Posted by Dielle on Jan 6, 2018 12:55 pm
Next week I am going to start talking to my workplace about a return to work plan. I know they will try to be as supportive as they can. My job is more mental than physical and I don't have physical limitations (other than tiring more easily). But I've been gone for over 6 months and I'm a little worried about fitting in and finding a place and of people's new perceptions of me. It is a young workplace (I am one of the oldest people in the office) and there are a lot of new people I don't know very well. Right after my target return date I will be going on the company trip to Mexico, which is exciting and scary at the same time. But I think my biggest concern is that I just won't enjoy my work anymore. I'm not that anxious to get back but that could just be not wanting to go out of my comfort zone.
What, if anything, eased your transition back?
Did you find that people treated you differently when you returned?
Is there anything you wish you had done differently when returning to work?
I am thinking about easing back into it part-time. I don't want to become overwhelmed and then find I drop my new healthy, habits because of time or fatigue.
Posted by scaredysquirrel on Jan 6, 2018 1:25 pm
Posted by ACH2015 on Jan 6, 2018 3:07 pm
I would talk to your doctor(s) and your insurer as well.
You need to know what the process is for return to work from all parties.
What is your doctor going to recommend. Your workplace will probably need a note of some kind indicating your abilities and your insurer will most likely need medical info from your doctor about a "gradual" return to work process.
Most of all - you need to protect yourself should your return to work not be successful, and you require reinstatement of disability benefits.
Find out from all parties what the process involved is. A gradual return is the best way (as I have been told) because it will wear you out, resuming duties and getting back into a "work life routine" you have been out of for a while.
Be prepared for the inability to get back into the swing of work life. I know some folks here have had a pretty rough go of returning to work and went back off as it was too much for them.
A lot of people feel guilty being off of work, and push themselves too hard. Be honest with yourself and your abilities Debbie. One step and one day at a time.
I hope you get more feedback from some returnees.
ACH2015 - Andy.
Karolinka , Minus2 are 2 names that come to mind as recent return to work people on the site.
Posted by CarolineH2018 on Jan 7, 2018 3:14 pm
Posted by Minus2 on Jan 7, 2018 3:47 pm
I start back full time tomorrow after being off for 8 weeks followed by a few weeks at half time and then the Christmas break. Going back half time was very good for me. My job is not physical but I still had restrictions regarding repetetive movement, working with aggressive students, and lifting, stretching, and reaching. Being able to go home at noon was a blessing and a curse. It was so nice to just walk out the door and hand off whatever crisis / situation was brewing at the time, but it was also hard to walk away and not resolve the issues / work I had started that morning.
As for falling into bad habits - big concern for me and realistically so. Because I was recovering from abdominal surgery and the weather was horrible, I was not as active as I should have been and once I am working full time hours (plus some probably), I am worried my activity level will not improve until the summer when I am off again. Dietary changes were easier to sustain.
My energy level was mostly good working half days. There were only a couple of times I was so fatigued I didn't think I would ever move again. I learned to come home and have a nap most afternoons and that helped a lot. I plan to maintain that habit as needed.
People at work have been wonderful about my part time return. Many of the women know the details of why I was off - I am teaching the female staff about breast cancer - and they are very protective over my health. I feel very blessed to work in this particular high school community. And my mindset has been helped by the return to work and the excitement of the Christmas break. I am starting to think less about cancer each day and being at work has a lot to do with that.
When my surgeon first said I needed to do a gradual return to work, I was shocked and unhappy about it. Truthfully, a gradual return was the best plan and I feel ready to go back full time tomorrow. And if full time is not okay, I will go back to part time. No more service above self. At least that's the plan.
Hope the discussions go well Dielle. It's daunting, but okay too.
Posted by Lacey_adminCCS on Jan 8, 2018 11:19 am
I'm glad you will be planning things out beforehand Debbie. I think you will do great! Try and strike a balance and make time for all the things you have enjoyed in your time off. Life is too short for just working . Keep us posted! Cheering you on
Posted by Mellybean on Jan 8, 2018 4:37 pm
I hope you get lots of suggestions, I'm really interested in what to expect for back to work. From my completely unrelated experience I believe that gradual return from disability is pretty normal so hopefully you're able to set up something that suits you. I've got a few months of treatment before I have to worry about it but my employer doesn't want me back until I'm at 100% so I'm feeling a bit intimidated trying to imagine the transition from treatment back to work. It'll be great to see what everyone has to say :)
Posted by ashcon on Jan 8, 2018 5:38 pm
I too, would be very interested to hear what you find out, and what you experience.
Like you, my job is very taxing mentally vs physically (I'm a project manager). My biggeset fear is that there won't be any "part-time" option. It's the type of job that's either full-on, 8-10 hrs/per day, or don't bother coming back to work!
Luckily I don't have to worry about this for another 5-6 months. At thar time I will have been off work for about 1 year.
Good luck next week and take it easy. Come back here and tell us how it goes.
