One man’s story of the ills of returning to work too soon

Following on from my article I did on the pitfalls of returning to work too soon after injury one gent by the name of Gerry has kindly emailed me with his story on the same issue of returning to work too soon. His story too has had a negative impact on his life and like me would have best served if he was given the time to fully recover before returning to his employment after all his employer could have taken on a temporary employee whilst he was recovering and it seems his employer just wanted short term gain instead of long term gain.

It is a sad reflection on one man’s life and where our nation is heading.

If there is anyone else that would like to contribute to this article and get their synonpsis down on print please leave a message on my comments and ill get back to you.

Link to my original article:

His story in his own words:

I was 38yrs old when my industrial injury happened. All my life I had worked hard and was basically a work-a-holic. My family had moved to Cornwall, and after a very long and successful career in the transport industry, I took a job as a delivery driver for (Interlink); a franchised parcel distribution company in those days. In my 4th month with them, I injured my back, twisting whilst delivering a consignment. OK, I knew what a pulled muscle was like, but within a few moments my back felt as if someone had rammed a screwdriver into my spine.

Hospital tells me there’s “nothing wrong” (I begged to differ and a kind nurse helped me get dressed) (Helped…had to dress me as I could hardly move)

I was off work and after two days my employer started to phone me asking “when was I returning to work”. Her phone calls were quite frequent and without any kind of understanding of my situation. My 2 week holiday was fast approaching and I felt to be off 2 weeks sick, plus a further 2 weeks holiday, that would be a month off work. Given my boss’ attitude, my gut feeling was that I could lose my job, so I managed to get back to work for a couple of days before my ‘holiday break’ (Not ‘away’ anywhere on holiday but time off to spend with my two young sons). Neither did I want to let my employer down.

Those 2 days back at work, I ‘struggled’ to put it mildly. The other drivers would load my van (unbeknown to our boss), and customers would unload for me. I felt I had to make an appearance at work as I was off work for 2 weeks the next week, which I felt would give me time to recover.

I had made a little improvement I felt during those two weeks ‘holiday’ and I knew deep down, something was very wrong.

First day back from holiday and I daren’t tell my boss I wasn’t well enough to work, I got to the depot, and the very first parcel I picked up resulted in a loud scream from me as what I could only describe as an electric shock happening in my back. I continued on (good old Gerry) but by late morning I could hardly move, phoned my wife to make a doctor’s appointment that day if possible, and drove back to the depot. A very annoyed woman boss drove me home. In fact my wife described her later to me, as an absolute bitch after she’d spoke to my wife, telling her I had a doctor’s appointment later that day.

24 years later, I am physically disabled which I greatly attribute to being made to feel that I should be back working by my boss. Hindsight is wonderful, but when you consider footballers with torn tissue/muscle/ligament damage and the time and treatment it takes to heal, and then compare it with my injury, feeling pressurised to return to work after a matter of days, then causing even more damage trying to lift a parcel*, I wish I had said blow the job and looked after my back better. In the end, I lost my job and my good physical health.

*worth noting, My boss informed the others that I hadn’t lifted the parcel ‘correctly’…..I’d always been trained to ‘Keep back straight, bend legs when lifting’ My boss also told fellow workers that I came to the job with a bad back. Not true. Not the back problem I was experiencing after working for them.

Obviously, losing my job had an awful impact on my life and that of my family. I used to have 3 good days, 2 bad. On the good days I would try to go out, but by then, my confidence was wearing thin and depression had set in. We’d moved to a new area and didn’t know anyone. Physically, I couldn’t stay anywhere for long because of my back problems. As the days went on, I found myself not going out hence I never built up any sort of circle of friends. I didn’t have the confidence to socialise. Neither physically could I. On one occasion I drove to a nearby venue to see a musician play for the evening. I stopped my car, walked to the door to go into the bar to see him, had my hand on the door handle and couldn’t face opening the door.

As time went on, those 3 good/2 bad days turned to 2good/3bad days, and nowadays, every day is a ‘bad’ day, both physically and mentally. Forever trying to find a hobby that I’m able do physically and Mentally, I can’t be ‘bothered’ half the time. Also, having to rely financially on benefit was a new experience. It’s been basic living for these past 24 years. I’ve tried to return to work, but was found to be unsuitable for work. Even with the new tough rules of the Welfare Reform, I am deemed by the DWP, my Doctor and other medical evidence, unable to work; having been placed in the ‘Support Group’ of ESA until retirement age.

In a nutshell, that initial injury and my boss’ attitudes to me being off work, physically turned me from a healthy, able bodied person who enjoyed swimming, walking, surfing, attending car events etc., into someone who can hardly walk, help my wife in the house, and should I ever over-exert myself, I can hardly move at all.

Mentally, I suffer from long term, on-going depression. “You’re DSS” I’ve been told. (Charming). And if only some people involved with the DSS could have treated me with a modicum of respect? I said to my doctor once, that if some people who worked for the DSS were to treat me as a human being, I wouldn’t be in her surgery wasting her time asking for anti-depressants.

