A season of healing can often feel as if you are blindly groping your way through a dark maze filled with all sorts of perils. Once in a while, you might think there is a bit of light at the end of one tunnel. You strive with all your might to get to the light only to discover that it moved even further away. This is where I am at these days, striving and struggling and discovering that my destination keeps moving out of reach.
For the third time since I have been on medical leave, my return to work has been denied. The reason for being kept on leave has changed slightly each time. This time is due to the fact that I am not permitted to bend forward and twist while lifting. When I had emailed the most recent functional abilities form to the leave of absence team, I felt optimistic, but I could also picture their decision being the opposite of what I was hoping for. And so, when I opened the email this morning, I wasn’t overly surprised by the words within, telling me that my safety could not be guaranteed in the workplace at this time. I thought I was almost at that beam of light, but it moved further away.
In the same way, the pain and discomfort in my body seems determined to make my life miserable rather than diminishing with time. It’s been bad enough to feel as if healing has been stalled for almost two months, but lately it feels as if my body is taking backwards steps. Although what I’m experiencing is still a far cry from those first couple of months post-injury, the pain often feels worse than it did in January and early February. I made myself stay on my feet for two straight hours this afternoon, as I made dinner, cleaned the kitchen, and basically puttered around. Despite varying my position and movement as much as possible in an upright position, I was in absolute misery well before the end of that time span.
Even before I heard back from the LOA team this time, my husband has repeatedly asked me if I am certain that I am ready to go back to work. I desperately want to return to work. I miss being useful, having a purpose outside of my house, and feeling connected to life. Quite honestly, I simply want my life back, and going back to work, even with limitations, seems like a big steps towards that goal. So yes, I want to go back to work! However, in complete honesty, I am also realistic about the odds of returning to work and experiencing all sorts of pain and discomfort. I’m certain that accommodations for my limitations can be made when I do eventually get the okay to go back to work, but that doesn’t mean I won’t feel a heck of a lot of pain during a shift. As eager as I am to get back to work, I also know that doing so will be more than uncomfortable for quite some time. After all, I’m in utter misery after standing for less than two hours. How am I going to make it through even a 4 or 5 hour shift on my feet without being in incredible pain? I am both a dreamer and a realist. I am always hopeful and optimistic, and yet I am also a realist. For all my eagerness to return to work, I also realize that I might not truly be ready.
Still, it was disappointing to read the news this morning, and frustrating knowing that we probably could have worked around the functional limitation, but I have no choice but to accept the decision. And I am okay with it. Disappointed, yes, but ultimately okay. I think I am more bothered by the fact that I need to go through the process of having paperwork filled out by a health professional for a fourth time than I am about more time off work.
Here I am stuck inside the dark, perilous maze. It is indeed dark and I feel lost more often than not, but I am okay. For today.