Home The Book Dr Articles Products Message Boards Journal Articles Search Our Surveys Surgery ESWT Dr Messages Find Good Drs video

Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Posted by Valerie S on 8/18/01 at 10:11 (057081)

Hello friends.

I haven't posted in awhile. I have been enjoying the summer-- doing creative knitting projects, bike riding, swimming, relaxing with my husband, etc... just haven't been on the computer much.

I have been resting my poor feet, stretching, icing, and using the Jade Balm. I have had PF for close to a year now, been off work for 5 months, and tried all available conservative treatments, short of ESWT and PF surgery.

My pain level in the last 2 months has gone from a 7-8 down to a max of 3-4 during any given day. My left foot no longer gives me any problems, I would call it a 0-0.5 on the pain scale. I don't know if this is just from the Jade Balm or if the healing hands of time finally decided to give my feet a good rubdown... I'll take relief wherever I can get it!

I have been using my disability insurance, and my health insurance benefits have run dry, so now I have to pay for health insurance through COBRA ($$$), which takes about 1/2 of my monthly disability check, which is about 1/2 of my income (if I were working). For this reason, and since my feet are starting to really feel better, and for my own personal sanity, I am looking at the option of returning to work.

I work on my feet all day in a retail setting. There is no sitting down, and there are no sitting-down positions. At what point in your healing process do you start to increase your activity level, when can you test the water and see if you can handle your job again? With the pain level I am experiencing now, I wonder if I would still be able to make progress using an aircast or something to protect my foot along with some anti-inflammatory meds to get me through the day. Do you think this would turn my progress around? If I wait until the pain is gone (God willing...), will I THEN be able to return to work without risk of flare-up?

Just wonder what input you might have... although I worry about what my employer thinks (too much sometimes), I really just want my feet to get better so I can play a productive role in society again. If I can get myself back there in the next month, I return to active status with full benefits. But will I destroy my chances of total recovery if I return too soon? Will I ever be able to go back?

Thanks for any input you might have...

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Nancy N on 8/18/01 at 10:41 (057083)

Val--

Good to hear from you again!

Maybe I am just overly cautious, but with the kind of job you're describing, I would be really reluctant to go back to work. You could end up right back where you started, and waste the progress you've made in the past few months.

Is there a chance you could find a different job, in a different setting, that would not require as much standing? In my own experience, standing is by far the worst thing you can do when you have PF--it would always irritate my foot within a minute or two, whereas I could walk happily for probably five or ten minutes before anything would really start to bother me.

I would proceed cautiously were I you, and investigate other jobs in a non-retail setting where you could spend less time on your feet. Not knowing your background, I'm at a loss to suggest any, but if you ca give us that information, we might be able to help.

Best of luck to you--and I hope you heal all the way soon!

Re: Reasonable Accomodation and the ADA

Glenn X on 8/18/01 at 11:39 (057087)

Valerie: Just a couple of thoughts re returning to work. I'm not sure of the particulars related to your retail environment, but just because there aren't currently any 'sit-down' jobs doesn't mean you shouldn't look in that direction . . . carefully and enthusiastically explore the possibility of a workplace accomodation to your condition while you continue healing, through a sit-down job, or a modification of a job to allow for as much sitting down as possible.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to make 'reasonable accomodations' to anyone with a disability. You have one. And reasonable does not mean 'do it as it is or else.'

Not to get too lawlerly here (I aren't one), but reasonable means accomodations that are not exhorbitantly costly to the employer, and that would enable an employee to do the 'essential elements' of the job. For example, a stationary or rolling stool might be a reasonable accomodation to a retail clerk in a grocery store who primarily cashiers. A $100 (or even $500) stool is not exhorbitant. And while the employer might 'prefer' their employees standing, I don't think standing would be considered an 'essential' element of the job. You'd probably have to work through some details of mobility, reaching and packing, but on the face of it, a stool seems 'reasonable.'

The focus on 'essential elements' means a reasonable accomodation might further entail the employer completely removing 'non-essential' elements from the job. For instance, once an hour someone might have to carry a box of returned merchandise to the back-room warehouse for re-pricing and/or re-shelving. A reasonable accomodation would be for another employee, or even the supervisor, to do this 5-minute task once an hour.

If your retail job requires more mobility, say providing customer service in the midst of the merchandise, it makes sense to still explore opportunities for sitting when waiting for customers, or showing them things from a display case, whatever. Sit-down moments throughout the day can help.

Couple of other thoughts, could you work part time for awhile and get enough hours in the week to remain benefits eligible? Many employers provide benefits for part-timers if they work, say at least 25 hours a week.

Could someone in a wheelchair do this job? If not, what argument could the employer reasonably give to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to justify such a decision.? How do you feel about using a wheelchair? Sounds extreme, but I doubt you'd regret it if it facilitated your continued recovery.