Treated with contempt by some, I no longer want to socialise, can’t be bothered with people. Yet, I was someone who used to be the life and soul of any party.

A large group of friends when I lived in Reading.

Been a musician for Walt Disney where I appeared on TV.

A successful rep for a nationwide transport company.

Also a good manager (imo) of transport depots

Reduced to a suicidal, worthless number desperately trying to get this dammed government (small ‘G’, no respect for them) to listen to the plight of people in similar and worse circumstances as myself.

I don’t feel ‘bitter’ towards the two that ran that particular depot where I last worked. In fact, I regarded them as fools. I have a professional qualification to operate a transport company….”Certificate of professional Competence”. They, who ran the transport depot had never heard of the qualification and didn’t know what it was. Boy, did alarm bells ring at my interview.

The reality is that I have a very bad back problem which I have to deal and cope with. Some days though, I don’t know which is worse, the physical problems that I have to contend with regarding my back, or the depression.


6 thoughts on “One man’s story of the ills of returning to work too soon

  1. Pingback: One man's story of the ills of returning to work too soon | Welfare, Disability, Politics and People's Right's |

  2. I suffered an industrial injury to my head, neck and spine in 2002.

    In 2011 I was able to eventually obtain some pain management treatment and again the procedure repeated in 2012 after injuring myself further at an ATOS assessment.

    I have now in 2013 after being neglected for 10 years and prodded the last 2 years, got an MRI to investigate the area of my spine where the injury occurred.

    The incident… It was a windy day and a high top rigid trunker arrived at the loading bay doors, it was the delivery of furniture from an Irish manufacturer. The driver opened the doors and we began unloading.

    We had been working for about 10 minutes when a huge gust of wind caught the one door and swung in and hit me on my spine, neck and head. I was knocked off my feet as it was a double lined door, outter sheet steel, inner was also sheet steel and heavy wooden sandwich. It was a barn door type and the claps were not standard but had 6 inch clasps and the bottom one hit me in my spine and I got crushed between a heavy door and the rear of the trunker, I was lucky not to have broken ribs.

    I came too, don’t know how long I was out, all I remember is that I had a hefty whack by a 200 kilo door that colleagues later told me was that loud that floor staff heard it.

    I must have been concussed because I didn’t want to go to hospital which is strange because I was a fully trained first aider in basic first aid at work, advanced first aid and nursing, so it is out of character to not take the proper precautions and go to hospital.

    I returned to work after two weeks, in that time I had several calls from head office demanding that I go and get assessed at their preferred medical assessors who happened to be provided by ATOS, I told them where to go and that my doctor has provided me with medical certificates. So when I was eventually back at work, I suffered the repercussions and was kept on my probationary period for a further 3 months and given menial tasks despite being one of three people qualified to drive the fork lift truck, the other two were either out on delivery or finishing early and I was then put on late shifts and weekends.

    It was in that time that I was suffering, I lifted a carpet roll with the depot manager, I commented on the weight of it and asked him what the weight was, he said 100 Kilos, I can say that having worked in a depot that sorted catalogue items and my biggest job being sorting weight lifting sets of 100 kilos, I know if something is heavier than 100 kilos! I suggested that we use the fork lift with attachment to get the roll in to the storage rack, the depot manager insisted we carry it in so I did and felt a sharp pain in the area I had been hit in the month previously.

    I was soon off work again and this time I put in a sick note from my doctor I put it in to the DWP who asked me why I didn’t self certificate with my employer and give them the sick note. I explained that I have no guarantee of getting paid because last time I was off I got £10.91 in pay and nothing for the time I was off. So I then got my sick pay from the DWP and my employer was harassing me to go to ATOS again and I told the woman on the phone to go f*ck herself. I had finally reached the point where I didn’t care and told her a few home truths and went to a solicitors and explained what had been going on and found that they had been screwing me over on my earnings, they were deducting hours off my pay. So I got £1,794 out of them in pay that was owed.

    I don’t think that it went down too well and to this day don’t regret a single thing with that company, you will have heard of them even though they went bust in 2005, Courts Furnishers, worst employers and exploiters of employees that had ever existed. I thought TNT was bad but these were just out right p*ss takers.

    Still, its only taken the doctors 10 years to get the ball rolling and that was only after I noted in my medical records that the doctor I sought a consultation from had not properly noted nor recognised the seriousness of the injury. Because of that initial consultation not conveying the true nature of the incident and I got my evidence from the ambulance service who attended the incident that indicated the severity of the incident, none of my pain management or investigative work would have kicked off, had that doctor noted the incident I would have had treatment years ago.

    So when you have to seek medical help over an injury, you have to give a graphic and precise detail of how you became injured and to point out the obvious to these professionals otherwise you could find yourself like me, struggling to get any kind of help.

  3. Pingback: One man's story of the ills of returning to work too soon | Human Rights & Political Journal |

  4. Pingback: work makes me |

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