During my 18 months of post treatment recovery, I’ve made a significant effort in trying to get my eating, sleeping and exercise on track. These things are important for everyone but for someone who’s been through breast cancer (or any cancer) they are paramount. After my first full time week back at work, my self care has gone to hell!
After being off for 2 years and 2 months, I decided to return to work mid October, Wednesday October 14th to be exact. That was after the (Canadian) Thanksgiving long weekend. My case manager wanted me back the first week of October because my oncologist had said the month of October. I explained that I had a couple of appointments at the hospital that week so it only made logical sense that the week after would be better. The Disability group does not care and would like to see you back at work yesterday!! They agreed to let me start 1 week later but left my ‘return to full time’ start date the same which was November 30th. So now instead of being on a modified schedule for 8 weeks, it would be 7. I agreed thinking that I could easily extend that if necessary. Big mistake! Note to self – always remember to err on the side of more time, not less.
The first month back was fine. It was actually great to be back and have some sense of normalcy again. Being home all the time can get depressing and frustrating. I was working 2-3 days a week and they were shorter days. After a few weeks I went up to 3 full days which was okay because I still had Tues/Thurs off. This gave me time to catch up on sleep, workout and do my groceries etc. I was feeling good, feeling healthy and definitely not stressed. This was giving me a chance to slowly adjust to working again. The other part that is a huge adjustment is the actual work I am doing. After being away from it for over 2 years, there is a lot I don’t remember! Along with that is the fact that my memory and focus are not 100%. It’s beyond frustrating so I have to keep reminding myself that it will simply take time and to be patient with myself.
At this point I was a few weeks away from my full time start date. I went to my doctor and physiotherapist as I had been having back pain since returning to work. Any pain after breast cancer (or any cancer) is scary because you start to worry that maybe the cancer is back. So even though we were pretty sure it wasn’t I had to have a back X-ray to be 100% sure … After a couple of stressful days of waiting the results came back clear. SIGH. RELIEF. Well now we have confirmed that the back pain was due to sitting and working on a computer all day. My body has been through a lot and it is going to take longer than 7 weeks to physically adjust. I got a letter from both my doctor and physiotherapist stating that I should stay on a 3-4 day schedule for an additional month. Because I didn’t provide clinical notes, treatment plan or diagnostics they didn’t approve my extension. Really?! Didn’t know that my case manager was a medical professional who would know what was best for me. Ugh!
I could have gone back to physiotherapist and gotten the detail she wanted but it was now the end of November already. I thought I’ll have to end up doing a full time week anyways because the approval process takes at least 1 week. By that time it will be a couple of weeks before Christmas and then the last 2 weeks are short weeks anyways … not to mention that I’d like to get my full pay again. I figured I could manage, told myself ‘I can do this, it will be fine’. WRONG! Enter the week from hell!!