Hi I'm a primary teacher in Scotland, and my council offer 4 week phased return. I'm going to use some accrued leave owed to me for being off sick during holidays, to extend the period by a few more weeks.
I have just had a mastectomy of my right breast and will be starting chemo in a few weeks.
I am a NQT.
Haven't been on here for ages but thought I'd check in and I found this thread. I'm a Primary Teacher and have been back at work on a really good phased return since September. I finally went back to full time last week after a term of 4 day weeks. My problem is fatigue. I had a hysterectomy last May and am on tamoxifen and my body is apparently reacting really badly to reducing oestrogen levels. My energy levels are not good and teaching is draining them really badly. Whilst I was part time I felt able to just walk away at the end of the day but since I've been working 4 days and now 5 days I'm pushing myself to be the teacher that I was because if I can't be that teacher I'm going to struggle with staying in teaching. I know I have several choices - drop my hours, continue full time but pull back on what I do or walk away and do something else. Not sure what to do. All I know is that with no end in sight for the fatigue I really can't cope with being this tired all the time. Any thoughts anyone?
Welcome aboard the Roller coaster none of us wanted to be on, 'TotallyConfuse'. Hold on tight - you wont necessarily enjoy the ride but you WILL get through it. Don't push yourself too hard. Take time to recover. I've been back at work (HLTA, Primary School) since Sept 2012, and the 4 monthas I had off to treat BC now seem like a distant memory - although at the time it seemed soooo long and I was so frustrated at not being able to work.
In retrospect, I wish I'd just chilled out a bit more and enjoyed what I could of the time off! (Easier said than done after a BC dx though??! )
I hope your treatments are successful and not too horrible. This forum is certainly a great place for support. x
Bev12...you should be back on full pay, even on a REhabilitation phased return. Make sure you use the phrase 'rehabilitation phased return'. My HR is with Bradford council and I received a copy of their return to work policy, which laid out it being 12 weeks. My occ health nurse then informed me that I can have a further 4 weeks Ordinary phased return after that. Access to Work is brilliant. I'm getting a range of equipment to help me..Ergonomic chair, adjustable height desk, air coolers and electric stapler and hole punch to name a few items. Make sure you have an assessor to actually come out and see you in your working environment to give them a better understanding of your needs. Funding is provided for most of the equipment, plus it gives recommendations for your employers to make 'reasonable adjustments'. The biggest thing for me will be a smart board, as I'm left handed which is the side I had my op (mx and lymph node removal). Am already feeling a swelling in my arm 😞 so may have to ask for a referral to lymphoma clinic. Am hoping a smart board will reduce the stress on that arm. I was disappointed that school was slow to get my my referrals, so contacting my union has been invaluable in giving me the support and advice I needed to make my return to work easier.
I am 5 weeks into a Rehabilitation phased return. My union has been great supporting me. Make sure you have had an occupational health referral and Access to Work assessment (Google it for your regional number). As my union rep said, its all about building in layers of support. My phased return is over 12 weeks, with an additional 4 weeks if needed. I think I am going to make use of the extra 4 weeks, and as of yet I have not started actually teaching. I'm in 2 1/2 days and carrying out my Head of Department duties. BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Don't feel pressured to be thrown in at the deep end. I really want my phased return to work, but I have come to realism that slowly is better. If I want to be an effective teacher then I will need time to build up my physical strength and emotional resilience. We are covered under Disability / equality legislation and it is right that work recognizes our needs and limitations as we return to work. After my phased return, only then will I go down the road of changing my contract. So my advise is to use all the time and support that is out there and see how it goes. People ask me if I'm ready to return to work, and I tell them that I don't know and that's why I'm trying it. Hope this helps
Whilst you await replies there is some information and advice about returning to work in the BCC 'Moving forward' resource pack which you can download via this link:
Well so much for my confidence that my school was handling my return to work correctly!!
My best advice is ring your union and don't agree to any conditions of returning to work until you have had a review with occupational health and an Access to Work assessment.
