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Prior to my head explosion (PM-NASAH Nov 10 2010) I worked full-time and carried a blackberry with me almost always.

 

When my head exploded I tried returning to work a couple of weeks later by working from home. It was quiet and I could focus and stop when I was tired. I soon realized I didn't stop though and was actually putting in long hours and draining my brain.

 

I took a break over Christmas and began to return to work the week after. One day in the office, the next day working from home. I was putting in too many hours and my brain was short circuiting. My symptoms became worse. Things like double vision, dizziness, sinus pain, headaches, falling down, dropping things, trouble concentrating and following conversations, trouble calculating, mistakes while driving and so on. The worse it got the more emotional I became. I was using all my energy to ignore my symptoms and hide them from everyone. I would cry over everything and often.

 

Finally our Occupational Health department sent me home. One woman who was working there but has since moved on became my savior. She spent hours and hours on the phone with me trying to make see what was really happening. I went home and spent more time on BTG and learned that my brain was screaming at me to rest.

 

4 months later I wanted to try again but only under the guidance of my GP. I started with 2 hour shifts (including a 1 hour commute each way) on Tues and Thurs. It was ok. The symptoms came back but not as bad as before. When they eased up we moved to 4 hours.

 

I did that for 1 month. I found that some shifts were 'easy' while others knocked everything out of me. I don't do all of my duties and I'm not dealing with anything stressful. As per the neurologist I set out a list of tasks and I perform them. I get a sense of accomplishment which builds my confidence fir the next shift.

 

This week I've started three shifts of 4 hours. Mon, Weds, and Fri. I'm worried that the in-between days will have me laying flat. Hoping to build my stamina and that it won't take a whole month before we can add again.

 

One the suggestions I've had from a psychologist is to walk outside every hour. I find this helpful. It helps to ease my brain, to decompress, to formulate my thoughts, and makes my short shift more productive.

 

Looking for others thoughts and ideas on how they made their returns to work successful. My biggest problem is fatigue. Trying to stretch out my energy.

Sandi K.

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Thank you Sandi for starting this thread.

I see my gp tomorrow about starting back to work.

I know I'll have to ease back in very slowly.

 

I also spoke to the Job Cenrte Plus about things yesterday regards going back to work and getting help from benefits still as it will be such a low wage only a couple hrs per wk.

I feel now ready to give work a try. I still have quite a mix of good days and bad. I've been off work now nearly for a yr and do worry how long will my company keep my job open for me.

 

My new store manager does seem very understanding though.

So fingers crossed it works out, I don't want to let the company or myself down.

I'll let you know how I get on at my doctors tomorrow.

Thanks again for staring this thread.

SarahLou Xx

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I think you've done very wellwith your phased return. You seem to be very aware of what your body and brain can handle and take steps to slow down as needed.

 

In looking back with my experience, I went back WAY to soon (around 6 wks.) and did way too much in the beginning. It took me several months to realize I couldn't handle doing massage anymore. The reception position was easier in some ways, as I was seated - but the multi-tasking was harder than the physical work of massage! I think I did pretty well though, considering. I did have a lot of fatigue throughout the remaining time of working. My evenings and weekends were spent recuperating/sleeping. I did get out and do fun things at different points and would pay for it later - but well worth several hours of being "normal".

 

I think the fatigue was the biggest problem for me. The emotional stuff of not feeling adequate came into play - don't think I was near ready to accept any limitations then.

 

You're an extremely intelligent woman with a good grasp on your capabilities. I would just take each day as it comes, evaluate how you feel with increased hours, and adjust as needed - if possible. You and your health are the most important thing - listen to your body and emotions, they speak the truth. I believe with time, and a slow progression of work load, you'll have increased stamina and well being with the new "fit".

 

Keeping you in my thoughts and sending loads of energy to get you through the added hours! :biggrin:

carolyn

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Hi everyone!

Last week was my first 12 hour week. 4 hours on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We expected me to be exhausted on Tuesday and Thursday because of the change to the routine and the extra hours.

As it turned out Monday went fantastically well. I even felt well enough to go on the treadmill when I came home! Great start to the week! That night I felt as if I could go to work the next day but I know one has to be careful and not push these things.

 

Tuesday I felt ok, went through my regular day off routine of getting groceries, laundry, and such.

Wednesday went well but the day didn't end with quite as much energy left over as Monday. No excercising.

