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:shock:Hi everyone

Karen here and needs your help or advice based on your experiences. My SAH was on 29th Sep 2010. I had two aneurysms, one clipped and one clipped and wrapped

Ive seen the surgeon on the 6th Dec he seemed happy with my progress. On Dec31st I recieved another appointment with a different consultant for the 17th Feb. Is this normal? Should I ring and ask why he wants to see me?

Ive also planned to return to work on 14th Feb on a phased return. I have to see occupational health before this. What should I be asking for?

Reading the threads lots of people seemed to have had problems. Im worried as i am an assisstant headteacher at a demanding school. I love my job or should I say I loved my job but Im now worried I am not going to be able to cope. Does anyone have any stories to tell me of how they found their return to work easier than they thought???

sorry for being so demanding-having a bit of a panic day!!

Karen x

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No need to be sorry we all have days like that believe me.....

I would ring them up could just be an office error, at least you'd know instead of worrying about it.....

Sorry I cant help on returning to work - I was never able to do that, but if you feel your ready for it then give it a try, dont do too much before your ready tho......

Hope I havent confused you more, take care

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Hi Karen,

Having a SAH puts enormous pressure on the brain and it does affect the way we process events, so yes, it is very confusing; and you can sometimes feel that you're a slightly different person, albeit in the same body.

I will share with you my reaction to my career after SAH. I am not suggesting that the way I'm doing things is the 'only way,' it's just my method. I have said this before, 'one recovery does not fit all,' and what is good for one person is not necessarily suitable for another. There is no 'right or wrong' way, it's all personal and unique to us.

My SAH was in November 2009. I was employed as a Solicitor and my initial view is that I would return to work at some point.

As the months progressed, I sensed that I was not functioning the same as before. My personality had slightly changed. I developed chronic insomnia which contributed towards depression and my thought processes were not as sharp. I became less vocal in large groups and still hate busy, crowded environments and spontaneous events. I reasoned that to try and slot back into my old life was like knocking a square peg in a round hole.

I knew that to return to my previous job would have put enormous stress upon me. I also realised that life is very short and I became more motivated in developing a calmer future. For me, returning to a corporate environment as a lawyer, would have been at a huge emotional cost and I was not prepared to pay the price.

I resigned when my sickness benefit run out in May 2010. I can't pretend that living on benefits is easy, it is a struggle; but I had to be realistic and accept I was too unwell to work.

In July, I commenced voluntary work at the CAB and totally love it. I find it enormously rewarding and unlike my other job, feel that I am doing something of value.

This month I will be commencing extra work at the Shaw Trust. They are a charity who help disabled people and those suffering incapacities return to work. I am going to investigate what schemes are available for someone like me to ease me back into work and liaise with employers on my behalf.

A mistake I made after my SAH was trying to slot back into my old life, without any regard to the enormous event I had suffered.

I accept that my life is now different, but instead of raging against it, I am becoming proud of what I have achieved in 12 months.

Recovering from a brain injury is frustrating and employers (and family and friends sometimes!) can be genuinely confused by the process. Looking the same is not akin to being the same or feeling well.

For me, resigning from my job was not a bad thing and good things will come out of it.

I know that some people here have returned to their jobs and perhaps they can balance my account with how returning to work was possible for them.

Take care,

Lynne xx

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Hi Karen,

I have returned to work, although at times it can be very trying, as well as very tiring.

I had my SAH 11th Dec 2009 and had 1 aneurysm coiled 18th Dec 2009.

I returned to work Monday 8th March 2010 on a 2-week phased return (yep just 2 wks!) and I would only be paid for the hours I was physically able to work. (they even factored in/deducted breaks...which I thought was unfair to say the least...so I said I wouldn't need any, and took rest breaks as needed...).

I usually work Mon-Fri 8:45 - 5pm.

I did 9 - 1 the 1st week for 4 days and took the 5th day as a holiday.

9 - 3 the 2nd week with a day off as holiday.

Straight back to 8:45 - 5pm on the 3rd week with 2 days holiday!

Then I done a further 4 weeks or so with one day holiday each week but working full hours on the other 4 days.

I asked not to be answering phones for a few weeks and not dealing with any queries, as they can be quite involved and require a lot of data-checking. I did manage to sort out huge piles of filing and do light tasks for a few weeks.

Looking back, I think I went back to work far too quickly and was not given enough support (but everyone was going on at me to get back to work – for my own good of course -GP, family & some of my friends) or given enough time on a phased return.

I had major issues with one of my colleagues right up to his leaving day at the end of May! I hope I never see him again.

