Returning to Work


I had a stroke at the end of Jan 2021. I've returned to work on a very reduced programme / phased return working 8-12 alternate days. I thought this would be ok. My job is very busy I work in trauma theatres and while I don't want to advertise from the roof tops I've  had a stroke those that need to know do. So I've been doing this for 2 weeks now and the first week was ok resetting computer passwords etc but now it's getting more physical and I can feel that I'm slow and by the the time 12 pm comes along I'm more than ready to leave! I'm really tired. My movements are slower and my head just aches all the time.

This is upsetting me . And I think it is just too much. 
People who've gone back to work any words of wisdom?? Greatly appreciated.


It is a while ago now, five years nearly since stroke. I went back on very much reduced hours to a senior management role inthe charity I worked for. I had had an occupational health assessment which was positive. The actual experience though was terrible. I was and remain significantly disabled after the stroke and I really struggled. I wish in some ways I hadn't done it. It was within the first year of the event, but I don't think I was well enough to cope with the stress. I d landed back in the middle of a restructuring that nearly lost me my job. In the end the organisation turned out to be very toxic and I managed to get a pay off to exit quietly. I am still recovering from the emotional fall out from the way I was treated. 

 So if I have any words of wisdom, you have to balance having to do it with your own assessment of what you can do. Looking back I am amazed that I did it at all. But there were times when I thought I can't do this but I have to. If you can find a way of not having to, you could relieve yourself of a lot of stress. I think stroke survivors dont deal with stress very well, this one doesn't anyway!  You've done an incredibly courageous thing to go back to what sounds like a a very challenging job.  You won't be functioning anything like you did before so you'll have to take that into account. You may get fatigue days as a result, youll have to give yourself time to work out how to manage those.  If you're really up against it you might want to request an occupational health assessment. If you can get any occupational therapy help that would help I had some great Ot support in the early days. I will say make sure that you can get some support before things go wrong. It went very badly wrong for me and is taking a hell of a long time to right myself. I am still a very long way from being "recovered from the stroke, whatever that means for me. I have serious physical impairments cognitively I got off lightly and mostly ok. I still suffer fatigue episodes. I don't work now thankfully. I don't think I could now, and fortunately don't have to

Thats a bit of my story that may or may not be of help. 

 Good luck. You've done amazingly well to get back at all. Take care and get support. 




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Thank you Tony for your reply.

i did talk to my manager today and she is very supportive and said I'd probably come back too soon. So I'm going to take another couple of weeks off and go back on less hours. 
im due for another occupational health review in April.

I hope you continue to get the best out your life now. I bet not working is a tremendous bonus even though the way it happened sounds grossly unfair.




Dear Claire

 A supportive manager is like gold dust, so I am really pleased for you. It will make your recovery and re entry into work that much easier.

 Life is OK for me I have been very fortunate to have a very supportive family, and over the last few years also some great support from the local neuro rehab team. I am now discharged from them but I continue with my own exercises and projects as much as I can. I am very glad to be away from the work it became a very toxic and hostile environment. The organisation has now closed, so I have at least a small bit of satisfaction in thumbing my nose at them. But it is sad as it could have been so much better. The emotional fall out has been significant, so for me when it went wrong it went wrong big time. So I think the support and slow return is really vital. People don't understand that stroke recovery and rehabilitation is not like recovering from the flu or a broken leg or something. A brain injury is a complex thing and it takes a lot of effort for even the survivor to understand what has happened to them. I have changed my understanding and expectation of what getting "better" means. In a way I aim to get a little "better" each day. Now five years in changes are barely perceptible but changes do happen. I keep notes.  Congratulate yourself for having got back to work. I  am sure that with positive support you will succeed and the experience will be a good thing for you, not least the essential by product of a salary!

 Let us know how it goes there are lots of us who have been in your position who can understand the challenges. Not everyone, fortunately has had the same issues I had but many have had major challenges and found ways to get around them. For me there was life after being dumped by my employer as there has for many who lost jobs or businesses. Perhaps there's a useful survivor mindset amongst stroke survivors?  But it is great news your getting support and I can only wish you well and that things continue to be as positive as they sound.  It all sounds good.

 Thanks for sharing your story

 Best wishes


Oh Claire,  I totally get you. I had a stroke end of November and recently back back to work for a 2 hour period to test the water and say hello ect.  I was physically sick on way home as the pressure in my head was escalate.  I regressed a lot and I realised  it was far too soon to return. I have an occ health call at end of month and at least I can tell them what happened.  I work in a Hospital and  job is also quite high pressured. I think you may just need more time to let your brain re wire. Time to sleep when you need to and perhaps even less hours than you doing. It was such a shock to me !  Wishing you well and give yourself time. It is very early days for you. Get to the docs for another sick note. 

Hi Jackie,

Thank you so much for your reply.

After the second week of a phased return I just knew it was too much. My head felt like it was going to explode at varying intensities.

I spoke to my manager who is being very supportive. I have now got another sick note for 2 weeks and we will se where we go from there. They are offering a 2 day phased return on shorter hours with 2 days off in between. I hope this helps me. 
I don't know about you but while I was at work I felt like I could do the work then all of a sudden felt unwell as in very tired, a bit dizzy a bit shaky and just wanted to sit down.

Everybody keeps saying I look so well etc and I'm happy about that but my partner says sometimes my face just goes completely white!

Lovely to hear from you.

Take care, and would love to hear how you're getting on.


