Back To Work

In February 2016 my spinal consultant told me he wouldn’t do the operation he had previously offered me to fuse two vertebrae in my spine, as he “thought I would regret it” and thought I was “too young”.

Having inherited my Mother and Grandmother’s stubborness I obviously refused to accept that as an answer. I sought out a second consultant who initially seemed very promising. I was told the op wasn’t off the table and was offered at least 4 other things we could try. 

I felt hope for the first time in almost a year. 

Sadly that hope was not long lived as, following an excruitiating experience involving getting six needles containing steroids and anaesthetic injected into my spine, (without anaesthetic or sedative) – an experience that failed to provide any relief – I was to again be told that my consultant was going back on his word. 

I was in his office for only 2 minutes, but in those two minutes my hope vanished along with any hope of living a life without pain. 

As you can imagine that hit me really hard. 

I have fought anxiety and depression my whole life and so it was inevitable that this event was to trigger both conditions in a big way. 

It in fact resulted in me having to remain off work sick for over a year and has been probably the fourth major breakdown I have experienced in my almost 35 years on this planet. 

As I mentioned previously, I thankfully have inherited a lot of stubborness (and strength) from both my Mum and Nana. 

I always underestimate how strong I actually am. Something I’m sure most people could say about themselves. This year I have proved it to myself. 

Things became pretty desperate financially – I nearly lost my home and my car – but it was at this, my lowest moment, that I found that light at the end of the tunnel and the strength I needed. 

Nothing was going to make me move out of my beautiful home, which I love, and I simply couldn’t survive without a car, being disabled and unable to walk far. 

This dire situation ignited a fire in me and helped me do what I had been desperate to do for months; get back to work. 

It wasn’t easy by any means. I was greatly helped by the fact my new anti-depressants which had recently been changed, were starting to take effect and were making a huge difference. 

I actually started getting excited. I had been on my own so much for so long, I was really looking forward to seeing my friends and colleagues and to being able to use my brain again. 

As is common when people have been off sick for a long time, it was agreed that I could do a phased return to work. 

The phased return was agreed between my gp, my employer, HR and myself. Starting with half days in my first week and increasing an hour per week over a 4 week period until I am back to fulltime hours. 

I have just finished my third week back, doing 5 hour days. 

I am so proud of myself. Only three weeks ago things were pretty dire. Now here I am feeling positive and loving being back at work. 

Everyone was so welcoming when I got back and I am so pleased that my new meds don’t give me anywhere near as much ‘brain fog’ as I used to get. Nor do they sap as much energy from me. 

I have found that I am getting back up to speed with my work, almost to where I was before my chronic pain condition. 

There have been moments where my anxiety has crept up, but that is to be expected. I have had weepy days, exhausted days and every day is a sore day, but I’m doing ok. 

I am doing ok. Three weeks ago I wouldn’t have dreamed I would be saying that! 

I even managed to go swimming after work last week. I adore being in the water and it is the only exercise I can do with my back. It felt amazing to be back there. 

For the first time in a long time, and despite some set backs and stressful situations, I feel good mentally. I’m exhausted and sore, but happy and beyond proud of myself.

Recovery is a constant thing where mental health is concerned, I am constantly working hard to stay ‘well’, and there are obviously things about my spine condition I have to work through still. On the whole though, that light at the end of the tunnel is looking closer and brighter than ever. 

Thank you for reading

Love, love, love

The Faraway Girl 💜