Endometriosis UK
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Endo interrupting work

After 3 years of suffering painful sex, which then developed into exhaustion, regular painful bloating, IBS type symptoms, painful periods and a loss of concentration and slurring of words, I went to the doctor and after a few months of appointments, tests and treatments for IBS, I was referred to a gynaecologist. He suspects i have endometriosis and I have a date for a laparoscopy at the end of August. So far, so good.

However, i had a really bad bout of stomach cramps which put me off work for a week in June. I went back the following week because it was coming up to year end and i had a lot of work to get through. Everyone suggested i should go home because i was in such a bad way-visibly in pain, exhausted and pale. I gave in and asked to go home first thing Thursday morning. I had a few more doctors appointments, had more blood and urine samples taken just in case and everything came back clear. However, I was an emotional wreck when I went into the doctor one day begging him to get me back to work because I had so much to do and was getting so far behind. He immediately signed me off for 4 weeks and told me i should rest, stop worrying about work and prioritise my health.

It was such a relief knowing that someone said i didn't need to go into work.

While I've been off, I've had a rough four weeks-intermittent but significant pain, crying for no reason, IBS symptoms galore, sleeping 12 hours at night and napping during the day. Despite all of this, I feel better for it because I haven't had work and a team of 10 people including 2 new recruits to consider too.

My four week line is up on Wednesday and I'm now worried about my return to work. For months now, i know i haven't been performing at my best because I've been so run down and poorly and but I'm worried that when I go back to work the same workload and pressures will be there and I'll be expected to carry on as normal in the 7 weeks between now and my lap date. I just don't feel that I will be able to achieve what I'm normally capable of and I don't want to let people down or let it affect my mental and physical health again. I also worry that I may have to go off again intermittently and worry how this will look to my employer. Equally I know I can't stay off work for the next 7 weeks!

I have an appointment with Occupational Health tomorrow. I don't really know what to do or how to approach it. I don't want them to think I'm 100% fit for work if my performance will be affected, but also don't want them to think I'm a chancer or unreliable. I really just wish my lap date would be pulled forward so i can get back to normal sooner but i know that's highly unlikely.

I guess I'm just wondering if anyone else has had the same concerns and any advice on how to deal with it. My employer is one of the better ones but I'm worried this will impact my long term career progression and how they view me.

What should i do for the best?

5 Replies

In my experience honesty and transparency is essential when speaking to your employers about this condition.I have recently returned to work after a laparoscopy and i'm currently on reduced hours. i work for a government agency so thankfully i haven't had any problems (so far!). when you go to your occupational health appointment i would take the letter for you laparocopy appointment, any prescribed painkillers from the GP and anything else you have to show that you're unwell.they might not want to see them but at least you have them there just in case. If you are a member of the union ask if a rep can be present at the appointment to support you.

I completely understand your concerns about your career as i'm worried about mine too - as long as you're showing that you're doing as much as possible in work without making yourself worse in the process then that's all you can do. hope everything goes ok for you x


Thanks for the advice. I've been as open with my boss so far as I can be (though as a man nearing retirement, I'm sure he might have preferred it if I spared him some of the details!)

I guess the other worry I have is around how emotional I am at the moment. I'm a team leader and work with multiple different departments within the business. Quite a few people have seen me in a teary and vulnerable state over the last few weeks and that's not who I normally am in work! I can't wait to get back to normal and stop feeling like an emotional mess...

I'll take all the necessaries with me tomorrow and see what support they can offer.


Thank you for your advice. Occ health was very supportive and I've got a phased plan to return to work starting next week (not set in stone if i take a turn for the worse).


Good glad to hear things went ok! Hope some of the things i suggested came in useful.



It's a difficult one. I've just had a little over 3 weeks off and I manage a team of 3 others. Two have been very kind and supportive and have kept me in the loop of key issues through short emails I said I was happy to get. My female member of staff has made no communication, has tried to stir things up and has been quite hostile on my return. My bosses are very supportive and are aware that I will need time off for medical appointments and treatment and are OK with that.

I'm a teacher so am back at the lightest teaching time but the heaviest on planning and I am finding it hard to concentrate as my last flare really knocked me about - like you problem bowels and exhaustion. I am trying to get things set up for September but I know my female colleague has done nothing whilst I was off and is laying the blame for that at my feet and I am really too tired to care about her excuses and moaning. I think some people think of endo as painful periods and that we should man-up a bit and I have had some staff from other parts of the school thinking I will have done lots of work whilst I was off. They have no idea that when I was off I was trying to rest and recouperate and had no energy for anything at all really.

It's been a challenge for me as I have not performed to my usual standard since January but I keep telling myself that me at part capacity is better than no me at all. I am truly hoping the new consultant I see next month makes a move to treatment otherwise I don't know how long I will be able to carry on.


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