The issue was that I needed all blinds closed in the office due to my light sensitivity and too much light causing migraine. He needed the blinds open otherwise he could end up depressed without ‘natural’ light… my argument was that I could have a migraine immediately with the blinds open yet his depression could creep up on him over a period of days or even weeks, and he had the option of popping outside every now and again to get ‘natural’ light to alleviate his condition.

If he hadn’t left I think I would have had to resign or move to another position. Luckily he decided to move to America, however I have recently heard he is coming back to the UK! (grrrrr)

I did not feel that my manager was particularly helpful with the situation, and it resulted in us being drawn into a mediation meeting (me and the colleague) with 3 managers present, to discuss our issues. The problem I had with that was, not being able to immediately take in what was being said and thus not being able to defend myself properly. It left me completely stressed out, not that anyone seemed to understand at the time though, although my manager said I done well not to cry during the meeting. (I was prone to crying at the time, as some of us are, and she cannot cope with it!)

I did not get to see an Occupational Health advisor until 3 months after my return to work. My company signed up to an outside agency to provide this service for me, prompted by the fact that I asked my Dr to sign a fit-note asking for me to reduce my hours by 1 hour per day for the month of June, as I was suffering daily migraine aura with a burning sensation in the top right-hand-side of my head. This was/is one of the triggers to me that I am over-doing it.

My company needed to know if I was capable of doing my job, for which I was deemed extremely capable if certain conditions/allowances were taken into account; i.e. the blinds issue, and the need to attend medical appointments adhoc. The Dr noted a few times in his report that I had made a remarkable recovery considering what I had been through and they needed to be mindful of this. I think it did help my company to be slightly more understanding of my situation.

I am now coping well in my role, however at times it does get overwhelming.

I would hope that with the assistance of Occy Health before you return to work you will have a much smoother return than I did.

Ensure you mention any fatigue issues you have, light sensitivity and/or noise sensitivity. I can’t think of anything else at the moment, but the OH Dr or advisor will go through a number of things with you during an assessment of your needs.

Good luck

Kel x

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Hi Karen! I echo everything Lin-lin said :) I thought I'd go right back to work, either as an executive assistant or medical secretary. How wrong was I ! As the weeks went by it became more obvious that I was not the same person, although I look fine and seem "normal" to people I only know in passing. My family can see the difference in me, and this is in fact leading to quite a few relationship problems that we are working on. Because I feel totally fine, I was in denial for a long time. I can now see that, although I'm "fine" my personality has changed a little, and I underestimated the problems caused by my short-term memory issues.

I vowed early on to live a less stressful life, and as my GP has forbidden me from going back to work at the hospital where I worked when it happened, I have realised that he is right - there is no way I can put myself through that kind of stress again. I had one wake-up call, I might not be so lucky next time!

I hope you don't rush back to work. I was lucky because my GP and family, and the neuropsychologist, all insisted it was way too early to think about it when I said I could cope. I am glad for their insistence now. I do a little private work for the consultant I was working for before, just taking messages on a mobile and doing a bit of filing, fitting it in around how I feel and working from home. It's ideal for me but obviously it's nowhere near a salary! The typing was taken over by another secretary but when she's on holiday I do the odd tape or two, but it takes me much longer than before which is frustrating because I prided myself on my extremely fast and accurate typing. You just have to adapt and relax!

Take care :)

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Hi Karen, I agree with what KelBel has said.

Having an understanding manager & colleagues who realise you may have to do things differently is crucial.

I think you have to see for yourself how it goes and it is always good to try so you know you did your best - it may work out well, it may not.

Personally, I did not understand how difficult trying to carry on with what I did before was and after being back at work for 2 years, I finally started to see! I have been on sick leave since Sept and can now see, after stepping away, that trying to pretend I'm still the same and taking on more & more was a very bad thing. It's hard to identify that when you're in the midst of it. However, everyone is different and you might be surprised at how much of what you did before comes naturally. I would only say, if trying to go back is really draining, ask for all the help you need to continue and accept it early on if things are not as they were before - don't keep pushing yourself if it's too hard.

Lots of luck x

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:lol:Once again just want to say a massive thanks to all those who have replied. im sure you all know and understand how helpful this is. Occupational health have been in touch to get permission to speak to my neurosurgeon and my GP. All your advice is helping me to plan my meeting with them and make sure they are prepared to give me the support i need. My work colleagues and management have been great so far. i hope they understand my phased return may take longer than we thought. Karen

