First week back in work

As per the plan, I started my phased restart this week. Under that plan I start out working 15 hours a week, and every fortnight the hours increment by 5 hours per week until I end up on my normally contracted hours (37.5) on the week of the 14th of June.

IBM’s Occupational Health department will be monitoring my progress, as will be my caseworker from the DWP to make sure that everything runs smoothly, and so that if I do run into problems then we can resolve them quickly. I get paid at my normal rate for the hours I work, and the remainder of my nominal working week is pro-rated at my long-term sick rate. It’s a well thought out and (I suspect if compared to most companies) generous way to help me back into normal working again.

As is often the case however, things didn’t really go quite to plan.

On Tuesday, my first day back, I had a meeting in Bedfont, which is a good 90 minutes away. So getting there and back is my nominal three hours. In practice, I drove up at 10am, and got home a little after 4pm. It was a useful trip to make, despite the original meeting being canceled, as I met some people I’ll be working with. But I was so tired that I was struggling to stay awake on the drive home, which is clearly not sensible.

Wednesday and Thursday I tried to just get my feet back under the desk, catching up on email, admin, working out what I need to be doing, and starting to refresh my network of friends and contacts around the company. Although better than Tuesday I was still well over my 3 hours per day.

Friday I had my first hand-over meeting with the colleague who used to do my new role, and made a conscious effort to try to limit my time in the office to just that 3 hour meeting. I nearly managed it, but the meeting over-ran, and we’ll probably need to repeat the last 30 minutes worth of discussions when we hold our next meeting, as I just wasn’t taking it in by then.

My conclusions so far are that:

  • It’s great to be back!
  • It’s difficult to limit my working time to only 3 hours per day. The time flies by.
  • To my surprise, I’m finding it difficult. I’m very tired after 3-4 hours, and can feel my attention slipping well before that. It’s almost as if I need a break to recharge each hour or so.
  • At the end of the week I was completely exhausted. Although I initially scoffed at the nice lady from IBM OH “suggesting” starting on 15 hours a week, I’m now glad that she insisted!

It’s clear to me that some of this is simply about being used to work; the more you do the more you can do. And I’m a year out of practice. It will come back, hopefully quite quickly.

I was pleased not to have any major issues with increased pelvic pain, or needing to lock myself in the toilet for any extended length of time. It looks as though if I am sensible with my commitments, I can keep myself on a pretty even keel with the use of just loperamide.

So, next week will be interesting. For starters, it’s a full 5-day week, and for seconds, I have a meeting in central London (Southbank) on the Tuesday morning, and will need to negotiate the trains for the first time. Fun times ahead!

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