What should I do with a forced 6 months off work?
October 28, 2013 5:32 PM   Subscribe

After suffering a potentially career ending injury, and a year of failed rehab I have now been signed off from work. This injury had been personally devasting for me, I am in quite severe pain and as a direct result I have lost my hobbies (sports), friends ( team mates) and my girlfriend (I'm not fun to be around when I'm in pain) and potentially my career. I am exhausted. I need to make the most of these 6 months, options below.

I work in an exciting, fulfilling, fun job that I love. It involves a lot of driving, carrying and running around. All of which are painful to do. However I have the option to work in the same office at a desk job. The job would be realitively boring but fine for 6 months, id be with my friends and stable in a fun city. However I would have to do my rehab around work and contend with the stress that brings.

The second option is to take 6 months off and concentrate solely on rehab. This could be risky career wise in that I would be out of the loop but my job would be waiting upon my return. My plan would be to spend most of the time overseas staying with family and concentrating on eating well, resting and rehab. Everything would be geared to getting better and spending time with my family. This could be lonley as I'd lose my city social life and contact with colleagues but also means I could recharge mentally. Would I lose points with my company doing this when I could be working in a different role despite my injury.

I have savings and can make either option work financially.

I see my boss in a few days, thoughts on what I should go for?
posted by JIMSMITH2000 to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You say you're "no fun" when you're in pain. Would that affect your disposition in the office? If so, I'd say go for option #2.
posted by xingcat at 5:37 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is a part-time solution possible? Work 2 days a week or something? You'd stay with the company and be keeping up and in the loop, and you'd have plenty of time to schedule your rehab. I don't know how whatever benefits you would have would work so if that would even be feasible for that, but it seems like an obvious middle ground.
posted by brainmouse at 5:41 PM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Assuming your job is safe (and you imply it is), then I'd say your first priority is getting better. Yes, you'll lose your social life, but you are no fun to be around right now (for good reason) and probably aren't having such a great time yourself (because of pain), so this doesn't sound like a huge loss, TBH.

I'd take six months off and focus on getting better.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 5:58 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I can hold a fairly cheerful disposition in the office although it takes a lot of effort that I wasn't able to manage 24/7.

Unfortunately part time wouldn't work financially, although I agree that would be a neat solution.
posted by JIMSMITH2000 at 5:58 PM on October 28, 2013

If a 6 month absence might endanger your position, would being out for 8 weeks be viable?
I was also going to suggest part time, but rather than weekly it could be bi-monthly or such. You write that you're not certain if you can rehab effectively while at a full-time desk job, but you need to rehab foremost. Take 8 weeks (or some time <6months that you may think is better) off immediately and get an established regimen and discipline for your rehab work. You might then be able to tolerate a reasonable share of office time that will still keep you financially qualified. See if your employer can work with that type of premise.
posted by TDIpod at 6:16 PM on October 28, 2013

Why 6 months? Could you do 3 months abroad then 3 months at work? It might help with getting you back in the swing of things quicker.
posted by floweredfish at 7:02 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are you really going to be in pain for six months? Isn't the expectation that there will be ups and downs as part of an overall recovery?

I, personally, would have gone out of my mind it I hadn't been working a few days a week during rehab. But I'm not you and I don't think it was six months.

If you are under 40, my experience would suggest taking the desk job.

But if you have the chance to have a real human talk with your employer, I suggest prepping by creating a matrix - not to share - as your map for which conditions work for desk job and which work for leave.

* also anecdotally - if there's any chance pain is going to be part of your life, you need to learn how to be nice when you're distracted by pain and how to recognize when pain has crossed the line and it's time to remove yourself.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:12 PM on October 28, 2013

I was recently out of work and am still in physical therapy for a pretty good broken knee/leg (tibial plateau) that required surgery (ORIF, 1 plate, 7 pins, bone tissue graft), short term disability, and the whole shebang. I'm still unable to run, jog, walk quickly, jump, stand for long periods of time, squat, bend, do yoga, ride my bike, go to shows (too much standing). I've still got a limp, and I might very well face more surgery in my future, hardware removal or a total knee replacement. I can't just be spontaneous. I bought a whole new wardrobe with elasticized waists and a suite of assistive devices. I'm 27. This sucks. I feel for you.

I think you need to ask yourself a question. What if you don't improve? You need to consider making a new identity for yourself away from those things you've lost. Does this mean a different job? Being closer to family? New hobbies, new housing?

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I can't think of very many injuries that would be much different 1.5 years out from 1 year out. I think you've built up this idea of these magical 6 months in your mind. That you'll do whatever it takes in these 6 months and then you'll get your old life back. It'll be like a montage in a movie.

This is the bargaining stage of grief.

Maybe you'll be back to your old life in those 6 months, or 5 years, or never, but you can't just put your life, your identity on hold for all that time. You need to come to an equilibrium. Pain management should be a big part of it. Some great non-opioid pain drugs are on the market now, like celebrex. Any non-drug pain management being offered like braces?

As for which road to take, I think it would be important to look at why you say your recovery has failed. Has it not lived up to your personal expectations? Is your doctor being realistic with you? Why did rehab fail? Did you have a complication? Did you disobey doctors orders? Did you get inadequate care? Are you facing a revision surgery? Have you gotten a second opinion?

I would not take the 6 months rehab-only option if you didn't have a concrete plan going into it. I would also be very sure you are secure in your health insurance options and treatment options. (What countries are we talking about here?) Being in a big city with great hospitals can make a big difference.

I also think being closer to family is good. I wasn't particularly pleasant to be around, and family can't really ditch you. My husband should be considered for sainthood too.

I found that employment can be a pretty important part of your identity. Even if you're not in your former dream job, you're still pulling down a paycheck.

I guess I just hedged both answers didn't I? I would start with a second opinion from a different doctor. But nobody has a crystal ball, and you can't put your whole life on pause or have it hinge on a timeline based on nothing concrete.

Either way, you should find some online support forums for your injury. Surprisingly facebook had a group just for Tibial Plateau Fractures that is private group and has been helpful to me.
posted by fontophilic at 10:35 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

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