Return to Work Plan
Graduated return to work plan
The plan was a made in agreeance between my benefits insurance, Human Resources and my store manager. My experience is mentioned at the end of the plan.
The days worked and days off followed a specific pattern to gain tolerance. The benefits ignored the weekends but the days were changed to incorporate that. I will therefore, just state the pattern and hours per shift.
Week 1 – 3 alternate days @ 3 hrs
Week 2 – 3 alternate days @ 3 hrs
Week 3 – 2 days together, gap, 1 day @ 4 hrs
Week 4 – 3 alternate days @5 hrs
Week 5 – 2 days together, gap, 1 day @6 hrs
Week 6 – 2 days together, gap, 2 days together @ 6 hrs
Week 7 – 3 alternate days @ 7 hrs
Week 8 – 2 days together, gap, 2 days together @ 7 hrs
Full Time Return to work Week 9 – my modifies duties from the surgeon mention no more than 3 consecutive days without a break.
Initially going back was difficult. 3 hours was enough. Don’t forget that your body is not used to this and it takes a while to get back to things.
I agree that the 2 days together was a good idea because it did help with tolerance. Working the 3 alternate days was a great plan and gave a day of rest between work. I used this time to swim and rest. As the hours stepped up the pattern was for 3 alternate days initially and then 2 and 2. I did have some concerns about the jump from 4 days @ 7 hours jumping to 5 days @ 8 hours. That was exactly where I personally had difficulty.
The difficulty was a combination of things. Firstly it was a big step-up on days and hours because it also meant that I had to work 3 consecutive days, something not done during the plan. It also coincided with our busiest week of the year, the full week prior to Halloween. Added to that was the fact on my 3rd consecutive day I had no back up during 7 hours of my shift. I had someone to cover a 15 minute break and a 30 minute lunch for me but by then the pain and discomfort had already set in. I was on my feet for all of my shift (which is my job as a retail supervisor) but this was too much, too soon, especially without support.
After the 3 consecutive days I had a day off work. I was in pain from the moment I woke up (throughout the night as well) and even trying to swim was not pain free and I did more moving in water than swimming. I take Aspirin for pain (Tylenol does not work for me) and sit with a hot water bottle against my back, which is where I get the pain from standing. However today the pain was in my knees, down my thighs and across my back. It was not a good day.
I was due in work very early the following day and for the first time ever, I called in sick the previous evening. The pain was still bad the 2nd rest day and had I struggled to go to work I would have had to come home. It would also have resulted in another day off.
I wish that I had fought that part of the plan and suggested it take a little longer to reach full time. Hopefully things will get easier moving forward.
I am swimming much better and easier now, and YES I am doing breaststroke, including the legs!
I think nothing now of going shopping for a few things but always grab a cart to make it easier on myself. I still don’t do a large grocery shop but that is more for the heavy lifting, and the fact we have 4 steps up to the house.
I have more patience now to do other things but still don’t do things without a break in between. For instance I will work and come home before either shopping or swimming. If I manage to work and then swim, I will not then go shopping right after. Luckily most things are within a very short distance for me.
Sleep is normal and if I my back is sore I will take a hot water bottle to bed with me.
I did hope I would be able to tolerate things better at this stage but I have a job that is hard on the body and I have to remember I have a damaged knee.
Everything takes time and everyone is different. Lots of people who know me or see me at work think I’m doing well. I try to stay positive and patient. Keeping active is good, but overdoing it is not!!