Phased return - what worked for you

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Phased return - what worked for you

Postby Helhit » Fri Aug 01, 2014 4:06 pm

I'm still signed off work, but have come to the conclusion that I have plateaued and that I'm not going to get any better than this - so I'm contemplating going back to work. Although I'm signed off til end of Sept, I'm thinking about it now (or should that be worrying). Mainly so I've got a plan worked out in my head to stop me thinking about it all the time!

If I'm honest with myself I think it's going to be a disaster, cos every time I try to do anything for any length of time I'm aching and knackered. I went to a garden centre on Sunday and ended up using a motorised scooter, as I was so so tired.

Anyway, hope springs eternal, so I'm wondering how to go back on a phased return. I work a 9-5 week.

I would be very interested to hear how anyone else did it; couple of hours a day, mornings only, 3 days to begin with.

I'm such a worrier, you thoughts would help greatly. :lol:
Fibro is like the wind. You can't see it and when it flares up it knocks you off your feet!
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Re: Phased return - what worked for you

Postby Hholding » Fri Aug 01, 2014 4:25 pm

I think it really depends on the type of work you're going back to. I tried half days, first 1 in a week, then 2 and then 3, only half days mind. Then I had to stop again completely. It's such a personal thing, Fibro, we all experience different symptoms & these affect work in different ways. My job had a lot of pressure & so I've had to retire due to ill health. Retired at 40 wasn't really in my plan but you learn to adapt. You have to or you would go mad!
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Re: Phased return - what worked for you

Postby juejue » Fri Aug 01, 2014 6:14 pm

Hi, it is hard and scary going back to work, the way I did it was to meet with my manager and let him know how fibromyalgia was affecting me, the other thing to do is get your occupational health doc to inform your work that fibromyalgia is classed as a disability and therefore meant work therefore had to make reasonable adjustments . As everyone says fibro affects everyone differently but the things that worked for next was work supplying a comfortable, therapeutic chair, a split keyboard which helps me with cramping and a roller mouse. Other things to consider is the use of wheatbags or heat wraps - they were good for cramping and you don't have to keep asking colleagues to close the window etc.

I returned initially for 3 half days - first week and then took it really slowly to ensure a paced return - adding an extra half day a week. I have been lucky and it has worked to a certain extent for me - I am still in work but have had some lengthy absences. Getting the occ health and g.p on side is important if you can. Sometimes you are knackered, there's no lying about that but don't give up hope it could work for you.

I hope you get things sorted, try not to worry it makes the fibro worse (easier said that done,I know!)

Take Care
Julia x
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Re: Phased return - what worked for you

Postby MrsP77 » Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:56 pm

I tried a phased return to work, but that was before I was diagnosed. It didn't work for me at all. I was doing half days from 11 - 3, and I didn't manage to do any of those hours, I was sent home early each day. The idea was good, but unfortunately didn't work. Eventually, there were some redundancies coming up and I was (luckily) offered that, rather than just having to leave. They also said to me that if I ever felt like I could come back then the door would always be open for me. The bad part of this is, I have tried to apply for benefits, but the lovely ATOS, have found me 'fit to work' three times!, so I only get Disabled Living Allowance, but I do get both parts.

The best thing you can do is give it a go and see how you get on. As you are probably finding out this strange illness can throw many things your way :yikes: All you can do is take each day at a time. Good luck.
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Re: Phased return - what worked for you

Postby denys » Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:58 pm

I think worrying about it is only going to make things worse for you, as already been said, you need to speak to your Manager and HR dept. (and your GP) maybe if you have difficulty getting up in the morning then a return to work later in the morning with an early finish maybe 10am till 2pm etc. a couple of days a week to begin with as has already been suggested.

Once you are managing that then slowly introduce a few more hours till eventually you get back to full time (if thats going to be possible) the thing is you wont know for certain until you try and once you have done then you can make any further decisions knowing you have given it your best shot

:goodluck1: :goodluck1:
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Re: Phased return - what worked for you

Postby Gemski » Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:22 pm

Hi! I work in admin and after a long period of sickness I returned to work 3 days a week so I now do Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. 3 days in a row would wipe me out and this pattern is currently working really well. Don't expect to fail before you've tried - be positive but realistic! Maybe try a 3 day week but start half days and take it from there. I guess it depends on how flexible your employer will be too. Good luck and I hope you find the right balance xx
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Re: Phased return - what worked for you

Postby Helhit » Fri Aug 01, 2014 11:47 pm

Thank you everyone for your replies. I think half days Will be the way forward.

I know its going to be hard, but I'm more aware of my capabilities now and don't expect to be as good as I was before - which after 24 years of being in the same job is very hard to admit. Still I've learnt to do what I can do and try not to worry about what I can't.
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Re: Phased return - what worked for you

Postby migrembe » Sat Aug 02, 2014 8:51 am

My phased return was a complete waste of time, but my bosses tried so i cannot blame them. It took me an hour to get up and get dressed and and hour to get to work, which was normal for me, but i was so knackered i was in tears before i started. Being a staff nurse and on my feet all day it was never going to work in the first place, but we tried. I only worked 3 short shifts a week but in the end i had to give up work.

