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Oesophageal Patients Association
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Working life

Hi all

I'm just wondering how those of you that are still working manage in your job? The reason i ask is that i'm coming up 5 years post op and just tipped the ripe old age of 50. I have my own business and all the pressure that comes with employing people and keeping clients happy. For the 1st couple of years all seemed well, in fact it almost felt like i had a point to prove. During the 3rd year post op i seemed to hit a peak and have almost felt like I've been in steady decline ever since, i know my working hours and working lifestyle don't help either. Have any of you managed to carry on almost as normal or have you had to make major adjustments? I seem to be struggling with fatigue more and more but i also know that working long hours and forgetting to eat doesn't help either, i know "little and often and take breaks" but it never seems to be that easy.

Ade

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Hi Ade

I was working really long days full time before diagnosis but now a year after the op I'm doing 8.30 till 1pm 3 days a week. I can't manage any more than that as i get so tired. I am 45 years old and have 3 children so have to keep the house and look after them too. I find that finishing at 1 allows me to still eat at home incase I don't feel well at work after food. I think you've done really well to go back to full time but maybe now should concentrate on yourself and your health. I really believe that stress has a lot to answer for and you deserve to take it a bit easier now.

Kind regards

Carol

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I work full time but have taken some unpaid leave to enjoy my young children who were born before I turned 5 year survivor - I have other health issues too - it is not easy. I was diagnosed in late 2006, had chemo, married then had my total esophagectomy in early 2007. I was only 32 when diagnosed.

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Omg you were so young only 32

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Hi Ade,

My op was just over 5 years ago. I also have my own business so can empathise with your situation. I have a trusted business partner who took over running things with my team during the hard times post op and I now just work about four hours a day and am encouraging my team to take over from me. I enjoy my job but there are still times of pressure so if I work anything like a full day I get very tired. I also volunteer in the local Oxfam Bookshop once a week just to do something different. So, if possible I would advise that you try and reduce your hours and delegate as much as you can. It is not always easy to do this especially if you are used to being ‘in control’ and some staff might not want more responsibility.

I hope this helps and that you can find a happy medium.

Best wishes

Martin

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Hi Ade, I am probably too soon as I’m only 5 months post op but I feel better now than before the surgery. I don’t want to belittle what we’ve gone through. It was tough but from the day after the op, I was walking. Further than they requested. I was determined not to let this get me. I swim 5 mornings a week at 6.00am. 32 lengths then the traipse/commute from Reading to London (1.5 hours) . I also walk 2 x 5 miles at the weekend. I fuel this by eating small portions every 2 hours. I say all this NOT to show off or belittle your achievements but just saying what I can do. Hope you improve x

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Hi John

I was very much an "up and at em" type for the first couple of years, i completed my first ever half marathon around 18 months post op. It just seems that for the past couple of years, there have been a few changes in my digestion without changes in my diet and these are causing issues. I know this is common and looking at others i'd say its possibly one of the hardest operations to guess what is on the other side. You're certainly not showing off or belittling anyone John, you make sure you keep up with the good work, I know one or two others who are doing as well as you are.

Ade

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Thanks mate, well by the sound of it I’m not out of the woods yet. Half marathon. That’s amazing. Yeah you are right about everyone having a different path. My friend in Houston Texas was diagnosed with the same cancer, in the same place, on the same day (18th April) and had his op the same day too. I had Ivor Lewis, they went in through his chest. I’m doing all this. He can’t do any exercise at all. Such a difference. I do hope you find some improvement. It’s a hard and long journey but better than the alternative. Stay well Ade

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Yo all. Great reply from John0118. I also returned to work 5 months post, IL. But only after getting the nod from my company medical staff, as they knew the physical demands of my job. As I cannot swim, walking was my preparation back into work. I was shift work getting up at 03:30 on earlies and getting home 23:00 after late shifts. To top that I’m also coeliac so food was a big issue for me, although in time I built up to big meals and could squeeze several pints in. As you said Ade, as you were self employed the stresses must have been enormous. I worked in a gang of 4 and we had no stress at all, only the poor team leader. When I had my op I was 55 so I had 10 more years of work but thankfully I’m retired now..

Good luck Ade.

