I broke my leg, and my team barely acknowledged it

A reader writes:

I’m a high-performing individual contributor in a small firm that is 100% remote. Our company culture really prioritizes teammate health: we put our therapy appointments on our calendar, take calls from the gym, and offer to pitch in for colleagues when they’re sick or just need bandwidth to deal with personal issues. I’m grateful for this culture and I’m the first to volunteer to support my teammates when they need it.

A few months ago, I broke my leg in an accident. It was a pretty severe fracture that required emergency surgery and I couldn’t bear weight for two months after.

My manager, who is normally wonderful and kind, was nonplussed when I told her what happened, saying, “Well, I guess we’ll figure it out.” I also notified my team in our all-hands Slack channel, and all of my teammates acknowledged the message and sent their well-wishes at the time. We have unlimited PTO, so it wouldn’t have been an issue to take time off, but it was our busy season and I felt like the optics wouldn’t be great — I don’t really need my leg to do my job, I wasn’t on major painkillers, and I could do 99% of my job from my bed.

So I put my head down and pushed through it. I felt it would be better to stay off camera during meetings (since I couldn’t shower for four weeks until my incision healed, and being highly polished is expected in our sector). I let everyone know in advance and made sure to make my voice and chat interactions as warm as possible to compensate. I ended up having a strong quarter and met every KPI and exceeded some, all to glowing reviews from my clients on our year-end survey. As soon as I could take a shower at four weeks, I was back on camera from there on out.

Still, I felt like my team didn’t take my injury and recovery into account. I realize that jumping right back into work probably made it seem like I was completely fine, but in reality, I was recovering from surgery and my mental health was really suffering. I communicated what I needed when I needed it, but I also didn’t receive any proactive outreach from my team about how I was doing or what they could take off my plate. It also became apparent that multiple colleagues did not realize the extent of what happened. Two examples out of many:

• A teammate planned an optional team-building bowling night. When I shared with the organizer that I’d love to come but I couldn’t make it with everything going on, she said, “I’m sorry, I had no idea!” I work very closely with this teammate and spend hours in meetings with her every week.

• Once I was weight-bearing but still in a boot, a different coworker asked if I could walk to a coffee shop near my house to meet a client who was going to be in the neighborhood for the day. When I asked my coworker if it would be okay if I drove and expensed my parking, since walking that far in my boot was difficult, he said, “No problem, but wait, what happened? Why are you in a boot?”

I’m struggling to understand what I could have done differently here, or why I feel so irked by this. I know that everyone is incredibly busy with their own lives and aren’t always thinking about me, but this total blanking feels misaligned with our culture. This is the same team that sent me flowers when I had a very mild case of Covid last year!

Flash forward to today: my leg is healed, but I’m now working from my hometown for a few weeks taking care of my dad as he recovers from a complicated surgery and my grandmother is dying. I’ve shared this series of unfortunate events with my manager — who gave her explicit approval for this accommodation request — and with my team, but it’s still not registering. “You have a new background! Where are you?”

I’ve done everything I can think of to communicate with my team. But I’m concerned that my colleagues can tell that I’m not at my usual 100% right now and aren’t putting the pieces together as to what’s behind that. I feel like I’m squeaking by trying to keep my head above water, and not receiving the same grace and support that other colleagues get in their own tough personal situations. How do I proceed from here? Am I out of line for feeling disappointed and unmotivated?

You’re not out of line for feeling disappointed, but I think your expectations aren’t entirely realistic.

You’re 100% remote so people weren’t seeing your cast (and then boot) every day. In fact, they weren’t seeing it at all. They heard the news in the beginning and processed it, and then it almost certainly got pushed out of their minds by other things after that. That doesn’t mean they’re not sympathetic, but it’s really common for people not to keep this kind of detail about others in the front of their minds unless they actually see it in front of them on a regular basis.

Also, a lot of people don’t realize what a big deal a broken leg can be. A zillion years ago I broke my foot, couldn’t put any weight on it for three months, had a bunch of complications, and months later had to essentially learn to walk all over again. It was a massive, impossible-to-ignore thing in my life for almost a year; it affected everything I did. But other people heard “broken foot” and thought, “Oh, sounds like a hassle” and then wouldn’t give it much thought after that — unless they were right there with me seeing how it affected everything. And that’s pretty normal!

You pointed out that you work closely with your coworkers and spend in hours in meetings with some of them each week. But they’re not spending hours with your leg or seeing its impact on you in-person; you’re remote so they’re spending those hours with your face and your brain, and they’re not seeing the whole picture. The parts of you they’re coming in contact with are the you as they’ve always known you.

The thing with your manager not remembering that you’re working from your hometown while taking care of your dad and grandmother is similar — she’s caught up in the press of day-to-day work and not keeping it front of mind that you’re somewhere else. To you it feels like, “How could you not remember that this horrible thing is going on that I’ve uprooted my life for?” But while this is affecting your life in significant ways, it’s not unusual for other people not to focus on it the same way, because you’re still showing up in their days the same way you always have (just with a different background this time).

You said you feel like you’re not receiving the same grace and support that other colleagues get in their own tough situations. If there are specific things you want/need, you should spell those out explicitly (whether it’s a temporarily lower workload or whatever would help). But if it’s more that you just want to feel like your coworkers remember what’s going on with you — and not that you want specific accommodations made — well … it’s not an unreasonable thing to want, but I think it’s a little unrealistic about human nature. I suspect if you asked for any specific help, they’d be happy to give it to you … but because you’re physically removed and your time together is focused on work rather than your lives, it’s really common for people’s focus to be elsewhere.

{ 431 comments… read them below }

    1. RC*

      The truth is sometimes you’re the lead, sometimes you’re an extra, just walking by in the background, like me, Josh Groban?

      1. ThatGirl*

        because life is a series of revelations that occur over a period of time….

        (I love that song lol)

      2. Panicked*

        Because life is a gradual series of revelations that occur over a period of time, some things might happen that seem connected but there’s not always a reason or rhyme.

      3. Krevin*

        If you saw a movie that was like real life
        You’d be like, “What the hell was that movie about?
        It was really all over the place.”
        Life doesn’t make narrative sense

        1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

          I’d never seen that before and that part made me cackle! It’s so true lol.

      4. WeirdChemist*

        As long as you’re not the villain in your own story…

        Was not expecting to see CXG references in the wild today :) Guess whose going to have all the songs stuck in my head for the rest of the day…

        1. Random Dice*

          It’s always so awkward to have Crazy Ex Girlfriend songs stuck in one’s head. They’re so catchy!

          “Period sex, period sex”

          “Antidepressants are so not a big deal. They put me on antidepressants and sweetheart here’s the deal”

          “Cuz I gave you (I gave you) a UTI”

          “I give good parent (She gives good parent, to parents like me)”

          “Hey, sexy stranger, come back to my place, and I hope you’re not a murderer. Kiss me, baby, all over the place. And please don’t be a murderer. Please don’t be a murderer”

          1. RC*

            The UTI song is one of the very few that I actually can’t stand lol. Maybe because UTIs are actually awful?

            But almost all the rest of them are just so good. (How much do I love the line, “a few times before I felt it through his pants, and just gen’rally kind of rubbed it”)

            Topic? Good advice from Alison, no notes, which is why we’ve devolved into TV songs probably! Also, Whitefeather/Mountaintop is either the best place to work (so much time off for shenanigans, no accountability, with apparently good pay?) or the worst place to work (absolutely no boundaries, and Mrs Hernandez et al surely doesn’t like picking up the slack for said shenanigans?)

      5. Salsa Your Face*

        Just, for good measure, make sure your ex boyfriend’s dad stays out of the story

      6. Fliss*

        Long-time AAM lurker here, coming out of the shadows for the very first time just to say how happy I am to find a thriving Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fandom amongst the readership :-)

        1. Jaydee*

          I don’t even lurk, I comment sometimes, and I too am *thrilled* with the CXG references and now need to listen to “Heavy Boobs” on repeat or maybe all of Paula’s songs before my next meeting.

          1. Mona4Nathaniel*

            These comments hit me like the Santa Ana winds!!! Although I’m not sure if that’s where I’m from or where I’m going!?!?

    2. Snarkus Aurelius*


      Life isn’t like a work sitcom. Your coworkers have zero obligation to you beyond the requirements of your job. The Office was fiction.

