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First day back at work

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This is my second attempt at posting this message but I have looked for it and can't find it any where, so I will try again.

It was my first day back at work today after being off for 5 months. I am on phased return and work and colleagues have been brilliant but I couldn't help feeling like i didn't really know what was going on and felt very much like the' new girl' even though i have worked in the same department for over 6 years. I found that i couldn't keep up with the numerous conversations and felt agitated when questions were asked about my SAH. i think it was more to do with being around a lot of people and being very overwhelmed with it all. I knew i would find it hard but didn't realise just how hard it was. The noise I found difficult to cope with as everything seems a lot louder at the moment. I was glad in a way to be back amongst the living but in another way, I was glad to get out of there and get home. my head felt like it was going to pop with the pressure headache I woke up with but to be honest I think stressing about going to work didn't help.

i have been given some different meds recommended by my consultant which should start to give me some headache free days once they get into my system. Well last week I had 2 good mornings with a clear head (clearer than normal) but by mid afternoon, I could feel the headache creeping up from my neck, behind my right ear and across the top of my head. Looking at the positive.....2 good mornings which is great and the first since the beginning of July so fingers crossed.

I had my MRI scan on Monday and so I am hoping that when I have my next apt with my consultant just before Xmas he will be able to enlighten me with whats going on. I am not expecting anything fantastic from my previous experiences with the hospital but who knows.......

Does anyone have experience of a 'whooshing' noise in your ears. I had this constantly after my SAH but its come back even though its not everyday, I am aware of it more so on a night when I am in bed. I can only describe it as sounding like an ultrasound you have when pregnant.

Sorry for the moan and thanks for listening


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Hey Rachel

Firstly, never apologise for having a "moan" - its what we're all here to support each other for.

As for the whooshing - think this is tinnitus if my memory serves me from other thread posted. I tend to get it more at night when I'm laying down in bed - especially after a long or particularly hard day at work (I work in a primary school office from 9.00am - 4.00pm every day). I think Karen might be able to help me out with this one.

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I think its pulsatile tinnitus & I get it too, its a real nuisance when trying to get back to sleep when I'm tired out. I used to get it if I raised my heartrate too, by running up the stairs etc.

As for the noise tiring you out this is a common thing post sah. A friend of mine offered me a lift to our weekly ante natatl group meeting (we've been meeting for 5 nearly 6 years now!) as I said I was tired & had a job centre session on Tues. I keep trying to say the driving is fine but a houseful of 13 children is the real problem!! Not only the noise but having to keep an eye on them all the time just saps my energy!! She just doesn't get it but I know exactly how you are feeling! I think it does get better as you become accustomed to dealing with an office enviroment on a daily basis just take it a step at a time & don't expect to be 'back to normal' straight away. Your coleagues also need to know that just cos you look ok your brain is still healing & trying to cope with its new world


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Hello Rachel,

Gosh wow I know how you feel!

I'm on my 7th week of phased return to work.

I now do 3x 4hr shifts.

I love having this bit of 'normal' back but it's tough going mentally and physically.

By the time I finish at 2pm I'm getting pretty zapped, the bus journey home can be tough, noisy kids etc.

Since 6mths after my op I've been suffering with tinnitus and I also get that whooshing noise in my right side. It does at times drive me insane and seems very very loud.

I was referred to ENT about it and am waiting to have an MRI to check things are all ok.

Take it easy with your return to work, have patience with yourself.

Take care and keep smiling,

SarahLou Xx

Edited by SarahLou
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Thank you all for your replies. Today was ok, I managed about 15mins deleting my mountain of emails before my eye balls felt like they were going round in circles and migrating onto my forehead. I am wiped out this evening but I am determined to get my nightly fix of Im a Celebrity.....how sad am i?

Gill.....I don't know how you manage amongst 13 children when you all get together. I have all on with 2 who can't even stay in the same room as each other without turning it into a wrestling match.

SarahLou...hope your MRI goes well and all ok and you get some answers.

Thanks again


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Hi there Rachael,

Like you I have just started back to work, and its is a kind of strange experience. You do feel disconnected somehow at first, although I found I was quite keen. I guess there was a part of me which saw going back to work as meaning things were sort of "pre-SAH". Sort of symbolic of being back to normal (even though I know I'm not actually at that place yet)

This is my third week back (part time, hours building up) and today was my first time going up to London and doing a business meeting. That is working away from home. (Oddly enough, it turned out that the person I met's Dad had SAH when he was 21 - he has an enormous scar on his head, because repair techniques clearly weren't quite where they are today.) The trip went very well, except for coming back on the train which was quite busy despite being well before the rush hour. There was a group of two Mums and their teenage daughters - just chat, chat chatting and one daughter was a real chatterbox and fidget, constantly moving. It took all my self restraint not to tell them to shut up and stop fidgetting - and they weren't even talking particularly loudly ! I was finding it hard to deal with all that movement and noise, when all I wanted was to rest my brain for an hour or so. Anyway I made it without resorting to verbal or physical abuse ( :wink: ), and although my head aches and tingles a bit now, it just added another experience to the list of things to be dealt with.

