Giving Up Work

masaka Member Posts: 47

I have not posted for about a year - I have been too busy battling to stay in work, but the idiot Head teacher has finally beaten me. I got signed off by my supportive GP at the start of this academic year.

I have OA and RA and have been in a RA flare up on and off since last November. I am five weeks into Methotrexate (I have been on Sulphalazine for about 5 years and am carrying on with it as well), but my hands and knees are still bad and I feel constantly tired. Are other people getting headaches with it?

I was working full time as a Special Needs Coordinator, returned to work last September to find the Head teacher assumed everything has been solved by my hip replacement. Precisely what she thought the electric wheelchair was for escapes me. Anyway I battled on through the year fighting her strategy of dumping more and more work on to me. The final straw was her doubling my teaching load for this year, in spite of me demonstrating to her that there was not sufficient space in the classroom to teach from my wheelchair. There never was a hope in hell of me managing the extra teaching.

I feel a complete wimp, but now I have finally stopped I am wondering how on earth I managed it for so long. I do know I can't go back to that.

Have other teachers reached the point of giving up?

I am waiting to hear if my union will go for discrimination.

I always have worked even though I have been disabled since birth (first THR at 26), so I am feeling quite defeated by it all, but there is a limit to how long you can put up with being hounded for a disability that is outside your control.

Any comments?




  • daylily
    daylily Member Posts: 641
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi. It sounds more like constructive dismissal to me- forcing you into a place where you had no choice but to resign.
    See if the union could go that route.
    There's too much of this sort of thing going on.
    You definately do not deserve being treated like this after working all your life with arthur.
    Take care
  • chris7
    chris7 Bots Posts: 2,696
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Teresa

    Sorry to see this, what an awful experience and what a horrible situation the head made for you. I'm sure others will be able to give more practical advise when they see this. I do hope your union give you support, it certainly sounds like constructive dismissal to me too and they will need to act asap if they think so. Glad to see you have a supportive GP you must be grieving for your career after battling so long to stay in work so do be nice to yourself for a while and take some time to just be.
    You do have my sincere sympathy
    take care
  • moodyblue
    moodyblue Member Posts: 15
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I had to give up teaching because my RA was never taken seriously by my line manager. There were all manner of support schemes available for students, ... but teachers are not supposed to have disabilities are they?
    My work load increased steadily until I had to give up. But not before I took the college through a Grievance Procedure which caused a lot of work for them instead! And a whole load of new management procedures were brought in to help other staff. Then I applied for and got early / ill health retirement and an enhanced pension.
    And, just like you, I have no idea how I ever managed to keep going for all those years!
    It is so hard to work with arthritis, and so few people genuinely understand what it's like!
  • masaka
    masaka Member Posts: 47
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00

    It is reassuring that it's not just me. I sometimes feel like a complete wimp, even though I know logically I am not.

    I think you are completely right people have no idea what arthritis is like unless they have got it. I am convinced that my line manager thinks/has thought I am swinging the lead and making a fuss about nothing.

    Were but she and other people could stagger a few yards in our shoes.


  • sunshine75
    sunshine75 Member Posts: 14
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi there,

    I was just scrolling through the discussions on here trying to find something that might help my situation and your thread was spot on!

    I'm 37 and a SENCO in a secondary school and have had juvenile arthritis since I was a baby. I've always been determined to live and work a normal life but due to pain and fatigue I finally went down to working 4 days a week last year which helped. However now I've been contemplating leaving and either giving up work or finding an easier part time teaching job but was worried that I would be 'giving up' or 'giving in' and also worried about finance.
    I get the higher rate of DLA currently but would there be other benefits I might be able to claim? I'm single and have a mortgage to pay on my own but I'm so tired ALL the time I just can't see me working continuously in the future.
    It's so good to see other people have been in the same situation too!

    Any advice or even reassurance that it might be the best thing to do would be appreciated!

  • masaka
    masaka Member Posts: 47
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi, you seem to be in a similar situation to me. It is not easy. Like you I am single with a mortgage. I would talk seriously to your GP and consultants to see if they will support ill health retirement. My GP said she was signing off people with far lesser problems. I don't think we always realise how bad we are. I would also speak to your union rep. I was fortunate and got the enhanced total incapacity benefits. Like you I get higher rate DLA. I can only say that stopping was the right thing for me. it is a different world once you are no longer totally exhausted. The pain and immobility are still there but the relief of not having to fight the whole time has led to an improvement in my general health. I can devote some energy to eating properly and trying to keep my joints moving. The SENCO job is almost impossible if you are well. To try and manage it when you are tired and Unwell is even more impossible. In the end my brutal criteria was "would I starve?" - no "was the house worth what I was going through?" -no. I used my lump sum to pay off more of my mortgage and have extended it, but if in the end I need to move into a small flat so be it. I will need to move soon anyway because my stairs are nasty.

    You might qualify for ESA. I am applying to make sure my National Insurance contributions are made. If I don't get it, given two separate pension people agreed I was totally unfit for work, I will go to war. The fact I now have enough energy to consider a battle says it all really. I didn't when I was working.
    I am managing. I am also not missing it, it had become such an un winnable battle. The first year after stopping I was lying in bed or bath until about 3 each day. It worried me until my GP said I needed to for a while. Now I am able to be up and about most of the day. My lie ins are restricted to weekends again.

    Hope this helps.

    If you wanted to give me an e-mail address I would be quite happy to "talk" to you more.

    Good Luck,

  • teresagrove
    teresagrove Member Posts: 35
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi from one Teresa to another!