      This question truly speaks to how much capitalism has invaded employees’ personal lives. Coworkers replaced family and friends. Private homes and cars are now offices. Mobile devices are like ankle monitoring devices.

      ***Going to the gym isn’t even sacred anymore.***

      I guess this post made me incredibly sad.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I actually took the gym thing the other way – that it’s OK to take a break to go to the gym as long as you are available in case of questions.

        That said – while The Office is thankfully fiction, and so is Parks & Rec, I have genuinely cared about my coworkers over the years. Not all of them, and to varying degrees, but I certainly care if someone is recovering from a major surgery or injury. It’s just that, as others have said, out of sight/out of mind.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Exactly. I can like and care about people I spend up to 40 hours per week with, even if the reason we’re spending time together is work. They’re part of my community, even if they aren’t family or close friends.

          On the other hand, I am one of those people who can’t put any perishables in my refrigerator drawers because if I don’t see something every day it stops existing. If I forget your broken leg it doesn’t mean I don’t care; it means my brain prematurely filed that info in the archives.

          LW, I know you want your coworkers to spontaneously a) remember your situation, b) understand the severity of that situation and c) offer you the support you need. Unfortunately, you’re going to need to prompt them. You could do this by sharing more info (e.g. turning on cameras for meetings and letting them see that you’re unshowered and working from bed due to the broken leg, rescheduling due dates because of surgery, mentioning how difficult it is to do [simple thing] with a broken leg). You could do this by asking for help: “As I mentioned earlier, I’m taking care of my parents right now, so I’m not going to be able to take on this project. April, could you take point on it?” But staying perfectly on top of things and hiding all the evidence/effects is not going to get you the support you want!

          1. Always Tired*

            Crisper drawers are for sodas and alcohol, because otherwise they are the “oh god, what WAS that?!” drawers.

            OP, I have been in your shoes, I have also been the coworker who remembers and asks after the injury/ill family member/whatever. I have also been the coworker reminding everyone else in the office, “yeah, he’s off every other Wednesday morning for his cancer treatment, remember? He’ll answer this afternoon.” Lots of people don’t have strong empathy, especially in high pressure environments. If you are the usual advocate coworker, you either need to find someone else to help you, or do it yourself.

        2. Snarkus Aurelius*

          If you’re thinking about work while you’re at the gym and/or doing work at the gym, then you’ve missed the point of going to the gym. Nowhere is solitude not even your mind.

          The fact the LW saw that as a good thing and moved heaven and earth *not* to take time off just screams we’re a work-addicted culture.

          1. ThatGirl*

            If I can go to the gym in the middle of the day instead of being at work, that’s a net positive, no matter where your mind goes.

            I agree that capitalism sucks, but you might be overthinking this. :)

          2. allathian*

            Yes, I agree with you.

            Heck, I generally stop thinking about work on my lunch break, even if I go to lunch with my coworkers when I’m at the office.

            If you’re expected to be available for questions when you’re at the gym, then I don’t count it as a real break.

            In my case there are very few questions I can answer off the cuff, so I need access to my laptop to do so anyway. At most, I can put a note in my work phone to get back to the person later, and even that’s disruptive.

            That said, I don’t use the gym we have at work because I don’t want my coworkers to see me unless I’m fully dressed.

        3. Immaterial*

          ha, and I took it to mean that they could step away from their desks to field calls from the gym. need more sleep.

          exactly my thought, out of sight/ out if mind.

      2. Maggie*

        That’s a bleak outlook. People can be friends with co workers and care about their lives and still have relationships with their family and friends… I certainly do. Yeah… mobile devices are legally required to be strapped to your body with the threat of jail time for failure to comply. I think OP is expecting a bit too much from her co workers following what’s going on in her life but idk man… that’s a super bleak outlook that doesn’t ring true to me at all.

      3. Florence Reese*

        This feels harsh! This person has been dealt a rough hand recently and is hoping for some basic human decency from the people around them — that doesn’t mean they expect their life to be a “work sitcom” or that they expect “obligation” from their coworkers. For some people, there’s an assumption that we’re all “obligated” to be kind to one another, which includes actually giving a shit when someone is struggling instead of paying lip service and failing to show up.

        I think it’s fair to point out that those folks are likely struggling in their own ways, and that the perceived snub is not really intended that way. We all do that, and in my experience we all feel hurt by it in return sometimes. I think there are examples in OP’s post that show their coworkers do care when they realize what OP is dealing with, it’s just not as apparent to them as it is to the person going through it. That requires a little shift in perspective, but that’s helpful and actionable feedback.

        But like…yeah, I want my coworkers to care if I’ve been injured or if my parent is in ill health. I don’t want them to care *very much* but I’d like the people I work with every day to see me as a full human being, with everything that entails. It’s weird to respond to that basic human need for social support by saying “it’s not the Office, and also shame on you for your work culture”? Sorry it made you sad, it sounds like OP is pretty sad too though!

        1. What the what*

          I’m on the same page as you. There is a weird@$$ culture where I work and feels very similar to what OP is experiencing—except we are in the office 100%! I’ve tried being friendly, helpful, etc. to no avail. It’s clique’ish and there’s a lack of humanity, teamwork and occasional backstabbing that I find distressing. I quit a remote job so that I could be around people and hopefully develop some very casual office/lunchtime friendships. I have adjusted my expectations but it’s a very lonely work existence overall. My boss sent flowers after my dad died but I didn’t receive any other condolences. Even our secret Santa Christmas “event” was lame. Someone just dropped a gift off and everyone opened their gifts at their own desk. I never received any acknowledgment of the (thoughtfully selected) gift basket I gave. I frequently get left out. It makes me feel invisible and very lonely. I’m not a horrible coworker—I’m kind, on the quieter side, creative and I think thoughtful. I don’t try to force “me” on anyone. OP I feel for you and I’m sorry your heart hurt as well as your leg. Hugs.

          1. Zweisatz*

            To be honest I don’t think you’re expecting too much. It sounds like the culture at your workplace is just not that great.
            At least what you wish for is completely normal at my workplace (which is very invested in fostering an open and welcoming environment despite a lot of people being hybrid and some remote).

        2. Snarkus Aurelius*

          The original letter is something I would expect to see about a spouse or a friend or a family member. It’s certainly written with that tone of expectation.

          I’m not saying we shouldn’t care about coworkers; I’m saying the level of concern should be proportionate to the situation and people involved. The LW’S expectations aren’t in line with a typical work environment. I’ve got so much else going in my life that a coworker’s broken leg isn’t going to be a priority.

          I am saddened by these letters because I’m afraid to ask if the LW has literally anyone else to lean on.

          I miss the days when work was done at five, and you didn’t have to hear about it until the start of the next business day and your coworkers weren’t expected to serve multiple roles.

          1. Starbuck*

            Yes, I wonder if this would even be an issue for the LW if they had the support of friends, family, etc other people nearby IRL. I would definitely expect something like a Get Well card if I told people I’d been in the hospital, but if I was remote and otherwise working as normal I wouldn’t be surprised if people forgot! Especially if you’re not having casual chats in meetings where this kind of life stuff is regularly discussed.

            1. Nancy*

              Dealing with something major can feel isolating no matter how many people are around, since friends and family also have their own priorities. It also can be difficult letting people know you are still not ok when you are having a already hard time handling not being ok. It doesn’t mean the person has no one else, or is looking to coworkers as replacement family or whatever.

          2. StarTrek Nutcase*

            I’m also someone who won’t think about work or coworkers once I leave work. I do care about them as fellow humans, but I don’t want to know anything but the most superficial personal info (has kids but not names, ages or activities) unless it impacts my work (repeatedly out for illness so I cover but not illness details). I do resent that coworkers see my lack of interest as wrong and their sharing as normal. Why can’t we all just do our thing and no one be wrong or weird?

            1. RussianInTexas*

              Except for a couple of coworkers I work with closely, I am same. We are a small company of about 20 office stuff (not counting the warehouse folks who are in a complete different location), half remote, half not (I am remote). I don’t even know if most of my coworkers married, have kids, whatever. Someone out for bring sick? Ok, I won’t bother them with work stuff until they are back, but I’ll never ask why, I don’t have that kind of relationship with them.
              I also don’t care when they are having babies, on vacation, whatever. We work together, nice to each other, I spare no brain space for them once I am done with work.