I am like most people on here in pain all the time and plagued with fatigue and depression (long term) for about 11 years and then had a fall which finished me off. I can sit/stand on a good day for 30 minutes, use the computer 30 minutes and cleaning, even washing up and cooking 5 mins, i don't walk anywhere without P&F but i can manage 4 houses (terraced) on an ok day.

I would set your mind to 'I can' and see what happens. I wish you luck.

Beverley :flowers: :hugs:

PS let us know how it goes x
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Re: Phased return - what worked for you

Postby Helhit » Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:53 am

Thanks Beverley

I've recently reduced the amount of gabapentin I'm on, which had helped tremendously with my cognitive stuff, and can walk unaided for approx half an hour. That is fine when not having to do much, but add in work and it's going to be a totally different ballgame.

Like you sat though I'm going to give it my best and take it from there. I've been forced into the decision really as my sick pay reduces at the end of Sept, so needs must. Although I am being realistic and am not expecting great things.

I'll Def come back and tell you how I did.
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Re: Phased return - what worked for you

Postby FluppyPuffy » Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:04 pm

Try to keep your mind as open as you can, incl expectations about how things may go. Dwelling on those kinds of things can mean you're setting yourself up to fail before you've even started.

Use some of your time to think about what you can do, and how long you can do it for. Also consider how you have changed the way you do things at home, any equipment you may use to help you and whether it could be something you can transfer to your workplace to make things a little easier there too. Your employer has a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments for you to be able to carry on working with your illness/disability taken into consideration, so any suggestions you may have should be taken into consideration for your return plan.
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Re: Phased return - what worked for you

Postby DebiP10 » Mon Aug 04, 2014 12:48 pm

Almost 3 years ago now i reduced my hours from full time to part time working 8-1 5 days a week. at first i managed then the pain began to increase. Even though occ health recommended i had time away from my desk i was constantly put under pressure to keep my stats at the daily %. To cut a long story short, i have now been off work for 10 months and still no better so really it depends on how your workplace is going to help you. Mine ignored occ health and the company Dr's advice but as they both stated to me " i will advise this but its down to "them" upstairs if they do anything about it" . x
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Re: Phased return - what worked for you

Postby Zia2014 » Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:29 pm

I haven't been diagnosed yet but was off for 6 weeks. When I did go back I was lucky in that it was very quiet. I did half days, afternoons as I feel out of it in the mornings. It worked okay but the real test will be when I do that for longer than a week! However I was pleasantly surprised that my mind seemed to work reasonably well (even if I kept forgetting where my bag was!) and that was a major plus for me.

By the way I have to say that very few illnesses (mainly cancer) are classed as a disability until you've had the condition for a year and it impairs you every day. I've had mine for 7 months now and it wouldn't be called a disability yet. Also in terms of reasonable adjustments, it depends on things like how many resources your company has - there are no guarantees on how you can be helped. Plus it is true that Occ Health can only 'recommend' things, the company don't have to do them.

Helhit, have you seen Occ Health?
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Re: Phased return - what worked for you

Postby Helhit » Thu Aug 07, 2014 3:14 pm

I had original phone call with occ health in March, when she reported back that I had
depression that had caused the fibro (almost like a side effect). She told me that two weeks before she'd had said it was in my mind, but now she knew otherwise, as she'd just come back from a course on it. Still it didn't stop her from totally misunderstanding what I was trying to tell her.

I've already had reasonable adjs made, as I had sciatica before, so I've already got a special chair. I've also had reviews to see what else could be done, but I was getting too tired and ended up sleeping upstairs in am and then again at lunch. That's when I gave up. I've been off 5 months at the mo.

I had to see work's doc, who d confirmed that I had fibro. And I have to go again in Aug to discuss if I'm ready for phased return. My own managers have totally changed how they are with me since then, but it took an appeal via the union to get them to say I could be off longer before they start down the formal road of sickness reviews.

It was recognised straight away at work that I had a disability; I may be wrong but you have to have it for 3 months I think for it to be classed. I cannot fault them for how they've tried to make the right adjustments, but what OH recommend are just that, recommendations and they don't have to be put in place. That being said work do have to make reasonable ads, it's just they seem to leave it up to you to come up with them!!! Eg: I was given rests and I asked for my targets to be reduced. Both of these were in the OH report as adjs. The rests were no problem, but when I asked for the reduction I was told they're only recommendations and we don't have to do it. They seem to pick and choose!!!
Fibro is like the wind. You can't see it and when it flares up it knocks you off your feet!
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Re: Phased return - what worked for you

Postby Zia2014 » Fri Aug 08, 2014 6:16 pm

Yeah they do that. Although it sounds like they've tried to do some things. I'm glad you have a union too - use them, that's what people pay the subs for. Good luck.

Btw it is 12 months - I should know!
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Re: Phased return - what worked for you

Postby Helhit » Fri Sep 26, 2014 2:49 pm

Well after 5 months off I'm starting my phased return next week. I'll be doing 3 hours a day for 3 days in the first week, then for 4 days and then 5. I've got to go back to my docs after that, but the plan is to increase by an hour a day after that.

Excited, but nervous.
Fibro is like the wind. You can't see it and when it flares up it knocks you off your feet!
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