PERSONAL POST: Going Back to Work After Three Months Off Sick

If you are a regular reader of my little corner of the internet, you’ll know I LOVE my day job. When I started my advertising career by using my blog as my CV, I could never have dreamed that in such a short time I would be a Director in one of the “big four” ad agencies. The managers above me are incredible, and the team I manage myself are everything you could ever ask for in a member of staff. One of the reasons I was keen to move up to this level is because I love guiding them, nurturing their talent, and helping them move up the ladder in their careers (I got to tell someone he’s looking at a promotion in the next round of promotions today, and it will ALWAYS remain one of my favourite parts of the job).

I tend not to give too much away about my job, but the client I work with are one of the most important in the agency, certainly the biggest value, and are a household name that nearly everyone uses daily. As you can imagine, like most companies of that magnitude, Q4 is the busiest time for them for advertising, which means it’s the busiest time for me and my team. Not only are we jam-packed with work, Q4, the run-up to Christmas, is one of the best times in advertising for social events. Every other day we are taken to an event or a meal out. Christmas also happens to be my favourite time in London. 

When I went into hospital on Halloween, I thought they would just tell me I had a stomach ulcer, give me some lansoprazole, and Bob’s your Uncle. What I certainly wasn’t prepared for was just over three months in hospital and a long recovery time when I got out. While I was in hospital, my work couldn’t have been nicer. They checked in, which was just to see how I was, and they even gave me a bit of extra time to get in my sick certificates. When I came out, I had another couple of weeks off than had been planned to start back working from home until I was strong enough to come into the office. In my mind, I thought a whole month of working from home was excessive. Me being me, I thought I’d bounce back in a couple of weeks and be back to normal health.

But it certainly hasn’t happened like that. I HATE having to call in sick. My current work is great about it, but the care company I worked for previously was so awful about it, it makes me anxious. Before all of this happened I wouldn’t have dreamed of calling in sick while WORKING FROM HOME. But unfortunately, that’s exactly what I have had to do a couple of times when the pain has got so bad I can’t concentrate, or when it has kept me up all night and I haven’t slept. Although no one would ever dream of making me feel like it, and I’ve been told I’m doing well with regard to my actual work since I came back, I still feel like a failure if I need to do this.

A couple of weeks back, I started on the next part of the phased return which was going back into the office. I was thrilled. The office has such a buzz, and I just love being in there in the mix talking to others face-to-face about advertising. I had to put a lot of provisions in place. Now I am a part of the hidden disability club that gets stares for looking “well:” and wearing a Please Offer Me a Seat badge. I thankfully have a radar key that I got with my membership to Crohn’s and Colitis UK. I travel from Essex to West London, so I made sure I had some backup funds just in case I needed to take an Uber all the way home if I ended up feeling super poorly. I was doing great and enjoying it so much, but then a couple of weeks ago it was time to come off my painkillers. I probably didn’t wean off of them as slowly as I could have, but ultimately I needed to come off of them, as I had been on one form of opiate or another for nearly five months. The first week, I got my “office day” out of the way and then when I went down to no tablets a day at all, I had to do the one thing I hate doing and take two days off of working from home. I felt like I had been hit by a bus. The only way I can explain it is that it is like having a stomach bug and the flu at the same time. The week after, certain embarrassing issues prevented me from being able to get into the office. This week, I was all set to go in on the Monday to meet my new member of staff, and the Sunday night I was up until 4 am in pain. As I write this on Monday evening, it doesn’t look like it will ease enough to allow me to go in tomorrow.

And that makes me feel like the world’s biggest failure. I hate to let something like this beat me, but if I have learned anything recently it’s that you cannot “mind over matter” yourself out of a chronic illness. As much as I love all my little finds like my AG1 from Athletic Greens, there is only so much they can do. I keep trying to remind myself that I am doing my best. This time three months ago I couldn’t even walk to the end of my ward, so the fact I have even been into the office at all recently is a great achievement. For someone who is usually as active as me, I hate feeling like this. 

But this is temporary. In a few months, this feeling of uselessness will be a distant memory. And I’ll appreciate every single day I get of feeling well.

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One response to “PERSONAL POST: Going Back to Work After Three Months Off Sick”

  1. Glad to see going back was ok, despite the flair up before meeting the new member, my friends just finished his round of surgery to “clear up his issue” and the doctors words was ” you don’t have it any more” .. hopefully something very similar comes your way 🙂


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