EP110 – Navigating the Return to Work After Injury

Author Halli Biggs 22 min read time

Welcome back to the Marketing Freaks podcast! In this week’s episode we are discussing a slightly different topic… Jon is joined by our Senior Paid Media Executive Halli Biggs, who at the end of last year, experienced a potentially life changing injury.

In this episode, we’ll explore some of the concerns Halli was faced with, as well as the essential steps and strategies for successfully navigating the return to work after an injury, empowering you to regain your confidence and thrive in your professional and personal life once again.

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Life can sometimes throw unexpected challenges our way, and one of the most challenging hurdles to overcome is an injury that disrupts our ability to work. Whether it’s a work-related incident or an unfortunate accident outside of the workplace, the road to recovery can be arduous. 

So what did Halli find useful during her recovery period? 

Maintaining open and honest communication with your employer is essential throughout the process of returning to work after an injury. Notify your supervisor or human resources department about your recovery progress and any anticipated timelines for returning. Discuss potential modifications to your work environment or tasks that may be necessary to accommodate your injury. 

By initiating this dialogue, you set the stage for a collaborative approach that prioritises your well-being while addressing the needs of your employer.

For anyone that is currently suffering with an injury/illness that affects their ability to work, we hope that you find this episode useful.




Jon (00:10):

Hello everybody and welcome back to the Marketing Freaks podcast. In this week’s episode, I’m joined by Halli. Now, last year in September, Halli very sadly had a sudden and traumatic injury, which meant she had an extended time away from the business. So very kindly she’s come onto the podcast to talk through that experience and talk through what it’s like and hopefully kind of offers some really good useful advice for anyone who has been off work for an extended amount of time or is returning to work following an injury. So it’s a bit different and thank you so much to Halli for sharing her story here and I genuinely hope it helps someone in a similar situation. If you do find it helpful, please do come and subscribe and let’s get started with the episode. All right then. So Halli, thank you for joining me to talk about, I think what is quite a personal story.

Halli (01:09):

Yeah, for sure. Of course.

Jon (01:10):

Very kind of you to do this and I think it’s one that if anyone listening to this is in a similar position will be very useful and helpful for someone.

Halli (01:23):

Yeah, I hope it can help someone.

Jon (01:25):

So let’s recap a little bit. So last September you had a bit of a…

Halli (01:30):

Tragedy, whoopsy whoopsy. Yeah. Let’s call it a whoopsy.

Jon (01:35):

But it was a serious thing. So, um, tell us the story, what happened?

Halli (01:39):

Okay, so, uh, literally the day I got back from my holiday with my other half, um, the day before, we were literally parasailing. So it was a complete jump from one to the other. But the day we got back, I was walking down the stairs, um, dunno how it happened, but I managed to fall down five steps, can’t be any more than that. fell wrong and ended up breaking my back. I was in complete denial though, to say the least. I was like, no, I’m fine. Like try and shake it off. It’s okay.and then, yeah, when I tried to get up, uh, my legs giveaway, lost feeling in my legs fairly quickly. Obviously the worst goes through your head, but you’re like, no, it’s gonna be okay. Went to hospital, uh, yeah, waited 13 hours in A and e.

Jon (02:34):

And then with the broken back. With

Halli (02:35):

The broken back, it was quite funny actually. They were convinced that I was fine. I just needed to walk around, just kind of, you know, walk it off, shake it off.

Jon (02:50):

Could have,

Halli (02:51):

Wow. I know it could have gone horribly wrong and thankfully the doctor said to me, I really hope you didn’t do that. And I was like, well no, because I’ve seen the horror movies.

