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Stuck between a rock and a hard place

It's been 6 months since my SAH due to a ruptured aneurysm. I've had ongoing problems with hydrocephalus. They are waiting to see if I develop acute extreme head pain and a stiff neck before they consider put a shunt in. I have a constant headache which I have to take regular painkillers for......I've stopped them but the headache was pretty bad and I couldn't function.

So I have run out of sick pay! My only option is to go back to work. I'm really worried and I'm feeling pretty upset and don't feel ready. My job is very very stressful. It involves a 60 mile round trip.....I'm getting a load of new computer equipment put in because of my eyesight. I'm also in a new office and I have low vision with new photocopiers etc.ive missed out on a lot of new policies being made. To be honest I'm feeling very overwhelmed before I start. I work with a bunch of nurses and everyone is uber concerned.....I don't know if I'll be able to cope. I can't stand noise, bright lights and people shouting at me. How can I offer patients support when I can't even function within my own life?

I really don't know what to do for the best.....I just feel trapped because I don't think any other employers would have me with my range of disabilities.

Please, if anyone can give me any tips regarding returning to work after brain injury I would be really grateful

15 Replies

Why not give Headway a ring and talk through the options with them. I am sure they have come across this problem before and can probably give you some useful advice.

Good luck.


Yes! Great advice,headway do help pepole back to work


I will


You should not be returning to work 6 months after coiling for a SAH, pneumonia and god knows how many other complications. Your treatment after the bleed was atrocious and I'm not at all surprised your recovery has been delayed, although even with proper treatment this moment in time would be considered very early days for returning to work.

I couldn't cope with the demands of the workplace even now, 5 years on from a SAH, with all the stimulus and interaction and pressure of responsibility, not to mention the commute !

Do think carefully before putting yourself in such a precarious situation where your recovery might be seriously compromised ; please see your GP and explain how most brain injuries need more than a 6 months rehabilitation period. If he/she doubts this I suggest you refer them to Headway for enlightenment. Please consider your situation very carefully before making further commitment.

Love Cat x


Hey Cat

My gp said she'll sign me off for as long as I want. My consultant and occupational health have said I can go back. They're not gonna pay me, and I've unfortunately got bills to pay for. The occupational health dept said for me to go back if there are any problems. I totally get what you're saying. I'm only going to be dousing 6 hours per week to begin with.



Ah, now that sounds much more do-able. But it'll still be a challenge to your senses and energy resources so, until you can gauge how your brain is coping, please try to minimise the extra stimulus as much as possible.

You might want to try earplugs, the type which eliminate loud invasive sound but allows you to hear speech, phone etc., and even dark glasses to protect you from the awful industrial strength lighting. And be sure to compensate for these working hours with extra rest periods at home 'til you've had time to suss how the changes are affecting you.

I often use earplugs & dark glasses just to endure the supermarket !

Take care Heather, and please let us know how you get on.

Cat xx

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Thanks Cat,

Where can I buy noise cancelling earphones? I have the lighting thing sorted as I can't sit directly under a light due to my eye problems and the know about this already. I went away after your reply and had a chat with my boss and we've agreed or me to do 3 months of basic training again to reorientate me.

I will have a screen magnifier on which translates text to speech for when I get eye strain....

I know what you're saying about the supermarket Cat......luckily I go early morning and late at night.....

I have also arranged taxis too and from work through access to work....so I avoid rush hours......

I'm just trying to anticipate the problems before they arise, and put coping mechanisms in place before I go back. My boss is really nice


SONY MDR-ZX110NAB Noise-Cancelling Headphones - Black

Product code: 121806

Heather, the above headphones are very similar to mine and cost around £40 from Curry's online. But there's an enormous range to choose from with prices starting at £10 .................going up to £250 !! Mine were a present but, personally, I wouldn't pay more than absolutely necessary ; we could pay more just for the name, when the quality isn't any better than the cheaper brand.

You might be best testing some out in-store to see how effective they are, then buying the same ones cheaper online !

You're certainly getting everything possible organised for your return, and with what seems like great support from your employer I have the feeling that you're going to be OK m'dear !! Stay in touch Heather................... xx


Hiya I went back to work 2.5 months after a stroke which was mild compared to some and certainly sounds a lot less serious than what you've been through. I'm an office administrator and work in an open plan office.

I appreciate there's lots of factors involved when considering returning like loss of earnings etc. However I cannot stress enough how important it is to feel ready for returning. It was totally different to pre stroke and that was being on a slow phased return. I ended up having a further month off work after being there 6 weeks. I had gone back too early. Even now nearly 2 years on I am on permanent part time contract.

Noise was and is an issue for me as well as fatigue and I felt I had to build up my mental stamina to be able to do my job again.

Commuting is also in my opinion a massive factor that should be considered.

I don't want it to sound all doom and gloom and on the whole I am managing well working 3 days a week but I just wanted to make you aware what you could be taking on by returning too soon.

Rachel x

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Going part time is something I've spoken to access to work about. I will consider it if the going gets tough....thanks for your nice reply


No worries I just know how I was when I went back to work it was very different to pre stroke and as supportive as people were they don't seem to understand your 'disability' is something that can be very long term. I manage being able to work by keeping to a strict routine which reduces how much I have to think. The response from ballet is spot on and we're trying to help based on our own experiences. Please update with how you get on x

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First of all don't give up! Second it's not fair what people with head trauma, TBI's, life altering and threatening conditions of the brain and spinal cord go through in any county US or UK. They act like were not disabled because in close head trauma and disease you don't see a brain using a cane or a splint, but is as sick as someone with a visible physical disability. Anyone that had any sense would know and would pick up on the symptoms. We live in a cruel and judgmental society for people with head diseases and TBIs. I'm living in this with you. I just found an employer that would work with me and accommodate my symptoms and sickness from TBIS and post concussive syndrome. From experience, you can't work in the state you're in with your symptoms so severe. I went back to a desk job in insurance with a lot of policy that was stressful and I passed out at work and almost caused myself a stroke. Ended up in ER with severe swelling and could have lost my life. Please, take it easy. Effective rehab, increased rest, increased vitamin C and B- 12, and listening to your body.

Let me know an update and hope you feel better.


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People just don't understand what it's like to live with a brain injury. I didn't even understand the implications of it being a nurse.....and I don't think many medical practitioners do. It's a complex business. I don't think the assessor sat the DWP understand the problems people have post brain injury that apply for PIP......if they did it wouldn't be so humiliating and dehumanising having to apply for it.

I will take it easy on my return to work. I will go off on the sick again before I make the situation worse.


Hi Simarillion

When I've had a look around online I have seen there is help out there from organisations that can help disabled people or people returning to employment after an injury or illness. For a disabled person returning to work an employer has to provide appropriate access and equipment that by law and what the person needs can be assessed by a health & safety officer. I know the jobcentre use to have a section that helped people back into work, they had a special section but its been a while since I've fully been in the loop on this so they may have changed things. I hope you don't mind me offering advice.

Hope all goes well

Angie x


Hey Ang

Access to work have got me equipment and they have referred me for psychological support. They are also sending me for training for the new equipment. They have been really nice and they told me that if I need anything else to let them know. I'm upset because it's all a bit overwhelming and things are happening and I can't keep up with it all. It's causing my brain to become all over the place.....


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