 

Thursday I went to the GP after I went on the stationary bike. She was surprised I was feeling so well. I know I have to watch for 'backsliding'. The whole 3 steps forward and 2 steps back thing that the psychologist talks about.

 

Friday I actually managed to do some spreadsheet work without my head squeezing in on me. However, by the time I was driving home I was yawning and it was only 2:30pm. By 4 I had one eye 2 inches higher than the other on my face and I was wanting my own quiet cave. No TV, no talking, no music. My batteries were dry. The balloon had deflated. , that was it.

 

I made it to the end of the week and there was nothing left. I was in bed by 7:30 and of course I was so tired I couldn't sleep.

Just laying in the dark was comforting. My back was a ball of fire, my legs hurt, my jaw hurt.

This morning my head is foggy and I suspect it will be a slow day.

Sandi K.

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Hi Sandi

Stick with it, you're doing really well. It will get easier but remember it's an uphill struggle. Give in to the tiredness and don't try to do too much at home.

 

When I went back to work last year (it was my second attempt)I went straight back to 35 hours. But I work 5mins down the road from my house, so I don't have the added strain of having to drive and deal with traffic. I took regular breaks and would even go into the loo for a few mins, close my eyes and let my brain calm down. I kept an eye on my fluid intake and kept fruit on my desk to snack on. I found that at weekends I mostly was recovering from the working week but I did feel really good about myself. I did this from July until the end of October.

 

This is when I cut my hours back to 18 3/4. I work 4 hours on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, 6 3/4 on a Friday and I have every Wendesday off. I needed to get a balance between work and home life. I was coping really well with work and making very few mistakes but I could hardly do anything at home and there was only me and my hubby!

 

I really feel that now I have the best of both worlds. I cope really well with work and I'm back doing most of my hobbies (knitting, reading, cooking) and I can keep the house spic and span! I do still get fatigue and I will always give in to it, this is when my hubby takes over the chores and I'm allowed to sleep and rest at much as I want. I know I couldn't manage without having Wendesday off.

 

The very best of luck with your return to work. Remember to listen to your body and give things time to adjust. Remember to add in the fact that you drive to and from work when you are looking at what you are able to achieve!

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Be proud of yourself Sandi, you're doing really well.

Don't be too hard on yourself though, let your body and brain have the rest it needs, when it needs it.

SL Xx

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:thumbsup:Just do what you feel you can Sandi dont rush it......

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Thank you for your replies and especially your encouragement. Liz, right back to 35 hours is a major accomplishment. It took a lot of courage to scale back but it sounds like you have found the right balance. Thank you for sharing that with me.

Sandi K.

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Hi Sandi,

How was your second Monday back to work?

I have a meeting at work on Wednesday. They have been so understanding and patient with me the past 10 weeks. I am up to working 2 x 4 hour shifts a week and that seems to go well (most weeks). But that is my maximum ability right now and for the foreseeable future. They have been waiting patiently for me to feel better and increase my hours again.

 

I have a meeting scheduled with my bosses on Wednesday to check-in and look at the future. I am going to ask them to keep me at 2 x 4 hours per week for the next several months.

I am taking the experiences of others around here to heart. I don't want to jump back in and suffer a set back. I would rather take this time to heal and continue healing. Plus, getting back to parenting is more of a priority for me than work.

 

So, I'm going to suggest that they hire a temporary person to fill in and cover the duties that I am not able to cover and that have gone the past 10+ weeks uncovered. Wish me luck!

And so, how was your the start of your second week? Does your commute take you over the Malahat? Nice weather for it these days. That could be a tough commute when the rainy season hits.

R:-)

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Well, it's certainly harder the second week.

I was sleepy all weekend and never really felt like I got enough rest.

Monday I was able to do more spreadsheet work it felt like an accomplishment. I am feeling productive at work and that feels amazing. But no energy when I got home. Compared to last Monday when I came home and went on the treadmill.

 

Tuesday my head is foggy and I'm very tired even though I had a long and deep sleep

Riane, my commute is considered part of my return because it's long and because the traffic is such a drain on the brain. The drive over the Malahat mountain is gorgeous this time of year with views of the strait and mountains.

 

 I am nervous about when the days get shorter and the rain/fog roll in. I think if I can get to full-time by November then Peter and I can travel together and it will be easier. I'm hoping my brain goes along with that but I'm not demanding it too. I know better than that! I hope your meeting goes well and you arable to work out a schedule that suits you and your recovery. That's most important.