Once again a huge Thank You xx

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Hi Karen - As Lynn, Jen and others have said, our recoveries are all varied as we have made or not made the journey back into employment. I was out of work for almost 7 weeks after SAH. My neurologist told me I could go back and to "feel it out", phased in return if possible. Even though I felt unsure about it all, I was looking forward to things getting back to "normal". At first I went in a few days a week, for a few hours at a time. I'm a massage therapist and it's quite a physical job. I would go home completely exhausted and sleep for hours. Headaches were constant and worse in severity. Emotions ran high. I continued (against my body's warnings) to increase my hours until I was eventually working 6 - 8 hours a day! I was completely shattered and could do nothing much but sleep when I got home. Weekends were also for sleeping only!!! I was in denial. I continued with this for several months, becoming more and more depressed and less motivated. Tried lots of different meds. The receptionist at our office was fired and I took on that position, with fewer hours. My headaches soon became less severe and less frequent. Although I felt a bit better physically, the multitasking that was required was quite difficult on the old noggin. More depression and lack of motivation - still wasn't back to the "normal" me. I've recently been laid off and am now looking for new employment. I know that I am capable of being productive in a work setting, but also know I will continue to have memory glitches, get tired and frustrated at times, but will continue to keep going. I have to have something to look forward to and need to feel useful. I do know that I will succeed in some manner, but looking to find something less stressful and in a positive environment. My health is the most important thing and I must always keep that in mind. Whatever you decide to do, remember to keep YOU first and foremost. If you don't feel ready, don't do it! Listen to your body and brain and do what feels right for you!

Hope to hear more from you here, at BTG. Wonderful people here with lots of encouragement and support to share!

Take care,


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Hi Karen

My advise to you would be to make sure that you are ready to go back, don't go back too soon. I returned to work (medical secretary with the NHS) 10 months post SAH. I was being supervised by occupational health. I was to start with 6 ours per week over two days and the days not be consecutive. The occupational health doctor thought my phased return could take 6months. I was able to cope with the work which relies on a high degree of accuracy working with a lot of numbers. I was very accurate! However, my manager and office supervisor gave me no support and in fact put me under huge pressure to be back working 35 hours and doing full duties. They ignored OH advice and even refused to attend a meeting with OH to discuss this. As a result I was signed back off sick 11 weeks after returning. The OH doctor was very supportive of me and in fact told me to stay off sick until this was all sorted out and he stressed to me that I was doing really well and that it was my manager who was failing!

I returned to work again in June but not to that office. I was redeployed and now work in a wonderful office with wonderfull colleagues. I managed my 35 hours per week fine for 5 months but decided to cut them back to 18 3/4. I'm lucky also that I have no financial pressure on me to work and I find that makes working very easy.

Make sure that your union fees are up to date, as I couldn't have coped without their support. You are entitled to see what your employer has written to occupational health and what kind of report they want from them. This may also explain why they want to see your consultant and GP's reports, my OH doctor never asked for these. You will need the full support of your head teacher and also your colleagues. But be prepared for them not to fully understand what you have been through. They may assume that you are back to "normal" because you are back to work. Be prepared to be really tired and the headaches to return!

But if you get full support and are able to increase hours/duties at your pace then you will feel an enormous sense of achievement. I find it so easy to get out of bed and go to work. I really look forward to it, gone are the Monday morning blues! I still have some days when I get tired and a bit headachey, usually when I have to do something new. Good luck with your return to work.

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Hi Karen,

I think there is some brilliant advice being given by other members on this thread. I certainly think you have to be wary of returning to work too soon. I was fortunate that I only worked part-time before sah so going back on a phased return wasn't too bad, but now that my hubby has lost his job, the thought of me going full time fills me with horror even two years on - mainly because there are not many days that go by without me having a day-time sleep.

One thing to bear in mind which appears quite common following sah, is the tolerance of crowds and noise which judging by your job is unavoidable! I wasn't aware how this affected me until I went to a football match and boy was that a scary experience - the whole place appeared to be moving and swaying about and I felt most odd and uncomfortable. I am ok with this now but even at the 18 month mark it would have been difficult.

I certainly wouldn't want to put you off going back to work, but just be prepared that it might not be quite be the same as before, so you may need a very gradual return and some very understanding colleagues. I wish you well.


Edited by kempse
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Karen,

I wouldn't worry about the appointment letter. I saw my consultant in September, and then another follwo up appointment was made in December (which I couldn't attend as I had the flu lol) so it has been rebooked end of january. I think it is just common procedure to keep an eye on you and to make sure your recovery is going ok.

I returned to work about 10 weeks after my SAH. Work were very understanding, letting me leave early if i felt unwell. Unfortunately i am an agency worker and get paid for the hours i work, so i probably pushed myself too much at the beginning because I am the only wage earner. Things aren't too bad now, though the tiredness seems to be getting worse. I think this is just the after effects of the flu, leaving me run down.

I hope things go well for you. Don't be afraid to tell people whats happened to you - the majority of people are sympathetic and will be more considerate when they know what you've been through

Tina x

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