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Afraid to go back to work :( urgently need advice

Hi, just to give a bit of background on my illness.. I'm 21 years old and have been suffering from chronic pain and illness for around 2 years now due to multiple health conditions. Endometriosis & bladder/kidney problems were the first issues I had. I was working on getting these things resolved and going private and then debilitating joint pain took over about 6 months ago.. It was something that started very subtle and has just got worse with time especially in the past 2 months. Stupid me just kept suffering in silence afraid to go to the doctor in fear of being told something I didn't want to hear or having to go through rigorous tests again which I've been through before. Went to the doctor about 2.5 weeks ago on a Friday who ran blood tests for RA and prescribed naproxen for the pain. I took the naproxen as prescribed and still felt really ill complaining of chest pains although my joint pain seemed to ease a little. By Sunday night I was lying in bed with the joint pain so severe If I didn't know better I thought I had a broken arm. My chest then got very sore and I was struggling to breathe, my fiancé said I looked grey and phoned 999. Got taken to hospital and told I had a pleural effusion and also that naproxen had re triggered childhood asthma so I basically gave myself an asthma attack by taking the naproxen and was also told I was allergic and basically never to take it again. They tested for RA again in hospital and the test came back negative, naturally I was happy about this and the doctor said it could be early onset? So I was referred to rheumatology by my gp. For the 23 hours I was kept in the hospital they gave me a total of 2 painkillers while I was in excruciating pain with my joints & chest and struggling to breathe properly. They gave me no antibiotics or treatment for the pleural effusion and said that "it was so small the X-Ray mayaswell have been normal". I'm not happy about this at all , after getting out of hospital and over the two week period that I've been off sick I have not felt remotely better. I have lost almost a stone in weight because my lack of appetite and nausea is so bad. I cannot sleep properly because of the pain I'm in and also I'm having horrendous nightmares. My doctor wanted to sign me off for longer but I insisted on going back tomorrow. I've just got up out of bed with horrific pain between my shoulder blades and in my ribs. Naturally I'm worried the fluid in my lungs has developed into something else due to it not being treated and still feel sick. I just feel cold and shaky all over and so unwell. I'm not prepared at all to go back to work tomorrow and the thought of it is making me anxious and tearful. I thought it was the right thing to do because thecompany aren't supportive and I'm afraid of losing my job and also to just try and get on with normal life. I don't know if the pleural effusion and RA can be related? I'm afraid of having to go back to hospital and I don't know what to do about work. Can someone please help or give me advice I just don't know what to do

6 Replies

You've been having a hellish time of it by the sound of things, I empathise with your worries about your job but you have to do the right thing for you and getting yourself well again comes first.

I don't think you mentioned how you get to work or what you do. Do you drive to work and do you do a job where you're on your feet a lot and/or which involves physical effort? If you're not feeling well it might not be wise to drive and a job where you're on your feet a lot would be exhausting for you at the moment. Only you know what your work involves and whether you feel you could do your job, please remember that you would be using your energy to work rather than getting yourself well and it might take longer for you to regain your strength.

The fact that your doctor wanted to sign you off for longer suggests that you aren't well enough to go back to work yet. Did you have the feelings of being cold, shakes and unwell when you saw your Doctor and did he/she listen to your chest? If not I think it would be worth at least calling to speak to your doctor and see whether you need to see him/her again in case you need any further treatment.

I can understand that you're in a difficult position and are worried about your job but it might be better to take a little longer off work and get some of your strength back first. If you go back too soon and you find that you're not well enough and have to take more time off it might look even worse to your company, from what you've said about them they don't sound very empathetic towards their employees. You have a better feel for how they're likely to react and only you know how you actually feel, please listen to your body and do what's right for you.


Hi, I'm sorry to hear you are in a state.

All I can suggest is that if your doctor wanted to sign you off for longer, and you don't feel ready to return to work then you should follow your GPs advice.

I have personally put my faith in my GP, Rheumy etc and done everything they have said. It felt like a scary road at the start, but it has been the best course of action for me.

It is hard to keep positive when you are in the depths of not knowing what to do for the best.

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You don't sound at all ready physically or mentally to return to work, especially in what you feel is a hostile workplace.

