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Is anyone a Primary School teacher?

stluciastlucia Posts: 392
Hello,

Are there any teachers out there?! I just wondered how you cope with managing teaching with RA and any tips you have for making things easier in the classroom when your joints are sore, or you are tired or sick from taking medication.

Thanks so much

Lucia x
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Comments

  • miss_lmiss_l Posts: 138
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi,

    I'm not a primary teacher but i am a secondary science teacher!
    I had my hip replaced last August and in the past week have been diagnosed with RA in addition to OA.
    I've had quite a tough time at work, being 28 i found that most staff thought it was just growing pains and should live with it.
    Luckily OH have stepped in and things are improving.
    As a scientist im on my feet pretty much all the time running around after students and due to class size i never had a stool in lessons, but now i have a backed proper stool just for me which is fantastic!
    I have also been given LSA support who do the running around for me and should i feel ill i have a phone in my room to call for someone to cover me.

    I would def ask for occ health to make suggestions as it def helped me!
  • stluciastlucia Posts: 392
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thank you so much for all that advice - I will definitely ask OH to see if they can recommend anything - half the trouble is not really being able to pin point what I need and what is available. I'm 26 and yes get the same feeling from some that it is something I should be able to get over and get on with - hmm tricky when it's like walking through treacle in lots of pain!!

    Thanks so much again
  • timavisstimaviss Posts: 9
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    stlucia wrote:
    Hello,

    Are there any teachers out there?! I just wondered how you cope with managing teaching with RA and any tips you have for making things easier in the classroom when your joints are sore, or you are tired or sick from taking medication.

    Thanks so much

    Lucia x
    Hi,
    I'm a primary teacher, Year 2 and the assistant head! I've got OA and am waiting for a replacement knee. My head is quite supportive and doesn't mind walking in and finding me with my ley up on a stool, or sitting on the floor, I guess you have to find something that works for you and let your head know that you are doing it to help allieviate the discomfort/pain. Hope that helps, and if you have any ideas I'd love to hear them. Take care.
  • speedalongspeedalong Posts: 3,347
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi, just joined the forum and this is my first post.
    I teach in a primary special needs school. I must say I'm now finding the physical side of things tiring and a struggle. I have a THR of the left hip. I have OA in the right hip and am on the waiting list of an op (hoping for a resurface - but might be another THR.) I also have earlier stage OA in my right knee - but is currently hard to tell if pain is mainly caused by the hip. My current head and deputy are not very interested, understanding or helpful. I had two days off around Christmas time (only time off ever for the OA in nearly 6 years) and head started mentioning occupational health and said he would arrange to meet with me. He did not follow this through though.
    Since then have had a day and half off for consultant appointments. As pain is getting worse I asked if I could be relieved of doing lunchtime playground duty and that I would no longer be able to do trips which involved a lot of walking.
    Had my classroom obs last week & head is once again talking about referring me to occy health ... however having read this thread perhaps this is no bad thing???

    Speedalong
    I have had OA since mid twenties. It affects my hips and knees. I had a THR on the left aged 30 and now have a resurface-replacement on the right - done May 2010.
  • jordan7jjordan7j Posts: 346
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    speedalong, I would definitely encourage the involvement of OC they will ensure you get the assistance and equipment needed to help you do your job. I know how hard it is, I worked as a senior teaching asst in a special needs school for 9 years. i asked for a part time position, or job share, and was told, we dont encourage p/t as its bad for continuity. At the same time there were always agency staff in school. I could have gone to the union, but as my training was with children with complex medical needs, I guessed that the head would then be forced to keep me on and would put me in autistic rooms, which obviously I coundnt do. So I gave upand left, I now do childminding, but finding this very hard too. My consultant and gp have told me it would be best if I didnt work. I hope you do get sent to OC, it will be the best thing for you.
  • speedalongspeedalong Posts: 3,347
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Jordan,
    thanks for your words of encourament.

    What a shame you had to give up. Fancy not letting you work part time with your wealth of experience ... My head is the same, he thinks that as long as the right number of adults are in a room it doesn't matter who they are/how experience they are or even if they know the children or not!! But then he thinks we are there to
    entertain
    the children - his actual words!!! He wouldn't notice the small and very celebrated gains they make - as he doesn't even know half their names (and we only have 60 pupils!!) Aww sorry, got a bit carried away there!!

    Childminding is hard, because it's just you caring for the children - you should see if you can get students on placement ... don't know how mind, but I have had students who have had a "family" placements either with a family with a nanny(!) or with a childminder.

