Endometriosis UK
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Occupational Health, what's your experience?

Hi everyone,

I went back to work today after being signed off for just over 3 weeks following my lap. It was really tough!

HR have referred me to OH I can only assume because I have been diagnosed with endo and I'm just wondering what everyone's experience has been?

Did it help?

I really don't like the HR business partner and feel like she's just trying to get rid of me. I'm probably being paranoid because I've missed alot of work.

I would really appreciate some advice and to know people's own personal experiences.

Thank you 💛

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Big hugs.

For me it was very positive.

I was prompted by my gp to ask to be referred to oh after crashing off work part way into my first attempt at a phased return after what was then 4 or 5 months off post op.

OH was an independent company (Nuffield) and not my employer. I had a confidential telephone assessment with a qualified nurse. She wrote an independent report based on what I'd said which was shared with me to review before being sent to my manager and I was allowed to make changes for accuracy before it was issued.

On the call as soon as I explained everything that had happened to me, which took a fair bit of time as it was a quite a saga, she immediately said I wasn't ready to go back and recommended that I get signed off for a further month and then have another review. Which was the right thing to do.

Looking back I was nowhere near ready, suffering severe weight loss, post trauma anxiety, chronic fatigue and reflux esophagitis, none of which were under control.

Since oh involvement work have taken my illness much more seriously and have made a very big effort to help and support me. I wish I'd gotten them involved sooner. If so perhaps my first disaster of an attempted return would have been avoided and I'd have been back sooner by avoiding a relapse.

At the end of the month work didn't refer me back to oh as the report recommended (presumably because it costs them money to pay an independent body) but tbf did assign an internal rehab lady who prepared a return to work plan. By then I'd put on weight, followed some advice given to me to get medical support from my gp and was doing much better so I didn't mind.

I started my return two days ago with adjusted therapeutic hours. Fingers crossed.

Hope sharing this experience helps a bit.

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It sounds like OH has been really positive for you. Being impartial it seems they give fair suggestions that are in the best interest of the employee and the employer - win win.

You've been through so much and I'm glad you're getting the support you need. It's all just so daunting, I feel like it's my fault that I've missed so much work. I think I'm just being really sensitive and worrying too much.

Thank you, hearing your experience has really helped.

Xx

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Thanks xx

I was very anxious and worried about it all and feeling guilty too, especially as I took an internal promotion right as I was diagnosed not having the foggiest what endo was or how severely I had it. As the extent of the problem became clear I became less and less able to cope and felt like I was letting my new boss down and put myself under a lot of pressure. But you don't plan for such things to happen. Its just part of life. The best thing you can do is focus on you and what you need right now the more you do that the quicker and better you recover. Dont stress, try to go too fast or pressurise yourself or the risk of relapsing is much higher. I've been amazed how drastically stress worsened my condition.

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Your right, how can anyone plan for this. It's impossible. I just feel like I'm becoming known as the sick person. As well as this, I had glandular fever beginning of last year and was signed off for 3 months. I've missed a lot of work and I'm just worried I'll lose my job. Me and my partner were on track to buy a house next year and I feel like it will be my fault if we can't. He's very supportive and just wants me to focus on my health but it's difficult.

I had a relapse after my first day back on Thursday, doing a full days work was too much along with the commute. I just feel like I'm letting everyone down, I know my colleagues now think I'm unreliable and it really hurts. My manager agreed I should do reduced hours so hopefully that will help me get back on my feet.

If you can do it after everything you've been through I know I can too. I'm glad things are finally moving in the right direction for you, I can't imagine how tough it's been.

My job is very fast paced and high pressured and before now I hadn't realised how stressful it was. I'm thinking once I'm more stable I need to start looking for a new job that's home based, hopefully I won't have to but I don't want a job that negatively impacts my health.

I've got to hold on to hope that things will get better 😬

Xx

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Huge hugs, sounds like you're in a similar place to where I was in November when I relapsed so hopefully oh will be a similarly positive experience and help get you back on your feet. I'm in a much better place now.

I feel for you with the glandular fever too. Four days post op I went down with viral meningitis

I've a long commute too and they've organised it so my hours don't start till ten and this first week is just three hours. Even just that has utterly wiped me out after just 2 days so it's going to be a long haul.

Try to stop worrying about how you are perceived by others, hard I know. Once you start a more phased return you are on what is called therapeutic hours not normal ones. You sort of have to let go of your expectations on performance for a while. At least that's what I'm trying to do. I asked to be reassigned as my old role was so stressful so I'm hoping things will be a bit easier. I will find it out on Monday.

Totally. I thought at first it was just going to be a quick minor op and back to normality. How wrong I was. Still figuring out what new normal will be, but it's never gonna be the same.