Sandi K. Xo

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Hi Sandi,

You're doing so well with your return to work. So, you're hoping to go back to full time by November? That's not that far away.

 

Your journey into work sounds lovely, in the right weather conditions.

I was hoping to return to work in October but now I have this hernia to be sorted out it looks like my return to work may be delayed a little.

 

I am already feeling a bit nervous about my return to work, just the effort and journey of getting there seem very daunting.

 

Your thread will give me strength, you're doing so well.

SarahLou Xx

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Just pipping up that Sandi's route to work is stunningly gorgeous, it is after all a mountain pass with incredible views down to the ocean/inlet and the forests.

It is also amazingly treacherous when our rainy season hits in October. (Our climate is a temperate rainforest, so buckets and buckets of rain can fall). Then, when the cold weather hits the road ices like crazy and snow and fog are daily occurrences, even if only briefly. And that's not to mention the traffic.

Sandi, I take my hat off to you (as long as we're not outside) making that trip to work. Can you take the Brentwood Bay ferry instead of the Malahat, or does that take you too far out of your way?

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Hi! Riane, the ferry isn't convenient. You are right, it lands too far out of town but it also doesn't take enough cars and the schedule isn't set up well for commuting.

The Brain and Spine Foundation has some great information on going back to work on their website today.

http://www.brainandspine.org.uk/information/neurological_conditions/lifestyle/work_school.html

Sandi K.

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Yesterday I left the house at 7:30 which was the earliest I've left since last February. I didn't get home until almost 5. I had planned to be home at 3 and knew that even that was a long day but was leaving me time to nap.

 

I went to Nanaimo instead of Victoria to attend a vendor presentation. The drive to Nanaimo is longer but easier because there is less traffic and more two lane highways. I had an appointment to drop my car off to get serviced while in Nanaimo. The dealership drives me to work. I arranged for them to pick me up at 1:30.

 

I attended the presentation which went well but meant that I wasn't getting up and walking outside every hour as recommended by my psychologist. She and I discussed this and just as she warned me, I completely pushed all that out of my head while in the meeting. I didn't think of my brain or how I was feeling. After the presentation I still didn't get up and walk, instead I carried on and met with my team leads. Funny how when you are on a roll you keep going even if it's not good for you.

 

I was picked up as planned only to learn that the car wasn't ready. So 'superwoman' decided to walk to the mall. While walking to the mall my head started doing the old 'walking on a boat' stuff and I was holding onto the lamp posts at the intersections.

 

At the mall I realized I shouldn't be there. I sat down and thought 'what the heck have I done'. I wondered how bad this was going to get. I wondered if I was going to panic. Told myself to get a grip (as Anya would say!). I called a colleague from work who picked me up. We went his house and walking outside helped calm my brain.

 

I was tired when I picked up my car but ok to drive. When I got home I ached. I was dizzy, my knees were shaky and weak, and is it possible that I feel the earth turning? The earth turns too fast. I was relieved to think that I had today off.

Today my back aches but I'm awake early. Yesterday was scary and a real reminder that my brain is still in charge.

Sandi K.

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Hi Sandi,

I took my son to a hospital appointment on Tuesday, we left at 9.30am & got home at 7.30pm (about the same length of time as your day). My head was aching & I could no longer walk straight long before I got home and I wasn't having to use my brain to do work during this time. I slept most of yesterday & today & I am still using the strong pain killers that I try to avoid usually.

 

Perhaps you are not ready just yet to increase your working hours? Could you maybe just stick with a lower amount for a bit longer? I know you are desperate to be back to normal but maybe now isn't the time. Your health must come first. I know how scary it is to become unwell when you are out alone, away from home. It is so easy to think you can keep going when you're on a roll, sometimes you forget that the crash WILL come because you think your doing so well and you feel almost like you used to.

 

Take care. Enjoy the rest today :-D

Michelle xx

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Hi Sandi,

I think Michelle, is right, maybe you should take a small step back.

It must have felt quite scary being in the mall and feeling like that. I get that too, was in a shoe shop with my daughter today and could start feeling that I'd done enough today, head pains started to get bad, couldnt get my words out properly etc.

 

You're doing so well Sandi, but please don't over do things.

Chill out for the rest of the day.