        3. Lucia Pacciola*

          “This person has been dealt a rough hand recently and is hoping for some basic human decency from the people around them”

          As far as I can tell, LW is absolutely getting basic human decency from their co-workers. They seem to be expecting/wanting/missing an amount of attention and caretaking that goes somewhat beyond basic human decency.

          The way the letter is written, it sure seems like if LW had used their words, told their co-workers, “hey, I’m having difficulty with this because of my leg, can you cover it this week? I’ll make it up to you once I recover”, their co-workers would have been more than happy to help LW out. So I’m not seeing a lack of basic human decency here.

        4. OP*

          Hi, OP here. Thank you. I feel like your comment really sums up what I’m feeling about this. I absolutely do not feel obligated to be checked in on, cared for, etc. from co-workers all the time. Not at all. I am usually a pretty private person; I have cordial and warm relationships with my co-workers but they are, at the end of the day, co-workers. I say hi to their kids when they make an appearance on a Zoom call, chime in on the birthday Slack threads, and reply enthusiastically when vacation pics are shared, etc. but I don’t rely on them for support outside of basic work tasks and don’t expect the same back. The kind of support I was hoping to receive was more like, being given a few extra days to complete non-urgent tasks instead of pinged for status updates well before the due date, or being given grace when I made (and promptly fixed) a typo in a client report. Not asking for a meal train or anything like that, just some consideration from my colleagues about what could possibly be behind not being on my A game. And 100% agree that folks don’t realize how severe a broken bone can be. I didn’t either until it happened to me. It is life altering!

          I also want to add, since some have speculated below, that I have a really robust support network between my wife, friends, and family, who big time stepped up and rallied around me (especially my wife, who has been an incredible partner to me throughout this whole ordeal). I could not have done it without them, and if anything, the intense support from my personal network has made the total oversight at work feel even weirder. Absolutely one of those weird WFH disconnects, where your home and your office are one. It was really disorienting to be treated with so much support and care in one realm while feeling like I needed to be so “on” and like I had to act like nothing was wrong in the other.

          To the commenters encouraging me to take PTO: Yes. I need to. I should have been more clear that I needed it up front. I did specifically tell my manager at the time that I might need some time off, and I would let her know as it came up, and did take one afternoon off during a bad pain day. But she was so visibly annoyed by my initial meeting with her to share what happened, which is so out of the norm for her, I honestly was afraid to ask for more. I deeply regret this, and not laying out more details about the support I needed at the time. Lesson learned.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Your manager should not have been visibly annoyed by a reliable and high-performing employee asking for time off to deal with a serious medical issue. That sucks, and would definitely affect how much leeway I would feel comfortable requesting from them and my coworkers.

            (I’m so glad my manager has always been professional when I’ve had health issues that affected work. Ironically, the only time I’ve broken a bone it was a minor fracture in a finger bone, so it needed no accommodation. It’s only real effect was slower typing for a couple of weeks and–since it was my middle finger in a splint–the vague feeling that I was constantly flipping everyone off.)

          2. Despachito*

            OP, I think you absolutely need to be upfront about what you need.

            Your coworkers seem to be decent people but are not mind readers, and have absolutely no means to suss out what you really need if you don’t specifically tell them. I am convinced they will do what you need if they know what this is.

            Good luck with that, and with your healing as well.

          3. Washi*

            I had a pretty rough pregnancy – nausea, dizziness, and dry heaving every day for 9 months – while doing a tough social work job. At one point I got up the courage to ask my manager for help reducing my workload and she stared at me blankly and then said “what do you want me to do about it?” I never asked again, cried privately at work every day, and quit before returning from leave.

            Found out much later she was struggling with long covid and I think genuinely could not process what I was saying. I spent a while after that job being frustrated with her and for coworkers who would “ask” how I was by saying “you must be feeling great!” and “you look amazing, you’re all bump!”

            But it ultimately helped me internalize that unless they’ve been through it NO ONE will really understand what you’re going through unless you spell it out and ask for help. It’s not a judgment, just a fact. Despite my own health experience, I would not understand your broken leg experience unless you laid it out for me like this. And I wonder if other of your colleagues similarly have been through things where the support they received didn’t fully match up with what they needed, but you wouldn’t know from the outside.

      4. Nancy*

        People can be friends with coworkers and still have family and other friends. There is no limit on the number of friends we are allowed to have.

        Coworkers being friends with each other and knowing about each others’ personal lives is not a new concept.

        1. Snarkus Aurelius*

          But the expectation that we are or should be is very new, and it’s because we’re spending more and more time at work or work invades what used to be private time. We’re together more more hours than we used to be so the expectations rise.

          Some of my colleagues struggled to understand why I didn’t want to spend my free time with them.

          1. Laura*

            It’s not very new at all. People have had friends at work for ages. My parents met at work over 4 decades ago.

            1. Snarkus Aurelius*

              Yes and they did that *by choice*, and they were able to hold boundaries if they needed to. Now you can’t really do that in a lot of places anymore.

              We’re all like family!
              Be a team player!

              That type of nonsense.

              1. Nancy*

                Those sayings have been around for decades in corporations. They are not new either, nor do they mean you must be friends with your coworkers.

          2. Winstonian*

            no it’s not. it may be to new to you but that doesn’t make it new to everyone.

      5. Hannah Lee*

        Your post reminded me of a part of the letter that jumped out at me:

        “Our company culture really prioritizes teammate health: we put our therapy appointments on our calendar, take calls from the gym …”

        The first part of that statement is not really backed up by the examples given in the second part of that statement. Or by this:

        “We have unlimited PTO, so it wouldn’t have been an issue to take time off, but it was our busy season and I felt like the optics wouldn’t be great — I don’t really need my leg to do my job, I wasn’t on major painkillers, and I could do 99% of my job from my bed.
        So I put my head down and pushed through it. …. I was recovering from surgery and my mental health was really suffering.”

        It doesn’t sound like an environment where the OP felt comfortable “prioritizing” their health.

        I don’t think OPs co-workers were particularly mean or uncaring or anything. But I suspect what may be so unsettling, or making OP sad about this experience is the disconnect between the stated or implied culture of this workplace and the reality of it and how those two things ran smack dab into each other with OP in the middle.

        *Something* about the culture made OP not take time off to recover, to think “the optics wouldn’t be great” and decide to “put their head down and push through it” while they were not well (recovering from major surgery, from a (even temporarily) disabling physical trauma and surgery, with having mental health struggles … any one of those things could be enough to justify taking some time off from work. Heck, even the move and having to provide care, support to family members might be worth some time off to deal with)

        The curtain is down, OP may now be seeing the truth about the actual workplace culture and yeah, that can feel pretty lousy. And that realization at a time when they are probably burnt out from the accumulation of everything, including the physical and psychological drain of the injury, surgery, recovery can make that hit hard to just absorb.

        1. ack ack*

          Yes! Exactly this.
          Just wanted to add also that while the job can be done from bed, everything else in the OP’s life is a lot harder. Basic things like household chores and cooking and taking care of yourself become more time-consuming and difficult when you are suddenly disabled. You have to make time in the schedule for that stuff, so it makes sense to need a lighter workload, even if the job can *technically* be done from bed.

          Also, as others have said, a culture that prioritizes health would let you put calls off when you’re at the gym, rather than constantly being on call while you’re trying to care for yourself. Taking calls from the gym sounds miserable to me!

          1. OP*

            I think this is a big part of what I was feeling. Just going to the bathroom could take up to 30 minutes–interrupting my wife’s work to help me get out of bed, feeling dizzy from being upright, hobbling to/from the bathroom on my walker and with my wife’s help, getting situated back in bed, etc. Multiple times a day, for four weeks. I didn’t want to share those gory details with my co-workers, but it also felt out of sync when I–repeatedly–got pinged about responding to non-time sensitive emails that came in a few minutes earlier, while I was dealing with this. I realize that I should have been more clear and shared more about what I was going through. I just figured the initial share-out (I’ve severely broken my leg in an accident, I will be effectively on bed rest for a month, I cannot walk for two months, etc.) was sufficient to explain minor delays in my response time.

