Since my mid 20's I've had various musculoskeletal problems which have meant months off work at a time. The first time it happened, it seemed a desk job really was not for me, so I changed career to work in libraries. I loved it and it's a great job for staying fit and mobile - shifting books and furniture, on your feet and walking for up to ten hours a day with short sitting breaks. But fast forward ten years and on one of my regular lakeland walks, my feet started to hurt and a month later on a walking holiday it soon became clear this was a major issue.
Cue three years of constant foot pain and months off work; doing the shopping, rather than a ten mile hike, was 'a big walk'. I was panicking about work too; changes there meant even fewer opportunities to take the weight off my feet and I was worried about my future. I thought my standing days were over and, for a few years, my beloved hiking days certainly were. Life became a constant hunt for places to perch, to take the intense pain away just for a while.
In 2017, with a hypermobility diagnosis and self-managing my existing injuries, I applied for a communications role with Persona and was incredibly lucky to get it. I admit I was terrified about whether I could physically do a desk job, but as I could no longer stand all day at work either, I felt I had to give it a go. Persona have been extremely supportive to me; with Occupational Health referrals and small adjustments I have not taken a day off due to injury for over five years now. I could tell my foot health was still deteriorating though, so I started looking for alternative options. I did a lot of reading and, alongside other changes, I started a foot and body strengthening programme which encouraged me to move more throughout the day - and then came the first Covid lockdown.
Working from home I found it hard to walk away from my computer and of course there wasn't even a short walk to meetings any more. Although I was still following my new commitment to move more in my own time, my body was not impressed with this new monitor obsession and I had a few flare ups. Then I discovered sit/stand desks! I never thought I would see the day when I was able to ask to stand up more to work, but it shows I am succeeding in getting stronger than I have been for years. My managers referred me back to Occupational Health, who agreed that more movement could only be a positive thing and in February 2021 my new Yo-Yo desk arrived, thanks to Persona!
I love being able to sit or stand when it suits me; staying on my feet as much as possible but ensuring that no part of me gets too tired - with hypermobility it's all about recognising and staying within your limits (with healthy nudges over them when you can). My pain levels have reduced, I don't injure myself as often and my mental health is improving. My life has been improved so much by adding more movement into my life that I am now sharing ideas with my colleagues on the Persona Staff Wellbeing Hub so that others can give it a go too.
I feel so much freedom and optimism for my future in being able to look after myself in this way. I don't have to limit my own activities as much as I used to, to make sure I stay well enough to work. I am extremely grateful to work for an organisation that truly does - not just people we support, but the staff too.
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