I can't even imagine how Gill deals with 13 kids. Even before SAH, I think I may have been forced to lthe brink of at least a tiny bit of GBH, if not actual murder - I found lots of kids wearing before, now I would do everything in my power to avoid that situation. I know I'm not ready to cope with that level of sensory stimulation.

I'm not sure what you mean about a wooshing noise in the ears. I used to have that before SAH, then it went away after SAH, but recently it has come back a bit. I think mine has something to do with hearing the blood surge through the carotid artery (the one that runs up the side of your neck). I wonder if I didn't have it after SAH until now, because I lost a little weight. Maybe I'm gaining some back now so there's more flab pressing on my neck again ! Anyway, not sure if yours could have a similar cause ?

I haven't been in to the office yet, but I'm sure, like you, when I do, I will tire very quickly of people asking me all about it and probably slyly looking at me trying to spot something different, like some strange twitch, deformity or scar or something.

Hang on in there. We are all here on Behind the Gray to support each other, and compare notes. You are never alone - it always seems there is someone out there who had a similar experience and who understands.



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Hi Rachel

Good luck with your return to work.

Quote “being around a lot of people and being very overwhelmed with it all. I knew i would find it hard but didn't realise just how hard it was. The noise I found difficult to cope with as everything seems a lot louder at the moment. I was glad in a way to be back amongst the living but in another way, I was glad to get out of there and get home. my head felt like it was going to pop with the pressure headache”

Oh I can so relate to this! Even now, at times in our office, now that we’ve had it refurbished, it seems somehow louder. We actually have higher partitions between our desks, which filter out some noise when you are sat down, and make it difficult to have a conversation with the person next to you!... but if people are stood up around you and talking, that noise can seem almost deafening at times. I struggle to hear people on the phone if there are 2 or more people having a conversation around me.

I still find too much noise, hustle and bustle very tiring.

I actually provided my manager, HR and colleagues a copy of the Brain & Spine Foundation SAH leaflet before going back to work, but to be honest I don’t think most of them read it, or they read it and ignored it’s content!! Some of my colleagues were great, and allowed me space and time to recover at my pace. One in particular made my life difficult to say the least. I was (and still am) amazed at the lack of understanding from many people though. Physical scars are easier for people to deal with. Emotional and mental scars confuse some... :crazy:

I might have had the whooshing sound…but I can’t quite remember?! I used to get lots of different and strange sensations. A lot of burning sensation in my head… not the usual ‘trickling’ that is referred to in some publications. I would always either ask people on this site, or call the Brain & Spine Foundation helpline to get some answers or confirmation that I wasn't going mad, and that this is something that does happen.

Good luck with your continued recovery.

Take care


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Hi Rachel.

Belated welcome to BTG.

First of all, well done for making it back to work.

The altered reality, that is your life now, is an incomprehensible state for all your work colleges.

The noise sensitivity, whooshing noise and strange " new girl" feelings are par for the course.

I have had numerous conversations with GP, consultants and neuro- nurses over the last seven years and not one has come up with an explanation for

most of my residual symptoms.

All I am told is that the iron in the blood may have short- circuited the connections and synapses leading to an altered perception of external stimuli.

Pressure on the nerves (from stabilized aneurysms) in the rear section of the brain may be responsible for the whooshing noise and is certainly the cause of double vision and lack of balance.

The environment that you are working in is probably the most difficult place for a SAH sufferer to endure. So much noise and distraction and relentless

workload, must be exhausting.

Maybe , sometime in the future, you could consider a change of career.

I have a theory, and I may be wrong, but it seems to me that people who have "left side brain" jobs suffer the most with rehabilitation.

Anyone who works in the arts or "right side brain" jobs fare much better.

My theory says that, attention to detail and linear thought, related , processes are severely affected by SAH, whilst artistic, emotional and empathetic

areas are, actually improved.

Obviously this does not apply to everyone, as we are all different, but generally I think this is the way of things.

I keep banging on about the clarity that my SAH gave me, and I apologize to anyone, formally artistic, who had an adverse outcome from their event.

I set out to change my life completely, when it dawned on me that I could no longer run a factory department (left-side), so trained as a music and art

teacher (right-side) leading to the fantastic job that I now have.

I know you need to have certain skills in place before you attempt this kind of change, but there are loads of jobs in the caring professions and

counselling professions, that the insights you have gained from your event, will benefit from.