I have just found out, despite asking since the beginning of September, that my school has only just referred me to occupational health. I had intended to return to work next week, but have just had to get another sick note for another 3 weeks until it is sorted.
My union rep has been brilliant and said that I need to push for a Rehabilitation phased return which can be 12weeks+ and not a standard phased return of 4 weeks. She has said that is this important because it protects me against an competency procedures later down the road.
I love you job and proud to be good at it, but the reality is if I push myself or am pushed by the school to do more than I am capable of in the short term, then everyone loses out - me, the school and ofcourse the kids.
So...ring your union and don't agree to anything until you have been correctly assessed ladies.
I'm having the same problem. I returned to work in September full time and am finding I just cannot do what I used to . It take me all my time to get in to work for eight thirty! I just can't seem to get my body working after mx and reconstruction. Not much sympathy from those above either. Everyone just looks at you and thinks you are back to normal whatever that may be! Like you, I have also stressed about the responsibilities and financial situation and on top of all that I have young children and a home to keep ticking over! Hope you sort it soon. xxx
Hi Teachers, HLTA's and TA's
Well, I have been back in school for three weeks now. This is the fourth week and the whole situation is just serving to make me realise that I'm a shadow of my former self. Now that I am back to some kind of normality, I cannot imagine ever being the person I was before and I still cannot believe what I have been through this year. It's almost as if this cancer has taken a massive piece of me with it. I am physically and emotionally shattered and trying to deal with the demands of not only work but running a home and looking after children. It's hard when you've not had cancer! I feel that people look at me and, because they cannot see what's under my clothes they think I am okay. I feel like I had a lot of support before from work but now that I am back there's not much there. I also seem to have been waiting forever for the counselling I am supposed to be receiving through work! I cannot wait to sit down and for the Consellor to ask me how I feel so that I can say ' absolutely c---!' Don't you feel that nobody truly understands what you are going/been through? Sorry but I feel that this is the only place where you can rant and people truly understand. I feel terribly selfish now because this post has been all about me and there must be other teaching staff out there who have endured much worse than me. Grrrrr. This is a very confusing, horrible stage of the process and I am not enjoying it at all. I also find it really irritating when people say 'well, you are lucky to be alive!'xxx
Hawkie. I'm an HLTA too. Dx Feb 2012. I worked up to a week before my op (no chemo though - sounds like you're having that first?) When it was half term. I wanted to go back straight after my WLE/SNB but in the end I waited until 3 weeks after Rads finished. I fretted so much about not being at work, at first, until the tiredness kicked in! I was off 4 months and went back on a phased return. I was sooo tired!
My advice would be to try to enjoy your time off (as much as possible in the circumstances!) and be glad a supply is covering you so your colleagues are not being overstretched and the children will be fine. Find things you enjoy doing that you don't normally have time for. I started knitting animals, and now I'm back at work (full time since Sep 2012) I'm going to sell them at the Christmas Fair!
Wishing you minimal SEs and a quick recovery.
I send you all my understanding and empathy at this difficult time. With regard to being off work, you have to do what you have to do. Just think of yourself. After my diagnosis, I continued to to work because I had to sustain some sanity and normality and my work colleagues at school were my rock. I had lots of time off for hospital appointments and breast clinic etc before my surgery but all my sick leave was taken after my operations because I knew that post-operatively this was vital to my recovery. Best of luck to you and keep in touch xxx
Thank you Lucy and JCJ for your words of support. I'm pleased to say that I feel quite a lot calmer. The "old" meds must be good for me. I'm still quite tired, but aiming to give work a go next week after a hopefully restful weekend, and see how I go...
quarteter, you have more than doubled your work load - and I know that peripatetic teachers have the extra strain of getting from school to school and fitting in with every school's different timetables and routines, so it's no wonder you are finding it hard.
Is there a way of increasing your hours without adding quite so many? Perhaps it would help if you could build up gradually? I appreciate this may not be practical, but it might enable you to take on more work (and earn more!) without crashing and burning! Maybe you could defer some of the teaching until next term? Once you are in the routine of all your new lessons, the planning won't be so worrying.
