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Disability Narratives

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Video clip: Having managers who reassured her and her husband when she was off on sick leave was a great help for Liz.

Oh, I was terrified. I remember being absolutely terrified. Because I didn't realise for about two weeks how ill I was. So I was so ill, I was in intensive care, that I was in this kind of gaga land, hallucinatory world where I didn't really know what was going on. I had no idea. So when I came out of hallucination, and was aware of things, I didn't realise how sick I was. When I came out of that two weeks, I remember being absolutely paranoid that I was going to lose my job. Because I'd suddenly realised what was happening. I could see that - you know - my legs were black, my hands were black. Could see that something terrible was happening, and I wasn't going to come out of this as the same person. Could see that within a couple of weeks.

And I was terrified I was going to lose my job. So I remember - And I don't know where that fear came from. It was some paranoia. And pretty - you know - genuine, like how can someone as damaged as I'm going to be go back to work? I had no idea. And I remember my husband kind of saying to me, "The university's been awesome." He was like you know, "I've been in touch with people in the faculty, I've been in touch with your faculty chair, I've been in touch with key administrators." Like he'd been sort of getting onto everyone at the university, and the university had been like, medical leave - immediately done. You know, "No problem. We'll do everything we can to make sure that she can come back to work."

And I remember that. I remember [husband] having to tell me that about four or five times over the course of the months that followed. You know, every now and again I'd have this panic, and he'd be just like "No. Just remember, I'm in touch with everyone, you're on medical leave. They have situations like this happen all the time. You know? This is - you know - there are systems in place for this." And every time he said it, this huge flood of relief would just wash through my body, and it was like 'oh'. Because I love my job. I love my job.

So I love my job. And I was really, really scared. But that, that constant reassurance all the time. And I had cards from people in the university, and I had contact with people as soon as I was able to process that type of information. People at the university were getting in touch, and saying how they supported me, and they wanted me back, and all of this sort of thing. And that - all of those messages, both informal and official formal messages, just made all the difference for my recovery. Just knowing that, was huge. So, so yeah. That initial phase was terrifying. But we worked through that. And then there was the planning of the actual coming back to work, the practicalities around that, that took months and months as well. So there's been the kind of - the emotional psychological management of this, and that started really early, and then the practical stuff which, which started later.