I had some very good advice from my Concussion Clinic Clinical Psychologist about returning to work. 'Don't expect them to understand. They won't understand and so there's no point trying to make them understand.'
This advice was helpful but in the end, the lack of understanding has caused me problems some of which have needed resolving.
When my Concussion Clinic Occupational Therapist was suggesting it was time to start a phased return to work I had one big worry. People would see me looking like 'me' and their expectations would be based on what they had known of me in the past. This proved to be the case and even now, when I am probably 95% recovered and nearly a year on from my first day back in the workplace this is still the most difficult issue I face.
Most of my colleagues have been great and those that got it wrong in the beginning have seen me improve slowly over time and this has made it clear to them that the initial problems I had were real and very challenging.
|The view at sunset from my work staffroom.|
In the early days I was struggling just to be in the work environment - the bright lights, the noise, all the different people coming and going all the time, trying to look at computer screens although it gave me a headache and nausea, having my breaks in a room full of people all talking at once, laughing, raising voices, gesticulating, and in the middle of this exhausting, brain-energy-draining place I would be asked constantly by people to do things. These would seem like nothing to them but a huge ask for me. Like checking drugs which involves reading a prescription chart, remembering what the chart said long enough to check it against a tablet bottle and a log book. An impossible task for me with my short term memory problems and something I had to be very firm about - I would not do it! It took all my energy to maintain this firm stance.
|Me at work during my return to work|
|Many moons ago during my nursing |
training in Bristol
I'm sure that anyone else who has suffered a head injury and been through a return to work will identify with these problems. I would be interested to know how you have dealt with them. It has been suggested that I move to a job that is less stressful and fast paced. Apart from a very small minority I find my colleagues caring and supportive so I enjoy seeing them. Has anyone been through this experience and had a successful change of job? I would be interested to know your stories of return to work.