Changing meds might help. I hope it does. Hang in there. It WILL get better! hugs x
Hello ladies..I've just read this thread with interest. I am a peripatatic music teacher and was diagnosed late 2007. I had a mastectomy, chemo, rads and an elective second mastectomy in 2009. I have been working 7 hours for the last 4 years which I have been fortunate enough to be able to do financially. I needed more work so accepted a further 9 hours and had been looking forward to starting that this week. Having been on tamoxifen for 5 years I switched to letrozole at the beginning of August. Last week I felt itchy, fluey and extremely exhausted. I was sleeping all afternoon and night. By last Friday the oncologist had decided I should switch back to tamoxifen for another 5 years but I have had a huge emotional crash this week , so much so I cannot go to work. I really feel like I have taken too much teaching on...I hardly sleep at night for worrying about all the different lessons I need to think about. My gp says give it until the end of the week (as I felt well on tamoxifen) and if no better I must go back. I have a lot of thinking to do. Being self-employed it is a case of finding others to take on my work, but I need the income
Ahh thanks JCJ
Yes, I am going to see how I go on. I am so emotional and physically shattered with it all. I had Physio this afternoon and she said no wonder I am so tired! Apparently, your body is using up so much energy trying to repair itself that there is not much left over! This makes so much sense. i have just not been able to understand before now why I am so tired and slow at everything. I am also going to take advantage of some counselling which has been offered to me through work. I have never needed it before but my goodness I certainly feel like I need it now! Thanks everyone at BCC for all your support which has been invaluable. xxxxxx
Soosie - EVERYONE feels shattered after the first week of term. It's a massive shock to the system. Working with kids is very tiring, even without major emotional trauma and surgery to recover from! You have had all the emotional baggage of returning to work, people asking after you etc, on top of that, so it's no wonder you are exhausted. Be gentle with yourself and take time off if you need it. Perhaps suggest a phased return if you find you're not coping after a couple more weeks?
I returned on a phased return in the last half term before the summer (2012 - gradually building up the number of days a week) and then had the summer hols to recover. I'm glad it worked out like that for me, I couldn't have coped going straight back in - even without meetings and playground duties.
Glad things are going well for you Mrs B.
After having a mx and ld breast reconstruction at the end of May, I have just returned to work as a Teaching Assistant. I did not need any ongoing chemo or rads due to having dcis. I have been fairly okay on a daily basis and have not been doing any playtime duties or lunchtime duties. However, when I got home from work last night (Friday), I was absolutely shattered both physically and emotionally and was very tearful. I had to go straight to bed. I was so looking forward to returning to work for normality but it is almost as if, now that I have gone back, the realisation and enormity of what I have been through has hit me and I just cannot believe. I feel like I am just not the same person and that I will never be physically and emotionally strong again. It has been such a hard week and I am very confused about it all
This new forum is reminding me of work....you go away for a while and its all changed!!
Hoping that all you teachers and assistants and anyone else who is currently off either having treatment or recovering are all well. Weird it being the start of term and not being part of the shared excitement/dread.
Just thought I would share what happened today with my HR manager as I went into school today to discuss my phased return. I am a HoD in a large city secondary that has just come out of special measures and been reformed as an academy. Anyway it was a really positive meeting and hopefully I will benefit from a supported return.
I finished my chemo 6 weeks ago and my radiotherapy 3 weeks ago. I am looking to return on a very stretched out phased return the last week of Oct. HR lady was lovely and said that my timetable will be worked completely around me, combining late starts/ early finishes etc for how ever long. The teacher who has been covering for me will stay until Christmas in the first instance, and for longer if necessary. Basically she said that their goal was for me to feel productive and valued when in school, and that it's in everyone's best interest to make sure I return to work at a steady pace.
I hope this helps others who are contemplating then/how they will be returning to work.
Just thought I'd resurrect this thread. Good luck with the new term everyone. Don't work too hard. Prioritise, especially your own health! Those of you still fretting to get back to work: take your time, you will get there. Be gentle with yourselves! 🙂