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Return to work
Hi. I'm new to this forum so hope I'm not going against etiquette by asking for some advice on my first post.
I had a heart attack late August, two stents fitted and I've been recovering at home since. After my first month off work I realised I wasn't ready to return so I requested another sick note. During this second month I developed a nasty cold which set me back so I am now in my third month off work. I can't say I felt a major improvement after my stents and still have a tendency to become breathless. I began my cardio rehab two days ago which went fine although I have noticed some very mild chest discomfort since which comes and goes. My boss is willing to let me go back to work part-time, I work in retail by the way, and I can avoid doing heavy liftitng however when this sick note finishes I will be returning at the most stressful time of the year. It's not a difficult job but I have been more prone to feeling stressed and agitated lately.
So, my big question is, do I take a further month off work and go back after Christmas when things calm down considerably or am I being over cautious and should I get back into a working routine as soon as possible?
Thank you for taking the time to read and I would appreciate anyone's thoughts.
AmbassadorC, November 8, 2018 5:07am EST
Good morning Phil and welcome to the SN. Thank you for sharing your concerns. While I had OHS to repair a leaking valve, I can understand your concern in returning to work. What I learned on my journey is that every “body” is different in terms of recovery. That said, i encourage you to be your own Advocate and follow up with your cardiac team if you are still experiencing pain or shortness of breath. You never want to take anything for granted. Cardiac rehab is also a must to assist you in your road to recovery. Over time, it will help you not only physically in reconditioning your heart, but also in the sense of building a sense of self confidence as you become heart strong. So in terms of seeking whether or not you should return to work, I would discuss with your cardiac team so that you have a clean bill of health to eliminate anything else that may be going on in the background. Once you pass through that step, you may want to ask the cardiac staff at rehab for some pointers in returning to work with confidence. At the very least, I have found that the success to recovery is to keep moving, even if it is at a pace that you’re not quite used to. With time, you will be back to your routine and strength to Make it through a full shift. I invite you, if you haven’t already found the education materials, to review for some helpful hints on managing recovery. There is an awesome app that can also help you track your recovery.
Keep on fighting with heart❣️
AmbassadorDN, November 8, 2018 8:09am EST
Ambassador C has given you great advice. While my surgeries were to address a defective heart valve, it took me quite a while to feel ready to go back to work. Combined with a few srbacks in my recovery and my cardiologist’s reluctance to send me back to work during a busy time and the height of the flu season, it was a wise decision for me to wait. Still, the most important advice I can give you is to listen to your body, partner with your cardiac team in your care, and take care of your heart, even if it means delaying your return to work a while longer. If you can, try to avoid the stress of the busy season, and return to work once things at work calm down. That way you can make sure your heart is strong enough and you are healed enough to handle another busy time!
Please keep us posted—we are all here for you!
To Heart and Soul Health,
AHAASAKatie, November 8, 2018 8:43am EST
Good morning, If you are still experiencing discomfort, please check in with your medical team before making any other decisions about next steps. I think one of the hardest skills to learn as a new patient is how to listen to your body and do what is needed. We are conditioned to work, all the time, as much as we can. If your body is telling you that it needs more time for recovery, work with your medical team to secure that time. I experienced that last year when I had back surgery and then a DVT incident. I had to extend my leave in order to recover because I was so exhausted from the two issues and just not ready to come back. But it was a hard decision and I spent some time arguing with myself about what I truly needed to do. Recovery is hard, be kind to yourself :). Christine mentioned one of our apps, My Cardiac Coach. This might be a great app for you to investigate to help manage the rehab. Thank you, Katie
summerfever, November 8, 2018 7:32pm EST
Many thanks for your replies, I really appreciate the advice.
It has been quite difficult accepting that I’ve had a significant health scare. I’ve had a tendency to play things down as I didn’t experience any agonising pain or feel I was in any particular danger. I even avoided using the words 'heart attack’ as it seemed a bit dramatic. I think I always expected a heart attack to be crushing, severe pain accompanied by an emergency dash to A & E. Something I didn’t mention before is that I was initially told I needed a triple bypass. I spent a further week in hospital waiting for this to be confirmed and then out of the blue, on the morning of the day before I was discharged, was told to put on a gown as I was having two stents fitted instead. That sudden change of direction really messed with my head for a while as I felt as if I’d been downgraded. After two and a half weeks in hospital I was suddenly discharged and back home. It’s a lot to take in.
As you have all suggested I should speak more to the cardio rehab nurse. I don’t think I’ve made use of her experience as much as I should have, especially when she’s only a phone call away.
I will keep you posted as to how things progress and thank you once again for your kind posts.
JamesPL, November 8, 2018 8:35pm EST
Everyone one has given you great advice and I couldn't agree more. I went through recovery from bypass surgery and was advised at the time to listen to my body and it was good advice that I didn't completely listen to. My recovery was during the winter months and after about 6 weeks, I was itching to get back to work. My cardiologist convinced me to give it another week and see how I feel. I did that and still wanted to return so she recommended I start by only working part time for the first couple of weeks. I did go back part time and I didn't realize how difficult it would be. I became exhausted by mid afternoon and would have to leave early. I clearly should have waited another month before I returned. So as everyone has said, consult with your cardiac team and if you have any inclination that you are just not ready, give yourself more time. But as AmbassadorC said, your strength will return especially if you continue with your exercise program beyand cardiac rehab.
Best of luck to you!
yarn007, November 15, 2018 1:04am EST
Phil you are blessed to be able to get time off after your heart attack. It was smart of you to take it. When I had mine with 1 stent the doctor had me back to work in 3 days. I got the extra day since my whole job is typing and they went in through my wrist. As you know in your recovery 3 days is sure not enough time to process and deal with everything that has happened when you have a heart attack. My advice to anyone who has had a heart attack if you can get some time off afterwards.... TAKE IT.
Looking forward to hearing how your recovery is going. Sending best wishes your way.
Amulet, December 17, 2018 12:57am EST
From my experience take as much time as needed. I had my first heart attack in May 2014. Went back to work immediately 10 days later had second heart attack 3 stents were placed. I stayed over night and was released on Tuesday. I was told by my boss to return following Monday. I got tired very quick and was going to cardio rehab. I still got tired from doing things from my job and had to take frequent breaks and sit down. Main boss came in room I was in and screamed at me. I worked there for awhile longer till next event then I quit.
yarn007, December 17, 2018 1:04am EST
Wow, it is amazing how horrible people can be. How are you doing now Amulet?
Quipupa, January 3, 2019 10:40am EST
Thank everyone for sharing. Where can I find the recovery app?
DolphinWrite, January 12, 2019 9:59pm EST
Dude. Work is not everything. If you can afford it, take what time you need. I'd been teaching for many years, and that's a stressful job which should be joyful save for pc. I too struggled about work, am looking, but if I can and nothing comes my way, I'll start working with the new school year. Take the time, if you can, if you want and need to. You have a lot of years to look forward to. God bless.