It sounds from what you say as though you need to get your health sorted out first, then perhaps have an assessment with a disablement resettlement officer at a job centre.

You might also find it useful to attend a Health and Wellbeing course, where you can teach yourself some skills for dealing with long term illnesses. Have a look on the internet for a local address to apply for one of these - you can self-refer.

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Hiya Kerrimc & welcome. My, you've gone & are still going through the mill, I'm so sorry. I've had lung problems, a long time ago & way before I was diagnosed & understand how blinking painful it can be. Endometriosis too, again no walk in the park!

I would heed your GP, no going into work for you until you feel able & well enough, particularly if you need to drive to work. Your health is important & at this time you have a few problems which need attention. Seems to me your GP is on the ball recognising you may have early onset RD. It may or may not be related to your lung problems but if you've been looking online you may have read that it can affect our vital organs, if left untreated less commonly the lungs but nevertheless it could be an indication of RD so I would go back to your GP.

Please keep in touch & let us know what your GP has to say. If you have anything you need to ask we'll help wherever we can experience wise but in the meantime have a look at the NRAS website or if you'd prefer to speak to someone phone the helpline (if you're in the UK) 0800 298 7650.

Take care.


I was ill like you for a while and was given tranquillizers for months which were increased and increased in dose. When - like you - I couldn't stand the pain any longer I demanded to see another Doctor. I saw a locum who took tons of blood samples and in a few days I was diagnosed with RA saw a consultant and the rest is history. Different Drs will treat you differently - same at the hospital its like a lottery who you get and the treatment you receive. Be brave and ask for a second opinion now good luck x

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Hello Kerrimc.

For the moment forget about your work while you are signed off on sick leave by your GP there is nothing they employer can do about it without falling fowl of constructive dismissal. From the symptoms you are going through with severe pain almost everywhere you describe similar condition to myself, however you must keep at your GP and keep onto him/her until you have relief.

I started off with an xray for chest pains that showed nodules in my lungs which turned out to be clusters of dead tissue, so connective tissue disease was suggested, phew! thought that it could have been the C word.

My GP referred me to rhumy doctor who in turn was looking for a name to put to a type of arthritis but test after test, blood tests every month, ect. all was inconclusive.

When I had my appointments she would smile and shake her head when I walked in because I was a puzzle!!

I was also during this time being prescribed ibuprofen, tramadol, butran patches to supress the pain I was in. This went on for just over two years!!

Within the last 3 months I visited the GP and he out of the blue said he wanted to do a blood test in the surgery. That same afternoon I had a telephone call from the GP himself and he said that I was in the process of renal failure and I had to have another blood test first thing in the morning, if the results were the same I was to be admitted straight away. As it was the result hadn't got worse so ok to go home.

It turned out that the "prescribed" medication, ibuprofen, was actually making me worse, so he stopped these with immediate effect. The creatinine level in my blood was increasing to dangerous highs and apparently had been for the last 5 months as I discovered by asking for my history report from the G.P. no one at the hospital had reacted to the previous blood tests, bloody mad init we trust these experts! Don't be afraid to ask the doctors awkward questions and don't let them fob you off, take a list of questions with you whenever you visit them, and write down what they say in front of them.

All of these two years waiting for a doctor to diagnose my condition and all of a sudden they come out with Wegener's disease, (the w is pronounced with a V.)

I'm not suggesting that you have the same but I am trying to make the point that GPs and Rhumy. docs. always try to identify something they know well, and avoid what is sometimes an auto immune problem and they are not trained to identify these types of diseases. I have small vessel vasculitis, really painful in the extreme because the kidneys are not cleaning my blood so my own immune system was attacking me everywhere.

I wasn't prepared to wait for an NHS appointment so paid to see a kidney specialist and was seen within a few days, she had me into hospital within two weeks for a biopsy on the kidney.

Now that I have a diagnosis I can be treated with the correct medication which is steroids at the moment and I am starting new medication as of tomorrow, and my pain relief is so welcome! So you see all will be well with you once they identify your illness.

Until then you have my sympathy and I hope you keep your chin up because they will sort you out i'm sure. Hope this is of some sort of help to you!!


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