            1. Lusara*

              I understand where you are coming from, but you made a point to not take PTO and continue to work normally (aside from turning your camera off). There was no reason for anyone to think that you were having any issues.

        2. Kaitlyn*

          I agree with this. The reality seems to be that people are allowed to take care of their bodies as long as it doesn’t interfere with their work.

          OP, this sucks and it’s okay to feel sad and disappointed about it. If I could give you a time machine, I’d encourage you to let yourself *not* be normal so soon after a deliberating injury, and to rest and recover regardless of optics. If that somehow feels impossible to consider, it’s worth interrogating why.

          1. Snarkus Aurelius*

            I’m reminded of an Internet meme: the worst part of the zombie apocalypse is the employees who would definitely say, “I understand you’ve been infected but you need to come in and finish until you turn into a full zombie.”

            I totally believe that would happen!

              1. MigraineMonth*

                You know there would also be that employee who shows up after being bitten (even if management says to stay home) because they care *that much* about their job, they haven’t turned in a TPS report late in 15 years, and they aren’t going to break that streak just because they’re turning into the infectious undead.

        3. Lenora Rose*

          I’m wondering how much of that is the company culture and how much the OP. We’ve all met those people who, no matter how supportive the company is, come in and are all “Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly take time off, they need me.” In those cases, there’s nothing the manager can do about the employee working while injured unless they get a *reminder* that the employee is powering through something big. In person it’s easy to see, and call out. Online, less so.

          And yes, we all do know the company that makes lip service towards supporting its employees, then doesn’t – we even have the nightmare stories of the companies and managers who feel entitled and chastize employees for daring to need time off. It’s more than possible this is what’s going on. But in this letter, there’s no evidence that this employee even asked, and was refused, or pressured to return by anything but their own internal sense the timing was bad. There’s no evidence that this employee has requested time off due to injury. All the focus is on feeling like their peers didn’t wish them well or acknowledge anything was happening.

          I think with the new circumstances (new location, added personal responsibilities), it’s definitely not too late to get some kind of FMLA or medical leave. And I think LW should, if they are feeling burnt out. But I also hope they look hard at where the pressure to perform is coming from, because how to deal with it is different if it’s the manager and workplace or if it’s their own brain.

        4. goddessoftransitory*

          “Unlimited PTO” in these situations always remind me of “the family atomics” in Dune. Everyone theoretically has access to this huge powerful thing but is absolutely forbidden in practical terms from using it.

          Obviously PTO isn’t “setting off a nuclear pile and starting multi planet war,” but the it seems that the reason “unlimited PTO” is often around is that it’s never actually used.

        5. Project Maniac-ger*

          That jumped out at me too. Like I’m glad that this workplace is safe enough to put therapy appointments on your calendar, but there’s a lot of room between “I don’t get bullied for what’s on my calendar” and “there is a lot of empathy and grace shown by all colleagues in all situations and our policies reflect that.” I feel bad for OP that they thought it was going to be the latter and it’s more the former.

          I also personally empathize with OP – in a past life, I blew my knee out while my boss had a broken leg and neither of us got the support and accommodation we should’ve. It sucked and I probably would’ve healed better had I felt I had the ability to put work on the back burner and focus on healing.

        6. Snarkus Aurelius*

          Exactly this times a billion.

          Your deep, investment at work is no guarantee you’ll get the same in return.

          Your employer doesn’t care that much no matter what they say.

      6. no tea*

        “Private homes and cars are now offices”

        I mean, we did have this thing called “offices” that weren’t our private homes but that was incompatible with sitting in blanket forts, in pajamas and soaking wet hair, not talking to anyone ever.
        We could go back to those “offices” and some companies have–but then all yall just start screaming about how unfair that is.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          As someone working from an office, just… wow.

          This seems like a pretty serious misunderstanding of work from home. It should not be treated as “On call 24/7” just because it has slightly different perks.

          It also seems like a letter about someone who isn’t getting support for an actual injury despite working through it is not the time to make this dig.

        2. Shirley*

          Harshly said, but yes. Given the popularity of WFH in this comment section, I was surprised to see anyone expressing the sentiment above.
          Working from home means that our private home becomes our office. I suppose there are other remote work options, like libraries, coffee shops, etc., but largely, a desire for remote work means that work invades the home.

        3. Snarkus Aurelius*

          Work from home doesn’t mean working 24-7. That’s not what I believe at all.

          1. Expelliarmus*

            Yeah, as someone who’s WFH for the last 3 years, I definitely didn’t feel like I was working 24/7. There may be some employers who expect that, but my employer doesn’t.

      7. Bog Witch*

        Seeing your coworkers as people instead of fellow cogs in the machine is pretty anti-capitalist, actually.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I do think there’s something to this, and that OP is not helping themselves when they picture everyone else getting so much more grace and support. While it’s true that sometimes a coworker is randomly held up for unclear reasons – particularly if they have something more visible that’s wrong with them – I doubt this is actually the case for the coworkers. Did OP *really* proactively check in with each member of their team all year and offer to take things off their plate due to all the various life circumstances they encountered? (and if OP really is doing that – it’s okay to drop your end of the rope a little when you see that it doesn’t come back around and is making you resentful!).

      1. InterPlanetJanet*

        “Our company culture really prioritizes teammate health”

        “you feel like you’re not receiving the same grace and support that other colleagues get in their own tough situations. If there are specific things you want/need, you should spell those out explicitly (whether it’s a temporarily lower workload or whatever would help). But if it’s more that you just want to feel like your coworkers remember what’s going on with you — and not that you want specific accommodations made — well … it’s not an unreasonable thing to want, but I think it’s a little unrealistic about human nature. ”

        LW. If you want to have your teammates acknowledge or be aware of your difficult situations, you need to request time off. If your day to day has changed emotionally, mentally, geographically — you need to take time off. Maybe ask your supervisor for Fridays off for the next four Fridays to allow you to handle your new circumstances. Or take a week of FMLA. You should not have to struggle to keep your head above water at work. If you are starting to drown, get out of the water. Do not wait for someone to throw you a lifeline. Your company values your health – so why are you trying to bear your hardships with no complaint?

        1. Laura*

          Yes, this! People won’t know how much this is affecting you if you’re at work like normal. This is something that you NEED to take time off for and you shouldn’t let the fact that your boss seemed annoyed when you told her about your leg prevent you from doing what you need to do to heal.

      2. ferrina*

        Agree. We only see our part in other people’s lives, and vice versa. This is the human condition- we can’t see all of the stories happening simultaneously. We know parts, but we don’t have all the parts at the forefront of our mind at all times. We often only see things in snapshots:

        Snapshot 1: OP informing coworkers about the broken leg and coworkers being sympathetic.

        Snapshot 2: Coworkers sending a card and offers to help.

        Snapshot 3: OP declining leave and opting to work from bed.

        Snapshot 4: OP being physically and mentally exhausted.

        Snapshot 5: OP putting on a happy face to show up at a meeting.

        The coworkers only saw Snapshot 1, 2 and 5. They put together the story of “OP was hurt, now OP’s doing better, work priorities are happening!” which makes sense based on what they saw. Would it be nice if they checked in on OP to make sure that their assumption was correct? Maybe. But then again, I would hate for my coworkers to be checking in on my health condition. Sometimes I’m not doing well and I don’t want them to know that. So I guess it really depends. And when in doubt, don’t pry. Which is what these coworkers did.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          This. OP, what your coworkers are seeing is that 1-you’re at work, doing work and 2-you’re at work doing work to your normal level of work. Nobody has the brain space to be thinking “well, but what if OP’s really struggling with all this?”, because they see you working at work!! You have to ask for what you need! It’s OK to do so! It’s more than OK to take time off to recover!
          Your coworkers are most likely kind people who want to help, BUT they are also full people with their own lives and issues, and yes, they’re going to need to be asked to do things.

      3. Baunilha*

        On top of that, OP’s quick return to work most likely led their coworkers to think they were doing fine, especially since OP apparently didn’t ask for help.

        Many years ago, both me and my friend were injured during a hike. She was much… louder than me about it while I powered through, so everyone else fawned over her and barely acknowledged that I was also in pain. Turned out my injury was way worse than hers, but because I didn’t make a fuss over it, people followed my cue. (I’m now very vocal when in pain, and have been avoiding hiking ever since)

        OP, not only it’s okay to ask for help, it’s actually necessary so people know you need them.

