Too soon to return to work?

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I had bunion surgery and 2nd toe corrective surgery on my left foot 4 weeks ago. I am back at work next week on a phased return (50% for 2 weeks) this is due to the fact that logistically I can't work from home and I get the feeling they think there is nothing wrong with me so I may as we'll be sitting at work than sitting at home, I do feel some pressure to return ASAP and my boss has emailed and phoned me while I have been off and even sent me to occupational health in week 2 to assess my fitness to return to work! My consultant had said I could have up to 6 weeks off work but I forgot to ask for a sick note when I was discharged from the ward, having just come round from the anaesthetic, been seen by physiotherapists who showed me how to use the crutches, told to get dressed and then my husband was called to come and fetch me, I forgot and was not asked if I needed one when I left. I then had to contact my GP to get one and he gave me one for 4 weeks. Would advise anyone to ensure you ask for a sick note before you are discharged it will save a lot of hassle. After I went for my stitches out I was told I would be given a gel spacer to put between the big toe and second toe but the nurse said we don't use those anymore we just pad with gauze, she gave me enough dressings and gauze for 3 changes so have had to buy more. I had no instructions of how often to change my dressings or when I could shower, I got all my info from the internet and sites like this one. I have to say it has not been painful only when putting the foot down after sleeping then it throbs for a while, I have managed ok but I have taken it easy and elevated my foot a lot, my toes however are still feeling numb. Yesterday I did not elevate my foot and by last night it was considerably swollen. I just hope I am not going back to work too soon.

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  • Posted

    Hi sun lover I would say you are going back to work a bit early , I'm now at week 5 since my op , I saw my consultant yesterday and I have only just stopped wearing my boot that was given to wear , I asked him when I could return to work and he said when I feel ready , my sick note is for another 2 weeks and I will be going to get another after that , I do drive for a living and do up to 80 deliveries a day , but my consultant did say not to do too much too early as it is a huge trauma the foot has gone through , don't be pressured in going back too early 
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    • Posted

      Hi, my consultant had also said I could have 6 weeks off or go back when I felt ready and as I have a desk job I wasn't sure how long was enough, I will see how it goes next week. I also have a pin in my big toe which he said can remain permanently unless it gives problems in the future. I will continue to wear my Velcro shoe for the next few weeks and will be relying on family to ferry me to and from work until I can drive again - that's the bit I am worried about, using the clutch! The clutch was a huge problem when I had my bunion especially in stop start traffic, agony! As a delivery driver I would think you would need a longer recovery time, although advice does seem to vary, I heard from someone yesterday who was given a sick note for 8 weeks. 
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  • Posted

    I'm with Happyface on this one- take your time. I had the same op as you on my left foot but also had a smaller bunion on my right foot corrected. I'm now post op 9 weeks and went back to work last week. I've only been driving since last weekend and find it a bit of a strain. Both physically and mentally this has been a bit of a struggle and I reckon that you probably need a minimum of ten weeks off work. Once you return to work people assume that you are fully recovered which you won't be. Take care

    E

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    • Posted

      That's it isn't it - you are back so you are expected to perform, I will be working half days for two weeks so will just get up and leave. Must be difficult having both feet done.
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    • Posted

      I agree with Eileen, once you go back they'll quickly forget you had anything done! I'm at 5 and a bit weeks and am fortunate to not have to work full time, but I couldn't imagine going back to work even half day yet! I own an Art Gallery/ clothing shop for which I do all the buying and needed to get some more clothing stock this week - had a 6 hr excursion to buy it on Monday, spent a couple of hrs on Tuesday sorting and pricing it, and yesterday took photographs of some of the clothes to put on the web, and boy was my foot painful last night!! This morning I woke up with a really painful glute muscle probably from bending up and down as I had lain the clothes out on the floor to take pics, foot still really sore and am feeling totally exhausted! You don't want to undo all the healing you've done so far by going back too early, maybe it's worth getting hold of your consultant and getting a longer sick note. Or discuss it with your boss and say you're willing to try a few hours to start with, but he must understand if you then feel it's too soon and need to take a few more weeks. Good luck!
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    • Posted

      Thanks for the advice I have felt under pressure to go back to work, I even had my boss saying that as she is off next week I might want to go in and see her this week to have my return to work interview. I said no I wouldn't be doing that! She has arranged for someone else to do it on Tuesday but I told her they will have to come to me as I am not up to walking to their office (a considerable walk)
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  • Posted

    Hi sunlover, I was given a sick note for 8 weeks as I work in retail and am constantly on my feet. My op was 7 weeks ago and I am going back to see the consultant next week. I am expecting to go back the following week but am nervous about walking as I'm still wearing splint and using the shoe. My boss has already said he does not expect me to be full time straight away. Work should not be putting any pressure on you to get back. You could have gone back to the consultant for a sick nite as it took me 4 weeks to get one!!
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    • Posted

      Thanks joanne,  I contacted the consultants secretary afterwards but she said it was nothing to do with her and I would have to ring my GP.  I am only seeing the consultant again in another 4 weeks and to have an X-ray.
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  • Posted

    Hello Sunlover.

    You and me are in the same boat as I had exactly the same surgery as you on 27 Novembe. Fortunately I am retired ( 63 years of age) and so no pressure from employers. However, yours needs to have it pointed out yto him/her that unlike hip and knee replacement surgery the recovery time for hallux valgus ( or if the employer is thick, Bunion Surgery) is a great deal longer. You may like to take a look at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital's  website on 'A Patient's Guide to Bunions ( Hallux Valgus) and Lesser Toe Deformities'.