    Speedalong
    I have had OA since mid twenties. It affects my hips and knees. I had a THR on the left aged 30 and now have a resurface-replacement on the right - done May 2010.
  • teresagroveteresagrove Posts: 35
    edited 7. Apr 2010, 11:55
    Hi

    I am 53 and have been a Primary School teacher for 32 years.

    I was only diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis in November - but it was so severe I had a THR in February. I have since found out I have OA in most joints including both knees, ankles and wrists.

    I have been off work since January as I was finding it difficult to walk - our school is built on a hill and has several stairs and no lift.

    No OH apppointment has been made for me - I think I will be able to return to work in some capacity after my consultant appointment next week - but think I may need phased return as I still need to walk with a crutch or stick.

    The head is not helping and is suggesting I return as Nursery teacher rather than Year 2. I feel I need support with this as obviously I am still following hip precautions.


    Any advice?
  • speedalongspeedalong Posts: 3,347
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Teresa,
    You have been through the mill!!

    Why on earth would your head think it is easier for you to go back into nursery than into year 2??!! The chairs are littler, you need to get down on the floor, there is more to trip over, the children are more likely to grab your stick and less likely to understand ... is he very SATS driven??!!

    Iris is the one who seems to be the expert on work matters ... hopefully she will see you post and clarify ... but I would say definitely involve whoever can help you - union/ask for occupational health assessment/and also ask for an appointmet with the disability assessment officer at the job centre.

    Speedalong
    I have had OA since mid twenties. It affects my hips and knees. I had a THR on the left aged 30 and now have a resurface-replacement on the right - done May 2010.
  • teresagroveteresagrove Posts: 35
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Speedalong

    Thanks for the advice. Did not know about advice at jobcentre. Will get on the case asap.

    Teresa
  • loricalorica Posts: 187
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi all,

    Im a qualified teacher in Post Compulsary Education. I havent done any teaching for a number of years, I wasnt diagnosed with Arthur then but looking back I did have pains in my joints as well as gout! No longer teaching but that is another story.... :lol: During my diagnosis I was working as an SVQ Assessor, I often had problems carrying all my bags, in and out of the car I was made redundant several months after diagnosis. (redundancy was nothing to do with Arthur.)

    I worked as a Nursery Nurse for 21 years as well as teaching but with my Gouty Arthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis I can never go back to Nursery Nursing, cannot lift and carry children etc So now exploring new careers with little success :(

    Mark
  • dorcasdorcas Posts: 3,538
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Teresa,
    Have read your post and hope this info might be helpful.

    As you have had OA for some time it is likely you have 'a qualifying condition' as described under the Disability Discrimination Act.

    Under DDA you are considered to have a disability if 'you have a physical ...or ...mental impairment that has a substantial and long term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day to day activities'. It is the impact of the condition not the type of arthritis/ 'label' that is significant.

    This means in practice that you have certain rights under disability and equality law, and your employer has legal duties and obligations towards you. For example you have the right to have your needs fully assessed and for 'reasonable adjustments' to be made that will allow you to continue to work.

    Not all employers are aware of their responsibilities so getting the right information both for you and them is really important!.

    Your boss should contact OH to request an assessment to see what support and 'reasonable adjustments' can and should be given to keep you in your job...and not make changes prior to assessment unless HR have risk assessed and identified that your health is being compromised by continuing to undertake certain tasks....and even then only after discussing this with you and your representative. It is important that you use the terminology and advise your employer that you believe you have a disability (or disabling condition if you prefer) and therefore come under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)

    It might be worth you contacting your local Jobcentre Plus and ask to speak to a Disability Employment Adviser (DEA); they will speak with you to establish that you are 'eligible' under DDA and will complete an application over the phone. This will be sent out to you for checking and signature. The DEA can arrange an assessment of you/ your job via Access to Work who will make recommendations to your employer about support or changes to the workplace to assist you to stay in work. AtW may also fund elements of any support package. The process is fairly quick too!

    The arthritis care website has very useful information on DDA. If you go up to the top of this page and click on 'Publications and Resources' and then follow the link 'Work and Independence' and select the information of most relevance to you.

    The http://www.equalityhumanrights.com website also has a lot of very useful information too about your rights and employers duties.
    Also http://www.rheumatoid.org.uk has very good self help guidance on employment and RA that you can read online or send for . the booklet 'I Want to Work: a self help guide for People with Rheumatoid Arthritis' is excellent ( the guidance applies irrespective of the type of arther).

