings, etc?

    I am sure your students want you back - having a sub is just not the same no matter how good they are. But, you must think of yourself, too.

    It is a hard decision!
  • Thank you for the input. I will certainly think about the questions you have posed. I know that in the past, I have always poured 100% of myself into my classroom. That is what scares me! I know that I will push myself too hard, and heaven knows that I do not want to have complications. It is a hard decision, especially when...even with all my back problems, I still hung in there and never missed a day of school. But there comes a time, when I have to think about myself. Sick leave is not a problem. I could miss the entire first semester and have sick days left over. I still have another year after this one before I am fully vested in my state's teacher retirement fund. I have to be able to hang in there!

    Thanks for listening!
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  • Ann,

    In 2006, I had surgery (read below)in early March. I was a high school principal. I returned part time May 1st and my plan was to build up to full time by the end of May. I met my goal but at a high price to pay. I was always exhausted, to the point of skipping and eventually quitting my physical therapy. Plus, I was in pain which made me agitated at the kids, teachers and then at home. I can say I went back to work too soon and should have stayed out through the school year.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • Hi Ann, I just noticed we had surgery on the same day. I am a nurse and my surgeon says I can go back to work as soon as I want. I am weaning my brace now since Tuesday and that definitely is making me realize how weak my back is. My FMLA is up on Oct 27, so that was my goal. But now I think maybe that is even unrealistic. At my job there is no option to return part time or with restrictions, it is all or nothing. I have to be able to push, pull, lift, bend, and keep going for 12 hour shifts. I am really stressing about how I am going to be able to do this. Technically if I don't go back at 12 weeks my job is not protected, but my manager told me not to worry about it. I am just so afraid of gettting hurt. Yet, I am getting so bored and depressed at home. I think if you have the option you should take more time off. Have you done any PT? So I take it you are wearing the brace to work? I have to be rid of mine to go back. I could wear something smaller, but the TLSO, don't think so. I know this is a difficult decision, but you have to do what is best for you and your healing. That is what I am telling myself as well. Good-luck with your decision, >:D< Sue
  • Hi, Dick!

    Sometimes I think that my doctors have no idea of what is involved in education! I think that they think we just sit behind a desk all day! I can't even open the storage units where my lab supplies are located, let alone bend down and haul out hot plates or microscopes! I know what I should do, it's just hard to stay away when you know that your program is suffering. And, it is not like I have summer vacation looming up in a couple of months where I could rest up again. I have the rest of the year ahead of me. I just really need to talk to my NS, bite the bullet, and tell the administration that returning in three weeks for full time is a dream.

    After 32 year of teaching, I know the stress that principals are under. You are pulled in so many directions from parents, teachers, students, superintendents as well as your family. I know what you meant when you said that you can't run a school with a bad back!
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  • We both have some tough decisions facing us about our return to work. After being so bored that I felt like I just couldn't stand it any more, heading back to work seemed great...until I tried it. I see the NS the day before I am to start back full time. We'll see how these next three weeks of half days work out. I am doing these half days voluntarily (I am still being assessed sick days for them) becuase I knew that I did not dare just show up on October 27th and start right in for full days. I may just call my NS Monday and discuss if returning back on the 27th could be half days.

  • I had my TLIF/instrumentation 6/28, and I couldn't imagine going back to a teaching position even at my 3-month mark! I imagine I am quite a bit older than you (64) and was not in great shape physially to begin with. I hope you seriously think about what is best for you in the long run, dear. Perhaps a more realistic goal would be to go back after Christmas break...that will give you time to get the PT in and build up your indurance. Perhaps during this time you could continue to teach part-time. Just my 2 cents worth, but do what is best for YOU.
  • Ann -

    You wrote "My kids are already on sub number three and are a month behind as far as where they should be." I almost wrote in my post above that I bet you were thinking that. (I am a retired principal, too. Took early retirement so my husband and I could travel/play when he retired (he's 10 years older than I am) - and when I get this back recovery done we will do so again!) At any rate, while we principals know that the best teachers always say things like "My kids are already behind" we also know that those are the very people we have to practically force to go home when they are deathly ill - or beg them to get to the hospital when the labor pains get too close together. But we don't want them endangering their own health 'cause they will be no good for the students in the long run if they do.

    Just be sure your stamina is good before you go back!

  • Hiya Ann >:D<
    I understand where you are coming from with this :? . My surgeon basically didnt care about me as his patient, once he did the surgery, as far as he was concerned that was it i was fit for work :( . I kept on saying i dont feel well enough to return :S , but he just ignored this, and signed me fit #:S . So i did what he wanted me to do, and i returned back to work :O . I payed for it in the end because one day my back gave on me :( , and my (GP) said i was not fit for work and should give up my job :( . I worked in mental health and loved my job so much. I had no choice but to give it up and i was gutted :''( . Long term because i was not well enough to return, i suffer now, i have been told i may never work again :''( . This is because i went back to soon , and i knew the time wasnt right for me to return :? . Ann at the end of the day if you have a surgeon thats understanding and emphasizes with you :) , then talk it over with him, tell him how you feel >:D< . Do you take any medication? :/

    Angie x
  • Yep...You are right about being one of those teachers who have to be forced to go home. Interestingly enough, 7 years ago, one the first day of the school year, I felt a strange sensation in my chest. It was just a weird nuisance. I knew that it was not like heart attack symptoms,but I mentioned it to the teacher next door before the school day started. She marched down to the principal's office and "tattled" on me. The principal came down to my room, and told me to call my doctor. I already had an appointment for after school for a check-up, and it was the FIRST day. I needed to be there to pass out books, guidelines, talk about what the upcoming year would be like. Well, to make a long story short, he forced me to call my doctor, who in turn told me come immediately to the emergency room. After tests, scans, etc. the ER doctor told me that he had good news and bad news...The "good news" was that I did not have heart problems. The "bad news" was that I had a pulmonary embolism. I now refer to that teacher as my guardian angel! However, I was bound and determined that I was going to teach that day!
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