Jon (03:02):


Halli (03:03):

But yeah, so then finally got a test a few hours later, uh, a CT scan. At this point I’d actually text Abi, my boss to say, oh, is it okay if I work from home tomorrow and I’ve only just come back from holiday but I’ve fallen down the stairs and I’m in A and e, but I’m fine. And she was like, yeah, no worries, of course work from home. And then, yeah, when I sent her an update message, I think it was like three o’clock in the morning, turns out I’ve broken my back, I’m admitted so I might need tomorrow off

Jon (03:34):

Yeah, I remember, I remember coming in and Abi telling us what happened and obviously all massively concerned for you. I mean it’s such a big thing.

Halli (03:45):

Thank you.

Jon (03:46):

It’s a scary thing, isn’t it? I mean, I imagine at that point in time pretty terrifying.

Halli (03:51):

For sure.

Jon (03:52):

You know, you’ve broken your back, how it just, I find it crazy that you’ve been parasailing and then it was

Halli (04:01):

But literally 24 hours before,

Jon (04:03):

Uh, a slip on the stairs, that is unbelievable. But you know, so completely unexpected, big injury. Not knowing if you were gonna walk again, not knowing if you were paralyzed or not. Must have been terrifying.

Halli (04:22):

Yeah, there was a five day period, I think it was before they were actually able to give me an mri. So when they first delivered the news, obviously it was, we were so tired at this point cause we’d been in a and e for such a long time. They just kind of pretty much came in, said, you’ve broken your back, it’s close to your spinal cord because you can’t feel your legs, we dunno if you’re paralyzed. And then they walked out so they pretty much dropped the bomb and then left and

Jon (04:52):

Then five days of you lying there

Halli (04:54):

Wondering, not knowing. Wow. So it was a massive change of events, not something I obviously or anyone ever expects to experience. Just an unfortunate wait, just like that literally

Jon (05:08):

Mad. What was the actual, just the, the technical description of your injury?

Halli (05:13):

Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So I broke my L two transverse process, which is basically is in the lower part of your back you have next to your spinal cord, you have, bone that attach on either side of your spinal cord, which uh, links to all of your muscles, uh, in your lower back. Yeah. So your main big muscles. And what I had done is I’d snapped that whole bone off and because of that it then tore into my muscles and displaced so that that whole lower part of my section of like her low whole lower part of the back was uh, in agony.

Jon (05:51):

Yeah. Excruciating, however, but you didn’t, so in terms of what you then needed, so you didn’t need surgery,

Halli (05:58):

Surgery would only risk it more. So if that bone never fused back together again, you can live without it. I’d probably now live with back pain forever, but I’d rather that than potentially risk any further damage.

Jon (06:15):

Yeah. So after a bit time, and what we kind of talked about here really is like the, obviously it’s such a big story and like the return to work phase Yeah. From a, and honestly this isn’t a what a brilliant employer we were for helping you back to work. That’s not what this is. This is genuinely about like if anyone listening to this has had a big injury or been off work for long-term sickness or whatever the reason is, obviously you go through a big life event. Yeah. And then at some point you start thinking about coming back to work or getting back into that world. What were your and know, and I know there must have been like hundreds of concerns and worries, but from a work point of view Yeah. What were you, what was that initial, oh God, this is bigger than I thought. Like what, what do I do work-wise?

Halli (07:12):

Yeah. I think the main one for me was obviously being in digital marketing and advertising, it’s an ever-changing like career. So whether it’s your platforms that are changing, there’s constant clients, anything like that, it, it is always so busy, which is great when you are in it every day. But if you haven’t been, and I knew that it was gonna be something that I was gonna be out of touch with for a fare while whilst I recovered, how much was I gonna miss out on and what did I have to then do when I got back that was gonna help me get back into my role? Was there gonna be loads changes that I had to go through training courses again or how much was I gonna forget? Because remember I’d only been in the business for about five, six months at that time. Yeah. So I was still fairly new to my role anyway. Um, so yeah, there was loads of concerns running through my head. I just didn’t wanna forget everything and the pressure of it coming back was I gonna be able to, you know, handle that as well as the injury. Yeah. Um, so yeah.

