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Returning to work after an Injury

Life changing injuries are something that you hear about on social media and in the news, but no one expects to have a life changing injury happen to them.

When you experience an injury that changes your life you must re-learn how to live your life and a lot of things that you have come accustom to, like your social life and work life, have to be put on hold.

My name is Shelly Cox and 4 years ago I experienced an injury that changed my life.

My Story

Monday 19th May 2014 seemed like just another normal day. Going to work and then seeing my ponies afterward. Little did I know, that this would be the day that changed my life. I tack up my friend’s new horse whom I had ridden the day before and everything was fine, so we decided to join the indoor school. As soon as I get on I instantly know something isn’t right, when you’ve been riding for 24 years, you just know. Before I could even think she went crazy and I ‘m 10ft in the air. Coming down on my head, shoulder and left arm. I hear my riding hat crack.

Next thing I know I am lying on the floor unable to move, not knowing what is going on. My mum is on the phone to 999 explaining what has happened. After 40 minutes I am getting cold; the rapid respond car pulls in and the paramedic starts to ask what I can feel; my answer nothing. The paramedic says I will be back with you in a second, I can hear him on his radio speaking, another 10 minutes pass and my mum receives a call from the air ambulance.

I’m then air lifted to Wythenshawe Manchester where X-rays, CT scans and finally an MRI scan is done. For 3 days my mum didn’t leave my side as we waited for the results and finally were Informed I had a spinal injury. I had fractured vertebra from T8 to T11 and fused vertebra C1 and C2, C3 on its own, C4 and C5 finally C6 and C7. I had kept myself together until the consultant tells me I am likely to be in hospital for 3,4 or maybe even 5 months, I breakdown…

After 3 days in Wythenshawe Manchester, I was transferred to a specialist Spinal Unit at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries, Oswestry Shropshire. This is where I spent 6 weeks on bedrest and 7 weeks rehab.

Pictures say a thousand words...

After 13 weeks in hospital I returned home on Friday 15th August still suffering from weakness in my left leg and right arm and with back ache which will stay with me for life. All I could think about was getting back to work but at this point I was unable to drive as I had to wear a hard collar for another 13 weeks.

16 weeks after my injury I returned to work. Unfortunately, during that 4-month period the company had been bought out and a lot had changed. There was new management, my role had changed, and I went from working 5 days a week before the accident to just 2 days. I noticed everyone was very different and one by one they began to leave until I was the last one. That was until I was made redundant in June 2015.

This is where my mind goes into over drive and I start to stress as I wonder; who is going to want me to work for them? I am registered disabled and I feel down and out! My mood starts to sink lower and lower. I take a month out before starting to search for work again, mainly because of how I am feeling. I visit the doctor who prescribes me with antidepressants. This also makes me feel worse as I have always known a stigma around antidepressant. I take them anyway and start to feel better.

Joining Obsidian Offices

I saw that a friend posted about a part time position for Obsidian Offices on Facebook and I could not apply quick enough. Twenty minutes after applying I received a call from the business centre manager Vicky Harris to attend an interview. For me this was a step in the right direction and it had made my day.

I researched Obsidian Offices and prepared myself for the interview, I was going to be open and honest about my injuries and the antidepressants but not drone on too much.

Interview day I met Jordi Morell Manging Director and Vicky Harris Business Centre Manager, we went into the Ricard Lounge for my interview, it was a formal comfortable room, from that moment I felt safe and I belonged, I was open and honest with Jordi and Vicky who offered me the job after the interview. I was over the moon! I had a job again, someone wanted me!

Working at Obsidian Offices Now

I have been working for Obsidian Offices since September 2015 and 19th of May of this year will mark 4 years since my injury. Vicky is not just my manager she is also someone who listens and has helped me every step of the way. When my antidepressants stopped working Vicky noticed before I did so we had a chat and I visited the doctors to get them changed – this is just an example of how much she helps me.

My spinal injury still affects me every day as I have nerve damage over my shoulders, but I try not to let it affect my work. I suffer with fatigue, poor sleep quality and stiffness, this is why I work 2 ½ days a week which is perfect for both me and Obsidian Offices.

Without Jordi and Vicky giving me the chance, I do not know where I would be now, but I love my little part time job at Obsidian Offices and I am so grateful to Jordi and Vicky for taking that risk on me and to Angela & Erin for looking after me when I am in.

I want to share my experience so that other people who have had injuries like mine or have had a hard time getting back into work after an injury can be given a glimmer of hope. There are stigmatisms around serious injuries and returning to work after them and I want to help people overcome their doubts and insecurities because there are opportunities out there that will change your life for the better after an injury.