It’s so easy to look back and see what you should’ve done isn’t it? Or take a look at the advice that at the time you knew was good but would probably be ok to ignore. You feel an obligation and put your own needs aside; sometimes this is a good thing but sometimes you will come to regret it.
I was officially diagnosed with my blood clot 1 year ago. There has been a lot to learn and to get used to with this and I’m sure the future will hold yet more lessons but the one I’m currently wishing I’d learnt a lot sooner is to just take time out for yourself and do what is right for you.
The day I went into the walk in centre I did of course ring in sick to work. I can only assume that because I went to the walk in centre really early and had left a voicemail explaining it was “just a really bad pain in my leg” my manager must have assumed I’d be back in work later that day and didn’t put me down as absent. To be honest I believed that as well; I thought I’d be told how to lessen the pain and be sent on my merry way. Of course that wasn’t to be. I ended up spending the day back and forth between clinics, having people poke at my leg and draw blood and then give me the terrifying news that it could be a blood clot. I rang my manager back, told her what was suspected and that I had to go for an ultra sound to confirm it but that if I could get the departmental laptop somehow I could probably work from home. My friend brought it round for me and the next day before my scan I was working.
Throughout the next few months I ended up working from home. My reasoning was that it was still “just” a pain in the leg, my mind wasn’t affected and particularly as I couldn’t physically walk for 6 weeks or sit at a desk my options were sleep all day, read in bed all day or work in bed all day. I opted for the latter, after all sick pay is rubbish plus of course after so long your employer starts making angry noises and the HR department send all sorts of fun letters. So I just worked.
Even then I was unsure if I was doing the right thing. Ok it was was keeping my mind busy but I wasn’t at the top of my game. I needed to nap in the day, something I just can’t do usually plus I had to keep popping out to clinics, daily at first. I also wasn’t fully set up at home like I am in the office with dual screens and all my files so I wasn’t completely efficient. Combine that with the fact we had just been bought out by another company and I was having to train my new colleague over the phone, something that is hard enough even without factoring in my constant medical appointments and exhaustion and it just wasn’t the greatest situation.
It probably didn’t help that I’d worked as well as after a couple of months my manager, as understanding as she was, started making “well can’t you get into the office” noises. Just a bad leg right? What do you mean you can’t sit at a desk? It’s sitting, there’s nothing difficult about sitting. I would probably have thought it myself had I not been going through it. This is where it’s crucial you stand up for yourself and make people understand. I didn’t.
Now a year on and I still get days where I’m just drained or my leg hurts too much to sit and concentrate in the way I need to. I get days where I feel I need to sit at home, sleep, not think on anything more complicated than “What time is it and how much more sleep can I get before Niall comes home?” but I don’t feel I can. I set myself a precedent by being stubborn, not wanting to let people down and not wanting to admit to myself I was as ill as I was. If I turned round now and said “I’m so tired today because of my clot” I doubt very few people out there wouldn’t instantly think “Huh, well you could work when it was diagnosed and you were on medication, it’s a year on, you’re off the medication, you really expect me to fall for that?”
So please, if you ever are in such a situation don’t feel guilty. Don’t feel like you’re letting yourself or anyone else down. If you need that time to recover then take it. Do what is right for you.