If you are interested in pursuing any of these accomodation paths (and I really enourage it), you might want to call the EEOC, explain your situation, and get some more knowledgeable answers. A search on EEOC, or 'eeoc.gov' might bring them up and point you to a nearby resource. In some states there's a Bureau of Labor and Industries, or some such state agency, that can provide helpand advice as well. I'd search out a couple of web sites for you, but don't know where you are.

Last thought: can't speak to your employer, but in my experience, employers are not at all unwilling to make the accomodations we're talking about. In fact many are eager to. They realize that doing so, and doing so willingly, is one of the very best ways to engender loyalty in their employees. Not only in the one that is accommodated, but in co-workers who see their employer making that extra-caring effort.

So don't be afraid to ask for help. You might be pleasantly surprised. I sure hope so.

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Julie on 8/18/01 at 12:14 (057093)

Hello Valerie!

You've had wonderful advice from both Nancy and Glenn, so I really just want to greet you and say it's nice you're looking in. I've been wondering about you, and it's very very good to hear that you're getting better.

Slowly does it. I agree with Nancy and Glenn: I truly don't think you should be considering returning to the job 'as is'. You need more time, so give it more time. You'll be glad that you did. You're progressing, and I'm sure you'll continue to progress. If you returned soon so standing all day, I'd be willing to bet that it wouldn't be long before you were back where you started. Like Nancy, I always found standing the most painful part of PF. Even now, when I 'm better enough to say I'm 'over PF', and have no trouble walking as far as I want to walk, I do feel it when I stand for any length of time.

Glenn has given you some good, positive ideas for 'adapting'. Once you start thinking along these lines, instead of 'I have to go back to my job and do it exactly the way I always did it', you'll probably think of other ways of modifying your day's routines. And another job, in another line of work, may also be a possibility. Think laterally -you don't have to just 'go back'. You can go forward.

I can't answer your question about the air cast, but my instinct is to say that if you still need such a device, you shouldn't be thinking about doing that job! But I'm repeating myself. You certainly will need proper support for your feet, so forgive me for not remembering, but could you remind us if your walking was evaluated and if you needed and had custom orthotics made? When you do return to work (any sort of work) your feet will need really good support in your ongoing effort to avoid PF happening to you again. So - orthotics if you need them, but always good, supportive shoes.

Once again, welcome back to the PF ranch. Don't let it be so long before you next look in.

All good wishes

Julie

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Steve P on 8/18/01 at 17:53 (057113)

Hi Valerie --- Good to hear from you!

I cannot add to the wisdom of the 3 excellent posts above. My only further thought is that you may want to speak with a lawyer (a Workman's Comp & Disability specialist) before you go back to work at all. Be sure that you're not doing something inadvisable, from a legal standpoint, that could hurt you later.

Glenn's points about the ADA need to be carefully evaluated.

Best...........Steve

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

BrianG on 8/18/01 at 21:36 (057125)

Hi Val,

Before I was laid off from my job, I wore a stiff walking cast to work every day for almost a year. It had lots of padding, and was held together with velcro straps. I removed it at night. It actually made it easier to be on my feet, but it did nothing for curing me. It did effect my gait, and I finally had to stop wering it, as my knee and hip on the 'good' side were starting to hurt on a daily basis. A few months after I stopped wearing it, I elected to have EPF surgery (failure). After the surgery, I tapered off my pain meds to see if it was a success. Was I ever surprised, and bummed, to realize I had developed PF in my good foot. Yes, I think the walking cast contributed to getting PF in my 'good heel'. My opinion only, the Pods would not even begin to guess.

Good luck, just don't overdue any cast you might wear. Listen to your heels. If they begin to hurt, you know what you have to do (And the answer is NOT to work through it :*)

BCG

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Nancy N on 8/18/01 at 21:47 (057126)

Val--

Steve raises a really good point here--what ever happened with your WC claim? I know you had been looking into it; I hope you went ahead with it and can fall back on whatever benefits it offers you.

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Laurie R on 8/18/01 at 21:57 (057128)

Hello Valerie,
Nice to see you on the board again.. Also I am so happy to hear that your pain level has gone down. The thing that concerns me is ,if you go back to work to standing for 8 hours it 'may' give you a setback. I would hate for this to happen to you . All I can say is if you think you are ready than give it a try cause you will never know until you try . But be very careful if you do go back. What does your doctor say about you going back?/ Does he think you are ready . I know it is hard being off work and not making your pay ,but sometimes with this you can not put a time limit on our feet.

I wish you only the best ,please keep us updated .My very best to you Val and thanks again for checking in with us...

We are still hear if you need us . I miss talking to you .

Much love my friend ,Laurie R

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Nancy N on 8/18/01 at 22:34 (057129)

Another thought re: WC--I am not sure how it works, exactly (Laurie would be the expert to ask), but I suspect that if you have not been in touch with someone about WC, and you go back to work, you may lose your claim on WC benefits if you have a relapse. I would definitely check it out ASAP before doing anything further about heading back to work.