SL Xx

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Thank you for the feedback. I think I need to stick to the plan and stop overreaching so quickly. I'm supposed to work 4 hours so that's what I'll do tomorrow. I get over confident and then push too hard.

Good news from the insurance co, they are scheduling a full day of neuropsych testing for me!

Sandi K.

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Hi Sandi

What a day!

I'm impressed you managed to drive home, well done. It's so easy to push on with things when you are on a 'roll'. I've done that, more when working with spreadsheets. I know I have to take more regular breaks from the concentration but when I'm making up new ones and working on the formulas, I just plain forget. It's afterwards that I know the headaches/fatigue/brain fog are going to come with a vengeance! So now I only work on them on a Friday because I know I have the weekend off.

 

Try to take note of your recovery, see how the symptoms are and how long they last. Over time you will not only get better at pacing yourself, you'll also see that recovery doesn't takes as long. But you really are doing so well, take care.

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Awwww... I know those feelings too. I'm so glad you have today to rest and recoop from yesterday!!!

I think we do forget, at times, to pace ourselves and do as ordered - we're on a roll, into the event, whatever it is and glad to be feeling "normal". And then wham! We hit that wall and it's doubley scary when we're alone. The brain and body kicks in and says, "ok, you've used up all your spoons" (Spoon Theory on But You Don't Look Sick site) now what? Glad you were able to get home safely, Wonder Woman! You had a REALLY long day and a rough one at that.

I was outside 2 weekends ago, digging w/shovel - yes I was, to make area for patio we're putting in. Nick kept telling me to take a break, I wanted to get it done. I did take a few breaks, but continued for longer than I should've. Even my neighbor came outside and asked if I was trying to kill myself :yikes: That one made me think and I said, "Kind of looks that way, doesn't it?" Went in shortly afterwards, drank lots of water and hit the bed. Will I ever learn?

Rest up you. Go easy and stay safe :biggrin:

Hugs coming your way,

Carolyn

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It's amazing how fast and how far the backslide goes. I've been a mush of tears this morning. So excited about the scheduling of my neuropsych tests but having trouble coordinating a date. It's even more difficult because my brain is fractured today and all the puzzle pieces just aren't fitting together. I burst into tears while on the phone with the insurance co. Then of course I'm a mess ciz I can't keep it together and then start wondering how I'll ever be back to work. Round and round it goes. I'm trying to focus on last week which went really well!!

 

Logically I know I just need rest. Logically I know I shouldn't be coordinating these tests today. I should ask them to call me tomorrow.

I'm in the pot being stirred and I just need to settle!

 

On another note.... Our peahen (female peacock who moved into our yard around 10 years ago) has begun pulling out her summer feathers today. She's making room for the down to grow in. That means cooler weather is coming. Feathers all over my verandah! Very pretty though.

Sandi K.

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Wow Sandi, days like that suck!

(mods...am I allowed to say suck?)

 

Perhaps we are our own worst enemies as our ego and our brain struggle with each other for control. Those best laid plans can be helpful if we stick to them and take scheduled breaks. And they can harm if we are over scheduled and want to stick to the plan in spite of the reality of our energy level.

Then there's those dratted surprises, like your car not being ready.

 

I have found myself on more than one occasion taking a break and resting in my van before leaving somewhere to drive home. I'm just too messed up to be driving because I overdid it (always in social interactions so far) and got to my vehicle then realized I was done!

 

Thank goodness for your friend/colleague who came and got you. A little sanctuary is nice.

Please do stick to your 4 hour shifts for a while. Don't forget you only just added that extra day. Baby steps, my dear.

 

And, stay patient with yourself when you fall down. Baby steps, my dear.

Gentle hugs to you as you cry your tears.

R:-)

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Hey SandiK!

Reading your account today has made me worry about you. You see, I know how tough and resilient you are, how quick, decisive and motivated you are!! You little trooper!! My "get a grip" cliche was said in jest, but I'm changing that now to "watch yourself", and be strict with your boundaries!! It does upset me greatly to hear you have felt a mess today. Give yourself permission to just relax, unplug and be a blobo for the day; which also means "step away from the ipad!"

