Work think they can take Libs, but I aint aving it!!!

Hi All

Hope you are all well?

I've had an up and down couple of wks.

After the fall, my ra seems to raise its ugly head which meant the wk leading up to half term I took 2 days of. Work got p***ed about it and suggested I might want to cut my hrs further and started to imply I may not be well enough to return to work. That got me mad and I aksed them would they prefer me to go of sick? And I told them that ra could be sudden and can come on without warning, so I cannot predict when I am going to be sick! To ensure I was insulted further, the personal officer told me that they were going to hire the supply for this wk as I am unreliable and they were not sure if I was going to be in work this week. Naturally I told them to do as they pleased. I was furious with the implications the personal officer made, but that's schools for you.

I've got down to 4mg daily of steroids and I am now noticing the aches are coming back, fingers are stiff in the morning and I have to take a codeine to get out of bed. I have suffered at least 2/3 joints dull ache on and off for the last 2 wks.

Work was awful this wk as I have gone back to my regular hrs. My soles of my feet and my right knee have minged for the last 2 days, my right wrists and fingers are sore from writing on the whiteboard. Yesterday my knees was so bad I had to use my walking stick at work for the stairs for the very first time. My right knee kept giving way (all my colleagues tried very hard not to notice my stick - please and were gob smacked. That put paid to the gossip mongers who thought I had 9/10 wks of for nothing). Pain killers at the moment are not making a difference and I had to get into work due to the conversation I had above just before the half term break. I am now off until next monday, but I have a rheumy appt on friday, so hopefully they can do something and of course I am gonna use the time to recoup & rest!

I think the issues I faced with work will in time get better as I get use to working full days again. Besides that I think it is also an issue of pacing and reducing my mobility within the classroom in order to pace myself better in the future. Well I hope this strategy will eventually work.

Well that's me done for a while. Keep smiling and kicking ra in the chops/kisser for our american buddies.

Sci xx :D

21 Replies

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  • Hi Sci - suddenly aware as I read your blog that we haven't heard from our American buddies for a few days now - Loret if you read this please let us know you're okay? I don't think the wrist op is 'til March is it?

    Re your work - that's the problem with RA isn't it? - it comes on suddenly and is invisible for the most part so if it takes a walking stick to help you up the stairs as well as demonstrating how you've been affected by it then that's probably doing them all some good. Perhaps if you do have a very swollen knee or ankle or have visibly swollen wrists or fingers you should show them to your colleagues - maybe pull off socks and put feet up in the staff room when you're having a break.

    I'm self-employed of course so don't really have this problem but I do have many friends who are teachers and also spent a year working in a large school as an artist-in-residence a few years ago so am very familiar with the way things operate in these places.

    As a parent of teens with important exams coming I do despair sometimes when heads of department take on a job knowing they are bi-polar or are given a Higher (A'level equiv) year class when they know they will be off work with SAD every year. I think there's a certain amount of irresponsibility that goes on with some teachers where they seem to forget that their pupil's are at critical stages and it is the rest of their lives that can be affected detrimentally by a teacher who is off sick regularly.

    But you took the job on before RA of course and now my main thought is that if staff are sympathetic and prepared to learn more about RA and the way it might impact on you then you will probably not have to take so much time off work - so these educators need educating about RA methinks?

    Good luck - I think it will get better with time as you say when we learn to manage it better and pace, pace, pace. TTx

  • Hey Tilda and all! I'm fine, been right here, making comments on the daily blogs, but haven't written any myself for a few days.

    Was asked to give some input about the Pneumonia vaccine a couple days ago.

    I have had some busy days lately, so often don't get to the computer until late at night here, which is while you all are still sleeping there.

    Thanks for asking, Tilda, but I am fine, good to know someone is looking out for me! The wrist surgery is scheduled for March 12. Not too soon, or soon enough! I have to keep the splint on all the time and the hard one at night, not sure that isn't worse, as if I accidentally stretch against the confines of the splint, it REALLY hurts!

    I review the previous days blogs every morning to see if anyone has added anything, and they usually have, and that is where you would see me, if not in the current day's. Now off to the horizontal position, it's been a long day, with Study club meetings and more telephone conversations, my brain is squeezed out!! Hope you all are snug as a thousand bugs in a rug :) L.xx

  • HI Sci

    Thats not good, the pressure of going in when you feel unwell will do more damage in the long run but then what can you do? Are you still on the arava - did the side effects settle down?

