19 December 2020

Signing off sick

I had realized quite a while ago that things were wrong with my arms. I had phoned my GP, but all they could offer me was a phone consultation with a physiotherapist in three weeks’ time. I took it, but it was not what I had hoped for. I kept trying to work only using my voice, but that doesn't quite work. Sometimes the computer just doesn't understand what you want, or it just cannot be done by voice. And then you have little choice but to use your hands.  And it got to the point where I was almost in tears when I knew I had to do that. Something needed to be done. I had already looked on the University website for advice on what to do and who to contact in case of RSI, but all I had found was some stuff that looked like the legally required minimum. One of those documents you see stuck to the in the workplace; that sort of stuff. But I just decided to phone the head of health and safety. He didn't answer.

The next day I spoke with Jenny. She said we have and occupational health nurse. She also knew her name; they both count as employees of human resources. So the next day I phoned her! She didn't answer either. But I sent her and email. Then that Monday I got a reply.

The occupational health nurse was very understanding and supportive. She suggested I called in sick, and she would contact my line manager so she could start making preparations for my return. She suggested different voice recognition software and training to come with that. That sounded good! I am entirely self-taught. She also hoped to get a diagnosis from the physiotherapist.

After talking to the occupational health nurse I sent an email to my manager to say I was ill, and shut down the computer, intending to not switch it back on for a long time. However, I realized I had forgot to send an auto reply, so I had to log back in. It is important that if people email me they know I can't reply. Initially it went wrong; I accidentally activated my old message from the summer that said I was on annual leave until a certain date in July. That didn't really help. But when I had sorted that, I could shut it down and go analogue. I still have my phone, but as working that also lead to pain I tried to avoid that as much as I could as well. I had started to use speech recognition on that too, but that was again a different software package, and it took some getting used to. To be honest, I'm still struggling a bit with it. The windows package is slow, but I can produce pretty much any texts with it, as long as they are in English. Not so much so with Apple! But now a was time to move back a century and just it on the sofa with a book.

So now I was off on sick leave. An unusual thing! I don't think I’d ever called in sick since coming to Wales. I tend to only be ill over Christmas. But it seems necessary now. These arms need some time away from a computer… 

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