        1. Decima Dewey*

          Your coworkers minimized your broken leg because they thought you were fine. If they saw you in a Zooms/Teams/Whatever meeting in a cast, they might have thought differently.

        2. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, it sounds like the OP worked *really hard* to show up as her regular 100% self, when she should have responded to every “how are you” with “still stuck in bed because of my broken leg. it really hurts!”

          You’ve got to tell people what you need, especially in a remote environment.

    4. The one who wears too much black*

      Truth, and I would add, our own pain, which is so exquisite to us, actually means very little to the outside world.

    5. Pescadero*

      Yeah… this sort of falls under the old David Foster Wallace quote:

      ‘You’ll worry less about what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do.’

      1. Hannah Lee*

        That makes me think of that BtVS episode where Buffy could hear everyone’s thoughts.

  1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

    I’ve had to have surgery on my leg and those cuts through the bone were among the most painful thing I have ever experienced. It impacted my walking and movement for years afterwards.

    But equally I have had bones that were technically ‘broken’ in a car accident and the impact was mostly some bruising and mild pain; the only reason I knew of the break was due to an x-ray, otherwise I wouldn’t have realised. Similarly, I have also heard people casually describe bones as ‘broken’ when they really mean bruised, or even people self-diagnosing bones as ‘broken’ without an actual check. It’s just a term that gets bandied about pretty often.

    So I agree with Alison that the main culprit is that lots of people won’t necessarily realise what you’re going through, and not callousness or lack of care for you personally.

    I’m really sorry you’re dealing with this though.

    1. Properlike*

      Since you share therapy and gym appointments on the calendar, what about surgery and PT and “shower day!”?

      Or, in your current situation, whatever big personal stuff that will take up a big part of your day?

      I mean, not that I think any of it should go on there. And I would be selective. But it may prompt someone to check in. They may also assume EVERYONE ELSE has checked in, and you’re sick of being asked about your leg and would rather be “normal” for a bit.

      I also think it’s time to not work for a week or two and concentrate on you and these big personal transitions. My heart goes out to you.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I think this would still be a case of, “LW shares X, expects Y to happen”, and it would probably just lead to, “I even put Shower Day on my calendar, and nobody even asked about it!” I think the main problem is that LW is expecting their team to take the lead on this, and it’s just not how people work.

    2. Not on board*

      I’d like to add that the OP is one of those people who pay attention to what’s going on in other people’s lives, so they volunteer to help them out. Most people are not like that – unless it’s right in front of their face, they completely forget or don’t notice in the first place that someone else is going through something.
      If the OP had said in the Slack channel how serious their leg injury was and asked people to take something off her plate, I think maybe they would have shown more concern. OP is trying to be a hero by working through everything and since they can’t physically see them, it’s out of sight, out of mind.

    3. Not A Girl Boss*

      LW – I’m sorry you’re dealing with so much.

      Similarly to Alison and commenter above me, I broke my leg 2 years ago, and it was one of the most horrific/exhausting/painful/bad-for-self-esteem things I have ever gone through. I am still not 100% and still have lingering mental health effects from it. But before having that experience, I honestly don’t think I would have had the correct amount of empathy for a coworker with a broken leg.
      I remember that one of my coworkers commented on how lucky I was that I worked from home so it “wasn’t that big a deal” that I broke my leg, and I think that off-hand comment helped me realize that no one really understood, and if I wanted them to, I’d have to share more details. I generally try not to be a ‘complainer’ at work, but I did try to push past that stigma I create for myself and share more light-hearted stories about what a difficult time I was having, just to provide them better context into why a broken leg was impacting my computer work. I shared ‘funny’ stories about eating burned eggs for weeks on end because husband had to cook, and one time I took my dog out and she got off the leash and I had to call out for 2 days after running after her on my boot – and I tried to be more transparent than usually about how much pain I was in. But if you act fine and only mention it once, I think people assume you’re fine now.

      1. Melicious*

        I think that’s mostly what’s happening. If you’re mostly looking like you’re fine and acting like you’re up for your full workload, people are going to assume that you’re fine and can handle the workload because that’s all they see. ESPECIALLY since you’re remote, people aren’t going to know you’re struggling unless you’re saying things like “I’m in a lot of pain today, can you take X task?” or are regularly mentioning your situation and challenges.

      2. Cathie from Canada*

        Yes, I never thought there was anything difficult about broken bones until in 1996, at age 48, I had a tib-fib open fracture from falling on ice – 5 surgeries in total, 3 months in an external fixation, later 2 months in a cast, etc etc. It was horrific.
        People at work were pretty good, really, but some just couldn’t bring themselves to look at the fixator, or at me when I was using a wheelchair for several months.

      3. Postdooc*

        I broke my leg in college (almost ten years ago), and it was very visible as the only person on campus with a visible disability (which is a major problem!!). Friends, classmates, teachers and others mentioned to me the entire time how much seeing me go through this completely changed their perception of how ‘bad’ an injury could be, and how exclusive so much of day to day life is to being able-bodied. It made me very aware how prevalent ableism is— even though I had so many people step up to help!

        OP, you have the additional challenge of not having a ‘visible’ disability right now because of remote work. I’m deeply sympathetic for the situation, and I hope that you can also see if there are things that your company can support others with different needs

      4. NerdyPrettyThings*

        I agree with this. My partner broke his ankle and had to have surgery on both knees after an accident, and he was all but helpless. Before that, I had no idea how many daily functions require either at least one leg or a very customized setup. It really changed my point of view when others are injured, for themselves and their caretakers.

      5. Legally Blonde*

        Seconding all of this. LW, I am so sorry you are having to deal with this. I broke my femur a few years ago and had emergency surgery, and definitely struggled a lot with all of the feelings you’ve described. I was in so much pain and my life was so seriously disrupted and even though I was walking on crutches or with a cane for months, it seemed like no one really remembered or recognized what I was going through. So it’s not just being remote–I think a lot of people associate “broken leg” with “oh yeah, that one kid in elementary school broke their leg playing soccer and had a cast for a few weeks but was fine.” I also jumped right back into work as soon as possible, trying to act like everything was normal, but this worked against me, because people took their cues from how I was projecting my pain. I really had to train myself to be up front as to how difficult things were for me–folks really stepped up, but only when I was clear about how much things hurt and how much help I needed.

    4. Artemesia*

      all the more reason if you are in a huge cast and bedridden to be ON CAMERA at the start of a few meetings so they are aware if it is important to you that they be aware.

      A broken leg can be a minor thing or it can be a year long struggle. A broken foot can be an awkward boot or it can require no weight bearing at all for months as is happening to a friend of mine right now.

      You can’t expect people to be aware without showing them.

    5. AngryOctopus*

      I’ve never broken a bone (well, maybe my pinky toe, but I knew they’d only tape it to the next toe if it was, so I didn’t bother having it looked at. It’s the big bump on the bone in an otherwise smooth place that makes me think so)–I don’t know how bad it was for you, I don’t know what your recovery is like, I don’t know anything about how this is for you, and don’t really have a reference for what it might be like (see: never broke a bone). I don’t know if you’re someone like me with a high pain tolerance who won’t find it that bad, or if it’s really knocking you out. You have to tell me, so I can give you the support you want/need! I’m sure your coworkers care, and 1 or 2 of them might be thinking “wow OP is back at work, good for them, I’m not sure I could do that if I broke my leg like that”, but they can’t spend parts of their day wondering if you need help when your work output is telling them that you’re fine.

    6. A Simple Narwhal*

      There’s such a spectrum of injuries that can all technically fall under the same umbrella, it can be so hard when you fall on one end and people assume you’re on the other.

      For example if you hear someone sprained their ankle, it might mean that they wrenched it slightly and that it felt funny to walk on for a few days, nothing crazy. Well, I sprained my ankle in high school, and for me that meant my whole foot turned black, I had to wear a boot, couldn’t put any weight on it without almost fainting, was on crutches for several months, and had to go to physical therapy just to gain back normal use and walking. It was horrifically painful and an MRI later revealed I had actually tore my tendon off the bone in the injury. Technically it was still “just” a sprain! But people heard “sprain” and thought I was being a drama queen about it, because for most people a sprain is no big deal. For me it was a horrible injury that derailed my life (fortunately only temporarily).

