Back to work this week and desperately hoping I manage it.

Rach101
Rach101 Member Posts: 165
Hi all, you may have seen my post on the other thread but I'm currently living in the 'awaiting diagnosis' world after being suddenly struck by what my dr calls poly-arthritis 3 months ago. Have been off work for 3 months due to the pain, fatigue and generally feeling unwell.

I've been lucky in that my work have been supportive this far and I have received full sick pay but I'm now in an absence review process which could (rather quickly) end in me losing my job and my sick pay has run out. As I can't afford to live without my wages and I absolutely love my job I have persuaded my dr to say I 'may be fit for work' on short hours/light duties. My manager is overjoyed at this and appears to be willing to do whatever it takes to help me back.

Only problem is I'm really not sure if I'm up to it. I'm starting slow with 3 hours this Wednesday but my manager is hoping I'll be back to my (full on, busy, on my feet all day) job by the end of August.

I've such mixed emotions as I feel I'm definitely capable of contributing at work to some degree but am still v debilitated at the mo. I've got an app with occupational health on Monday. Any tips? Has anyone else successfully managed a return to work? Was it easier than expected? (That's what I'm hoping!)

I've got my next app with rheumatologist in two weeks and having ultrasound so maybe I'll get a diagnosis then? I'm feeling a bit emotional tbh and overwhelmed.

Thanks

Rachel x

Comments

  • applerose
    applerose Member Posts: 3,621
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Just noticed your post. You've probably noticed it's quiet at the weekend but I'm sure someone will be along soon. Maybe you could contact the helpline. They are very friendly and helpful. I have RA but only took 2 weeks off work at my GP's suggestion. I've managed to keep going. I've explained how I am to my boss and he's fine with me doing what I can. I can't really help you with returning after 3 months except to say keep your boss up to date and explain what poly-arthritis is. Good luck. Hope it all goes as well as possible.
    Christine
  • Rach101
    Rach101 Member Posts: 165
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks Christine, how do you manage at work when the pain is bad and you feel ill?
  • applerose
    applerose Member Posts: 3,621
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I am very lucky and don't feel ill very much. I have my pain under control most of the time but my boss understands that there are times when I can't do as much as usual.
    Christine
  • slomo
    slomo Member Posts: 180
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Rach how are you doing today? I've not been on the forum for a while and was just browsing when I came across your post. I was diagnosed a year ago with large vessel vasculitis and inflammatory poly arthritis. I tried to continue working as I only work 3 days a week and that's surely do-able?! I ended up off for 3 months and started back in the new year on a phased return over 6weeks. I'd love to tell you it's been plain sailing but sadly I can't. I'm on MTX and prednisolone (currently 7mg, should have been 6mg daily by now but that's another story). I still get very tired very quickly and when my colleague is on leave I find it extremely wearing trying to manage things by myself. OccH were very helpful but it's not always easy to implement the things they suggested eg mini breaks and such like. You may have to ask colleagues to assist you with things and I know that's not easy. I've been through an absence meeting and it wasn't as bad as I'd thought as it was just me and my manager, although I'd probably try to take a union rep to any future one just for moral support. You may find work can get the absence triggers adjusted so basically you can be off longer before they call you to a meeting.
    As for your wages, don't you go from full pay sick pay to half pay sick? Surely it doesn't just stop altogether?? Try to check up on your work's absence procedures if you can. If your income takes a nosedive you may be able to apply for housing benefit and/or council tax reduction. Hope you don't think I'm prying saying that but a lot of people don't know that you can claim these if you're working and on low income. Hope things look up for you soon
    slomo
  • Rach101
    Rach101 Member Posts: 165
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Slomo, thanks for your reply. Unfortunately I've had a couple of bad days so am even more worried about tomorrow than I was before! Yes I do get half pay for a few more months so we should be able to manage really, we recently moved into a more expensive house tho so have a larger mortgage. I'm trying not to freak out and just see how it goes tomorrow, I can only do what I can manage but, as you know, it is difficult when not feeling well. I think I'll be happier if I can manage a few hours at work tho so I hope I manage it!
    Rach x
  • Rach101
    Rach101 Member Posts: 165
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks Sharon :)
  • Rach101
    Rach101 Member Posts: 165
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi,

    I had a mixed experience at work yesterday. I worked 2-5 with my absence review at 2.30. My manager is v supportive and suggested a partial return to work over the next 4 weeks which seems reasonable, with 'reasonable adjustments' to help me manage. It's clear that she's under pressure from senior management to get me back to work and there's negativity from them towards me due to the time I've been off. Also HR wanted me to return fully within 4 weeks which I can't manage. However she says they have to do what OH say.

