23 December 2020

Sick for a whole month

My recovery didn’t go very fast.  The first thing I noticed was that I didn’t get spasms in my arm muscles anymore.  When I was still working, I would get these.  But the unpleasant feeling in my lower arms stayed.  This worried me.  I was at the risk of losing my job, and my arms were damaged and not recovering!  How was I supposed to earn a living without arms?  The fact that the economy was bombing and was going to be bombing a lot more due to Brexit didn’t help.  And it was going to be a lone EU citizen, a possibly unemployed one at that, in the middle of all of that.  Not a reassuring thought!  And there isn’t much you can do to speed up the recovery process.  I made sure to do my exercises and take my medication, but it didn’t seem enough.  After a while I phoned my GP again, to see if I could see the physiotherapist.  My new surgery had one too.  He wouldn’t see me, but he was willing to speak to me on the phone.  He gave me some more exercises, and said that if they wouldn’t help in two or three weeks I should phone again.  He also encouraged me to try a riding my bike, and not wear my wrists splints too often.  So from then on my a meal times became a bit busy with both sets of exercises.  But that’s OK!  If I can exercise my way out of this then that would be perfect.

I also tried my bike a bit more, on his advice; I had to been running from my front door, and I was actually looking forward to a bit of variation.  So I rode my bike to a place where a big public footpath came onto the road, parked up there, and ran the footpath. That went well!  I later also biked to the foot of some slate quarry spoil heaps, and then climbed them to find out which one it was I could see from my window.  That was a success too!

Me in beautiful late light on the public footpath

On the slate heaps above the village

A bigger problem was keeping it together.  As I said before, I was scared. It's scary to realise your job is on the line, it's scary to have an injury that prevents you from working and that just doesn't seem to want to heal, and it's scary to be an EU citizen in a country that is hurtling towards a no-deal BREXIT. What didn’t help either was that the university at some point announced it was extending the VR scheme, but then refused to say for at least two weeks by how much they were extending it. That wasn’t helpful! In theory, they could just say at some arbitrary time that the scheme would end in the next five minutes. And then just hurl compulsory redundancy at whoever they wanted to still lose. That could be me! And then you got get only three months’ worth of wages to keep you ticking over until you have found another source of income, rather than the six months of voluntary redundancy. There is a lot you can do with three months’ worth of wages, but I think it evaporates quickly if you’re not even fit for work.

Aside from the uncertainty, I struggled with the lack of purpose. I had been working fulltime forever!  More than full-time.  And then suddenly not working four weeks on end is a shock.  I felt guilty that my colleagues were working themselves silly and I was at home, and not working at all.  But that doesn’t help.  I made a conscientious effort to stay positive.  My runs surely helped.  And at some point I started making schedules of what I intended to do each day.  Things like Welsh revision and brushing up on my grammar and such.  That helped to keep me on track! 

I can imagine that unemployment does a lot of damage to people.  Being sick at home caused me more problems than the entire rest of the pandemic and the switch to distance learning. And I'm not sure how much of my unease was due to not working, and how much to worrying about the gravity of the situation, but still. I must be a bit weird!  My biggest gripe with my life is that I’m always overworked, but then suddenly when I am not, I struggle to cope.  And it affects me more than 50,000 people dead.  Crikey.  But it might explain why I ended up with the RSI in the first place…

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