    7. lomibear*

      I’ve had long covid for a year and a half now. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that it has become one of the predominant forces in my life since then — every day, what I can or cannot do is largely dictated by this condition.

      I have never been Captain Fitness, but there were a lot of things I did in the Before Times that I just can’t do anymore. I can’t go for walks with my family. I can’t roughhouse with my kids. I can’t keep up with the garden I spent years building up. I’ve only in recent months regained a limited ability to handle short, carefully moderated bursts of anaerobic exercise.

      I’m a pretty solid homebody, so most of my interacting with people is at church — which, my current health status has even made it harder to get there regularly than it used to be. It’s been more than 18 months, and I still get lovely, well-meaning people asking me how my garden is doing and what I’m planting this year. The last time this happened, I was literally in the moment leaning against the wall because I was having a hard time holding myself upright.

      I get the frustration, LW. I truly do. Alison nailed this one though — the not-me person in my life who has the best idea of how hard everything has become is my husband, and that’s because it’s almost as inescapable for him as it is for me. For everyone else, though, this is 1.) so far outside the average person’s normal lived experience that it can be hard to process, and 2.) varying degrees of just not on their constant radar. Heck, yesterday I had to sit my 9yo son down and explain to him (again) that he can’t spend 20+ minutes fiddle-farting around after swim lessons because Mom physically cannot handle the extra strain from that.

      I’m sorry you had the stress of feeling forgotten on top of the stress of the broken leg and everything that came with it. It does sound, though, like your coworkers were happy to help with things when they had a better idea of what you were dealing with. That’s been my experience too with people at church, and I’ve noticed a great deal more peace of mind and heart when I focus on that instead.

  2. L*

    You also don’t know what of a similar nature might be going on with co-workers . . . who maybe just haven’t mentioned it

    1. Roland*

      OP isn’t expecting people to read their mind, they’ve shared the issue. I agree 100% with Alison’s answer but things that coworkers aren’t sharing aren’t really relevant.

    2. Snow Globe*

      Or who have mentioned it, but the OP forgot about it.

      I think that’s relevant to think about because the LW is remembering times when other people seem to have received more concern, but it’s quite likely that this happens to other coworkers as well, because this is pretty normal.

      1. jojo*

        Yes. Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know, and we don’t remember what we’ve forgotten. It might help OP to bear in mind that they, too, may at times have been unaware of some of their coworkers’ struggles because the coworkers downplayed or concealed them, or because they didn’t have context to understand the severity of a particular coworker’s particular difficulty. If they can be kind to themselves about the likelihood they have missed/misunderstood things, maybe it will hurt less that their colleagues are missing things they assumed would be obvious.

  3. LTR FTP*

    Yup. It’s astonishing sometimes, how little people you work with every day think about you.

    I had breast cancer and took a leave and not once did anyone from my job check in with me. Not a get well card, not a note to see how things were going. Interestingly enough, a bunch of former coworkers heard about me thru the grapevine and got together and sent me a care package, which I was so grateful for. But nope, not a peep from my actual colleagues.

    1. cindylouwho*

      I think sometimes it’s just hard – people have things going on in their own lives, they’re not sure how to reach out or how it will be received, they’re not sure what the right thing to do is, then it just results in decision paralysis.

    2. X*

      Not to defend them, but if you were on FMLA the HR department may have told them not to contact you about work and they interpreted it as don’t contact you at all.

      1. michelenyc*

        This. HR is only allowed to say that you are on FMLA they are not allowed to disclose why you are out of the office. We had a co-worker that went out because of his mental health. HR wouldn’t even tell us if he was OK. That’s all we really wanted to know. Also some people are very private and don’t like or want to share their situation.

        1. LTR, FTP*

          Everyone knew I was in cancer treatment and going through chemo. I don’t think a “thinking of you, get well soon” card would have been exactly out of the question.

      2. LCH*

        good point. we have a public-facing employee who was out for a couple months because of a procedure. i don’t know what it was or how she might be affected even after returning to work. i’m also not going to ask because… unsure if that would be weird. but i hope she would tell us if there are things she needs help with upon return.

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          How about something like “Hey, great to see you back. I hope you’ll let us/me know if there’s anything you need help with while you get back up to speed.”

    3. Sloanicota*

      I wonder if OP has enough support in their real life outside of work. Is this job so demanding/all-encompassing (all that team culture) that it’s absorbing too much energy so now they’re expecting more family/friends level of concern? Coworkers can be friends, of course, but sometimes my dissatisfaction with my job comes more from my dissatisfaction with my life outside my job. If this doesn’t fit OP, no problem, but I wonder – do you need more caring friends in your life outside of work?

      1. Tea Monk*

        Yes, it’s important to have that balance. If I see a coworker in trouble I might just go ” sorry about your whale wrestling accident. if you need anything tell me” and if they didn’t tell me I’d probably think ” I’m glad that whale wrestling accident wasn’t that bad”

      2. Snarkus Aurelius*

        And in my current role, there’s no way I could ever take on that amount of emotional labor. I have to distance myself so that I can be a better person in my private life.

      3. amethyst*

        Honestly, it kind of sounds like that. OP says that they put therapy appointments on the calendar and take calls from the gym as if those are good things, but they sounded more like hallmarks of a codependent, over scheduled culture to me.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, absolutely. I mean, putting therapy appointments on the calendar? That honestly sounds a bit too much to me. Granted, my employer has a mandatory requirement of shared calendars across the organization, and we’re about 2,000 employees working in 36 different offices across the country, so the vast majority of my coworkers are basically strangers to me. Sure, I put medical and therapy appointments on my work calendar, but I flag them private when I do, and not even my manager can see those. I suppose IT could but I don’t see why they would, they have enough to do even without spying on employees just because they have the technical ability to do so.

          If I’m sick and unable to work for more than a day or two, sure I appreciate it when my coworkers wish me welcome back to work, but I don’t expect them to do any emotional labor on my behalf or to miss me as a person while I’m gone.

    4. Dovasary Balitang*

      If my coworker goes on leave for cancer treatment, I’m going to assume the kindness thing I can do is leave them the eff alone.

      1. Check in*

        Yeah. Sometimes people love being checked in on. Other times constant “hey how are you doing” can make the person feel awful. The best approach is “I’m really sorry to hear that happened to you. Please let me know if I can assist you in anyway” and leave it be.

        1. Bast*

          I am one of those people who feels overwhelmed if I start getting too many “check in” texts. I understand that people mean well, and I feel guilty about it, but if I’m already not well I may not have the energy to respond to more than a couple of people, usually those I am closest to. Forget about it if every few days I’m getting bombarded with texts. With that, I can see why some may not feel comfortable sending “check in” texts, particularly if they were not too close with the individual who went out.

      2. OP*

        Hey, OP here. I totally hear you on this. I wasn’t looking for daily check-ins on my healing journey, more just like, consideration of context when I wasn’t as sharp as I usually am. When I told a friend of mine about this, his response was, “Did they think you were just off camera for a month for funsies?” That’s kind of what I mean. I didn’t want nor expect them to be thinking about me 24/7, that’s totally unrealistic and unhealthy to expect of co-workers. More like just putting my (otherwise high and reliable) performance in context.

        1. Rose*

          OP I’m sorry you’re going through all this, but IMHO you’re still expecting more from your coworkers than is probably realistic. There’s not a really intuitive line from “broken leg” to “can’t show face on camera for weeks on end” for most people. Expecting people to continuously be reminded of your leg because your face is off camera feels to me as an outsider like a stretch.

          In 2020 I had a bad case of Covid and was hospitalized and the recovery was really slow and I felt mentally and physically awful all of the time and then a family member who was young and healthy died from Covid. It was a crap period and I’m sure we went through many of the same emotions.

          Work was grounding for me. I needed the distraction to be honest. I’m very relieved my coworkers didn’t make a ton of assumptions about what I was capable of or what I needed. I hated the feeling of being treated like an invalid. I didn’t want a single declaration that I wasn’t doing well to mean people were jumping to conclusions about me, my health, or my ability to do my job for months on end. It sounds like your coworkers might be giving you the same courtesy. I also knew many people got Covid and felt fine two weeks later and were going to assume I was totally fine after a few weeks, even though I wasn’t.