    I can't imagine the pain having to go up and down stairs - it must be really difficult even with a stick.

    Are you on full time or part time at the minute? Do you know what I think that everyone is just running around so stressed at the minute that they don't think beyond the inconvenience we cause and we as a person don't feature.

    I really hope things settle down a bit for you.

  • Hi Mads

    I work pt - 3 days a week. Yes it was very difficult going up and down the stairs to the second floor. Yesterday I had to do it 3 times due to briefing. That's why I used the stick, knowing that I would have to do the stairs. That's not including the stairs at the train station both ends etc.

    I am not on arava, mtx injectable and plaquenil and they are stepping down my steroids.

    Sci x

  • oh for goodness sake, even using public transport would exhaust me for the rest of the day. You poor thing at least you have a few days to get rested up. I honestly wouldn't know what to advise you, in a couple of months you could be great again and therefore more than capable of doing the 3 days. Every day i look at the papers there is yet another drug being passed by NICE for ra. So if you did get pressurised you could regret it later but then again this nonsense is not making you any way better at all. Sorry not much help but I am thinking about you and hope you get rested well and feel good enough to get back in there next week and use the stick as a weapon to defend yourself from the PO and the gossipmongers (I jest - I am a pacifist)

  • :)

    It's enough that you are thinking of me

    Cheers x

  • Mads, I could not ever do steps like that, sticks or no sticks. Wasn't there some plans of having you moved to the first floor? Or does that still require you to go upstairs throughout the day. Isn't HR supposed to accomodate, like, maybe they could arrange to have a student courier to pick up and transfer paperwork for you?

    OH! What did you decide about that interview? Did you go, or decline? Think I recall you thinking it might be better to stay?

    Educating your peers would be a good plan, if they would take to it. Maybe during a regularly scheduled teacher's meeting, you might ask to explain some things. I think, if they heard the way things affect you, surely to goodness, they would be more understanding and helpful It could be any one of them too.

    Goodnight !! L.xxx

  • Hello Loret i think you have confused Sci and myself. Sci is the one who is a teacher, who has to do all the stairs and move about a lot at work. I am the one that is thinking of changing posts though i am currently in a place completely fitted for disability - i couldn't do stairs either. Didn't get offered the first job so didn't have too much to decide re that. Don't know what i am doing.

  • I agree

    x

  • Oops I think you're so overtired you've got in a muddle Loret - easy enough to do. To clarify this is Sci's blog and she's a science teacher - then there's Mads and she works for a charity and stairs would have been an issue re the job she was being interviewed for (yes I want to know how it went too!) and then there's Williby who was supposed to work as a teacher on ground floor but they kept making her go upstairs. Think that's right anyhow but I might have just made things more confusing by being wrong?! TTx

  • just read your post now Tilda, it would have saved me doing the above - you are very good, you have got us down to a tee.

  • Cool - goes to show the RA hasn't completely scunnered theo old brain cells yet eh?! TTx

  • Whew, I really had you'all screwed up! :) Must stop staying up so late, especially after an already busy day. Brain gets overly-overwhelmed.

    Thanks for sorting Our friends, now in the morning, everything so much clearer! OK from now on, no more visits after 11 pm!! L.xx

  • Well done T,

    Thanks for straightening things out for Loret :D

  • Hi Sciqueen

    Sorry to hear work are being unsympathetic/unhelpful. I just asked to go part time because of the fatigue, and now pain - I teach in a primary school. The head carefully didn't respond to my request until it was too late to resign this term, then he said no on the grounds it would be too disruptive for the children. I only asked to drop one day a week and other people have been allowed far more awkward arrangements.

    I was told I could write to the governors and appeal, but I just want out now. I've struggled into work with splints and even crutches rather than disrupt children's learning. Today, for the first time ever, I've taken a day off to rest. Pain has kept me awake for hours every night for a fortnight so the time has come to give in. I propose to take time off as and when I feel like it from now on. No one else will look after me so it's time to stop being a martyr.

    I'm looking for a different job, possibly away from education, that I can leave behind when I go home. I'm very happy to forgo the holidays which are encroached on by loads of work anyway and I can take a reduction in pay for the sake of my health.

