Return to work?

My medical certificate, which signs me off from work, expired at the start of this week, which meant that I spent most of the week trying to understand if I was able to restart work or not. That meant a series of meetings and calls with my GP(s), my surgeon, my manager at IBM, my caseworker from the Department of Work and Pensions, and my caseworker from IBMs Occupational Health department. The short version is that although I’m getting closer, the consensus opinion is that I’m still not ready yet.

As before, this decision is largely driven by my ability to do the job effectively, and not needing to take powerful painkillers. At the moment I have good days and bad days – on the good days I’d probably be able to cope with work; on bad days I definitely wouldn’t. And I reckon good days and bad days are roughly evenly balanced at the moment. But I still need to take quite a reasonable dose of Cocodomol to get even those good days. The IBM OH view is that its better for me to stay off longer than to try to return to work too soon, impacting my recovery, and struggling to actually do the work that’s assigned to me. My GP’s feel the same way, as does the DWP. So I’m signed off work for another month.

On one level this is really frustrating, because getting back to work will (for me) be a tangible sign that this whole nightmare is over, and that life is starting to return to normal again. I’d also been hoping that I could contain my illness to just 2009, rather than having it spill into another year. However, if I take a coldly analytical view of the situation, I can completely understand why everyone wants me to wait a little longer; if nothing else, it’s not going to be fair on my colleagues and customers to return to work in a state where I can only function effectively perhaps 50% of the time. And it’s also not fair on the medical team that have been treating me to potentially impact my long term recovery by putting myself under pressure again too soon.

So now I need to focus on February or March as being possible return to work targets, and do everything that I can to make sure that I’m as well as I can be, before we repeat this whole process again then.


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