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I’m lucky mate. I’m in the music industry so no real physical work apart from the 3 hour daily commute. I used to be a heavy wine drinker, I’m my job as Head of Mischeif I was famous for it. Now I can only drink a glass or two. I find Gin goes down easier. Still, I think I would have found an early grave if this hadn’t happened. I feel the op saved my life in more ways than one. Shedding 3.5 stone was a bonus. Let’s keep up the good fight xx

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I went back 8 weeks after surgery. At first I was wary of what I did, but have gradually felt stronger as the months have passed. I do suffer with back ache if I over do things, but overwise I'm doing well. At least to the outside world. So much so that people forget where I've been and what I have been through.

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Hi I’m self employed and 8 years post op. I found I couldn’t do full time at all so I work now as and when I can. I plan my energy around what I have to do and try to get a days rest in if I can to rebuild my energy and eat to build me back up. It’s a matter of managing your energy and eating around a tivities xx

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Two years post-op and I am now finding working almost impossible. When I first started back at work I thought I was doing okay at the time and determined to show I was ‘normal’, and I was planning to get back to full time hours. I am sure that was just the deceptive ‘initial glow’. Anyway, the complications/problems soon started and I have gradually got weaker, thinner and now with much greater pain, discomfort and sickness. Working hours are now reduced to 4 hours a day (although I am off at the moment) and eating is a major problem. I always wonder how anyone can work full-time following this operation.

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Hi Amsy

It’s nice to see someone else tried the full time op and discovered that it is not really sustainable over the long term. I also found that i was slowly going backwards. i felt a complete failure but have since accepted it’s much better part time and enjoy life.

Cheers Lizzy x

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Hi all

Thanks for the replies. I think the answers show what a diverse bunch we are, it's possibly why they never tell you exactly what might happen on the other side of this operation, truth is they'd be guessing. I think it's a time for me to make a health / lifestyle choice as I'm also a part time single dad to two teenagers and have a house to run (with no teenage help as you'd guess!). I think that to give myself the best opportunity of a reasonable future i have to make those adjustments sooner rather than later.

Thank you all

Ade

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Hi Ade,

I'm 50 now and 4.5 years post op. I used to be a 5* Hotel Manager in London but my docs told me to take it easy and work part time at first. I now teach English in Taiwan and work about 18 hours a week. I earn enough to have a good lifestyle here but am getting bored and feel that I am not utilising my potential. I often think about getting back into full time management work and have tried various things to gauge how I would feel, like setting the alarm for 7.30, going to the gym and staying busy all day.

I too was determined in the forst few years and had several SCUBA Diving hols, completed a kite surfing course and did a lot of travelling. I recently broke my all time PB at swimming 1km, which I'm very happy with.

Fact is though Ade I lack the stamina I was used to and am concerned I will not be able to hold it down. It's a quandary for me and I really don't know what to do, plod along in a job that is easy but unsatisfying and only just pays enough to get by, or risk returning to Blighty and re-immersing myself in my career, potentially only to find out that I can't hack it.

If I could start my own business and work a six hour day, I would be very happy with that. Maybe you can relinquish some of your responsibilities. I don't know what you do but there must be options. Maybe find a partner who can invest in the company sufficient to warrant taking the equivalent responsibility.

Good luck Ade.

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I think each recovery is unique. In some ways I feel really good but I'm almost five years out after my EC diagnosis and still quite fatigued throughout the day. Eight consecutive hours in anything over any single week would be quite a challenge, let alone week after week. Plus I still get hit out of nowhere with dumping - never a schedule for that!

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Dumping does rule out quite a few things.

I don’t eat if I’m I’m doing something for a day or two like running an event etc. But I have given up jobs which have a set lunch hour and won’t allow you to suck sweets etc if you are not on a break. Also anything involving bending down after eating is now a no no long term as I can’t not eat for days despite not feeling hungry xxx

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I had my Ivor Lewis aged 64 in Oct 2012 with very serious complications on day six post op which kept me in hospital for a month, how ever I got myself back to work as a domestic plumbing and heating engineer after nine months gradually doing all the jobs I ever did like whole bathrooms , full heating systems etc on my own and I'm still doing it now in my 71 st year with no plans to retire, friends and family think I'm mad but I feel better for it

keeps the adrenaline going and gives me an appetite , I'v probably had too many Guinness's but the consultant did say it would be good to help keep the iron count up . You do have to balance your eating and drinking especially late in the day but it's managable .

My advice to anyone who's had the op is to keep as physicaly active as possible you will feel better for it

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