    I'm quite upset to think that senior management are being critical of me, it seems they think I should have returned sooner which basically means they think I'm skiving. I love my job and have done really well over the past 3 years to get a good reputation as a hard worker and I've previously had very good feedback from senior management regarding my work and attitude so I'm v upset that 3 months could undo all that hard work and ruin my reputation.

    Also, after about 2.5 hrs I was in quite a bit of pain and feeling unwell so I'm really not sure if I'll manage a return at all.

    I feel that I need to fight for my job but of course it's hard to fight when you feel bad, I'm starting to feel depressed, I feel under pressure to return to work but not quite well enough to do so. My manager feels that senior management will be fine if I return to work but what if I can't? My role is quite a significant one and my absence is causing a lot of upheaval and stress on other colleagues. If I was them I'd want to get rid of me and get a healthy person for the role so I understand why they feel that way.

    Trying to get hold of my Union today, I've got another absence review at the end of August and then the next step is a hearing where they can dismiss me.

    Anyway, sorry for the very long post again

    Rach
  • moderator
    moderator Moderator Posts: 4,085
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Rach101
    sounds like it was a bit of a mixed bag for you, at least you have the support of your manager and they are following procedure. It is hard to fight for things when you feel unwell so it is a really good idea to get your union to support you and you might want to get someone else, a friend maybe to just support you so you are not facing all these things and your arthritis on your own.
    We have a great section on the website https://goo.gl/7gIulH and the government website is also really good too. https://goo.gl/0PjIWy
    Be gentle with yourself, you have a lot going on at the moment
    Best Wishes
    Sharon
  • Rach101
    Rach101 Member Posts: 165
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks Sharon, I'm due to work 4 hrs this wed and then 4.75 hours on Sunday. I think I'm deluding myself really in a desperate attempt to return to work and stem the absence review process while not having had any real improvement in my symptoms. Still, at least I can think I've had a go even if it doesn't work out!
    Rach
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,253
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Rach101 wrote:
    I'm quite upset to think that senior management are being critical of me, it seems they think I should have returned sooner which basically means they think I'm skiving.

    Not necessarily. They just don't understand your condition. How could they? Neither you nor your rheumatologist quite understand it. Try not to take it personally. They're just intent on running the place as smoothly as possible and you are just one cog in the machine.

    Very few people understand arthritis. Sometimes we look OK and, for a while can seem OK but then it all kicks in again. However, I've no idea how life is, day-to-day, for people with MS, Muscular Dystrophy or Cerebral Palsy. Until these things hit us personally we - thankfully - don't have to know,

    One day at a time is a good maxim. Don't try to second guess the future. I hope your Union can help.
    "The deeper sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain." Kahlil Gibran
  • Popsmith1874
    Popsmith1874 Member Posts: 29
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    hi there i hope you get on ok and thinks settle down at work. Ive not long retired medically and although i would rather be still working im now in a good place because the last year has been a roller coaster with worry about not being able to provide for my family but things have turned out fine and i think this has had a big bearing on my condition because things are settled at the moment. Ive just started a new bisomar [Benepali] which is also working wonders but i think the main thing is that a lot off the stress has been lifted, hope things turn out ok for you
  • Rach101
    Rach101 Member Posts: 165
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Popsmith, thanks for your message. My return to work is going pretty badly. I've managed to go in for 3 hrs once a week for the last 3 weeks and just do admin. I've had a lift to work on the first two occasions but yesterday I was having a 'good' day and got the train in. I managed reasonably well but again only sitting at a desk (my usual job is on my feet all day) but I was very unwell and in almost unbearable pain all afternoon when I got home.

