I should take a medical leave for my back?

Muttly

MyPTSD Pro
I guess maybe this is an accountability thread? The short summary for those that don't know. I've had chronic back issues for years. Had one surgery. Last October I hurt my back again. Tried everything and conclusion was I need a spinal fusion. That got delayed because of covid. It is about 3 weeks away. I was off work for a time and then went back to work, part-time and light duty. My work is super supportive. In spite of that, I am getting worse and the treatments that have kept things to an almost manageable level have stopped working. If I try to be honest and ignore the voices in my head that say I'm exaggerating, weak, etc. It's bad. I've left early the past few days, from my part-time shift. I've had pain so bad I feel like throwing up, don't feel like I should have been driving and have pondered going to the ER. Today I dragged myself in, knowing I'd leave early again. I had thoughts of suicide driving into work. In so many ways, I'm in the best place I've ever been mentally. I really, really want to live. The thoughts were just because that thought is so familiar and the pain, exhaustion and feeling trapped so bad.

And when I thought about it logically, at this point I'd make more money if I went on medical leave, because of how few hours I'm working. It would also protect my insurance. I'm working so few hours it won't be covered. And I can't do this anymore. If it was anyone but me, I'd say that going to work when it's that painful and seems to be making things worse is the wrong choice. I am confident my doctor will give me a medical leave. So what's stopping me? My work is also something I care about deeply and we've been chronically short staffed. We are close to getting well staffed but not there. And in my brain, I'm abandoning them if I take leave now. It will make it hard on everyone else. And when we get too short staffed, we turn away pets (I work at a vet clinic), or worse, cancel appointments.

I guess it's not just that stopping me. It's the feeling of being a failure. I know that's probably a cognitive distortion. It just seems like, I should be able to muscle through a few more weeks. I'm in pain, big deal. If I tried hard enough I could do it.
 

StillPen

MyPTSD Pro
I've had pain so bad I feel like throwing up, don't feel like I should have been driving and have pondered going to the ER.
Your pain is a big deal! Not little, not so-so, Big!
I had thoughts of suicide driving into work
This, too, should help you see clearly that your pain is a big deal. Yes, work is short-staffed, but put the oxygen mask on yourself first, remember?
I'm in pain, big deal
Yes, big deal. You could be doing irrevocably more damage if you "push through it" or "tough it out".

I support your decision either way, but I don't want to see you hurting any more than necessary.

Many hugs 🫂
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
It's really great to wrote this.
I think you know you're answer.
You deserve to be looked after, and that includes you looking after you.

Work will cope. It's easier to plan when you know someone is off for a period. Truly it is.
There is sick leave for a reason.
They know you and care about you. You have a job that will be there for when you are better.

Being in work makes your back worse.
The pain you are in sounds incredible. You've managed it so long. This last bit before the surgery, rest up.
Because if you're more rested now, healing after will be better too?

Sitting with you @Muttly.
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
It sounds like you're doing a good job of accurately assessing the situation AND of fighting off those voices. You're right, the voices are wrong. I'd say take the medical leave. It's less than a month to the surgery, then whatever recovery time, then you should be able to go back to work. It's not like you're leaving them short staffed for a super long time and it's not like they had no warning. They'll manage! And, maybe it will make the surgery easier if you don't go into it with things totally inflamed? IDK

Anyway, taking the medical leave seems like smart, reasonable thing to do. I'm glad you have that option! Might as well use it.
 

Muttly

MyPTSD Pro
Thank you all.

So I did call the doctor this morning and left a message. They reached back out and do think I should take a medical leave. I thought I'd feel relieved but I just sort of feel like a failure. I don't know. I still haven't talked to my manager. Left her a message. I don't think it will surprise her. I hate that I'm adding to her stress.

I'm sorry I'm not being more positive about all this.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
You need a spinal fusion…current levels of pain are making you feel like throwing up…you’re having suicidal thoughts going to work…there are three weeks til your surgery…your doctor recommends you taking medical leave…your workplace is really supportive…medical leave will ensure you’re covered for insurance…

So, yeah…I’d saying going ahead and taking medical leave is the smart move here.

I hear the other barriers for you around this…feeling like a failure etc… I agree with your assessment that there are some cognitive distortions cropping up here.

And I agree with what some others have said…that continuing to aggravate the pain now may make recovery harder/longer and that resting now may help get you back on your feet again and on the road to recovery more smoothly.