    If I can help in any way please just let me know.....I am no expert, just speaking from personal experience and gathered information as I've gone along!

    Iris x

    ps...sorry to be so long winded. :oops: it's such a complicated business and wanted to give as much info as possible.
  • teresagroveteresagrove Posts: 35
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thank you - will try to sort things out asap. I now have an OH appointment next week and will contact jobcentre plus today.

    Teresa
  • dorcasdorcas Posts: 3,538
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Teresa[/quote]

    That's really good Teresa...good luck with the OH appointment next week. :D

    Let us know how you get on with jobecentreplus and OH.

    Iris x
  • Nat4Nat4 Posts: 9
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello!

    I'm a primary school teacher recently diagnosed with RA. Does anyone know what sort of 'reasonable adjustments' I can expect? I'm in lots of pain and had one horrific stay in hospital with it so far! Be so pleased to hear from people experiencing similar, I'm 28 and finding people at work don't seem to understand at all....:-( tough times, does it get easier?! Xx
  • dreamdaisydreamdaisy Posts: 31,567 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello Nat4, it's nice to meet you and I hope we can help with information and support. I have psoriatic arthritis and that has greatly impinged on my ability to work. I was a private tutor for dyslexics (and hope to be so again) so I was lucky in that I could organise my timetable to suit me (and cancel work if necessary) but currently I have stopped work due to the very recent death of my mother and the necessary struggles that have ensued.

    People who do not have arthritis have no idea about life and living with it. Two good sources of explanation are The Spoon Theory and There's a Gorilla in my House. The former explains the tiredness that we fight and the latter is a very visual reperesentation of the adjustments we have to make. They are good reading for friends and family.

    Employers do have responsibilities towards their employees but, being self-employed, I know very little about them. Arthritis Care produce some very good leaflets about a number of aspects of living with arthritis, please ring the helpline and they will send you the relevant information. I think you can also access the publications on-line but I lack the techie no-how to lead you to them. :oops:

    Does it get better? I won't lie to you, my experience is that it doesn't but everyone's arthritis is unique to them. I have psoriatic arthritis and that has led to osteo thus I have an arthritic foot in both camps. If you are on medication for your RA then that should bring things under better control and life may improve. I certainly hope so. Good luck. DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • speedalongspeedalong Posts: 3,347
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Nat,

    I don't visit the forum much anymore - but got a topic notification via email (must have set that up years ago) and so was intrigued and logged on.

    I'm a primary special needs teacher with OA and it can be hard going. I struggled on for years, not realising I could get help.

    I thought occupational health was something to be feared, but they were great and ensured school made adjustments eg not having to go on all day walking trips, not teaching PE etc.

    Iris (Dorcas) gave me lots of great advice and I contacted job centre plus and the Access to WOrk officer and explained I had a disability (I was quite uncomfortable doing this, until Iris asked me did my OA affect my ability to carry out day to day tasks - which of course it does.) They did an assessment and specified equipment that would help me in the job. My head then had a legal duty to purchase the equipment. It has made a massive difference and I wish I'd had it years ago. I have a wheeled, perching stool that has hydraulic height adjustment and a really comfy desk chair with a "free float" option - which means the chair can wobble - so I don't get stiff is sitting for prolonged periods, also a height adjustable table.

    Unless they have experienced severe pain, then no, folk don't really understand. However some folk are more understanding and empathic than others.

    Speedy
    I have had OA since mid twenties. It affects my hips and knees. I had a THR on the left aged 30 and now have a resurface-replacement on the right - done May 2010.
  • Nat4Nat4 Posts: 9
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thank you so much Speedy and DD!! Your replies have really helped me! I'm feeling really low at the moment and very nervous about returning to work on Mon after being off for seven days...had a very severe flare up that put me in hospital for a few days. Unbelievably there has been so much negativity from work, it's made things so much harder to deal with! :cry:

    I looked up the 'spoon theory' and the 'gorilla story' - both superb!! It was refreshing to actually laugh about things rather than be overwhelmed with doom and gloom!

    Thanks again! Nat xx
  • dreamdaisydreamdaisy Posts: 31,567 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    It's all about adjustment, Nat, but we are the ones who have to adjust; no-one else perceives the need. :wink:

    It's not all gloom and doom either. You will find your way, we all do, but that can take time; that's why we're here. DD

    PS Hello Speedy, long time no hear - how are things?
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • Nat4Nat4 Posts: 9
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks DD! This has certainly helped already. Work has been a mixed bag...I love being back and the children have been wonderful! Shame I can't say the same about the adults!! Someone was so horrible to me that I broke down in fits of tears. It was awful :oops: I just needed to sit down and was in so much pain. My stomach blew up like a balloon through stress! Man I just didn't think people could be so nasty... Why is there this reaction to this disease?!