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Laurie R on 8/19/01 at 00:40 (057132)

Hello Nancy and Valerie , I think you are very right on this one Nancy. I do know here in CA you do have one year to file a claim. I would also suggest to call an attorney just to see where you stand (no pund intended) .I think if I remember right you have already done so . If not I would call one ASAP.. You do think this was from your job right? If so you are intitled to the medical and the by weekly checks. You know Valerie ,you are paying cobra now that is taking half of your disability check and if it is job related they should be paying your medical. All you need to file the claim is your doctors first report .... If I can help you in any way please feel free to ask... My best to you ,Laurie R

Re: Hi Valerie!

Paula G. on 8/19/01 at 08:51 (057144)

You are probably feeling so much better because you haven't been working!
I would suggest you going back slowly and trying to take it easy as much as possible.
When I cut my job back to 4 hour shifts, I did better. I had a doctor's slip and my employer had to only work me 4 hours. I was a cashier.
It was still really hard just standing. That is so much worse than moving around.

Re: Thanks, but that's not what you were supposed to say...!

Valerie S on 8/19/01 at 09:17 (057147)

Hello friends...

Thanks for reminding me what PF is all about. I work in a large copy center that requires a lot of standing and walking across the room over large electrical cords and around machines (wheelchair's too low and won't make it around those corners). I am the assistant manager, and enjoy a large profit check each month I work, along with great benefits and a decent hourly wage. I am reluctant to pursue another career avenue, since it will mean starting over at a lower hourly wage and having to wait for benefits. Oh well... that's what happens when you don't listen to your body in the first place. I wonder if this would have gone so far if I hadn't waited over 3 months to seek medical attention.

I did see a WC lawyer months ago, but was discouraged by what he told me and didn't want to rush into alienating my employer, so I decided then not to go forward with filing a claim. Maybe I should look into it again.

I know that I am justified in taking this time... but there is still that part of me that feels so guilty for not working. I like to know that I am contributing to society, not just mooching off it. I know that I will probably end up changing career fields, but feel an injustice is falling on me because I went through the proper channels. Yes, my long-term health is more important than money, but I worked so hard to get the recognition and promotion. I want it back.

Thanks for listening... I am so lucky to have found such great friends here.

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Valerie S on 8/19/01 at 09:19 (057148)

Thanks, Brian!

I remembered that you had taken time off and then returned to work, and was anxious to hear what you would have to say. Thanks for your input about the cast. I am reconsidering... again!

Thank you so much!

Val.

Re: Thanks, but that's not what you were supposed to say...!

Julie on 8/19/01 at 09:54 (057153)

Valerie, think of it this way. Contributing to society doesn't necessarily mean working all day, every day, year in and year out. And not working does not mean 'mooching'. We all have periods in our lives when, for one reason or another, we cannot work. That is society's opportunity to give something back to us. Over a lifetime, swings and roundabouts, most of us do our bit.

I might have told you before, but when I was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago, a friend gave me this to think about: 'It's my turn to practise the generosity of receiving'. That helped me to take all the time I needed to recover and heal, and when I did go back to teaching I was ready.

Don't feel guilty because you're not working for the moment. You will work again. Maybe it will be different work (you say you know you'll probably end up changing careers) - work that will let you make an even greater contribution to society than your present job does.

Your health IS more important than money. You've obviously good at what you do, clever and efficient, and you're young, so if you do make a career change I have no doubt that you will do as well in it as you have in this one (which has, after all, done your health little good, if you believe it has contributed to your heel pain).

Re: How about a rolling stool?

Glenn X on 8/19/01 at 14:30 (057178)

Valerie: Couple of add-on thoughts. I have a round stool in the kitchen. It swivels, is on rollers, and is height adjustible. I have it at 30'. Got it at Staples, but most office supplies likely have one.

With one reasonably good foot, I am pretty mobile on that stool. It glides easily, stays put when I need it to, and takes a VERY meaningful load off my feet. I've been in enough copy centers to believe such a stool would help some, maybe half the time or more. It would move you short distances through most of the tight spaces. Not over the electrical wires, but maybe they shouldn't be lying across traffic areas anyway. Obviously you'd need to be careful. Mine has wide feet so is difficult to tip, but it will. (A fabric seat would be best too).

You may have been discouraged by the WC lawyer, but you might still go ahead and file a claim. You don't need a lawyer to do that. It cannot hurt to do so. You sound like a thoughtful, conscientious employee -- not a moocher. I've got to think that if you share your feelings with your boss, and explain you want to file a WC claim to perhaps help with your continued recovery, he or she would be unlikely to discourage you. (And shame on them if they do).

