The long road back

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Joined Dec 23, 2004
That's rough, but it's good that they are taking the lead in saying not yet. Left to ourselves, we kitchen folk usually push too soon.

Quoted for truth! ;) That's absolutely what would happen if they let me go back. I'd start out taking it easy but within a couple days I'd be running around trying to do everything I used to do. Many (most?) of us only have one mode- BEAST MODE! If they tweak the recommendations or if I get ahead of the curve great but for now I'll just wait.
 
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For what it's worth, bear in mind that Jacques Pepin was in a horrendous car crash, and the doctors were pretty sure he'd never walk again, even if he survived, which they thought unlikely. It's why he stopped doing full-on cooking in restaurants for a long time, and a lot of what propelled him into teaching and then TV. I think we can agree that he's succeeded admirably, and made the food world a better place! You can do it, just take your time and consider what other ways you might be able to stay in the industry you love if the most punishing line work ends up being unworkable. Good luck!
 
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My team of surgeons and therapists think I should get most of the function back eventually. Obviously we'll see. Guess I'm lucky I'm not a pro golfer or roofer! Once I can lift a case of onions and run a sautee pan I'll be back in the game.
 
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Well, I'm officially unemployed now. My old boss informed me they can't hold my position open any longer especially since I have no idea when I'll be medically cleared to work. I'm not surprised at all; in my state they didn't need to even hold my job for a week much less half a year. It's kind of surprising they waited this long. I'm fine with it, to be honest, and it kind of helps my comp case. Eventually I will reach a point where I can do light duty in which case a modified job would have to be negotiated, etc. Of course those modified duties have a way of morphing; can't you just unload the truck this one time? We don't have anyone to put that 10 gallons of soup up, are you sure you can't lift it? Etc, etc. My old employer had some unrealistic (and illegal) expectations about what I might do as far as being constantly available by email, Slack, phone, etc. If I quit then it would be a golden opportunity for their work comp insurer to attempt to get out of paying so really this is the best outcome for me, according to my attorney.

My PT has kind of moved into another stage. Mobility is improved enough that I'm now doing a little bit of work on strength. It's baby steps of course. I'm still forbidden from reaching into my back right pocket, and the surgeon feels I should permanently abstain from carrying my wallet there (which I have of course done since I was maybe 8 years old!). So I suppose I'll be arguing with the doctors over what I will and won't be doing for the rest of my life. ;)

The worm has at least started to turn in me re acceptance. I've finally realized that I can't rush this and have no reason to, nothing to go back to that can't wait. That's kind of a blessing. I can see now that I was guilting myself a bit over not getting back to my old kitchen and "leaving them hanging" but now that's out of my hands. I really do have to let the medicine dictate the trajectory of things now. When I'm stronger I'll have a panel that will run a battery of vocational tests and determine if I have a disability rating and what I "can" do work-wise.

The TL;DR version- I'm doing just fine. Maybe I'll even try to relax a bit and live a little while I can't do anything for work.
 
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Joined Aug 13, 2019
Only advice? Be careful of pain management, try and deal with it the most wholesome way possible, accept you may be breaking down. I'm right there with you, 54 and almost shot out. Good luck and speedy recovery. Honestly, I'd prefer to stay home, cook, smoke grass, and do crafts, but its not in the cards yet.
 
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Luckily I'm through the pain part, at least for now. I might have a little soreness occasionally after PT but it's just stiff, not painful.
 
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Well, PT is ongoing! Life is kind of easy right now. My brother came to visit and stayed for a couple weeks. Mostly it was a social visit but he did help me with a few things that required some muscle. Helped me assemble a loveseat and hang my TV, so now I can play Xbox while I recover. It's still a few weeks til my next appointment but I'm making the best of it.
 
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Watch out for "nerd neck" if playing Xbox a lot. There is a tendency to jut your jaw out forward and pull your neck out of line, as well as to hunch up your shoulders around your ears. Be sure to do a lot of low-impact gentle rolling and stretching so that this doesn't turn into a problem. (You can look up "nerd neck" and gaming, and you'll find a lot of stuff. Just don't do any actual neck exercises -- anything more than very gentle stretching -- without discussing with the PT people, because you can amazingly easily cause an injury.) Good luck!
 
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Well, now I'm able to life ten pounds instead of five. Still on comp til at least the end of the year, maybe til April. The guestimate is that it will be a year to reach maximum medical improvement. We'll see how it goes!
 