Jon (08:17):

Yeah. But I I can imagine, yeah, changes on the Facebook ads platform a relatively, I mean that’s a relatively low thing on the scale, isn’t it, in terms of am I gonna be able to walk again? Yeah. But the, from a practical side of view, like a practical sense, like what if, if people are in this position and what did you find useful in terms of communicating with us or like planning that? Like what, what did we, what did we do well? What did we, what could have been better? Or like what did you struggle with?

Halli (08:53):

Yeah, I think obviously my main concern when I was first in hospital was, I mean, you don’t wanna take the piss at the company you work for, right? Like, it’s not anything I could have preempted.

Jon (09:06):

Some people would,

Halli (09:06):

But you personally, it’s not something that I ever strive to achieve. So I love my job. My main concern was do I still have it? Like it was a, it was a concern of okay, not only have I not been in the business for long enough, but how I, I had no idea how long my injury was gonna put me out for. Yeah. Um, and that is a major concern for anyone that goes through any type of illness or injury that is gonna potentially put them out of work. Yeah. Um, and there’s not a lot you can do about it. You can’t just switch it off and then try again. Um, so one of the most comforting things I found, especially in the first couple of weeks was pretty much everyone touched base with me from the office. Yeah. And yourself. As soon as I felt up to having a phone call, I mean, you called me up and the biggest comfort was you said, don’t worry about anything. Yeah. Your job’s here, don’t worry about finances, anything like that, you’re gonna be okay. Yeah. And instantly you can then go, okay,

Jon (10:09):

<laugh>. Cause that must Yeah. It’s, um, coming to terms with a massive life change, um, and what that means for every aspect of your life. Like, yeah. Will I, can I still do my job? Is one thing, but also

Halli (10:24):

Can I pay my bills?

Jon (10:25):

Can I pay my bills? But all like your social life, what does it mean for that? Cause you’re an extremely active person. Yeah. Aren’t you? Like, you, you love doing stuff outdoors and Yeah. You’re certainly not one to sit around and twiddle your thumbs, so like mentally Yeah. You’ve got all of these practical concerns about God. Like what does this mean? Am I still gonna be employed? Am I gonna be able to pay my bills? What, how long is this gonna take?  But also for someone who loves being out and about and doing stuff to suddenly be stuck like literally like that from parasailing and doing really fun things to suddenly not being able to do any of that for the foreseeable future, how does that it weigh on one’s mind?

Halli (11:12):

Yeah. It took a massive mental toll. Like there’s no denying it. And I think it still is because there’s, I’m still really limited. So, um, even now, I mean, what was it, eight, eight months on? I still don’t have full sensation in my right leg. I’m still getting physio every week, you know, trying to get that back. I’ve done a series of hydrotherapy, um, various different physiotherapy sessions. I’m about to start acupuncture. Like there’s, there’s so many things, that I’m trying to do to, to get back to where I was. And as you said, it’s really, it’s really difficult. Yeah. I mean, before I’d be doing, you know, like downhill mountain biking. Yeah. Um, and yeah, I did see myself as fairly active and that that changed drastically and still has this far down the line. Um, I have to put it into perspective that I am able to walk, which is fantastic.


Yeah. I’m very grateful for the use of my legs and I try to see it from that point of view so I don’t get in a negative Yeah mental state. But there are so many people that don’t have that. And then what do you do? And it’s trying to facilitate your new future and your, I mean, my life may change forever because maybe I won’t be able to do as much as I used to do. But I have to, I have to personally see it as Okay. I can walk though. I’ve still got my legs. I’ve just recently started driving again, which is unreal. That’s awesome. And if I put it into perspective of eight months ago I had to train with physios for days and weeks on end in hospital Yeah. To learn how to use my legs again. And that was really hard. Yeah. Something that you take for granted. For sure. I mean, you learn when you’re a kid, toddler and then you don’t think about it again because it’s your day-to-day life and activities. And then when you can’t do it and you’re trying to fuse your brain to tell yourself to walk and you’re like, I can’t <laugh>, it’s weird.