Posted by Lchalmers on Jan 9, 2018 8:51 am
Posted by Beespecial on Jan 9, 2018 9:17 am
I would also suggest that you be kind to yourself. My husband has taken over the cooking and the cleaning and the groceries, etc. So I can focus on myself, my work, my lifestyle, etc. Again, not everyone has that luxury, but try to do too much while you back into the swing of things.
My two cents :)
Posted by Dielle on Jan 9, 2018 1:06 pm
#4 on my 18 for 2018 list is to "Return to work in an engaging, healthy and balanced way" . I just have to figure out what that means to me. Thats the part thats really hard. Beespecial, I admire that you went in a different direction that has you very excited. I've decided that I am no longer going to take on projects that I can't get excited about. I am fortunate that I do have some flexibility in that regard. I am finding that the more I think about it, the more I am looking forward to it.
I don't have to worry about what to tell people as I "came out" to everyone back in May when I created a team to participate in the Workout to Conquer Cancer Challenge. Everyone there has been super supportive. Maybe this isn't for everybody but I found that doing a mass reveal saved me a few awkward conversations that started with questions like "I haven't seen you around too much lately, have you been on vacation?" and "I love that hat. Did you always wear a lot of hats or is this something new?" (I did chemo first and kept working for a while). I only say awkward because I felt that it was unfair to spring it on people - they were usually very gracious and empathetic.
Thats my story for now. I'll post updates as I go through the process. Work is such a complicated issue even without recovering from a serious illness but a cancer diagnosis certainly puts things into a different perspective.
Posted by Lacey_adminCCS on Jan 9, 2018 1:50 pm
Beespecial - Great tips for work/life balance. Glad you are enjoying your new gig and found a supportive work environment.
Lchalmers - Glad you found comfort being around your co-workers and friends during treatment. Sounds like a great place to work.
ashcon - It makes so much sense to me that you are a project manager!! Organized, thorough, focused....and the list goes on.
Mellybean - You will get there one step at a time :)
Posted by Suzanne73 on Jan 13, 2018 6:43 pm
Posted by Suzanne73 on Jan 13, 2018 8:15 pm
Posted by Minus2 on Jan 13, 2018 8:24 pm
I returned to work full time last Monday. It's good but I am tired; I have not moved much from the couch today. My eating habits are actually better when I am at work as I pack a healthy lunch each day. At home, the chocoate and chips my son like call to me, sometimes too loudly to ignore!
Take care of yourself please.
Posted by Suzanne73 on Jan 13, 2018 10:56 pm
I've missed our weekly update threads, so I'm kind of happy that I will have some extra time on my hands now to keep in touch with everyone. This site sure helped me get through Chemo
Minus2 I was pretty good at getting through the day with healthy breakfasts and lunches, but by dinner time I was often so tired that I would pretty much go for whatever was easiest. I'm glad you have a lot more discipline than me ... Although I did eventually go back to my diet - started back in the new year... Now I just have to include some extra heart healthy modifications too.
Posted by sundog on Jan 15, 2018 2:53 pm
Posted by Dielle on Jan 15, 2018 9:06 pm
Suzanne, I'm so sorry to hear about your heart attack. I'm glad you were at school and they got you an ambulance. I'm sending you lots of healing thoughts. Please take care of yourself and let us know how you are doing.
Sundog, I'm happy that your return to work has been positive even with some physical challenges. I do think that if done right, going back to work can be a big emotional boost to me.
Thanks so much for sharing your stories. They really are helping me.
Posted by MommaBear on Jan 20, 2018 4:57 am
I've missed everyone and their posts, so it's good to be back. With the holidays and working, I haven't been to the forum as much as I would have liked.
Suzanne73, I am so shocked to hear of your heart attack! Glad to hear that you received prompt medical intervention. That is pretty scary! I was told my chemo might affect the heart, so have been undergoing echocardiogram every 3 months until Herceptin ends on the 25th. Glad to hear you can be home with your family. I know that is my preference too. However, I have to say my return to work has fared out better than I anticipated. It was a tough grind for the first 2-3 months, but now I actually enjoy the camraderie and opportunity to feel part of the stream of things again. I too am one of the older, if not the oldest, person in my department, but everyone has been so welcoming and seemed to really miss me. Some tell me they prayed for my return. It made a real difference to hear such kind words! My managers even tell me I'm an inspiration and they can't believe how well I'm doing. Maybe it's soft-soaping, but it's working!
Personally, I truly feel God is in control, and for now I have been re-given this opportunity to "get outside of myself" and let Him use me where He sees fit (not that I wouldn't love to win a lottery and simply volunteer somewhere)! I figure I'll have plenty of time to rest when I'm dead, so for now I'll work and help keep a roof over our heads! That part feels good!
Best wishes to you, Dielle, and everyone. I've missed you all!
Posted by Minus2 on Jan 21, 2018 8:44 am
It also feels very good to be back in the mix of things and to be surrounded by wonderful staff. We had freezing rain last week and when I went out to my car to go home, one of my co-workers was out there scraping the ice off for me. There is no such thing as a small act of kindness.
Continue to be well and we'll both pop in when we can.