Sarah's return to work story

Sarah* 55, changed her career path after suffering two ruptured aneurysms, one in 2005 and another in 2012.

She left her role as a veterinary nurse and moved to an administrative position.

“I was a veterinary nurse and I loved that job. 

“I did it for about 10 years. I'd had about two months off and I wasn't that badly affected really, but when I went back, I'd completely lost my patience with it.  But because I'd loved it so, so much, I hung around for about a year, thinking it'll come back. It just never did.

 “I then got myself an admin job, which was fine until 2012 and then I had another ruptured aneurysm.

It's a big corporate company and they did really look after me. I mean, somebody came to see me every day, even though it’s quite a small team.

 “It became quite apparent very early on that my memory wasn't what it was. I went back to the hospital to see a psychotherapist who told me my recall had gone. So, you could tell me something now and five minutes later I'd forgotten what was said.

That meant I had to really work hard at remembering stuff, so I'm like the post-it note queen.

 “I had a supervisor role in the team and I had to back away from that. And they agreed to that and it was fine.

Then the HR team decided we needed a manager in that role so they promoted somebody within the team, and of course that came with some issues because I look perfectly normal, I can function.

“Somebody went off to have an operation and was going to be out for months, but they didn't get a temp or anything. We just backfilled it between us. I just hit a wall and I was just exhausted, mentally exhausted. 

“Then Covid happened and the workload just went up and up. And of course, most people have moved on - there's only two or three people in the team who actually remember what happened to me.

“I keep saying that if you overload me, I fall over. That's what happens. It is quite difficult and I've just been through that rigmarole again because every time a line manager changes, the same issues come up. So, it's quite exhausting, to be honest.

 “I have been here 20 years. I am the person who knows everything and a lot of the team come to me for help. I did say to them, you know, you get all that I've got. You always have.

  “I think I'm probably going to have to go this year because I just can't keep up with the expectation of the work.” 

  *Not real name

A SameYou-Big Issue survey completed by more than 300 respondents in May 2024 revealed that a third did not feel ready to return to work after brain injury. Fatigue, impairing the ability to work, was experienced by 81% of the survivors.

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