Like you I'm having a lot of thoughts about what job I'm going to be able to cope with once I'm in a steady state. Though I'm endo nodule free now I'm suffering a lot with CFS and fibromyalgia type symptoms so it is a worry, especially as it's a stressful job and stress aggravates things a lot . We're thinking about a house move to cut the commute. But my other half just got a job over an hour in the opposite direction so we'll see, it won't make that much difference. I reckon if I can't make it it with my current employer I'll struggle pretty much anywhere in terms of company culture. So then it would be a case of a demotion or maybe giving up to do something from home like you I guess but it would be a massive pay cut and heavens knows what I'd do, I've no particular entrepreneur skills. Trying not to jump ahead that far. One day at a time.

Take care of you.

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It didn't help that the HR business partner was on annual leave so I had no support for my return to work. I just didn't think it would be as hard as when I had glandular fever but I forget I can't really compare the two.

I thought it would be a struggle for the first few weeks and I'd be sore and tired but nothing I couldn't push through. The pain was so bad after Thursday driving home was a blur, I couldn't stop shaking from the pain. Codeine seemed to settle it until around 22:00 when it started again. It finally settled again at 4am. Then the next day I had fatigue and couldn't get out of bed, I'm pretty sure I have chronic fatigue because this is exactly how I felt when I had glandular fever. I'm scared to go back to the doctor because I don't want to get signed off work again.

Not worrying is easier said then done but I know I need to give myself a break and think of ways to make this work that are realistic instead of trying to force myself to get better quicker.

Would your work let you work from home a few days a week? I know it's not possible for all jobs. Or could your partner work from home? Hopefully you won't have to move but you've got to do what's best for both of you.

Jobs I've seen near me it wouldn't be a massive pay cut if the job is fulll time to work from home but a lot I've seen are part time. Mainly admin/ accounts roles though. Quite a lot of employers offer flexible working (just not my employer). My partner is the breadwinner in our relationship so losing a couple of grand a year wouldn't be the end of the world but I would want to stay full time if I can. I've started painting again so hope I can make some money on the side from that eventually.

I've gone in to panic mode but I know I need to reel it in and focus on today, like you said one day at a time.

I think speaking to OH will help some concerns I have and hopefully I won't worry as much.

I just hope tomorrow goes ok, I'm working 10-15:00 next week so I should feel better. Fingers crossed!

Nervous for the week ahead!

Hope you have a good week 😊

Xx

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Wow if you get pain that severe again I'd go to the GP to check if you are ready. Hopefully the reduction in hours will help. But don't Panic, what's the worst that can happen. You go off sick. If you're physically not ready then you're not ready, I found you have to listen to your body or it ends up making you listen. Would being signed off another 2 or 4 weeks be so bad?

Yes my first return I didnt get help either on phasing. I was to just do my own phased timetable and I did things that didn't help like long then short days when it's meant to be slow and even at first. OH should be able to help.

For me longer term WFH in some roles is possible but if you're off 1 day already and there's team working it will be tricky. For the phased return they say they want me in every day so they can send me back home on time.

Like you I am also nervous about next week given how tired I was Friday but it's still only 10 to 1 pm and I now have Wednesdays off. I only ever have to do 2 days in a row.

Good luck, take it steady XX

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I've been putting up with episodes of pain like that for a while. I know I should ask for more pain relief, I just don't want to get addicted to pain killers and become too reliant on them. I know my gyne would tell me off and say I shouldn't let myself suffer. After not being believed for so many years about the pain I was in I now only trust my GP and my gyne. I rang my doctors the other day and my GP wasn't available so I had to speak to one of the useless doctors who aren't sympathetic. I tried to explain i think I'm suffering from fatigue and was told it's probably just a cold. I know the difference between a cold and fatigue but they won't listen. I've got my post op consultation in a few weeks and I'll book a long appointment with my GP afterwards so we can discuss the difficulties I'm facing.

I've had a few days of rest now and think I'll be ok returning to work tomorrow doing reduced hours. Fingers crossed! I'm not putting pressure on myself anymore, like you said if you don't listen to your body it makes you listen. I've now learnt this lesson the hard way and now know the signs to look out for.

How's your week going so far? Hope it's going well.

Xx

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Hey xx

Like you I'm very reluctant to do pain killers and came off them very quick but if you are the type that's worried about it then assuming that you tolerate them well you won't have a problem as you'll be very disciplined about when and how much you take.

You're gynae is right. Pain does put stress on the body and cause chronic fatigue so it will be hindering your recovery a bit. I don't think you should wait that long in pain though sweetheart. If it was someone else who'd posted about being in pain I'm sure you'd be the first to suggest they go get help and relief right away xx

I feel for you about the fatigue I've had a real battle to get it acknowledged as a separate issue, it kept being dismissed as oh the Endo causes that even though it is quite extreme.

Good luck with your first day. Let me know how it goes.

Me, well it feels good to be back in the office and having human contact and seeing the odd person come up to me and say how much better I'm looking (either they're lying or I must have really have looked like a half starved dracula last time as I still look rough now Lol.

The downer is my pain physio baseline review was today and she said to me that it is quite bad and I have a real decision to make about the rtw. She recommends that I stay half days for at least 3 months while I do rehab. But I'm meant to be full time in 8 weeks on my current plan.

