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GP advice / hospital advice: which to follow?

54 replies

ItalianinLondon · 11/12/2019 22:40

Sorry if this is a bit of a stupid question - and I'm 100% being unreasonable, because nobody else can really answer it but me!

So, I woke up at about 2am with a really sharp, stabbing pain in the middle of my chest. It still hadn't gone this morning, so I called for a GP appointment and (miracle!) got one. The GP said it was almost certainly pericarditis but I should go to the hospital for echo / ECG / blood tests to check. And she said, if it was, stay off work for a week and come back to see her on 18 Dec to see if I'm okay to go back.

To cut the story short... went to the hospital, had the tests and they said that yes, it is pericarditis, but no reason not to be at work, just take some ibuprofen and get on with it.

So... now I'm not sure what to do. In truth, I don't feel terrible at all, but it's still super painful and the ibuprofen isn't doing much to help. But if I stay off work tomorrow after this advice, I feel a bit pathetic and feeble. And it doesn't help that I'd never even heard of pericarditis until this morning, so I have no concept of what's "normal".

Anyone who has experience / advice (especially how long it goes on for...!) I'd be super grateful.

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Am I being unreasonable?


You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

ItalianinLondon · 12/12/2019 10:38

Thank you! I should know this, but do you have to get a note from the GP after 7 days, or immediately?

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SpoonBlender · 12/12/2019 11:43

You can self-certify up to seven days, beyond that work may demand a doctor's note. You can get it before (if doc is willing) or some time after, doesn't matter - it's for HR paperwork, nothing more.

ItalianinLondon · 12/12/2019 12:06

Thank you! I'm just worrying that I'm going to get in trouble for staying off when the hospital told me I was fit to work... probably my brain is slightly addled by lack of sleep!

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Halleli · 12/12/2019 12:11

GPs can backdate sick notes, so you don't have to give it in immediately.

OhTheRoses · 12/12/2019 12:14

If I can get up, washed and dressed and keep down a cup of tea I'm well enough to go to work. A hospital consultant offered to sign me off for six weeks for a broken 5thmetatarsal.

I think the trouble is that the NHS is so lax itself about attendance at work those in it think every other employer is happy for staff to be off for little things.

ItalianinLondon · 12/12/2019 12:18

Well, I'm definitely washed, dressed and have drank a cup of tea, so I definitely feel like a bit of a fraud now :/

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SpoonBlender · 12/12/2019 12:24

Thanks @OhTheRoses, I'm sure your stoicism will make your life happier, won't lead to worse efficiency as you pass on infections to other staff at work, and applies perfectly to someone with lupus.

SpoonBlender · 12/12/2019 12:24

Go to bed, Italian. Take the rest. Well, get out to vote if you can, but otherwise let your body recover.

ItalianinLondon · 12/12/2019 12:29

@SpoonBlender no UK passport so no vote! But I saw my husband off this morning with strict instructions to vote tactically, so I have done all I can! ;)

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Allfednonedead · 12/12/2019 13:02

Fellow twin parent here. They may not be an illness, but they are exhausting.
You may not feel as though you’d die if you went into work, but by taking time off now you are giving your body a chance to recover rather than pushing it till you get really ill and have to retire through ill health.
With a chronic illness, you do need to learn to pace yourself in order to keep going.
And a final thought: how would your manager know what the hospital said to you? Your GP, who sounds ace, is the one to listen to, and she’s also the one who would certify the need for time off.

ItalianinLondon · 12/12/2019 14:13

@Allfednonedead I am happy to meet a fellow twin parent! I think it is just the demand of having to do absolutely everything twice... I am hoping it will get easier as they grow older, but I am not getting my hopes up too high!

I just booked a tel appt with my GP to ask about the time off and also pain relief... because it's honestly just wearing me out and the 400mg ibuprofen is doing next to nothing (or that's what it feels like, anyway!).

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ItalianinLondon · 13/12/2019 00:43

...and I've now had a fever and been sick all evening, so staying off work was definitely a good call. (Although it may be a reaction to the election result...) Thank you, everyone, for the sensible advice! Flowers

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velocitykate · 13/12/2019 01:00

If you have been sick all evening, its a no brainer anyway, but as an acute physician (hospital doctor), I would say that you need to stay off until you are pain free and feeling well enough to work. But with the vomiting in the equation, it might need to be longer.

