Today was the big meeting, I went in feeling nervous and excited…and came out feeling like I’d been in the ring with Mike Tyson for half an hour. It was gruelling, and also clear that despite their words of support, Management and HR actually weren’t ready for me to return. The opener was that although Occupational Health and my GP had signed me as fit for a phased return, having me on the premises might pose too much of a risk so actually this was a meeting to see how we would go about things rather than organising the phased return. From that moment, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get back to work. In the back of my mind was the fact that Management had employed another person into the department, probably expecting me not to return, so it would be in their best interests for me to walk away from my post or at least for me to admit I wasn’t ready to return yet so that they weren’t paying out two sets of wages.
The following gambit was how had I coped with being a passenger in the car for the journey. The answer? I drove and it was fine, thank you for asking. Second was how would I manage if a pupil accidentally bumped into me in the corridor, my response was that I’m a clumsy soul anyway and I’m constantly knocking myself (twice today) so I didn’t forsee that being an issue. Obstacles were then put in my way for me to overcome: how would I get around the classroom, how would I manage teaching sitting down and perching, that the cables might not be able to be rearranged in my classroom, how would I get to the toilet, how would pupils be able to ask me for help, and in retaliation I offered some of my own issues: that the classroom needs to be warmer as it gets very chilly in Winter which makes my condition worse, that I knew I would have problems attending Parents Evenings and doing breaktime duty.
Management were not happy with this, I offered a number of solutions to the Parents Evenings issue – time shifting on the day/the day after, writing copious notes, attending part of the evening but not all of it,giving telephone consultations in my own time etc. No, not good enough, and as for the breaktime duty, management were sure that as of September, I’d be able to do it. Erm no, that’s not how works, I can’t tell myself to be ok for a certain date and it happens. I can only try my hardest and see what happens. Likewise marking, I can’t physically carry the books home and mark them, so I’m going to need support. Instead I got a lecture about how parents expect books to be marked. The Union rep offered an alternative, that the pupils have folders, work on paper and I then only have to take the paper home. This was mooted.
So, here I am. Feeling rather upset if I’m totally honest, I didn’t expect them to roll out the red carpet welcoming me back but I was hoping for some support. I’m left feeling like I’m a nuisance and like I’m deliberately being awkward. I also wonder if I’d have gone in in a wheelchair whether the outcome would have been the same. No sense thinking like that I guess, I’d just not realised how hard it was going to be and how unwilling they would be to accept my disability and my limitations. I know that I was as level headed as I could be and my new found assertiveness served me well, I just wasn’t prepared to be feeling as I do right now.
I’ve worked so bloody hard to try and get my life back, to try and look at the bright side of things, to make my life more worthwhile than it was pre accident but I just feel all of this is pointless.