 

It's one thing to be physically upbeat, but the brain drain is dramatic!! Fatigue is a near impossible problem to control, and you've got to be really strict in not allowing your health to become damaged. Remember, if you fall in to a deeper hole, it's more difficult/slower to climb out of it. It isn't a race to get back!! Treat yourself kindly! Good job you're on here where we can all take it in turns to nag and support you. I think it would be a great idea to chart your recovery, taking in to consideration events that have a positive and a negative impact...and quietly reflect!

 

Your brain obviously races with anticipation and excitement at the beginning of your work day, just like mine used to. Nowadays, I don't even think of what's ahead, otherwise I think the adrenaline rush would be too exhausting! Try putting all thoughts, expectations, anticipations, fears and excitements well and truly out of your mind. I find this formula really helps with giving me enough energy.

I wish you a sound sleep with a gentle start tomorrow...don't worry about what the day holds; and if you feel rubbish, then stay home! X

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Hi Sandi, you have got to take things slowly. I managed to start returning to work at Easter. But I had to follow a strict timetable of reduced hours over a period of seven weeks. I only

worked three half days the first week. Four half days the second week, five on week three. In week four I added one full day. I added two full days on week five, three on week six and

tried to work a full week on week seven.

 

I used to be and Assessor / Trainer involving driving to and from Companies each day as well as doing several hours work onsite before my SAH in November 2009. But now I cannot drive as far without fatigue so find myself College based for most of my duties.

 

When I got up to a full week I felt burnt out and was sent back to Occupational Health. The Doctor told me I needed protecting from myself and to be "rained in" he contacted work and

said that I should only work four days for a month and judge how I was after that. He said that I may have found my limit and that getting back up to full time hours would not be possible.

 

I now work approximately four and a half days a week. But I take breaks during the day and get away from the desk. I also stop for my lunch now and leave the desk. Before my SAH I would come home and spend a few hours in the garage on paperwork for the next day in Company. Those days have gone. I do not work at home, period! I work my best during my time at work but when I leave work stops at the College.

 

It has been hard adjusting to the new system but I feel a lot better. My colleagues look after me and make sure I take my breaks. It is difficult some times pacing myself because I am so pleased to be able to be back at work. As I have no memory of my illness, or the time in Stoke I did not realise how ill I was. What I do know is how lucky I am to still be here.

 

Every day I am glad to be here and at work I have a smile on my face every day.:-P

I wish you all the good luck in returning to work but pace yourself and listen to your body.

Take care, :-D

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Hi Sandi,

Thanks for telling us your back to work story. This is really serving as a warning for me - that is not to try to do too much, too soon, and what it can feel like when you do get back to working. Its very early days for me, but I already identify wiith many of the things you're describing - and thinking "oh crikey, that could be me in a few months time" !

 

I don't suppose I am the first one on this forum who has had nagging worries about a drop off in income ? I know my health is far more important than that, but as the main breadwinner in our household, I can't help having that nagging worry "what happens if I can't cope to work full time like I used to ?"

I work for a large multi national company who at this stage is being supportive, but I've seen colleagues who've had the misfortune to become very poorly, sidelined, and in some cases moved out altogether in a relatively short time after they returned to work.

 

It will be interesting to see how my colleagues are with me when I do go back, but the longer I'm off the more likely I feel it is that management will consider I need to be treated gently on a "more permanent" basis. Is this something you felt, Sandi ?

 

Sandi - hang on in there, and do as much as you feel able to. I'm so enjoying reading about your experiences - all part of that "I'm not alone" support ! You sound just like me. You pretty much are guaranteed to overdo it, because you sound like you're a quite a driven person (and I wouldn't mind betting patience isn't high on your best features list, either !). I think as long as you can accept that you're going to get tired and try and cut back a bit when its clear you pushed yourself too hard, then ultimately, you will find your new level, and continue to improve a little more every day.

 

You may never be quite the same as before - but that might not be an altogether bad thing !

Warmest wishes,

Mags

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Hi Sandi,

How are things with you today? I hope you're ok and not pushing yourself that lil bit too hard. Hope you've managed to get some rest time.

 

Mags, like you I'm taking on board all that Sandi posts about as I'm hoping to return to work oct/nov time.

It's been a nightmare financially with me being off work this long, can't deny that. It'll take time to build up my hours, I know that, but I'm hoping to get back to the 21 hrs a wk I used to work. It must be such added pressure knowing it's full time work you hope to aim for.

 

I also worry if I will be able to do my job, will they keep me on, I guess only time will tell.

SarahLou Xx

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