Moreover, your employer pays WC insurance premiums for just such an eventuality. It's the insurance company that will be picking up any tabs. And while a claim MAY have a MINOR impact on your employer's future premium rates, the fact is that far more significant forces are determining that premium rate than an occasional claim by someone deserving.

(I've got to believe too that if you were in a car accident, you wouldn't hesitate to file a claim to get your car fixed. So . . .?)

Finally, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) has nothing to do with Work Comp. ADA applies to ANY disability. It is irrelevant if the disability was job related. So asking for an accomodation (say a rolling stool) under ADA, moves along a completely different track. A call to the EEOC may be worthwhile to help you understand your options here.

Incidently, a stool, or similar accomodation is something the employer is required to pay for, not the employee.

Take care of yourSELF!

Re: Thanks, but that's not what you were supposed to say...!

Nancy N on 8/19/01 at 21:36 (057210)

Val--

Sorry we didn't adhere to the script, but you did ask our opinion! :)

Changing careers does not necessarily mean taking a lower salary. I have just begun the process of changing careers, and while my basic annual salary is lower now, I'm in a position where I can get extra projects to work on for extra cash (and can do consulting in the summers if I want to), and the benefits more than make up for the drop in salary (I will be teaching at a private school in a few weeks and have the option of living on campus for free as well if I want to). I know that my case is unusual, but I by no means believe that changing jobs requires taking a pay cut.

My advice to you, in addition to doing your homework on that WC claim (and as Glenn points out, that's covered by your employer's insurance for cases just like yours), is to hie thee to a career counselor! I worked with one last fall and it was incredibly valuable. I know WC can provide retraining for people who can't go back to their previous jobs because of their injuries, so they may have a means for you to go sit down with a career counselor, assess your skills and interests, maybe take a few tests to pinpoint those things, and see what directions you can move in. As I keep telling friends who are interested in new jobs, there's more than one out there. You are not required to stay in one thing for your entire life. Get out there and expand those horizons!!

Re: Thank you again

Valerie S on 8/19/01 at 22:15 (057214)

Thank you to all caring and wonderful people... you help keep me in check. I was being just a little sarcastic in the subject of my last response. I was hoping that someone might jump up and say that 'Yes, it's a great idea! You can stand for hours now!' I know I needed a little slap back into reality... I guess that's why I asked. The people around me who don't have PF are all for me going back to work, or at least in believing that I am all better now. I AM doing a LOT better, and won't risk going back to the terrible pain that I had before by risking this work thing right now.

Glenn, thanks for your ideas. The disability insurance, my employer, and my doctor have gone back and forth to find a way for me to go back to work, but were unable to find a reasonable accomodation. A rolling stool will not roll over thick electrical cords or around big machines. I would spend most of my time carrying the stool around! (I am giggling at the thought of it... hee hee:)

Julie, you always know what to say. Sometimes I think that I don't have the right to take this time... I AM young, but have worked very hard for the last 14 years (always on my feet), and now I have to take time to recover. It's hard not to feel guilty for sitting on my tush, when I have been up, waiting on people my whole adult life.

Thanks for the encouragement and understanding... I have forgotten my patience once again. I continue to be grateful for the improvement that I am making, and I, for one, thank Dr. Reynolds for including me in his Jade Balm trial. I think I have finally found some relief!

Val.

Re: Thank you again

Julie on 8/20/01 at 02:24 (057229)

Thanks for the thanks, Val. We're all glad to know we've been some help. I have something else to add.

Life throws all kinds of challenges at us. When we get one - and especially one as painful and stubborn as PF - it should be looked at with as much detachment as we can muster. So that instead of saying to ourselves 'I want this to go away so that I can get back to 'normal'' we need to ask 'what is this trying to tell me, and how can I use it to move my life forward?'

Everyone is entitled to - and in fact needs - at least one career change. Any job, and I mean any, can and will wear out one's interest if one does it for too long. I have a friend who got bored with being an eminent neuropathologist. Sick of dissecting and researching dead boxers' brains, and lecturing, she retrained as a child psychiatrist. Now retired in her mid-70s, she is flourishing as a sculptor. And I, after a lifetime in publishing, working at jobs that lots of people envied me but that wore very thin long before I finished, took early retirement to give my energies to teaching and writing about yoga, and 15 years on still feel that I have only just begun my real work in life.

Nancy has hit the nail on the head when she says 'You are not required to stay in one thing for your entire life. Get out there and expand those horizons!!'

It seems to me that PF and your enforced 'retirement' have presented you with the ideal opportunity to do just that.

I'm not (at least I hope I'm not) making judgements when I observe that the job you have left does not seem to have very much to offer you besides the money and benefits you've mentioned. Apart from anything else, it has actually hurt you badly.

14 years is maybe long enough to be always on your feet (possibly in the same job/career?) So open yourself up now to the possibility that there are other jobs out there, perhaps better, more rewarding, more useful. Jobs which will challenge your intelligence and your skills and help you develop new ones. Jobs in healthier environments, footwise! Jobs which, as Nancy says, won't necessarily leave you financially worse off. She has given you excellent advice, which I hope you'll think about: consult a careers counsellor and let new ideas, new thoughts, new possibilities, flow in.

