Feeling SOL

When do you know if it is the right time to start back to work? I feel like I am in a no win situation. Have been out of work 10 weeks. Here in the states (unfamiliar with anywhere else) we have whats called family medical leave which entails me to take off 12 weeks of work with no penalty. I am supposed to be returning next week. I am a nurse in a BUSY procedural unit…no such thing as light duty. BUT…I don’t really feel great. Better than when I started, but still not “better”. I feel like I don’t have choice in the matter, and that I have to return. Also, short term disablilty will only extend my leave if the doctor sees me. I know my neuro will allow me to be out, but I don’t think he needs to see me…I have the same symptoms he saw me with a month ago. I need to have some income! So here I am, spinning from the stress of all this…
Any advice on returning to work? How does this work anywhere else?
On another note, since I will be exhausting my FMLA benefit, if I call out in the future I will be penalized… how can that be???

Hi Jenh21
I live in California. Is the FMLA the same as short term disability? I thought they were two different provisions, so I’m unclear on that. One thing to think about: If you go back to work too soon and then continue to feel the same or have a nasty relapse, you could easily regret not having your disability extended. I’d recommend seeing your neuro ASAP anyway as a follow-up: if your symptoms are not improved he/she should see you anyway, explain that your symptoms are not improved and that you need more time to improve before you resume your HECTIC STRESSFUL job which would be very difficult with heightened MAV symptoms. [My neuro has kept me on a short leash due to the high volatility of migraine variant/MAV symptoms and meds management, and I check-in regularly even though I have improved greatly.] Your neuro may also be able to tinker with your meds (adding, subtracting things) and you can also tinker with diet, stress management, self-care, etc. during the time that you buy by extending your disability. There is no shame in all this. However, only you will be able to discern whether the lack of income is too severe to stay off your job awhile longer to recover more. Sorry that you have to struggle with all this. This is one beast of a condition to wrestle with and affects so much of our lives.

Hi Jen,

I live in the UK, so can’t offer any useful insights into your leave or benefits, I’m afraid.
But in the UK it would be quite usual for an employer to allow a phased return, where you gradually build up your hours, or make adjustments to your duties to allow you to get back to work at a pace that means you can cope with it. I know you said your job is very hectic, but could you at least start with just a few hours at a time, to try to make it easier for you?
Personally I found it to be the best thing for me to force myself into work, and the more I made myself do things I found difficult, the better I felt in the long run. Although it was hard at the time, I really feel that this aided my recovery. I also needed to get out of my house and not spend time alone mulling things over, so keeping busy was good for me mentally as well. But I realise this is very much personal and what works for one person doesn’t for another.
Good luck and I hope you can manage to get back to work soon.

Gail- I can stay out 2 weeks longer and then I will be at my 12 weeks FMLA leave. I can apply for an extended leave of absence, but they don’t have to hold my job during that time. (in this economic climate…who knows what they will do) My short term disability can actually cover me up to 16 weeks, however, I feel like I have to jump through hoops and constantly be on top of them for anything to get done. It took them 6 weeks just to approve my leave, and it wasnt even for the full time I had been out…then again the process started over.

I have always been responsible, and want to go back to work so badly…I like getting a paycheck! My husband and I can deal in the meantime, but short term only covers about 40% my salary!

Beechleaf- I would love for them to ease me back to work, but unfortunately they don’t do that here. My job does not allow light duty. My co-workers might be kind and help me out, but after so long, I am sure I will be the “talk of the town.” One would think working in a hospital would score some good benefits, but that’s not the case at all.

This all just stinks. If I could just be allowed to recover with no worries…

Jenh21 - I see your dilemma. That is a Catch-22 with difficult decisionmaking giving you stress even before you resume working. And the economy does steer the job retention even in nursing. Still, make sure that you go back to your neuro and review your meds, options, etc. Sometimes slight adjustments can make such a big difference, especially down the road. If your co-workers feel overworked they’re less likely to be compassionate even in a people helping profession, ironic as it is. So, you need to be medically supported as best possible. Geez, sorry so many of us have to struggle with all this… and it’s not like MAV is a broken leg that is tangible and discernible to others that they can understand.

Jen - We’re here to support you no matter what you decide.

well I called the neuro and he will see me on friday…sooooo I will probably plan on being out the aditional 2 weeks to make my grand total 12 weeks out. I have this feeling I won’t feel much different come 2 weeks from now, but maybe I can mentally prepare myself. Everyday I see a glimmer of hope for getting past this, I get a dizzy spell or some other symptom and realize it is still there and not going to leave me anytime soon. Wow, how we take for granted everyday we wake up feeling “normal” until something like this happens.

Jen - what med(s) are you currently taking? There’s always the option to increase/decrease dosage and augment with additional meds. Many on the forum take more than one med but not necessarily high doses of multiple meds. I know it can be really discouraging (been there, done that) but just know that it can and will most likely get better. Let us know what you find out.