It's difficult because already I was struggling to get into meetings for my new assignment due to my restricted hours so it came home how hard integrating into normal work and being effective is as a part time resource.

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I know I shouldn't put up with the pain, I just don't know what other options there are. I've been to A&E in the past and it didn't help. I need to get some stronger tablets to take as a last resort. It's sad but I'm used to being in crippling pain but I can't go on like this. I've decided to take the full dose of co codamol along withen I'll slowly ween myself off and only take it for when the pains at it's worst.

Surely it doesn't matter whether the fatigue is caused by endo or is a seperate condition, it should be acknowledged and support given either way. I hope it doesn't take as long as getting diagnosed with endo, I'm going to be really persistent if it doesn't improve.

First day back was ok, started to take a funny turn around 14:00 so I kept taking regular breaks. The drive absolutely kills me, it's set off the pain in my right hip again. I managed to get through it though! Feels like such a big achievement considering how unwell I feel.

😂 I have the biggest bags under my eyes today so can sympathise with the half starved Dracula look. I know I looked dreadful today, people kept asking me if I was ok.

It's a difficult choice to make, do you have to make a decision straight away? Or can you see how you feel and review your hours monthly. Considering everything you've been through I would expect your rtw to be at least a couple of months. When I had glandular fever it took me around 6-8 weeks of a phased return slowly increasing my hours to eventually working full time hours again. I had a few blips along the way because I tried to do too much too soon. Long term it's probably wise to err on the side of caution, I've learnt my lesson.

If you feel part time hours and the tasks you perform aren't working you could look to adjust your duties just for this period of time or a colleague could support you with your duties temporarily.

Xx

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For me OH was amazing they listened gave me support- such things like a work laptop so when I do feel awful I can work from home without missing much work time. Seeing if any particular chair helped, looked into reduced working hours or working more when I felt good and less when I did not .

Just be honest and clear about how it affects you day to day not just your work life. This has forced my bosses to actually realise how debilitating the condition is and it isn’t just ‘bad period pain’

Hope it goes ok x

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Oh wow that's great! I had a meeting with HR before my lap so before I was diagnosed with endo. They told me that even if I was diagnosed with endo they would not let me work from home and literally said it was never going to happen....

My manager was equally as shocked as me because he fully supports me working from home. Hopefully if the OH report supports me too they will reconsider.

The HR business partner sniggered when I was trying to explain my symptoms and suggested I have a hot water at work for when the pain gets really bad because it helps her when she's on her period 😡 ....I wanted to scream.

Thank you, that really helps I'll make sure to tell them as much as I can. I've started making a list of my symptoms and day to day how it affects me.

Hopefully this will help HR take it more seriously.

Xx

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Well if your manager supports you that is honestly half the battle won. aha oh the have a hot water bottle! I have had one glued to me for the last 3 years, yeh it does slightly help but it has marked my stomach so it looks horrible! I feel for you having some snide lady who doesn’t understand is the worst, my boss only got it once they got the occupation health report, endometriosis guidelines and they realised I was on painkillers given to cancer patients!!

Occupational health are there to support you and to make you working life easier for you, i really hope you do get the support you need and adjustments put into place for you. Tell them about all your painkillers too and if you have to drive on them etc.

Take care xx

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My manager is very sympathetic and wants to understand what I'm going through so he can help me - which is great! He's a genuinely nice person which is great but he's not good at standing his ground. He hates conflict and as soon as you disagree with him he rolls over.

I think she got my back up after sniggering so even though I'm sure she though she was making a helpful suggestion it came across very patronising. I already have a hot water bottle at work but it doesn't always help the pain, I just felt like if she'd listened to me when I was explaining my symptoms she might have understood what I was going through better. But hey, this what we all have to deal with everyday. I'm trying to not take things too personally.

Omg! That's awful, I'm glad they're started taking it more seriously. It makes me sad that it takes so long to be taken seriously. First our GPs then our employers, it's exhausting constantly trying to prove yourself to people just so we receive the support and care we deserve. I'm really hoping this will help me. If it doesn't I'll look for a new job once I'm stable.

Thank you, you take care too

Xx

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Hello

I had an OH meeting a few weeks ago. It was positive like others have said. I feel it gives your employer a chance to understand the condition more and realise why there are absences. Xx

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Thank you, I'm looking forward to it now. Hopefully I'll start getting the suppport I need. It's been a really tough past year for me, what with having glandular fever and struggling with symptoms I now know is endo. I suppose the one thing that might go in my favour is that I have been signed off by a doctor for most of my absences. I just can't help but worry, I've never missed this much work before.

Xx

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I know exactly what you mean. I've been signed off for most of my absences but still worry. I think the OH is a good chance to get across what you've been dealing with. Let us know how it goes x

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My HR lady has told me about OH... what is the process and outcome of this? Unsure what it’s all about if I’m honest with you!! I work for the Priory so I think it would be someone internal xx

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