Dear Claire

"you look so well"is one of the more aggravating comments wehave to tolerate.

the medication we take can tan our skin, making us look so well.

less hours and two days at a time is much nearer the mark. 

Claire, I had my stroke in April 2020 and I am just doing a phased return to work now in a desk job. Did a doctor/occupational therapist say that you were fit to go back as it seems awfully quick!!!


Hi Jane, 
thank you for your reply.

I think it's partly my fault because I wanted to go back. But alas , it was way too soon and I'm now back off work and my phased return will be less days and less hours.


I had ischemic stroke in Nov and returned to work end Jan and have since changed my job to less physical and better hours. I'm rebuilding my brain and can find I can manage to get through the working day but then need lots of r&r eves and weekends still.

Hi Tulip,

Thank you for your reply.

Lots has happened and I'm back on sick leave pending another Occ health review. I feel very lucky that my GP is very supportive and  so far work is too. But I have a nagging feeling that I won't be able to fulfill my whole job role as it once was.



I had a stroke last May and returned to work in September 2 days a week as a tutor, all started well but in November I started having Speech and vision problems and tiredness. After much deliberation, I left work in March to try and get a fuller recovery. My vision and speech are slightly better but are worse when I get tired. I can stil play golf and cycle but I can only spend limited time reading or looking at computers.

Best wishes 



I returned to work last Tuesday 6th April after 7 months on sick after a tia in August ( I also caught covid just after) Was supposed to be on phase back on hours and light duties and it`s just not happening ,I`m feeling pretty stressed about this and they just won`t listen, I`m also getting a fuzzy light headed feeling as I know I`m doing to much, I don`t know where this is going to end and I fear my job,Sadly


I can't imagaine how you're feeling at the moment being in that situation. Can I enquire as to what your job is? 

I had a Right Cerebellar Stroke in November 2019 and have numerous long term cognitive issues as a result of it. I'm currently in the process to hopefully be retired on ill health grounds but have to go through the punishment of this horrendous process first. During my time off I have had a number of visits from supervisors who continually told me I looked fine and an occupational health provider who's doctors are some of the most devious underhand individuals you could ever encounter. They would book a health review appointment and when they rang to carry out that review if you had been expecting the call. If you answered yes, they would mark that down as the fcat you had remembered to expect the call then you had no memory issues!

During my time off I have reserached the equality act and also the responsibility an employer has to you as a Stroke sufferer. If I can offer any advice then dont hesitate to ask.  

The dreaded "you look so well, you must be better".

stroke is so badly misunderstood.

i would always recommend that HR departments took a stroke specialist on board. 

i am an FCA and i know i am no longer able to do professional work. Lucky that i am now retired. I couldnt even do my own tax return ! 
i make coffee and wait on tables at the village church hall. This gives me a good sense of being useful. It took many weeks for me to learn how to do the task. Thats all pre covid. 

well done for checking out the legislation and rules.


Ring ACAS.They'll be able to tell you what your employer can and cannot do. And what they must do!

Hi Gareth

I work for local council emptying houses. Very heavy work,I honestly don`t think I`ll get back on that job so I would like to think they will give me option of alternative dutie`s,To make matters worse,I`ve just found today that they did not sign me off sick when I returned on Tuesday 6th April,So I am going to have to wait till next month for my wages,I`m starting to fear for my sanity now, Oh, And another thing is they inquired about the possibilty of ill health retirement as early as November last year, But thankfully the Stroke team they contacted refused to give them any info,As it was never discussed with me.PS I`m 63 in June.

Hi, I had a stroke March 2019. I'm a teacher and at the time thought I'd be returning to the classroom 4 weeks later after the Easter holidays. In the end I didn't return to the job I was in and took voluntary redundancy. It was all very amicable and the school still contact me around possible supply hours if I'd like them. I had hoped to return but a friend was really blunt with me and asked could I get through a full day at home without getting tired. I said no, I need a rest at some point. She then said "so how are you going to cope on a normal day, with 2 young children, and then add work back into the mix??!!". It kinda hit home!! I needed a sleep on a normal day so what would happen if I was in work with a class of kids, then still needed to travel home and look after my own 2 at the end of the day.
In the October I started volunteering for a couple of hours a week at the school my children attend, just to see how it went and what I could cope with in terms of noise and general chaos!! By December I was volunteering for longer and supporting small groups. The head teacher had approached me about supply work and having spoke to my old head, offered me a contract for 1 day a week. 2 years on and I've built up from there. My contract is still only 1 day a week but I do extra hours as a supply teacher and also teach piano 1:1 a couple of evenings a week. Some weeks I take on the equivalent of full time hours but this is pushing it! I'm continually able to cope with more though. In September I have a new role and will be working 4 mornings, then all day on a Friday. Next April I'll review again and see if I feel ready for more. It has been small steps but even looking back to this time last year I've made huge progress. It gets better, just don't try to rush things and don't feel guilty in reminding others that your brain is damaged and getting better! You wouldn't be expected to climb a set a stairs with a broken leg ? xx


Thanks for your reply. After a couple of Occ Health reviews I'm now back on sick leave for another month. It's a little bit my fault. I really wanted to go back to work but it was clearly way too soon. I am slowly improving and I'm probably a little bit my own worst enemy. I'm learning to pace myself.

You've come a long way with your recovery! I luckily only have to look after myself and dog. My children are adults and sadly spread out all over the country/ world. But I do have support.


Hi Chris,

thanks for your reply. I know what you mean with the vision and tiredness!

I hope you continue to recover.

all the best