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Monday, December 19, 2011

Returning to Work After Serious Illness

To recap, work was a beast for most of 2011 with funding tightening and grant reporting becoming more demanding, bureaucratic and at times, at least in the out of school time sector, a little insane. Through most of  the year I stayed on top of things, however, I was sick most of the year with a cough that came, went, came again and then finally stopped at the end of the summer. I recovered and found that August was a great month very productive with lots of creative projects.  I even used my health insurance and complete my yearly physical including a mammogram and everything came up flying colors.

Then in September,  on the evening before my 58th birthday, I tripped, and fell violently striking my face on the edge of my dresser with two bloody wounds over both eyes.  Off to the ER and I spent my birthday in the emergency and returned home 12 hours later looking scarier than most TV monsters. I spent a week at home recovering waiting for my face to become presentable. However, during that week, the CT scan revealed more serious things happening with my lymph nodes, both in the neck and pelvis. And I returned to the hospital for more tests. ROUND TWO of CT xrays, MRIs and other scans revealed there were issues but the medical team was not clear what needed to happen. By October, my cough returned and on October 20, I came home from work on a Friday, sick with the "flu" with high temp and by Tuesday I was on my way to the ER again with what turned out to be bacterial pneunmonia in both lobes of my right lung. In the emergency room,while the medical team tried to stabilize me, I suffered a  mild heart attack because of the infection and inflammation of the heart lining. I  three weeks in the hospital struggling to stablize and finally, I was releasd to continue to recover at home. I returned to work on Monday, December 5. It has been a long journey through this experience, learning a lot about myself and certainly my body. The most stunning part of the experience was feeling waves of exhaustion rolling over me sometimes for hours at a time. I couldn't believe how worn out  I was from overwork. It was sobering to face the damage I had done to my system and at the same time, it was good to see how my body has been able to finally recover.

Its now the third week back at work and I feel both like the same person but different. Walking back into my office is seeing a past version of myself that was struggling to just get through each day. My first week back I just threw away tons of paper and things I no longer needed or wanted to keep. I handed off everthing that no longer was my responsibility and presented myself with a clean slate, new job description and modest work plan through March.