Gosh - I feel quite excited for you!

All the best, Val

Julie

Re: Julie's right, as usual -- Thanks Nancy!

Valerie S on 8/20/01 at 20:31 (057350)

Thanks to you and Julie and everybody else...

I am so stubborn sometimes. I like to do what I am good at, like to know what I am doing, so it's hard for me to think about starting over. I CAN and WILL find a new career to love; one that will be good to my feet, I hope!

Thanks for your advice, and I am glad to hear that you are enjoying your transition, and I wish for only the best for you! Thank you Thank you Thank you!

Val.

Re: Julie's right, as usual -- Thanks Nancy!

Nancy N on 8/20/01 at 23:01 (057375)

Glad to be of service. You go get 'em, girl!!! :)

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Nancy N on 8/18/01 at 10:41 (057083)

Val--

Good to hear from you again!

Maybe I am just overly cautious, but with the kind of job you're describing, I would be really reluctant to go back to work. You could end up right back where you started, and waste the progress you've made in the past few months.

Is there a chance you could find a different job, in a different setting, that would not require as much standing? In my own experience, standing is by far the worst thing you can do when you have PF--it would always irritate my foot within a minute or two, whereas I could walk happily for probably five or ten minutes before anything would really start to bother me.

I would proceed cautiously were I you, and investigate other jobs in a non-retail setting where you could spend less time on your feet. Not knowing your background, I'm at a loss to suggest any, but if you ca give us that information, we might be able to help.

Best of luck to you--and I hope you heal all the way soon!

Re: Reasonable Accomodation and the ADA

Glenn X on 8/18/01 at 11:39 (057087)

Valerie: Just a couple of thoughts re returning to work. I'm not sure of the particulars related to your retail environment, but just because there aren't currently any 'sit-down' jobs doesn't mean you shouldn't look in that direction . . . carefully and enthusiastically explore the possibility of a workplace accomodation to your condition while you continue healing, through a sit-down job, or a modification of a job to allow for as much sitting down as possible.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to make 'reasonable accomodations' to anyone with a disability. You have one. And reasonable does not mean 'do it as it is or else.'

Not to get too lawlerly here (I aren't one), but reasonable means accomodations that are not exhorbitantly costly to the employer, and that would enable an employee to do the 'essential elements' of the job. For example, a stationary or rolling stool might be a reasonable accomodation to a retail clerk in a grocery store who primarily cashiers. A $100 (or even $500) stool is not exhorbitant. And while the employer might 'prefer' their employees standing, I don't think standing would be considered an 'essential' element of the job. You'd probably have to work through some details of mobility, reaching and packing, but on the face of it, a stool seems 'reasonable.'

The focus on 'essential elements' means a reasonable accomodation might further entail the employer completely removing 'non-essential' elements from the job. For instance, once an hour someone might have to carry a box of returned merchandise to the back-room warehouse for re-pricing and/or re-shelving. A reasonable accomodation would be for another employee, or even the supervisor, to do this 5-minute task once an hour.

If your retail job requires more mobility, say providing customer service in the midst of the merchandise, it makes sense to still explore opportunities for sitting when waiting for customers, or showing them things from a display case, whatever. Sit-down moments throughout the day can help.

Couple of other thoughts, could you work part time for awhile and get enough hours in the week to remain benefits eligible? Many employers provide benefits for part-timers if they work, say at least 25 hours a week.

Could someone in a wheelchair do this job? If not, what argument could the employer reasonably give to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to justify such a decision.? How do you feel about using a wheelchair? Sounds extreme, but I doubt you'd regret it if it facilitated your continued recovery.

If you are interested in pursuing any of these accomodation paths (and I really enourage it), you might want to call the EEOC, explain your situation, and get some more knowledgeable answers. A search on EEOC, or 'eeoc.gov' might bring them up and point you to a nearby resource. In some states there's a Bureau of Labor and Industries, or some such state agency, that can provide helpand advice as well. I'd search out a couple of web sites for you, but don't know where you are.

Last thought: can't speak to your employer, but in my experience, employers are not at all unwilling to make the accomodations we're talking about. In fact many are eager to. They realize that doing so, and doing so willingly, is one of the very best ways to engender loyalty in their employees. Not only in the one that is accommodated, but in co-workers who see their employer making that extra-caring effort.

So don't be afraid to ask for help. You might be pleasantly surprised. I sure hope so.

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Julie on 8/18/01 at 12:14 (057093)

Hello Valerie!

You've had wonderful advice from both Nancy and Glenn, so I really just want to greet you and say it's nice you're looking in. I've been wondering about you, and it's very very good to hear that you're getting better.

