Working with Chronic Pain (Part 2)

The day my back failed on me was the day my whole life changed. Every part of my life I had worked hard to build, now had to change in some way, and working didn’t escape this either.  

Having to take time off work, sick leave, wasn’t what I did, sure the odd day when you were sick or whatever, but for weeks and months at a time? This was new to me and boy did I hate it.  

After my first operation in 2010, I had to take 3 months off work to recover.  3 months was no where near long enough, but due to my company’s sick leave policy there was no choice but to return to work.  I was far from ready, no where near it, but what choice did I have? SSP for nearly 2 months doesn’t pay a mortgage and bills!  Looking back now, I was really silly returning to work so soon, I did myself no favours, but what choice did I have. Sitting at home bored, not used to not working, but this time I had no money coming in to pay bills. It had to be done. Or did it?

For the next 3 years I was determined to work and be back to normal, back to my full hour days, driving to and from work and just generally being me again, but determination lost out to reality.  I had to meet with HR to discuss reducing my hours.  10 years I had been working full time, sometimes silly hours back in the day, and now im having to give in to the pain and work less?  I sat in that meeting broken, deflated and humiliated.  I was 25.  Part-time hours are for people who are retiring or for new mums etc, not for someone who has a bad back and pain?  It’s a day I will never forget, the first day this stupid back won and took over my life.

Adjusting to my new hours wasn’t easy, i did “extra” hours every day for a long time, mainly as I was trying to cram in a 7.5hr day to a 5hr day.  But also a part of me was trying desperately to cling on to me. Me who worked like every other person in the world. A full day. An honest day’s work. Me.

In 2014 when I ended up back in for more surgery, I realised 3 months wasn’t going to cut it this time, it was going to have to be longer and that was the end of it. I had to. I was told to.  So 6 months I was off work for, concentrating on getting better and getting fitter and quicker this time and also preparing for my return to work.  This time I was going to be ready for it, this time nothing was going to defeat me. I was going back to work and eventually I was getting my hours back to full time. I was getting part of me back.  I was fighting. 

Reality hits me smack in the face again.  Not a chance in hell was I going back to work full time.  I was deluded.  I was stupid.  There was no way I was fit enough to make the drive, do a days work, drive home and still be able to do my job in between let alone function.  And my doctor agreed, he was not and is not allowing me to drive to work.  I cant get out of bed most days due to pain so why on earth would I think driving is a good idea?  Something had to give.  

So, I now work from home.  I’m lucky, I’m so lucky that I have been given the chance to still be able to work, to still feel like I’m needed and wanted and I’m not made to feel useless.  Useless is a big part of how I feel every day.  I want to prove to everyone that I am still me, I can still work, my brain isn’t dead (even though it’s foggy most days!!), I’m still capable, I’m still Me.  I still have to keep proving to myself everyday that I can do this, I can still work, I’m still capable.  

Nobody said that was going to be easy, it’s not. Far from it.  But i have to keep going. I have to keep my mind occupied, if I don’t, I hate to think where I’d be.  Working keeps me occupied, my brain active and distracts me from what’s going on in my life day to day.  It’s the only way I know how to deal with the pain, and so far it’s working. It’s just got to keep working.  I, have got to keep working.

I cannot and will not let my back and the pain defeat me.  I will not allow this condition to take away more pieces of me and my life.  I’m determined to still be me, to still be the person I once was, a hard worker.  It’s all I’ve ever known.  I’m not changing, why should I?!

I’m clinging on for dear life, and I’m not letting go.  Not yet, no way……

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