          A broken limb is a similar thing. It sucks that we both got hit extra hard, but that doesn’t mean everyone around you is going to assume you’re doing poorly and need lots of extra support long term. Letting you take the lead and let them know what you can and can’t do is a kindness in its own way. I hope you keep asking for what you need, including leeway while you deal with all this, and I’m sorry about your parent and grandparent. When it rains, it pours.

        2. roster gang*

          Yeah, sorry OP but I guess a lot of people like to look like they align to the company’s values but don’t deeply think about things like that, or don’t want to be rude.

          I had a long mental illness problem after (insert multiple awful things here) happened to me and while I let my manager know I was genuinely struggling with XYZ. I never asked for accommodation, I just stopped appearing on camera. And I was honestly glad that no one commented that I wasn’t on camera………for an entire year. It was the new normal frankly. There was one exception though! The only question I got was ‘is your camera broken’ from someone who was only saying that to prompt me to turn it on. If I’m normally try to polish up for like an 8/10 for how I look at work I was like a 1/10 when I turned on the camera. He never asked why, and it would be rude to I guess.

          I got better not long afterwards, luckily.

        3. hbc*

          OP, I’m a little late to this but I still think you’re expecting too much mind-reading. It’s not reasonable to go out of your way to project competence at a hard time and then expect others to put together clues like “camera off” and “three grammar mistakes when usually perfect.”

          I totally get it because I’m someone who basically refuses to show weakness. But the more we project that toughness, the less we’ll get credit for overcoming our obstacles–because we can’t admit that an obstacle was significant to us. So we either say “Sorry, I’ll make those edits” or we do the (to us) tougher thing and say, “Sorry, between the meds and surgery stress, I’m really struggling.”

      3. amethyst*

        I was thinking the same thing. It doesn’t mean that I’m not thinking about them, but I’m letting them heal. I’ll be excited to see them when they come back.

    5. What the what*

      I teared up when I read your post. A word/card of support can be so encouraging on many levels. I’m sorry you didn’t get that when you were struggling.

  4. Colette*

    I agree.

    The thing is, for 4 weeks you were off camera, which was a remidner that you had a broken leg. And then you were back on camera so … it’s done, your leg isn’t broken, you’re back to normal.

    I broke my leg 8 years ago; I know that’s not true. But that’s what it looks like to your coworkers.

    I think it’s also important to realize that when you broke your leg is a key date to you, but your coworkers probably don’t remember when exactly it happnes.

    And finally, I wonder whether you’re feeling unappreciated because you pushed through everything to get the work done and your coworkers don’t recognize that, but … first of all, they didn’t ask you to do that, and also, they are presumably assuming that if you’re working, it’s because you don’t need the time off. If you need time off, it is OK to take it – and that’s on you.

    1. Socks*

      Yeah, I really get the impulse to do your best to push through and hope everyone notices how you’re heroically suffering through so they don’t have to take on the work and sympathizes appropriately…but usually people will see you acting fine and think you’re fine. Our “noble,” silent struggle isn’t nearly as obvious as we think.

      1. Annony*

        Yes. I think it is probably time to make more use of the unlimited PTO. It will both help alleviate some of the stress of balancing everything and make the issue more visible to coworkers. Instead of simply working remoting from a different location (which barely registers if you are full time remote anyway), work half days for a week or two or take the time off completely. You need to put more focus on you and your needs than on making sure work is unaffected.

      2. ferrina*

        Exactly. The silent struggle is often a lose-lose-lose situation

        Successfully struggle silently: No one notices and you don’t get the support you need.

        Unsuccessfully struggle silently: People don’t know why you are failing and it gets attributed to other factors. If you remind them of the main factor, it can be too late and look like an excuse.

        Struggle “silently”: Become one of those annoying people who needs everyone to know how much they are struggling and how very silently they are doing it.

      3. MigraineMonth*

        My New Years’ resolution is to stop “nobly sacrificing” for other people in ways they never asked me to and then getting upset because they don’t express sufficient gratitude:

        “After Everything I’ve Done for You (That You Didn’t Ask Me To)”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtKtmXzeyqs

        1. Colette*

          It’s an easy trap to fall into! But the fact remains that (in this case) pushing through a serious injury might have made the OP’s coworkers’ lives a little easier – but they don’t owe here anything (even gratitude) for that.

          Maybe they would have happily picked up extra work so she could recover. Maybe they would have been mildly annoyed at the situation but would have done it anyway. Maybe work wouldn’t have gotten done and it would have been OK. Maybe work wouldn’t have gotten done and it would have been a disaster. We don’t know, and neither does the OP.

          Being vulnerable enough to ask for help is healthy – certainly much healthier than expecting other people to know you’re making sacrifices you don’t want to make and reward you for them.

    2. HannahS*

      Yes to the last paragraph. I say this with sympathy, as someone whose tendency is to take care of myself last: it sounds like, in your heart of hearts, you wanted someone to notice how hard you were working to push through, give you credit for working despite suffering, and offer to take away some of your work, and you’re hurt that this isn’t what happened. I’ve been there. Martyring yourself can feel like the right or necessary thing to do, but actually it’s better to advocate for what you need.

      If you needed to rest, if you needed to work less, if you needed others to know that working was harder than usual for you so that they would cut you some slack, then you need to get those things to yourself by communicating with others. One of the most important questions I’ve learned to ask myself is: did I need to put myself in that situation? What would happen if I took what I needed?

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yep, I was thinking things along these lines – the OP says they advocated for themselves when they needed to, but did they really NEED to work that hard? Just in the hopes someone would notice? Better to ask someone to take things off your plate if you need it. Also, there’s something to be said for mentioning in passing how you’re doing/giving general updates so that people do remember.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Yep. I have a nasty habit sometimes of saying I’m “fine” and acting fine as much as I can but somehow … still expecting people to know I’m not fine and offer to help? It’s not great, Bob. It’s something I’m working on. It’s mostly a problem in my personal relationships but it’s even worse to do with second-order relationships like coworkers, who, although they may respect and enjoy you, are mostly about the work getting done.

      3. Becca*

        100% agree. I was going to say something like this, but you said it so much better. OP is also a high-performer, and it can be harder to tell when a high performer is struggling–people just assume they’re on top of it, because if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be the top performer in the office.

        I’m wondering if they haven’t been pushing themselves too hard, with the (unconscious) thought process that being this tired is okay if they’re recognized for it. But they weren’t recognized, so now they’re tired *and* unrewarded, and that feels like defeat. I hope that OP considers tackling the problem from the other end, taking some time off to rest if they need it, and hopefully ending up less tired.

        1. Cathie from Canada*

          Recovery is a journey, not a destination.
          In the immediate aftermath, we also lie to ourselves about how we are OK, really, its no big deal guys, I’ll manage just fine! JUST FINE!
          We are desperately trying to convince ourselves that breaking a long bone isn’t a life-disrupting event. Gradually we realize how awful it is and will continue to be, because bone healing is so slow.
          But co-workers haven’t been on that journey with us. They still believe what we said at first, that it’s just fine, I’ll be back to normal real soon!

      4. Smithy*

        Absolutely this.

        And also not to take anything away from the OP – but there are other people who genuinely want to work during life crises as a way to distracting themselves or thinking about something else. Be that injury or the health crisis/passing of a loved one.

        When my father was in his final months before passing, one of the best things my boss did for me was to ask me what to share with the team. Whether I wanted them to know everything, something, or nothing? Whether I wanted people to reach out to me or not? How much time I wanted or needed off/vs time I wanted to work? Because the reality is that not everyone is going to have the same answer to those questions.

    3. londonedit*

      Also, when people are wrapped up in their own stuff, it’s easy to lose track of time when it comes to things like this – mentally people might have filed it away as ‘OP broke their leg ages ago’ and they don’t realise a) the timeframe or b) that they’re still suffering, especially as to all intents and purposes, from a work perspective, the OP seems to be fine. So the ‘Wait, why are you in a boot?’ might not be because the person doesn’t know about the OP’s leg, it might be more ‘Wait, why are you in a boot? I thought your leg was healed, that was ages ago wasn’t it?’.