Slowly does it. I agree with Nancy and Glenn: I truly don't think you should be considering returning to the job 'as is'. You need more time, so give it more time. You'll be glad that you did. You're progressing, and I'm sure you'll continue to progress. If you returned soon so standing all day, I'd be willing to bet that it wouldn't be long before you were back where you started. Like Nancy, I always found standing the most painful part of PF. Even now, when I 'm better enough to say I'm 'over PF', and have no trouble walking as far as I want to walk, I do feel it when I stand for any length of time.

Glenn has given you some good, positive ideas for 'adapting'. Once you start thinking along these lines, instead of 'I have to go back to my job and do it exactly the way I always did it', you'll probably think of other ways of modifying your day's routines. And another job, in another line of work, may also be a possibility. Think laterally -you don't have to just 'go back'. You can go forward.

I can't answer your question about the air cast, but my instinct is to say that if you still need such a device, you shouldn't be thinking about doing that job! But I'm repeating myself. You certainly will need proper support for your feet, so forgive me for not remembering, but could you remind us if your walking was evaluated and if you needed and had custom orthotics made? When you do return to work (any sort of work) your feet will need really good support in your ongoing effort to avoid PF happening to you again. So - orthotics if you need them, but always good, supportive shoes.

Once again, welcome back to the PF ranch. Don't let it be so long before you next look in.

All good wishes

Julie

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Steve P on 8/18/01 at 17:53 (057113)

Hi Valerie --- Good to hear from you!

I cannot add to the wisdom of the 3 excellent posts above. My only further thought is that you may want to speak with a lawyer (a Workman's Comp & Disability specialist) before you go back to work at all. Be sure that you're not doing something inadvisable, from a legal standpoint, that could hurt you later.

Glenn's points about the ADA need to be carefully evaluated.

Best...........Steve

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

BrianG on 8/18/01 at 21:36 (057125)

Hi Val,

Before I was laid off from my job, I wore a stiff walking cast to work every day for almost a year. It had lots of padding, and was held together with velcro straps. I removed it at night. It actually made it easier to be on my feet, but it did nothing for curing me. It did effect my gait, and I finally had to stop wering it, as my knee and hip on the 'good' side were starting to hurt on a daily basis. A few months after I stopped wearing it, I elected to have EPF surgery (failure). After the surgery, I tapered off my pain meds to see if it was a success. Was I ever surprised, and bummed, to realize I had developed PF in my good foot. Yes, I think the walking cast contributed to getting PF in my 'good heel'. My opinion only, the Pods would not even begin to guess.

Good luck, just don't overdue any cast you might wear. Listen to your heels. If they begin to hurt, you know what you have to do (And the answer is NOT to work through it :*)

BCG

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Nancy N on 8/18/01 at 21:47 (057126)

Val--

Steve raises a really good point here--what ever happened with your WC claim? I know you had been looking into it; I hope you went ahead with it and can fall back on whatever benefits it offers you.

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Laurie R on 8/18/01 at 21:57 (057128)

Hello Valerie,
Nice to see you on the board again.. Also I am so happy to hear that your pain level has gone down. The thing that concerns me is ,if you go back to work to standing for 8 hours it 'may' give you a setback. I would hate for this to happen to you . All I can say is if you think you are ready than give it a try cause you will never know until you try . But be very careful if you do go back. What does your doctor say about you going back?/ Does he think you are ready . I know it is hard being off work and not making your pay ,but sometimes with this you can not put a time limit on our feet.

I wish you only the best ,please keep us updated .My very best to you Val and thanks again for checking in with us...

We are still hear if you need us . I miss talking to you .

Much love my friend ,Laurie R

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Nancy N on 8/18/01 at 22:34 (057129)

Another thought re: WC--I am not sure how it works, exactly (Laurie would be the expert to ask), but I suspect that if you have not been in touch with someone about WC, and you go back to work, you may lose your claim on WC benefits if you have a relapse. I would definitely check it out ASAP before doing anything further about heading back to work.

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Laurie R on 8/19/01 at 00:40 (057132)

Hello Nancy and Valerie , I think you are very right on this one Nancy. I do know here in CA you do have one year to file a claim. I would also suggest to call an attorney just to see where you stand (no pund intended) .I think if I remember right you have already done so . If not I would call one ASAP.. You do think this was from your job right? If so you are intitled to the medical and the by weekly checks. You know Valerie ,you are paying cobra now that is taking half of your disability check and if it is job related they should be paying your medical. All you need to file the claim is your doctors first report .... If I can help you in any way please feel free to ask... My best to you ,Laurie R

Re: Hi Valerie!

Paula G. on 8/19/01 at 08:51 (057144)

You are probably feeling so much better because you haven't been working!
I would suggest you going back slowly and trying to take it easy as much as possible.
When I cut my job back to 4 hour shifts, I did better. I had a doctor's slip and my employer had to only work me 4 hours. I was a cashier.
It was still really hard just standing. That is so much worse than moving around.