I am not, Billy-Queen- of Jobs, or anything, I only know what worked for me, and if it helps anyone, in any way, to think about these changes,

I hope this helps.

One thing I know for sure, nothing is the same, post event.

Attempting to re-establish the former equilibrium is traumatic. I found it easier to go with the flow of my new self and embrace the changes in my


Crazy as it may sound, I actually like myself more, now, than I did before.

I hated being a factory manager, I love being a teacher. The SAH gave me all of this.

Anything is possible!

I hope it all works out for you, like it did for me.

All the best.

Bill B.


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Hi Bill,

I love reading your posts, they're so well written.

You're such an inspiration, it's amazing how you've turned your life around.

Turned the negatives into positives.

I hope that one day I will find what I'm searching for. There is a reason why I'm still here, I just haven't discovered it yet.

Take care and keep smiling,

SarahLou Xx

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Good morning David,

Thank you for your kind words.

Work is going well, I'm now doing 3x 4hr shifts. Although I enjoy being back at work is it hard going, what with the extra work hrs, running the house etc. Sometimes I get totally drained, can't think straight. I still get bad temple pressure and head pains.

I've got an MRI on the 22nd, so fingers crossed alls ok.

I've done my job for many yrs but something just doesn't feel right. I have a gut feeling that in my life there are different paths to take. I've just not found that path yet. Does that make sense or does it sound like I'm talking a load of rubbish!!??

How's things with you? I hope you're doing ok.

Take care and keep smiling,

SarahLou Xx

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Hi Sarah,

I know exactly what you mean. As far as the path to take. When I found my path was in 2007 (mum died) and 2008 (Dad died. I decided at that time that life was short and my goal every day was to make someone else's life better each day that I lived. It has worked so far.

I know you have been through a lot. I think your injury was worse than mine so I can only imagine your struggles. I hope your MRI comes out OK, please let us know. Sounds like your work is going ok but not great.

I am doing OK. Work is tiring but I'm surviving. My wife's health issues have been taxing. She has been very mean lately so it has been rough. I understand why shes upset anger doesnt help.

My other issue is I am a guinea pig at the Pain Clinic and they keep giving me stupid meds I dont need. Like Tramadol. I just need pain meds. I take them after work and it calms me down to get to sleep and back to work next day. Another apt Wed Dec 21st and I'm putting my foot down.

I'm taking care but not doing enough smiling lately :)


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Hi David,

I was wondering how your wife was doing. I know how you feel having a partner that's not in good health themselves.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my own world I forget about his, and that hurts, makes me feel like a rubbish wife.

So, did you change your career, do something completely different? How did you know what to do?

I expect that sounds like a stupid question but right now I just don't know what to do career wise. I'm not even back to doing the normal hrs I did before SAH yet, I'm doing about half of what I just to.

Yes, I think you should put your foot down with the meds. I know exactly how you feel about just wanting pain relief, you'd think it would be easy, but oh no, for me I ended up having to pretty much just learn to live with it. I'm so limited on what I can take, the stronger stuff I do have rarely comes out of the cupboard unless I'm really struggling, because the side effects of them aren't great.

Make sure you do something everyday that makes you smile, puddle jumping, hill rolling, dance around your house! Anything.

Good luck with your next appointment.

Take care,

SarahLou Xx

Edited by SarahLou
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Hi Sarah,

My wife is doing better, thanks for asking. we had to get a 2nd and 3rd opinion for her cancer. Now the third doctor thinks she's ok for now but will need to continue monitoring. So actually good news I guess but they won't give a concrete answer (what doctor will lol).

About the career thing. I would try and find something you enjoy if you can afford to financially. I am in the same field but a notch down. I used to manage a call center and had 40 employees not to mention doing scheduling for 160. I work at a new company and work at the help desk for a financial services company. Talking and numbers, what I do best. About the same pay but 100% less stress. So I am very lucky that I love what I do.

About the pain, please elaborate on what you go thru. I have had a headache for 140 straight days. I can make it to about 5Pm and then Im about done. I have dinner and then at 6pm take my Percocet medication and it helps. It allows me to function and keep my job.

It scares me a little to hear you say that you learn to live with it. My headaches are about 6-8 on a scale of 1-10 and without the pain meds would be intolerable and unmanageable. But I know many doctors want to get you off the pain meds and make you just deal with it. At least you have something in reserve for emergencies. Percocet gives me no side effects and allows me currently to have a productive life. The doctors worry about pain meds because most are addicting. But I'm pretty strong. Once the headache goes away, I dont take anymore. Pretty simple right. Its the druggies that ruin it for people like us who have a legitimate injury and need it to keep their job and life afloat. I hope you have something that helps you in some way.

Had a good day today and laughed alot at work.


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