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 at 3 hrs
Week 2 – 3 alternate days at 3 hrs
Week 3 – 2 days together, gap, 1 day at 4 hrs
Week 4 – 3 alternate days at 5 hrs
Week 5 – 2 days together, gap, 1 day at 6 hrs
Week 6 – 2 days together, gap, 2 days together at 6 hrs
Week 7 – 3 alternate days at 7 hrs
Week 8 – 2 days together, gap, 2 days together at 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 at 7 hours jumping to 5 days at8 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!!
New Year 2020
I had more consecutive days off work during Christmas week and it made the holidays more enjoyable. I am slowly tolerating able to work and then stop at the grocery stores for a few items as needed. I am still not really up to a large grocery shop. Lifting is a little better but, of course, I still have the meniscus tear on my left knee which limits my capabilities. As we have 4 steps up to the front door I put one bag at a time on a step, step up myself, move the bag up one step etc.
I stopped taking the anti-inflammatory for 4 weeks because I wondered if my digestive issues or back pain were due to this. It meant I had to take aspirin as well as Tylenol Arthritis. I was suffering bad pain in my knee so went back to take the anti -inflammatory (Meloxicam, 1 each morning) along with 2 Tylenol Arthritis in the morning with breakfast. I then took 2 more Tylenol after 8 hours. I found at home I sometimes did not need the second dose of Tylenol Arthritis. I would have liked to not take any Tylenol but by the way I was feeling it was not possible. I have stopped taking any additional pain killers.
The week of Black Friday we booked a trip to Cayo Coco for February. We decided we wanted to go somewhere to relax and soak up the sun. We had already been to Cuba and done all the tourist things 3 years before when I had no hip or knee issues, so this time we were planning time in the sun and not much else. We had a week of great weather, sun, beach but unfortunately, not a good hotel experience. Just for the record, do not waste your money on Hotel Melia Jardines del Rey in Cayo Coco. It is THE worst hotel I have ever stayed in and I have travelled abroad since 1971.
As much as I am trying to stay positive throughout this world pandemic, up until last week I was still working. As I have mentioned before I work in a retail thrift store. We were all temporarily laid off as of March 21, 2020. We have been initially laid off for 2 weeks but I really think it will be longer.
Of course, I am back to doing exercises at home because the swimming pools are closed but both myself and the dog are getting more walks around the block and fresh air at the moment!
It is almost coming up to my one year anniversary and looking back at the previous year it has been a struggle but a very worthwhile one. I can only speak for myself, but I have zero regrets about having a hip replacement and am able to be a lot more mobile because of it. My only worry now is how my knee is and when it is bad enough to be replaced. I will be able to claim EI and long term disability for that surgery as long as it is done before I retire at 65. If I do indeed retire at 65. As that is only 2 years away it is of some concern. Due to the nature of my job being hard on my body I may well need to retire at 65 and possibly look for a part-time job.