Jon (13:05):

Suddenly I can imagine. Yeah. Blind me, it’s, yeah. Well, I, I say I can imagine. I can’t imagine because I don’t think you really can until you’ve been through it.

Halli (13:15):

No, but I, I think it’s easy for anyone to sit there and think Okay, if something’s such, you know, as drastic as taking, walking away from you Yeah. You, you know that it’s gonna have an effect on you.

Jon (13:26):

Yeah. And I, I think you’ve had a really positive mental outlook and attitude with it from right from the start. So one of the stories that really makes me smile is, uh, so we as a business, we have income protection Yeah. In place, which, you know, thank God because that means that we can, like, God, God forbid anything like this happens again, you don’t want this stuff to happen, but it means that it’s like, that doesn’t matter. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, look, financially this doesn’t matter. Like, yeah, you, we, you know, you, you’re cool. So that’s a really good thing. But I remember when, when they have, I know

Halli (14:04):

What you’re about to say.

Jon (14:05):

Yeah. So actually they’re quite well set up for helping people re rehabilitate into work and they offer all sorts of different levels of service, if you want it. Yeah. So you were working with one of their representatives and, um, they couldn’t understand how you wanted to get back to work so quickly. They just weren’t used to <laugh>.

Halli (14:28):

Yeah. <laugh>. No, she was…

Jon (14:31):

Was like, but I want to go back. I was like, what?

Halli (14:34):

She was so kind. But, but yeah, no, I think I’ve, I’ve, no, I’ve already said it, but sitting and not doing anything from being so active, but mentally I was all there. Yeah. Like there was no issues with kind of being able to concentrate or anything like that. Once as soon as I’d come off my pain meds, I was ready and raring to go. Although my legs weren’t, I was like, I have to do something. I can’t. I, I honestly, I’m not one of those people that can sit and twiddle my thumbs as you say. I was losing my mind and I think I was probably about two weeks after returning home, I was messaging here going, is there anything I can do? Can I, oh yeah. Can I jump on anything? Like, is there anything you need help with? Because it was just, it was so difficult just to sit and do nothing. Yeah. Yeah. And I like, similar to what we discussed earlier, it then fed into my fear of the longer I’m out, the longer I miss what’s going on. So if I could come back sooner, hopefully that gap being less means that I’m not Yeah. Missing out too many platform changes or account changes. And that, that was a big thing for me. So it was like, okay, well the quicker I can get back, hopefully I can just slot right back in. Yeah.


Um, but yeah, no, they, they kept saying, so, you know, what do you need? Like, do you wanna, do you need some more therapy or anything like that? And I was like, no, I just wanna go back if I’m honest. And they’re like, okay, but how are you feeling injury wise? And I was like, well, it hurts, but that’s not gonna change. So can I go back <laugh>, you’re not listening to what I’m saying here. I need to go back to work. And she was going, I actually wanna <laugh>. Oh, okay. I’m not used to this. And I was like, I guess I’m an anomaly then <laugh>.

Jon (16:26):

Uh, yeah. I thought that that, that did make me chuckle. Definitely. And I think just as an indication of like how positive you were looking at stuff just across the board, um, what would you say in terms of like getting back into work and, you know, obviously you want, you were like keen to, so that’s amazing, but like, what were the, what did you struggle with? I know before we started recording you’re talking about the being suddenly being forced to work from home and being out of the office environment Yeah. And not seeing people two or three times a week and, you know, that coupled with a dramatically different social life I can imagine felt quite isolating.

Halli (17:13):

Yeah. That’s, that’s the best word to describe the whole situation. I think so, um, previously, uh, to my role at Overdrive, I’d never worked from home. I just never had to, um, never needed to. And I, it was a nice change for us because, or for me, sorry. Because having that hybrid, it meant that you have the flexibility, which was really nice. It was a nice change. Yeah. Um, but I think as you said, being in the office three times a week before to suddenly I’m out of office every day working on my own and it’s very different when you’re in an office environment and working on your own. It’s just having people around you and socializing. Yeah. And the only contact with people I had was when my partner came home every day and he’d walk through the door and I’d just bombarded him because I’m like, oh, someone to talk to.


