Some people may be itching to get back to work. How long it will take before you are able to get back to work will depend on a number of things including whether your work is physical or sedentary, how invasive your surgery was and your employment contract. Here’s a few things to think about before you rush back into it:
Firstly, take as much time as you can. Your body (and mind!) have just been through a lot, and you may be surprised how much it has taken out of you. I thought I was going to be back at work within four weeks. I’d even lined up a job interview (haha) in about week four or five of my recovery. Needless to say that didn’t happen. I eventually went back to work after 9 weeks. So take your time, rest up – you’ll be back at work before you know it.
Secondly before you do head into the office for work, go in for a coffee or lunch one day. It will give you a chance to answer questions and catch up with people informally before you have to do any real work. There will be lots of people who want to hear your story and it’s nice to get this out of the way before you officially return to work. There will still be questions later on, but it gets some of the awkwardness out of the way. It also gives you a chance to get used to the work environment again.
Thirdly When you do to work start back part time for a couple of weeks if you can. It is surprising how exhausting even that can be. It also gives you a chance to continue working on your physical rehabilitation, without the pressure of full time work. I found it much easier fitting in my rehabilitation classes, daily walks, doctor’s appointments etc, without the pressure of a 9-5 job.
Finally, if you can try and reduce the amount of stress or responsibility you have in your work. Take a less demanding role for a while, make sure you stick to the minimum hours and prioritise your health. I have done that for the past twelve months (although I changed jobs during this time, it is a much less stressful environment and the management team are incredibly supportive) and I’m just starting to feel now that I can take on more. I’ve heard other people who have been recovering from a major illness say the same thing. It isn’t that you can’t handle the same level of stress anymore, it’s just that your “bucket of stress” is already quite full – just think of what you’ve had to deal with both from a medical procedure and a mortality perspective! That’s bound to create a little anxiety.
So be kind to yourself, take your time, acknowledge what you have just been through and ease back into work.