    In the meantime, I can tell you exactly what my consultant said to me prior to the surgery. And that is that it is essential to keep the foot elevated for as much and as long as possible as there will; be throbbing ( as you have already experienced) and that there will be increased swelling if you do not elevate and this in turn wil prolong and delay healing and recover. He told me that I should not expect there to be full recovery in under 9 or 12 months. Now, like you, I have been sensible and made sure I rested thye foot. We know that the foot tells us in no uncertain terms when we've expected too much from it and that we need to get it elevated. To move quickly on to the gel toe spacers  -  I was given these after all the bandages came off and was told to wear one between the big and 2nd toe for at least 2 weeks. I did use it for a longer period but this was my persoal choice and not for any medical reason. I did invest in a Limbo plastic leg protectot so that I could have a shower whilst my foot was bandgaed. But to be totally honest  was to nervous to attempt to get it on over the bulk of the bandages without knocking the K-wire in my 2nd toe and so I didn't have a shower for the firts 8 weeks. This may make you feel shocked. But, rather than run the risk of loosing my balance and falling over I contented myself with very thorough washes until then. My husband was brilliant at doing the parts I couldn't reach. Namely, my back. And so I managed. And I can assure you I didn't smell either!! Over the months since began contributing to this discussion site I have been amazed how many patients have been left with very little information from their medical teams. I consider that I have been one of the lucky ones who has an excellent consultant, hospital who have given me lots of advice and information etc.

    I can understand you feeling it less hassle to return to work rather than try to work from home. However, I feel fairly sure that your GP will be happy to give further sick notes for however long it may take until you are fit to return to work. Your employer needs to understand that a bunion may seem a trivial thing to have had removed but the reality is that whilst the surgery is non-life thtreatening the recovery period is far, far greater than other kinds of limb surgery. I have a friend who's husband has had both knees replaced in August and November 2013 and I can tell you that he's back to normal and has been for 5 months.

    So, get your employer to sit down with you and tell him/her these things.

    Also, you do not mention driving.

    After this type of surgery you have to inform your vehicle insurer about your surgery and this applies if you drive a manual transmission vehicle ( in other words, not an automatic). As it was my left foot I had operated on, I found my first attemp[t in February to drive again was not very good. You must be able to perform an emergency stop. So do take care here. The RNOH patient's guide I referred to earlier actually also mentions the driving business. I resumed proper driving around the middle/end of February and everything is ok. I do occasionally get some discomfort/mild pain under the ball of my big toe but I just accommodate this by taking extra care when driving. I can perform an emergency stop without any problems.

    Keep me posted and if there's anything I can help you with further please contact me.

    We must stick together.

    Oh, and your employer needso understand that you may be bright and chirpy but you have a poorly foot.

    G.

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    • Posted

      I am not sure whether I am pleased or not to have come across this website! I will be having my operation in a couple of weeks and was really sceptical when the consultanr told me I will need at least six weeks off. I am a teacher and have told the head that I only expect to be off two weeks. She will not be impressed if I need more time off. If I can get a lift to work is there really any reason why I might need more time off? Once I am in my classroom I won't need to walk around too much.
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    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply Gillian. Although my consultant said I could have up to 6 weeks off he also said I could go back to work when I felt ready if I had a sedentary job - meaning before then.  This makes me feel that I shouldn't be prolonging it as i do have a desk job.

      I didn't venture into the showe until last week, having full body wash every day before then. I will definitely not be rushing to drive for a while yet!

       

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    • Posted

      I have clearly underestimated this procedure. I am beginning to have doubts about whether I want it doing. I was hoping I would be able to start running within a couple of months. Can anyone reassure me that it is worth doing?
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    • Posted

      Hi Pippa, you will never be able to go back to teaching after 2 weeks! I was also under the impression that I would just have to wear a cast and not be able to drive for 6 weeks but otherwise life could go on as normal. But I am now 5 and a half weeks post op and still have to spend most of the day with my foot elevated otherwise it gets too painful. I'm probably a bit older than you at 52 and heal slower, but if you read through some of the other discussions most people take about 8 weeks before they're up and about normally. There's also a good group on Facebook called "I survived a bunionectomy" where you can follow the ups and downs. It's a long hard process - but if your bunions bother you, then it probably has to be done!
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    • Posted

      That is exactly what I did think. I thought it would be like having a broken toe. I would have a pot on and as long as someone drove me around I would be pretty much back to normal after a week or so.

      I have already cancelled the operation once as I felt bad about taking so much time off. But the pain in my feet has become so bad that I can't put it off anymore.

      I am worried about how I am going to cope post op. I have four children,  a puppy with a broken leg and we are moving house in a few weeks.

      But I am going to take everyone's advice and will try and take it easy. And I am looking forward to being back on my feet - literally. Although I am already panicing about when I am going to get the second one done.

      The advice on this website has been invaluable. I am so pleased I found it. Thank you for the helpful tips and I will certainly look on Facebook.

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    • Posted

      Gillian, thank you so much for all the information you have taken the time to document, another lady Eileen suggested I read this thread, I am one of the people who has minimum information on recovery, I am 8 weeks and work is coming to assess me tomorrow, I am not ready to go back for at least I think 3 more weeks.  I am now going to read the website you suggest and I can refer work to read it too if necessary.  Thank you so much 
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