As I write this, I have been on the sick from work for almost a month, thanks to my arthritis deciding that it wanted to attack my right knee as well as my left. My right knee swelled up so badly my GP managed to get me an appointment with my consultant the same day who gave me a steroid injection. I thought I would be back in a week, but it has taken me a lot longer than anticipated. I still can’t bend my knee much, I still get a bit of a limp and I have trouble going up the stairs, but it’s not as bad as it was.
At first I felt a bit guilty about it. I haven’t been off this long in all the time I’ve been working. It has been a source of worry at times and I have been stressed out whenever I have had to contact them, but it has been a wakeup call. All too often, I have gone to work when I really shouldn’t have done. I’ve gone to work when I’ve been feeling sick, when I’ve had barely any voice from throat infections and colds, stomach cramps. When the arthritis was at its worst in my other knee I practically limped in every day. And in the weeks before my latest episode, I’d felt twinges of pain in my right knee and in my feet, which I’d put down to being on my feet a lot (which happens a lot in my job). All the times I’ve done those things it was because I didn’t want to let anyone down or cause any problems not being there. Now I know that I should have listened to my mum and my sister all those times when they told me that my health was more important than my job. I realise that I have to put myself first more often and that trying to work through an illness is not always the best idea.
When I go back to work, I’m going to have to be a lot more careful. I’m going to have to sit down more often. I’m even having to consider getting a walking stick, just in case I have any bad days. I have been putting it off for a long time to be honest, part through thinking that I really didn’t need one and part through fearing what people would think of me walking around with one. There isn’t any point in worrying what others might think now.