I get not wanting to add more stress to your boss/colleagues. But everyone will get much more from you when you are feeling improved. And, when bosses/colleagues know someone is going to be off for x amount of time, it’s actually generally easier to plan for and work around.

Your work people always sound so great when you talk about them here. And your love for the animals who come to receive care is so clearly evident. Taking some time off to rest, give your body a break, get the treatment you need and then take some time to recuperate and recover…it’s a good thing for you to do for yourself and your health and well-being…and a good thing, ultimately, for your colleagues, customers and patients too.

Wishing you all the best with the surgery and hoping it brings you much needed relief.
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
I think you'd be accurate if you thought of that "feeling like a failure" thing as a symptom. It's a cognitive distortion too. I guess being truly bullet proof and invisible would be "a success" but (unfortunately) it's not something that actually exists in the world. I think you've successfully taken some hard steps here to look out for yourself like a person who doesn't have PTSD and has a more "normal" background would. Definitely a success. Keep taking care of yourself!
 

Muttly

MyPTSD Pro
I appreciate all your replies. I'm off work. And my mood has been super low. I don't get it. I feel like I should be feeling more positive now that I'm not pushing through work. Instead I feel unmotivated and down.

I haven't had any leave/disability pay approved. I have to jump through hoops. I know that's how it works, but the uncertainty stinks. I'd actually deal better with it being turned down with no chance of appealing then just being in limbo. I know that's dumb.

And now that I'm on leave I feel like I should be getting things done. For example my floor is so dirty. I just can't seem to pull it together to clean it. That seems ridiculous.

Sigh. Not a positive post. I need to pull my self together.
 

StillPen

MyPTSD Pro
I feel like I should be feeling more positive now that I'm not pushing through work.
You get a lot of meaning and graditude from your work, and you don't have that now...makes total sense to me that you're down. You are 'should-ing' all over yourself.
then just being in limbo. I know that's dumb.
Not dumb, I hate it too. We've had enough uncertainty in our lives.
For example my floor is so dirty.
What?!? Don't even think about cleaning your floor! You took off work to save your back and to reduce pain. Don't look at your floor
...avert your eyes.
I need to pull my self together.
No you don't. Let it all hang out! You need to take care of yourself (rest), and be gentle and gracious and forgiving of yourself. And... feel exactly how you feel, whatever it may be, and that is okay.
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
I thought I'd feel relieved but I just sort of feel like a failure.

Instead I feel unmotivated and down.

I haven't had any leave/disability pay approved. I have to jump through hoops. I know that's how it works, but the uncertainty stinks. I'd actually deal better with it being turned down with no chance of appealing then just being in limbo.

And now that I'm on leave I feel like I should be getting things done.
oh hun. I know these feelings so, so well.
When I took my leave of absence, and then had to end up quitting for good it about undid me. I felt like such a total loser, just someone who had normal problems and couldn't get her shit together. Then have to try to "ask' for help thru disability? Oh ya..que more loser failure.
Then I couldn't even do the millions of projects I wanted to do since I was just home sitting on my ass? ya. que more failure

Something guru told me that I held on to was
"Freida - they are not paying you to sit on your ass. They are paying you to take the time you need to get healthy, to repair the damage that has been done to your body and mind. You are SUPPOSED to use this time to rest, to do the things you need to do to heal, to develop healthy skills to recover."

It didn't always help -- but at the same time it made sense. I needed that time to heal. I had done so much damage trying to push thru that the only option left was to just.stop.

I havent really ever gotten past the loser vibe -- but I was able to really increase the "can't fix what's broken without doing the real (healing) work" vibe so it kind of cancelled it out.

Soooooooooooooooo
"Muttly - they are not paying you to sit on your ass. They are paying you to take the time you need to get healthy, to repair the damage that has been done to your body and mind. You are SUPPOSED to use this time to rest, to do the things you need to do to heal, to develop healthy skills to recover."
 

Friday

Moderator
You know you should.

So I’m telling you what you already know.

YES.

Take medical leave.

But?

Feel good about it. Because you’re doing the right thing. Which almost never feels right, or good, so dammit? Break the curve and feel both right AND good, for doing the right thing. It’s a win. In all ways. So when it feels bad? Taking the win, and doing what’s right? FridaySays = Flip it the bird. Because you ARE doing right. By yourself, your patients, and your work.

Middle finger in the air, every time you feel shitty for doing the right thing.
 
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