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Too physically knackered for entry level job at 53 after 4 years training - what to do?

(13 Posts)
LapsedPacifist Sun 16-Mar-14 00:26:59

I've got an interview for an entry level job in the sector I've been training for for the past 4 years (as a VERY mature student), but have just realised I'm probably not physically up to doing the job.

I returned to full time education in my late 40s, passed a vocational FdA, topped up to get 1st class B.A. in a related subject (YAY!!!) and have just started a part-time vocational M.A.

I'm 53. I'm very fortunate because our family situation means I don't need to be in paid work. But I really need to get back into paid employment for my CV, my sanity and my self respect - I haven't had a paid job now for 5 years.

I've managed to get an interview for a paid 24hpw part-time (entry level, retail) position in the sector I'm studying for, which I can do while I complete my course. It's in a really prestigious organisation, and I've been doing a similar job one day a week as a volunteer for the last 3 years.

But I realised 2 days ago that I'm unlikely to be able to cope with spending an entire 8 hour shift standing up. I normally sit at a stool in my voluntary job, but I have an intermittent back problem, and although I can stay on my feet moving around without difficulty, I discovered last week, while training a new member of staff, that standing in one place for several hours behind a till gives me excrutiating sciatica. I've just found out there is no seating in the job I've applied for.

I cannot cope with the idea I'm so fucking old and knackered at 53 that I can't even manage a pissing entry-level retail job (which I would really enjoy - I love talking to tourists!)

Do I blow out the interview? Or blag it out and see what happens if I'm offered the job? (There are 6 vacancies so I have a good chance of being offered a post - I am very well qualified for it on paper.)

It honestly never occurred to me this would ever be an issue, because I've been desk-bound for the last 30 years and I sit behind a till at my vol. job. I feel so utterly crap and redundant. I reallt want this job, but frankly, am v. scared that I'm now unemployable sad

Catswiththumbs Sun 16-Mar-14 00:45:05

First thing I would speak to your GP.
Second I would address your footwear- were you wearing comfortable but supportive footwear?

And thirdly, what is your fitness and posture like generally? Doing some resistance training to strengthen your core will take the strain off your back and hips and stop aggravating your sciatic nerve (providing you don't have a prolapsed disk or anything, which is very unlikely if you only have intermittent pain).
Also taking ibuprofen for inflammation can help (or naproxen prescribed by GP) and painkillers- paracetamol/codeine/combination of the two.

I've just rehabbed after a back injury (sustained at work)
All these things were important, I do 12 hour shifts, with lots of lifting, pulling, pushing and general climbing around.
I am medication free, and back to 75% fitness 12 weeks after being unable to move with a back spasm which triggered sciatic pain, numbness the whole shebang

Don't write yourself off! Is there any reason you couldn't have periods sat down?

Vatta Sun 16-Mar-14 00:54:37

Could the job be done sitting down, at least some of the time? Remember employers have to make reasonable adjustments for disabilities, so if they could give you a seat would that work?

LapsedPacifist Sun 16-Mar-14 01:04:15

Thanks Cats!

Well, I wear surgical insoles in my shoes at work - I've suffered for several years with plantar fasciitis (which is now in remission) so the feet seem to be OK, but the back problem is something which has lurked for the last 30 years. It's completely unpredictable. I've had physio for it in the past, but it seems to just sort itself out with time.

Fitness is non-existant <shame> - health problems have made it difficult to exercise, I'm a couple of stone overweight since starting the menopause so I've stopped going to the gym and I'm really struggling with keeping fit. My posture is awful - especially after all those months working on a history dissertation so I guess this problem is partly self-inflicted sad. I have a stash of anti-inflammatories, but hate taking them - they make me v. constipated blush.

I had a sneaky around the museum shop and the staff are all standing - no sign of any seating at all. Don't want to blow the interview by asking about it either!

LapsedPacifist Sun 16-Mar-14 01:10:04

Thanks Vatta!

I could indeed do the job just fine sitting down. But the sad truth is that jobs are so difficult to come by these days that I really don't feel it would be appropriate for me to ask for any special consideration. It's actually incredibly hard to find jobs in your 50s, without admitting you're a bit, well, fucked hmm

holidaysarenice Sun 16-Mar-14 01:23:37

do the interview and worry about the chair later.

Get some good physio for your back, if uve had those insoles awhile they may need remade.

Also change your antinflammatories or take a laxative.

Do not suffer.

Oh and well done on retraining!! You've crossed the biggest hurdle so don't give up!!!

LapsedPacifist Sun 16-Mar-14 01:27:43

Going to my GP does seem to be the most sensible option here!

I feel very sorry for our GPs though. They are all about 12, and weigh 7 stone, and look me up and down, and regardless of what I'm seeing them about - veruccas, demented parents, thrush, IBS, ingrowing toenails, demented parents, HRT, haemorroids, teenagers with ASD, hair falling out, demented parents- ask whether I've:

'Been thinking about my lifestyle options, recently....'



Nocomet Sun 16-Mar-14 01:29:04

Standing gets better.
Waitressing killed for the first week aged 18 after a bit you notice much less.

You may be pleasantly surprised and find your back copes better than you expect after a bit.

LapsedPacifist Sun 16-Mar-14 01:54:02

My first ever paid jobs were working as a shop assistant when I was a teenager- so I know I'll enjoy the work if I can physically stand up for 8 hours! I work in a shop now, but can sit down.

Sounds wimpy, but I was really scared when my back completely gave out after 2 hours last week!

Vatta Sun 16-Mar-14 09:18:31

Do the interview, impress them, and then once you start the job (fingers crossed!) ask about having a chair for some breaks. With both sciatica and plantar fasciitis you have sound medical reasons for wanting to sit some of the time, they should be able to accommodate that.

No need to mention it in the interview I don't think.

simonelebonbon Sun 16-Mar-14 16:41:49

I think you should take the job if offered. You might surprise yourself.

I work as a freelance florist so have dry periods and very busy periods (i.e. wedding season). It is very physically demanding (i.e. on your feet for long periods, carrying wrought iron calendabras, stone urns, large buckets and vases of water, etc.).

I always find it tough to start with but soon get in the swing of things. Right footwear helps. I do sometimes wear flip flops but Ecco boots and Crocs are a god send! It's the cushioned sole which makes the difference.

bunnybing Sun 16-Mar-14 16:58:37

What Vatta said - employers have to make reasonable adjustments.

winkywinkola Sun 16-Mar-14 19:26:52

Aside from anything else, can I just say congratulations on retraining and having the balls and focus and dedication to do all that. V impressive.

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