    And a SENCo to boot!

    I am getting to the same stage as you - having had a THR and a labral repair decompression within 18 months of one another - now awaiting knee arthroscopy.

    I have arthritis in ankles,knees back, hips, wrists and thumbs and finding lack of sleep is one of the worst bugbears.

    Luckily the NUT is very supportive as is OH - school on the other hand just sees me as a nuisance.

    I have made the decision at 55 that I will take off whatever time I need to deal with my arthritis - up to the maximum if need be.

    I have been told that I will need to class teach from September and I know I will not be robust or resilient enough to take on that demanding role again. ( I have taught for 34 years with only 3 separate terms off)

    So - I will wait it out and see what happens. If OH decide that I cannot class teach - then the onus is on my employer to make adjustments to my duties where possible. maybe redundancy is a possibility - if so then I will have access to my pension early without losing out.

    I hate that it has come to this - teaching is almost as big a part of my life as my family. I have always worked to the best of my ability and feel I am now being hounded out of the workplace.

    For once I am going to do what is best for me - I deserve it ! Watch this space!

    Sorry for rant - but I am so hurt and angry. :x :cry:
  • masaka
    masaka Member Posts: 47
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi, the increase in class teaching was the final straw as well for me. There was not enough space in the classroom to teach from my wheelchair. I am also quite deaf, and all I got was ridicule. I knew I couldn't manage what was being asked of me. I was being hounded and harassed. In the end I decided not to go back in the autumn term. After the hassle I got from school, I felt no guilt at all about using the full sick leave entitlement. If you can't manage because of disability, then look at ill health. That is what it is there for.

    I discovered when I needed it that the disability legislation wasn't worth the paper it is written on. My union NASWUT were completely useless. I would make you plans for getting out and do what is right for you.

    Now I can't believe I got up at 6.15 each day and slogged on until late at night. I remember almost crying with fatigue.


  • dibdab
    dibdab Member Posts: 1,498
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Sorry to hear that so many teachers are struggling, but a relief to know that I'm not the only one. Struggling with the fatigue is my biggest problem. I've surrendered my SMT post and gone down to 3 days in an infant school-but the pits this year is being moved out of Early Years where I've worked for 9 years as part of a really supportive team into a Y1 classroom with almost no support. Some days I come home so weary I weep-and getting almost no sleep just makes it so much harder. I now have to swap my days off to go to hospital appointments, and Occ Health though sympathetic were of little help. I turn 55 next year and will try to draw down the bit of pension I'll get and look for something that doesn't drain every ounce of energy I have. unions advised me that you now have to be half dead before you get ill health pension these days.

    Deb x :(
  • masaka
    masaka Member Posts: 47
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi, I would still look at ill health in your case. Don't forget that it easier to get ill health for physical disability, than for mental health issues (wrong but it is the way it is) There are also the 2 levels. Partial with no enhancementand total with 50% of the time between now and your normal pension age. It sounds like being moved to Y1 is a calculated act to make it even more impossible to cope. I got more and more work piled on me, the constant threat of capability, which they actually did. I sat in my wheelchair, addle witted with exhaustion, and barely able to see due to the dry eyes that come with RA sometimes, and my head said she didn't think my disability was relevant...!!! I gave up at that point. I went in on principle until the end of term, warned my trusted TA I was almost at the end of the road, as I knew she would cop a lot of my work initially, and planned my escape. I had intended to return to at least do the timetables in the first week or so of the autumn term. However I was in a major flare up, and so called it a day.

    My strategy was:-

    A) Doing a major budget review to look at how I could manage on a much lower income.
    B) Talking to GP and consultants to ask for their support in the ill health battle.N
    C) taking full advantage of 6 months full and 6 months half pay. That probably sounds very calculated but I had always worked and did everything I could possibly do to stay in work. I was let down badly by the system.
    D) I also ranted and got very angry about the situation but swore I would not let the bitterness take over. That way my dingbat of a head would have won twice.

    What union are you with? The NASWUT were useful in the capability but overall a complete waste, they did not know what they were doing.

    Debs, you sound like I felt for so long, exhausted and at the end of your tether. No job is worth this. Get out, and get some form of life back. Non of us are wimps. The disabilities are real and have major impacts on our lives. It is just impossible to get that through to this who haven't experienced it. The first Christmas after I stopped lots of people commented on the fact I looked so much better and could stay awake and participating for much longer.

    I got total incapacity benefits, and I assure you I am not half dead. I do have a body riddled with OA(knees, right hip, probably neck and shoulders), RA which attacks everywhere, knees, hands, shoulders, and eyes particularly. I am also a hearing aid wearer, and have fibromyalgi. No wonder I was struggling.

    Hope this is of use and does not read as a superior rant. It is not intended to be. Two years ago I felt like you, and even briefly considered swallowing all of my drugs at one go and opting out all together. It is possible to get out. You do not need to continue to put yourself through this. There are some interesting stats on how long people keep working after RA is very low - for a reason!!!

    Note - you should not have to switch days off for hospital appointments. I tried to get them at the end of the day or in holidays, but if I could't then too bad. I wasn't going for fun, so they were non negotiable as far as I was concerned. Talk to your union about that ASAP. They should manage to threaten the school on that at least.


  • lynnhbuckingham
    lynnhbuckingham Member Posts: 4
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    How sad that the school is not able to demonstrate inclusive practice. I would expect them to be part of the leading bodies in treating people fairly. How do they treat pupils who have limited physical abilities?
    I am appalled to hear your account of how you have been treated, and those of others in similar situations.
    Positive thoughts for you.