    I've got a chat with OH this morning so I'll have to see what they say. I think I will probably hand my notice in as I think it will aid my recovery but I've been told I should start feeling better in a few months so I wonder if I should hold on for now (my rheumatologist has ruled out RA and said its post-viral arthritis which will resolve on its own). Problem is my area manager made it clear that they are setting the date for the formal hearing shortly so I don't think they'll wait. It's just whether I'm strong enough to hold out til they dismiss me or if it would be better to bow out gracefully before then. :/

    At full duties it's a very stressful job and I'm wondering if it could have contributed to me getting arthritis in the first place? If so, maybe I'm better off not returning anyway? As you can probably tell my thoughts are v confused atm!
  • Gezzy
    Gezzy Member Posts: 7
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi just came across this as I was looking for something similar to what I'm going through. I work in a very busy pharmacy on my feet all day and it's a bad place to work since a new company took over a little over 2 years ago. I've been in my job for over 20 years and I loved my work. I'm off sick at the momoment with inflammation of my knees, hip, hands and feet. My manager pleaded with me to go off sick as I was so bad I was in so much pain but was made to feel guilty by my colleagues in work. On top of this my regional manager is ringing me constantly saying that because of me being off its putting pressure on the other members of staff. The current manager has just handed in her notice. I was transferred to this branch 12 months ago. And shortly after that all the symptoms that I have (rhumatoid arthritis ) in most of my joints and am waiting for a new hip and knee. I don't think I will get another job at my age in this field. I'm 57. I'm under 4 different consultants and rheumatology I'm so down. Been off for only 5 weeks.
  • Slosh
    Slosh Member Posts: 3,194
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    A couple of things which may be helpful.
    I refused to go off sick when diagnosed with cervical spondylosis (OA in neck), even though I was struggling. My GP was very supportive and for about 8 months I was on a reduced hours certificate, this meant I was only allowed to work the number of hours a week on the certificate but remained on full-pay and it didn't count as sick leave.

    When post op I returned to work and had gradually increased up to full-time it became clear that although my absence rate remained low (sheer b***** mindedness ) that I couldn't manage my very demanding job. I thought things through, did the sums, and then applied for a reduction in hours under the "flexible working" rules. This gives full time workers the right to apply for a reduction in hours. It is a formal process and my union was great as they had guidance on how to make my application so it was compliant with the law (very important ) and then my rep supported me in negotiations with my head teacher. There was a bit of give and take on both sides but we reached an agreement. As a disabled person it is also harder for this to be refused as long as the correct format has been used in making the request.

    One other thing was that the LEA I work for had brought in strict rules over sickness absence meaning that more than 9 absences in any 12 months meant a formal meeting. I again took advice, requested an OH appointment and got information from here, my GP and the ACAS site, more negotiations, a private meeting between my head and the school business manager (not me) and as they knew I didn't take time off lightly I now have an allowance of 5 days every 3 months.

    It was very stressful going through it all and this forum was a huge support but it was worth it.

    Sorry for the length of this post but I hope it's helpful.
    He did not say you will not be storm tossed, you will not be sore distressed, you will not be work weary. He said you will not be overcome.
    Julian of Norwich
  • Rach101
    Rach101 Member Posts: 165
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Gezzy and Slosh, thanks for your posts.

    Gezzy I'm really sorry you are having problems with your work too. I resigned from my job in the end as I felt I wasn't getting any support from my employer and they seemed to be itching to get rid of me, also my union were no help at all so I felt I couldn't manage to fight on alone. I kept a zero hours contract with work but I have recently resigned from that too as I felt there was no future for me with that employer, I was upset and disillusioned as to how I'd been treated.

    However, I've recently been offered a new job which starts Ina couple weeks time, it is much more manageable as it's not physically demanding and I will arrange my own diary so I can plan different tasks according to how I am. I've had a horrible year but finally feel that something good has come out of it. Just hoping I take to the sulfasalazine well when I start them as I'm not going to be on steroids forever.
    Anyway, good luck, I hope things work out for you xx