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I joined a gym today, one with 24 hour access via key-card. There's not much upper body stuff I can do yet but I can work out my legs and core. The surgeon told me not to do squats with a bar but that if I find a machine with a padded collar then that's okay. I have no idea when but someday I will be able to work again, and when that day comes I want to be able to stand for a few hours! PT is going well, or so I gather. More range of motion is returning, albeit painfully slowly. But I can at least imagine the day when I'll be able to put my wallet in my back pocket or zip my pants with my right hand. ;) :cool:
 
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I'm a wallet in front pocket guy. Mostly because years ago I read it's a lot harder for pickpockets to pick your wallet if it's in your front pocket. More recently I read that using the back pocket throws your spine out of whack when sitting. Especially if your wallet isn't thin. So there's two cents for you.
Otherwise, keep up your patience in recovery.
 
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I had my next 8 week follow up with the ortho surgical guys. The X-rays look good, basically unchanged over the last five months (meaning the joint is staying put where it should). I'm still restricted under a pretty minimal weight limit (like 5 lbs with my 'bad' arm) so will likely remain on work comp a while longer. My next appointment will be somewhere around the middle of Feb 2022.

In the mean time I signed up a gym a few weeks ago. So I can work out the parts no affected (eg legs and core) plus do some exercises that the PT team has given me. I need to do some cable work with light weight to work the rotator cuff. As for the long term prognosis, it's a bit early to know. One of the surgeons told me he's watching to see how the scapula stabilizes over time. It would be good to know what I'm looking at; will I ever be able to grab an 80 lb case of top butts and toss 'em on the table? I dunno, and the surgeon wasn't really willing to speculate yet. It's hard to know what I'll be able to do work-wise in the long run. Can you be a chef if you can't lift 80 lbs? Well, that's not the biggest part of the job but it's a part.

For now I'm glad that it seems to be healing properly. I was told this kind of injury is about a year to fully heal (as much as it will, natch) and I can see that wasn't just BS!
 
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Right now no one from the top surgeon to the PT guys are willing to opine as to whether I'll ever be able to toss 80lb cases of boxed beef again. We'll see I guess.:emoji_fingers_crossed:
 
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Hey phaedrus, most lifer chefs i know are pretty stubborn and pigheaded (I know because I resemble that remark) and won't take "can't" for an answer, especially when it comes to physical tasks and or therapy/rehab. I am in my late 60s and have reluctantly adjusted my thinking to 75lb boxes LOL. Also I am learning to work smarter, not harder.

A year ago August, I was in a motorcycle accident and broke my ankle. Completely severed bone, messed up tendons, ligaments, etc. Docs told me a year and a half to return to a sembalance of normal, if ever, was the best case scenario, but I could tell they were skeptical. They didn't know who they were dealing with! On New's Eve, I worked a 14 hour day, not to mention some 6 day weeks with long hours, etc. along the way.

You got this!
 
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A. coworker of mine lost two toes in a lawnmower accident last summer. After a long recuperation he's back to work and doing fine. A bass player friend fell face first down a large snow bank and hit shoulder first, causing great damage. Recovery took awhile but he's back to playing now. Doctors in both cases were reluctant to give an outcome because as you might expect, they don't really know the person they are treating. Some people give up and some don't and the doctors don't know which one you are.
So yeah, you'll be fine if you want to be fine.
Having said that, working in a healthcare kitchen has taught me a few things. Safety is stressed constantly. Proper lifting, slip resistant shoes, personal protective equipment, cut gloves, knowledge of Safety data sheets for chemicals and many more topics are reviewed constantly. No one is expected to lift any thing over fifty pounds if that much and helping others lift is encouraged. Carts are plentiful and in constant use to move food and equipment from place to place. Injury of any kind and the behavior that precedes it is strongly discouraged.
So when you get back to work in whatever shape your in, take it easy on yourself and make no apologies for it. Cooking is stressful enough on a good day without attempting feats of strength.
 
1,778
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Joined Dec 23, 2004
I guess it's just been long enough now that I'm getting impatient for my life to get back to normal, or even just a "new normal".
 
4,785
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
Yeah waiting and being patient while feeling like stuck in limbo is the tough part. Deep breaths. This too shall pass.

patience my ass.jpg
 
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