Back in Business

Attention: This post includes a close-up image of my amputated limb. My niece, who is a nurse, assures me she’s seen “much worse”. But sharing here in the interests of bringing a bit of reality to it all.

Friends, family, colleagues, and hospital staff all have a differing viewpoints regarding the pace and manner in which I should resume work.

This is because my “Patient Care Board” now has “estimated discharge date” of September 4. Personally, I’m not convinced of this timeline, considering that I’m still awaiting the creation and fitting of my prosthetic limb.

Some have argued I should allow my body ample time to rest and adjust by taking an extended break. It’s worth noting that I’ve accumulated a substantial amount of personal (sick) leave over my nearly thirty-four years of service at the ABC. Throughout this time, I’ve rarely taken a sick day unless genuinely unwell, which has included the occasional flu and a couple of operations. To be precise, I’ve amassed ninety-four weeks of personal (sick) leave. Almost two years.

Conversely, others have recommended a swift return to work, arguing that this could aid my rehabilitation, as the body gets used to a “new normal”. In response to a question from the rehabilitation specialist, I mentioned that I’ve been dabbling in a few emails, taken a few calls, and I’ve dropped in to a couple of video meetings. He said I should maximize my work involvement as much as possible. Given his reputation as a leading figure in the rehabilitation field, I’m inclined to heed his advice.

Of course, I’m also pondering what awaits me upon returning home. Part of me contemplates the idea of transitioning in the short-term to part-time employment even if a full-time return is feasible. This would allow for some essential “life maintenance” activities alongside medical appointments. I believe there’s value in engaging in activities like shopping, gallery visits, and leisurely walks during quieter weekdays. Nevertheless, I’ll prioritize the medical insights over the multitude of opinions and emotions around me. Still, if you’ve been in a similar circumstance, I’d love to hear your comments.

In my five weeks of rehabilitation, I’ve only missed my daily gym sessions twice. The first occasion arose due to a sudden drop in blood sugar levels, leaving me light-headed and low on energy. The second instance on Sunday followed intense pain in my stump, leading me to request pain relief that caused a lengthy period of drowsiness.

For context, I’m typically cautious about taking pain relief unless truly necessary. The few times I’ve sought additional pain management, I’ve been administered Palexia, an opioid suited for moderate to severe pain. This medication requires the presence of two nurses for witnessing and signing off, to make sure I’m not stashing it away. While not the most potent pain relief I’ve encountered, it surpasses the effectiveness of the panadol I’ve been using most days.

A friend brought me a piece of blu-tack today so I could decorate my bedside.

Aside from rehabilitation, there is the progress of my wound healing that needs to be taken into account.. Earlier today, the wound specialist told me me that the wound size has halved since Friday. She used the term “stoked,” a term from our younger days (we’re about the same age). This upcoming Wednesday, they’re scheduled to evaluate the stump again and provide a further assessment of what happens next.

Amputation wound on my right leg.

Once the wound fully heals, they’ll be able to start work on my prosthesis. It’s likely going to take two or three weeks for this to happen, I understand, though I’m mentally prepared for a delay.

This coincides with a “Planning Meeting” with the National Disability Insurance Scheme on Thursday this week. This meeting is a prerequisite for releasing funds for essentials like the prosthesis, wheelchair, and other necessities.

It’s interesting to note that eligibility for the scheme is limited to those under 65, likely due to the conventional retirement age. As I approach 58, with some years of work potential left and a job that’s not physically demanding, a return to work appears to be within reach for me fairly quickly, and maybe that’s why my NDIS application was approved so quickly.

I should know more about the future by the end of the week.

5 Replies to “Back in Business”

  1. As no expert on wounds, I skipped the photo, but read the piece. Great that you have so much sick leave, which allows you to take your time healing and not jump stratight back into full time work. x

  2. I don’t think there’s a right answer. Though sick leave is a real blessing. You can use it without guilt and gain energy and enjoyment from activities other than work. As someone whose identity has been built through work, but now at an age where most people have already retired, I wish I’d built my non-work self more thoughtfully. Maybe take time to consider before rushing back to your old life. Leave, then part-time, then full time?

  3. Thanks Matthew and Sally, chatting with my boss this week, and they’ve put plans in place (if needed) for the rest of the year, emphasising that I should come back only when I’m ready, and it shouldn’t be a rushed affair

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