You can self certify for seven days, and if you need to be off for longer that that, you will need a sick note. GPs are not the only ones able to give these - hospital doctors can too. If I had seen you, I would have arranged to review you to see how you were before the self certification period ended and give you a sick note at that point if you needed to be off for longer than seven days

ItalianinLondon · 13/12/2019 01:08

In truth, I might just try to get a note tomorrow, even if i have to pay for it - otherwise work are going to be hassling me all weekend! I work in constitutional research so it's going to be a crazy week and it's the worst possible time to be off...

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ItalianinLondon · 13/12/2019 01:10

I think the vomiting is just cause I've been feeling feverish and tired and generally yucky... but of course I'm worrying that it's worse than I realise, but I don't want to go back and hassle the hospital for no reason... they are busy enough at this time of the year!!!

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ItalianinLondon · 13/12/2019 06:04

Ha, sorry- rambling a bit!

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CatteStreet · 13/12/2019 06:21

Pericarditis a 'little thing`? When it was suspected I had it during a period of recurrent bronchitis with a recent history of pneumonia, my pneumologist was not happy at all.

If it's going to resolve and not complicate, it certainly needs rest.

OP, it sounds as if (putting it mildly) your work are not the best at accepting that people are ill sometimes?

ItalianinLondon · 13/12/2019 08:30

@CatteStreet It could be said! I've already had 3 messages from tptb asking if I'll be able to come in today! If they keep going I'll probably cave in just for some peace!

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CatteStreet · 13/12/2019 09:08

I understand high-pressure environments, OP (and I work for myself and have been known to be back on my laptop an hour after waking up from a GA Blush ), but that's ridiculous. Are they always like this, or is it current affairs-related (not that that makes hassling an ill person any better)?

Cornettoninja · 13/12/2019 09:16

I think the trouble is that the NHS is so lax itself about attendance at work those in it think every other employer is happy for staff to be off for little things

LOL - you’ve never worked in the NHS have you?

@italianinlondon, please don’t cave to your employers chipping away at you. You’re ill, your GP said to see her on the 18th (based on suspecting pericarditis) so go from there.

I’m sure I’m telling you what you already know, but if you don’t take the time now you’re at a real risk of being much sicker later on. It’s better to be a bit of a fanny for a short period than seriously ill for a long one. Your job is not as important as your ability to function as an adult and mother. You’ve got to be your own biggest supporter sometimes

I can’t help but notice that you’re giving more weight to the opinion of one doctor who is only concentrating on one aspect of your health rather than another who seems to be taking a far more holistic approach. Don’t forget specialist doctors very rarely see the consequences of this type of advice because people tend to refer back to their GP if they’re struggling to function day to day.

Cornettoninja · 13/12/2019 09:21

Oh and please do ring your GP to ask about other medications if you’re still in pain. They can escalate to other options if the ibuprofen isn’t working.

TwattingDog · 13/12/2019 09:31

My DH has recurrent pericarditis. He always takes time off work. You need to rest, allow the swelling to reduce and recover from this. It's an infection of the pericardium for goodness sake, and is pressing on your heart.

Vomiting - what meds are you on? Is it naproxen? Do you have omeprazole as well? Anti inflammatories often cause stomach problems.

TwattingDog · 13/12/2019 09:32

There is also colchicine - specifically prescribed for pericarditis, but I forget whether the GP or the cardiac consultant prescribed them the first time around.

WingingItSince1973 · 13/12/2019 09:39

Hello. Just seen your post. Hope you took time off work and feeling a bit better today. Xxxx

ItalianinLondon · 13/12/2019 10:14

Thanks! The work pressure is current-affairs related; they are not usually quite like this! They've just asked me to do some prep for them from home and I said yes... easier to do that than go in!

I've only been told to take ibuprofen but the doctor at the hospital did say something about naproxen, but then didn't mention it again - so I'm guessing they decided against it!

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