Re: Thanks, but that's not what you were supposed to say...!

Valerie S on 8/19/01 at 09:17 (057147)

Hello friends...

Thanks for reminding me what PF is all about. I work in a large copy center that requires a lot of standing and walking across the room over large electrical cords and around machines (wheelchair's too low and won't make it around those corners). I am the assistant manager, and enjoy a large profit check each month I work, along with great benefits and a decent hourly wage. I am reluctant to pursue another career avenue, since it will mean starting over at a lower hourly wage and having to wait for benefits. Oh well... that's what happens when you don't listen to your body in the first place. I wonder if this would have gone so far if I hadn't waited over 3 months to seek medical attention.

I did see a WC lawyer months ago, but was discouraged by what he told me and didn't want to rush into alienating my employer, so I decided then not to go forward with filing a claim. Maybe I should look into it again.

I know that I am justified in taking this time... but there is still that part of me that feels so guilty for not working. I like to know that I am contributing to society, not just mooching off it. I know that I will probably end up changing career fields, but feel an injustice is falling on me because I went through the proper channels. Yes, my long-term health is more important than money, but I worked so hard to get the recognition and promotion. I want it back.

Thanks for listening... I am so lucky to have found such great friends here.

Re: Starting to feel better -- can I go back to work?

Valerie S on 8/19/01 at 09:19 (057148)

Thanks, Brian!

I remembered that you had taken time off and then returned to work, and was anxious to hear what you would have to say. Thanks for your input about the cast. I am reconsidering... again!

Thank you so much!

Val.

Re: Thanks, but that's not what you were supposed to say...!

Julie on 8/19/01 at 09:54 (057153)

Valerie, think of it this way. Contributing to society doesn't necessarily mean working all day, every day, year in and year out. And not working does not mean 'mooching'. We all have periods in our lives when, for one reason or another, we cannot work. That is society's opportunity to give something back to us. Over a lifetime, swings and roundabouts, most of us do our bit.

I might have told you before, but when I was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago, a friend gave me this to think about: 'It's my turn to practise the generosity of receiving'. That helped me to take all the time I needed to recover and heal, and when I did go back to teaching I was ready.

Don't feel guilty because you're not working for the moment. You will work again. Maybe it will be different work (you say you know you'll probably end up changing careers) - work that will let you make an even greater contribution to society than your present job does.

Your health IS more important than money. You've obviously good at what you do, clever and efficient, and you're young, so if you do make a career change I have no doubt that you will do as well in it as you have in this one (which has, after all, done your health little good, if you believe it has contributed to your heel pain).

Re: How about a rolling stool?

Glenn X on 8/19/01 at 14:30 (057178)

Valerie: Couple of add-on thoughts. I have a round stool in the kitchen. It swivels, is on rollers, and is height adjustible. I have it at 30'. Got it at Staples, but most office supplies likely have one.

With one reasonably good foot, I am pretty mobile on that stool. It glides easily, stays put when I need it to, and takes a VERY meaningful load off my feet. I've been in enough copy centers to believe such a stool would help some, maybe half the time or more. It would move you short distances through most of the tight spaces. Not over the electrical wires, but maybe they shouldn't be lying across traffic areas anyway. Obviously you'd need to be careful. Mine has wide feet so is difficult to tip, but it will. (A fabric seat would be best too).

You may have been discouraged by the WC lawyer, but you might still go ahead and file a claim. You don't need a lawyer to do that. It cannot hurt to do so. You sound like a thoughtful, conscientious employee -- not a moocher. I've got to think that if you share your feelings with your boss, and explain you want to file a WC claim to perhaps help with your continued recovery, he or she would be unlikely to discourage you. (And shame on them if they do).

Moreover, your employer pays WC insurance premiums for just such an eventuality. It's the insurance company that will be picking up any tabs. And while a claim MAY have a MINOR impact on your employer's future premium rates, the fact is that far more significant forces are determining that premium rate than an occasional claim by someone deserving.

(I've got to believe too that if you were in a car accident, you wouldn't hesitate to file a claim to get your car fixed. So . . .?)

Finally, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) has nothing to do with Work Comp. ADA applies to ANY disability. It is irrelevant if the disability was job related. So asking for an accomodation (say a rolling stool) under ADA, moves along a completely different track. A call to the EEOC may be worthwhile to help you understand your options here.

Incidently, a stool, or similar accomodation is something the employer is required to pay for, not the employee.

Take care of yourSELF!

Re: Thanks, but that's not what you were supposed to say...!