    Does anyone have knowledge of early retirement on health grounds? I believe there are different levels.

    Sorry to rant -

    Susan

  • Jeez Susan thats not a rant, you should hear me every now and again. I think no one thanks you being a martyr, it is just too hard on yourself because they will criticise when you are there and criticise when you are not so best to keep yourself well and take off. I got no thanks when i struggled in week after week could hardly walk and every movement felt so painful, yet when i took time off, there was the comment that i should have taken it off long before and then it was when are you coming back so please yourself.

  • Hi Susan

    Get the unions & OT involved. The school owes you a duty of care, they can reduce your hrs, by 1 day and not mess up the teaching schedule. It is however an inconvenience to swap things around. Remember most schools won't do anything, unless they are forced to.

    There are lots of teachers who have ra and are still emplopyed. Most of us work pt, but not all. keep pushing for it and evenutally you will get it. It may be that they only offer you pt from september. My pt started last september and I asked for it last april/may 11.

    I would not take ill health or early retirement at this stage, unless that is what you really want?

    Good luck and keep us informed - remember you are not alone and there are other teachers on here also.

    Sci x

  • Oh dear. Teaching and RA. They just don't go together at all.

    I struggled on for about 12 years from diagnosis. Like most teachers, the needs of the students were my priority, and I used to struggle on, take painkillers, avoid any time off. I was one of those really dedicated ones. Believed I was indispensable.

    As the years went by, the government created more paperwork, the authorities cut staff, the job got worse and it was hard enough for the fit-bods to cope.

    In the end I was treated so unfairly that I took time off, gathered my wits and took out a grievance.

    That was when they started to obey the rules, "reasonable adjustments", classes on the ground floor, etc etc.

    It was only then, with a reduced timetable and limited activity that it dawned on me. I wasn't ever going to get well again, and the job was "bad for my health".

    So I applied for ill health retirement and got it.

    And looking back, like many people, I think: Why didn't I quit sooner?

    Susan, if you can make your bosses make as many adjustments for you as you can, and go part time and show evidence that you have genuinely tried to stay in work, then you should be able to get ill health retirement.

    And Sci, if you aren't already in a union, it will be a valuable support for you to join one. I always got a bit more respect from the SMT if a union rep sat beside me in meetings. And my union were really on the ball when it came to insisting on "reasonable adjustments".

    I don't miss the stress of the job. I don't miss the Senior Management. I miss a few colleagues, but mostly I miss the students. It was an amazing job for a long time.

  • Hi Phoebe

    I agree with everything you have said, the job is stressful and yes I am in a union. I feel the school are just fishing at the moment and I will if necessary make a formal complaint of lack of support. I feel we have not reached that point as yet though.

    The problem is most school don't like teachers working part time, so moving around can be more difficult. Besides that I feel it is better the devil you know, so I have no intention at the moment on retiring or leaving.

    If I need to take time of again I will, but I believe that many of us who have ra, work with a certain amount of pain. It's amazing how much of the dull ache I can tolerate, before I get fed up and take pain relief. That is one of the changes I have noticed since I got diagnosed last august. Hopefully I can get it sorted out tomorrow at the rheumy as I still have the dull aching pain in my knees and soles of feet - 4 days now, with the right side of these limbs being the most effected. Yet it is not a flare. I still thinks it something to do with reducing the steroids.

    Cheers Sci x

  • Hi Phoebe - one of my sons gets extra support for maths from the retired head of maths at school. This chap just really likes to keep his hand in and because our oldest son had special educational needs the maths teacher felt he needed on to one as was getting too lost in a big class. The school paid for his police disclosure too so he could take referrals as and when he felt like it.

    Now he's carried on with our middle son who was getting equally lost. He does it for free at his insistance so it doesn't affect his pension - and we try to bake him a loaf or cake most Sundays. It has made a huge difference to both boys maths learning. The chap suits himself so if he's under the weather or wants to go fishing etc he just cancels, sometimes at very short notice as us his right.

    I'm sure you have your hands very full already but as you said you missed the students I thought I'd just mention this? There are always kids who struggle in larger classes but are really friendly and rewarding one to one. TTx

  • You go girl and keep kicking I am well that's when I can move my swollen knee to kick

    xxx

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