    Hope things are ok with you! How are you doing at the moment?

    Thanks so much for your support! Xx
  • dreamdaisydreamdaisy Posts: 31,567 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I won't lie, I'm not doing well and I'm far from OK but no matter. People associate arthritis with the elderly (oh, my nan had that, she walked with a stick) and they don't know that there is more than one sort. Healthy people fall ill, go to the docs, take pills and get better. We go to the docs and take pills and, basically, don't. :wink: No wonder people don't get it. :) If you say you have cancer or MS people wouldn't dream of saying the idiotic things that they do to us because they have a better 'feel' for those conditions. There are ten million or so arthritics in the UK and the majority have OA: comfort yourself with the thought that those who are not understanding your plight will probably join our 'merry' gang. :lol:

    I have to go and wash up and then it's beddy-byes for me. My mum died recently and the strain of everything is hitting hard. I'll be back tomorrow. DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • Nat4Nat4 Posts: 9
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hope things can get better for you DD. So sorry to hear about your mum and you not being well.

    There's so much more to this RA lark than I ever could have imagined.. My nan had it in her late 70's and she's the only example I've known of. I guess the people with a chip on their shoulder about the fact that I've got it need to be educated!

    I've had lots of people telling me I shouldn't be eating certain things. Getting me down a bit cz I love my food!! Changing diet been of any use to anyone?

    Xox
  • dreamdaisydreamdaisy Posts: 31,567 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello again, I apologise for not being back before now: life is currently extremely trying.

    Some have tried altering their diets - I did for a while but got nowhere so gave up. I know that foods such as pickles and chutneys aggravate matters so I avoid them apart from high-days-and-holidays. I also try to eat a good intake of beetroot and celery, both are natural anti-inflammatories but again little real benefit is felt.

    I began with one bad knee (caused, it was eventually discovered) by psoriatic arthritis. The fact that my skin rarely showed psoriasis was the reason for the accurate diagnosis to be made but by the time it was I was nine years in and with many more affected joints. OA has joined the party thanks to the joint damage caused by the PsA so I have an arthritic foot in both camps. :wink: It is not fun. I am now 54 and reliant on walking aids which is a bit of a bind. I supposedly have another year or so to wait for another appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon about having new knees but, with my inheritance, I might just jump the queue. Thereagain I might go on a world cruise - the cost is probably about the same! :lol:

    I hope you have a good Bank Holiday - is it half-term too? That may be a welcome break. Rest as much as you can, that helps matters. If you look on the Living with Arthritis part of the forum you may pick up many more hints and tips about doing just that. I wish you well. DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • scozziescozzie Posts: 333
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    DD take the world cruise option ... and I'm sure you'll enjoy it!!!
  • Nat4Nat4 Posts: 9
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Yes it is half term! Good job too, yesterday the doc told me that I look a complete mess lol! I will be resting it up as much as poss, going away with family so that will be nice. Ooh world cruise sounds ace! Sounds just what you need DD! Take it easy and I hope things improve and get easier for you soon!

    My step-dad keeps saying to me 'you will get better!' It helps to have that hope and believe!!

    I have so much respect for all of you fellow arthritis sufferers!! We have to be strong, we can do anything!! :D:D

    Thank you so much for wonderful support and advice xoxoxoxo
  • SmamfaSmamfa Posts: 3
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi, I have not got a firm diagnosis just a comment from an MRI scan saying I'm being referred to a consultant with degenerative disc disease, arthritis and a possible fracture. I have been out of school for over 3 months, my very supportive HT will not have me back in until I (and they) are sure I will not damage myself further. I am going absolutely crazy and just want to get back in.

    I am uncomfortable all day and night, it's affecting my sleep and I'm having quite severe pain if I sit, stand, lay or walk for too long. I've been on all sorts of medications but they all make me dopey/'drunk' and with my own children to care for that's not ideal!!!

    This has taken ages and I was supposed to be part of a fast track 2 week service but I feel completely let down 3 months later.

    I've not had any advice other than rest but I'm so fed up with it all now I just needed to 'talk' to someone who knows how it feels.
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