Hi, how was your day? And he’s like, oh, at that point, his social batteries at an absolute minimum and mine is like sky high because although I’ve been working, I’ve not spoken to someone all day. Yeah. Um, so yeah, it, it was really difficult and I think it’s something to really take into consideration for both employers and employees. If that happens, it’s gonna be a massive change. If something to your work environment changes that drastically Yeah. It’s gonna feel different. It’s not going back to the job that you were doing because although you may be physically doing the work that you were doing, if you’re not in the same environment, it doesn’t feel the same. Yeah,

Jon (18:47):

Definitely. And it’s, um, I think there’s uh, there’s loads of different kind of learnings there in terms of when you’re, it’s, it’s almost, um, reminds me a little bit of when everyone’s forced to work from home, forced to work separately through the pandemic. Yeah. And just finding simple ways of helping people feel involved because it is so easy, I think, for people to slip into feeling really separated. Yeah. Um, particularly when there’s been a big traumatic event in, in your life leading up to that, you know? Yeah, for sure. There’s so much stuff going on there. So I think that’s a really big thing, isn’t it? Um, what would your big piece of advice be for anyone listening to this who is in a similar situation or the going through a return to work and struggling with it or, you know, they’re about to start that phase? What would your big piece of advice be?

Halli (19:50):

Honestly, to just trust in your team? Um, so for me, I, as I said, with all my kind of concerns about phased return to work and stuff like that, it was, am I gonna get the support that I need? Because everyone’s busy. Um, you worry that you’re gonna not be forgotten about, but you know, you kind of have to be a cog that then is working within, I guess

Jon (20:17):

Can sense everyone else moving on in their

Halli (20:19):

Dayto day, you know? Exactly. Yeah. And you know that everyone’s busy doing exactly what they should be doing. Um, you know, their, their days are ticking along as normal and the fear was, okay, well where do I pick things up? I don’t know what any of my clients been doing for the last two months. Mm-hmm. Has the team changed internally? You know, are we all kind of doing the same day to day? Um, so yeah, big thing for me was just I, I lent on people a lot. Um, and that just comes down to hopefully everyone’s in the position where they’ve got great management, you know, a great team around them that they can lean on. Um, and it will just allow you to not panic about things and then you go, okay, tell me what you need me to do. I’ll do it. Yeah. And that was so helpful because there was so much that I did miss out on, um, in terms of like events that had happened on, you know, for clients and stuff like that. So it was just helpful to go, right, this is the update, this is where we’re at, are you happy to now take this on? It’s like, okay, great. I know exactly what I’m doing. I can, you know, crack on. So just trust a new team. Yeah. Try not to panic.

Jon (21:25):

I like that. I like that. Well, look Halli, thank you so much for sharing. Of course. What is, uh, yeah. Quite a personal, personal story and it’s, um, yeah, it’s a big one.

Halli (21:36):

Yeah, it’s no

Jon (21:36):

Worries. So thank you very much.

Halli (21:38):

I don’t plan on coming back and doing it again. So <laugh>, this is the first and last time I’m afraid. John <laugh>.

Jon (21:45):

No, we very much hope that that doesn’t happen again. For sure. And congrats on a brilliant recovery process.

Halli (21:51):

Thank you. Yeah,

Jon (21:52):

Thank you. And um, yeah, it’s, it’s amazing. So, uh, and thanks to everyone for listening as well, and we’ll see you on the next one.

Halli (21:59):


Jon (22:02):

Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed that episode, please do come and subscribe. Join us for future episodes where we talk about the ins and outs of running paid media and driving improved conversions of revenue for your business. See you next time.