Nancy N on 8/19/01 at 21:36 (057210)

Val--

Sorry we didn't adhere to the script, but you did ask our opinion! :)

Changing careers does not necessarily mean taking a lower salary. I have just begun the process of changing careers, and while my basic annual salary is lower now, I'm in a position where I can get extra projects to work on for extra cash (and can do consulting in the summers if I want to), and the benefits more than make up for the drop in salary (I will be teaching at a private school in a few weeks and have the option of living on campus for free as well if I want to). I know that my case is unusual, but I by no means believe that changing jobs requires taking a pay cut.

My advice to you, in addition to doing your homework on that WC claim (and as Glenn points out, that's covered by your employer's insurance for cases just like yours), is to hie thee to a career counselor! I worked with one last fall and it was incredibly valuable. I know WC can provide retraining for people who can't go back to their previous jobs because of their injuries, so they may have a means for you to go sit down with a career counselor, assess your skills and interests, maybe take a few tests to pinpoint those things, and see what directions you can move in. As I keep telling friends who are interested in new jobs, there's more than one out there. You are not required to stay in one thing for your entire life. Get out there and expand those horizons!!

Re: Thank you again

Valerie S on 8/19/01 at 22:15 (057214)

Thank you to all caring and wonderful people... you help keep me in check. I was being just a little sarcastic in the subject of my last response. I was hoping that someone might jump up and say that 'Yes, it's a great idea! You can stand for hours now!' I know I needed a little slap back into reality... I guess that's why I asked. The people around me who don't have PF are all for me going back to work, or at least in believing that I am all better now. I AM doing a LOT better, and won't risk going back to the terrible pain that I had before by risking this work thing right now.

Glenn, thanks for your ideas. The disability insurance, my employer, and my doctor have gone back and forth to find a way for me to go back to work, but were unable to find a reasonable accomodation. A rolling stool will not roll over thick electrical cords or around big machines. I would spend most of my time carrying the stool around! (I am giggling at the thought of it... hee hee:)

Julie, you always know what to say. Sometimes I think that I don't have the right to take this time... I AM young, but have worked very hard for the last 14 years (always on my feet), and now I have to take time to recover. It's hard not to feel guilty for sitting on my tush, when I have been up, waiting on people my whole adult life.

Thanks for the encouragement and understanding... I have forgotten my patience once again. I continue to be grateful for the improvement that I am making, and I, for one, thank Dr. Reynolds for including me in his Jade Balm trial. I think I have finally found some relief!

Val.

Re: Thank you again

Julie on 8/20/01 at 02:24 (057229)

Thanks for the thanks, Val. We're all glad to know we've been some help. I have something else to add.

Life throws all kinds of challenges at us. When we get one - and especially one as painful and stubborn as PF - it should be looked at with as much detachment as we can muster. So that instead of saying to ourselves 'I want this to go away so that I can get back to 'normal'' we need to ask 'what is this trying to tell me, and how can I use it to move my life forward?'

Everyone is entitled to - and in fact needs - at least one career change. Any job, and I mean any, can and will wear out one's interest if one does it for too long. I have a friend who got bored with being an eminent neuropathologist. Sick of dissecting and researching dead boxers' brains, and lecturing, she retrained as a child psychiatrist. Now retired in her mid-70s, she is flourishing as a sculptor. And I, after a lifetime in publishing, working at jobs that lots of people envied me but that wore very thin long before I finished, took early retirement to give my energies to teaching and writing about yoga, and 15 years on still feel that I have only just begun my real work in life.

Nancy has hit the nail on the head when she says 'You are not required to stay in one thing for your entire life. Get out there and expand those horizons!!'

It seems to me that PF and your enforced 'retirement' have presented you with the ideal opportunity to do just that.

I'm not (at least I hope I'm not) making judgements when I observe that the job you have left does not seem to have very much to offer you besides the money and benefits you've mentioned. Apart from anything else, it has actually hurt you badly.

14 years is maybe long enough to be always on your feet (possibly in the same job/career?) So open yourself up now to the possibility that there are other jobs out there, perhaps better, more rewarding, more useful. Jobs which will challenge your intelligence and your skills and help you develop new ones. Jobs in healthier environments, footwise! Jobs which, as Nancy says, won't necessarily leave you financially worse off. She has given you excellent advice, which I hope you'll think about: consult a careers counsellor and let new ideas, new thoughts, new possibilities, flow in.

Gosh - I feel quite excited for you!

All the best, Val

Julie

Re: Julie's right, as usual -- Thanks Nancy!

Valerie S on 8/20/01 at 20:31 (057350)

Thanks to you and Julie and everybody else...

I am so stubborn sometimes. I like to do what I am good at, like to know what I am doing, so it's hard for me to think about starting over. I CAN and WILL find a new career to love; one that will be good to my feet, I hope!

Thanks for your advice, and I am glad to hear that you are enjoying your transition, and I wish for only the best for you! Thank you Thank you Thank you!

Val.

Re: Julie's right, as usual -- Thanks Nancy!

Nancy N on 8/20/01 at 23:01 (057375)

Glad to be of service. You go get 'em, girl!!! :)