      Even with the being in a different location thing – sometimes I work from my parents’ house or my partner’s house, and even though my boss knows that’s what I’m doing, they’ll still often say ‘Oh! I wondered where you were for a minute then, forgot you’d be working from your parents’ place this week’. It’s not because they don’t care about what’s happening in my life, it’s just because everyone is busy with their own stuff and it can be hard to keep track of absolutely everything that’s going on. My boss knows I’ll be working, but with all their own work stuff to keep track of, it’s not a huge deal if they forget that I said on Friday that I’d be driving over to my parents’ on Sunday.

    4. My Useless 2 Cents*

      Agree with everything Colette said but would like to emphasis the last paragraph. You are pushing thru and meeting deadlines and to a co-worker (especially remote co-workers) you are fine… broken leg, ill father, dying grandmother were things you were dealing with but are okay now, you are at work like before. When they first hear about what you are going thru, I’m sure they are thinking that if you need some time or extra help you will just speak up. When you don’t they put the stuff in the past and don’t connect that you are still going thru it.

      I think the emotional things you are dealing with now are much harder than the physical broken leg and much less visible to your coworkers. The emotional stress you are dealing with can be sneaky and blindside you in unexpected ways. Personally, when my dad died, I thought I was pulling thru okay but not until a year later did I realize how personally I was taking some unrelated events that would have just rolled off my back before. I’d sit down with your manager and try to lighten your workload, if at all possible maybe schedule regular time off (like not working Fridays until things have settled down).

    5. JustAnotherCommenter*

      “they are presumably assuming that if you’re working, it’s because you don’t need the time off.”
      This really nails the exact issue. OP wants her coworkers to regard her health the way a friend does, I understand that and agree it is nice when that’s how it goes, but as Allison points out, it’s not realistic – especially with remote working where you don’t see each other.

      Working remotely requires a certain added need to advocate for yourself because the empathy that exists when you share a space with someone just doesn’t work when you’re virtual. People can’t have empathy for a struggle they don’t know exists.

      1. Nessie*

        Definitely this! In the minds of the coworkers, the OP got back to work pretty quickly so the injury must not be that big a deal, therefore it doesn’t occur to them to check in regularly.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      I mean, the OP is remote? It’s not going to impact her coworkers that much unless she needs it to (by asking for time off or whatever).

      One of my coworkers is out right now because she had foot surgery, so her situation is similar. We know why she’s out and it affects our department, yes, but it doesn’t actually affect any one of us that much directly (most of her work will be delayed but anything that can’t be delayed will be done by one of us–probably by me, although it’s not so much that it will be a serious burden).

      A lot of our work can’t be done remotely and when she comes back she’ll need our help with the physical aspects of the job so she doesn’t strain the leg. That will be a reminder, sure, but until then we know she’s doing what she can remotely and it’s just . . . not really a presence here? It’s not that we don’t care, it’s that we know it happened and we assume she can advocate for herself if she needs to.

    7. MistOrMister*

      That last paragraph really sums up my feelings on how OP’s coworkers are likely thinking. I have had surgery while being remote and was out for 3 weeks. I got the same amount of checkins/follow ups that I’ve received for a similar surgery and time out of office when working in office 5 days a week. I think taking time ofd to recover makes that kind of thing stick out more in people’s minds. Also, for people who have not broken a bone, I think many of us don’t realize how horrible it can be. If I had a coworker say the broke a bone and had surgery but then they were back at work within a day or so, I would assume that overall they were not struggling and it would likely slip my mind quickly. Not because I don’t care, but I have never had a break nor cares for anyone who has, so I don’t realize how much they can impact people unless they say something.

    8. JelloStapler*

      I agree 100%. OP, you didn’t take the PTO – being grumpy that you weren’t celebrated for that choice seems off-base. I get the impression you were hoping they would go out of their way helping and catering and celebrating your sacrifice. That’s just not realistic.

      1. Malarkey01*

        To add to that both as someone who has been the rockstar who did anything above and beyond and also supervising someone like that now… sometimes the person pushing through can be an annoyance. Both because it set unreasonable expectations for others and because others kept trying to get me to stand down a little and my pushing through took on more of a martyr or superior to others tone (even though I NEVER intended that at all and was really shocked).

        I have to continue to insist to one employee now that I do not want her working sick, I do not want her working late, and what she considers a virtue is really a performance problem. That may not apply her, but could also explain why the kudos aren’t coming.

        Best of luck to OP dealing with what sounds like a very rough year and I hope you get some rest and peace with your family situations.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Yeah, the coworker I mention later down the thread who is out for foot surgery is frantically asking us what she can do remotely, and we appreciate it but she doesn’t need to do that. We have ample medical leave and, while her work does need to get done eventually it doesn’t need to be done right now–anything time-sensitive can be done by me for her. It’s OK. She’s allowed to stay home with her leg up doing nothing until the doctor clears her to move around more.

          1. Cyndi*

            A reason for this mindset I haven’t seen brought up yet–there’s lots of “take medical leave! don’t worry about work! work is work’s problem!” in this comment section, which is true and good advice! But I know whenever I’ve missed more than a couple days of work for health reasons, that starts to feel more like “work doesn’t really need you, you’re totally replaceable” which isn’t a comforting thought, at all. In your coworker’s place I might be anxious, justifiably or not, that if I’m gone long enough my workplace will realize it’s just fine without me, actually.

  5. L-squared*

    Yep, this is kind of the thing with remote work. You don’t see people, and when you do its their face in a box. And therefore you don’t really think about other stuff.

    Its similar with pregnancy. I’ve had many remote coworkers who I conceptually knew were pregnant. But it wasn’t a conversation or a thought in the same way it would be if my office mate was. Then one day there was an announcement that “Jane is out on Maternity leave”, and the occasional slack update. And when they were back, they were met with congratulations, but people weren’t really “into” it in the same way.

    Remote work takes away some of this personal connection. As Alison said, everything they saw of you, and all of your interactions were the same as pre-accident, so its not shocking that they just kind of said “I’m so sorry” and then carried on as normal.

    Finally I’ll just say, people often take their cues from you on how to handle it. You seemed to choose to dive right back in like it was no big deal, so you can’t really be surprised that people reacted in that same way.

    1. librarianmom*

      “Finally I’ll just say, people often take their cues from you on how to handle it. You seemed to choose to dive right back in like it was no big deal, so you can’t really be surprised that people reacted in that same way.”
      Exactly. You seem to go out of your way to be very quietly self-sacrificing, then are all upset when nobody “noticed”. You want all those extra brownie points without having to ask for them. For heavens sake, just toot your own horn a little or let it go.

      1. kiki*

        Yes, I have been guilty of this same behavior sometimes. I’ll feel upset that nobody offered to help me when I might have helped them through something similar– but then I remember that I actually gave that person no indication I needed or wanted help.

    2. urguncle*

      Working with mostly men, I felt like I was constantly reminding them I was pregnant because they definitely forgot! One guy congratulated me at least three times because each time I said, “yeah, I’ll be out at that point,” he looked confused and I’d have to add, “…having a baby?”
      “Oh! Congratulations! I didn’t know you were expecting!”
      Sir, I saw you in person when I was 6 months pregnant.

    3. Meow*

      Yeah I had my son in May of 2020 (you do the pandemic math), and when we started working remote, it was like everyone went from talking about my pregnancy every day to… crickets. Granted, everyone had far more pressing matters on their mind than my pregnancy during that time, of course they did! But I still felt really sad like everyone just forgot about me (and eventually my baby) overnight.

      I sent a picture via email to everyone right after he was born, but it didn’t feel right to bombard the Teams chat with baby pictures, even though if I were in the office I would totally be shoving my phone in their faces to show him off.

    4. Oryx*

      Oh yeah, it was wild in 2020 and 2021 when my now hybrid company was fully remote due to the pandemic and we’d get notifications of people having babies. These are people I would have seen in person over the course of 9 months if we were going into the office but due to the nature of only seeing them on the camera from neck up there was no way I’d have known unless they mentioned something.

  6. Zzzzzz*

    LW, I feel your pain but you also went to great lengths to pretend you were just fine and performed to your regular + standards so why would ppl think you were not fine and needed more than you didn’t request? Also, the whole we take calls from the gym, etc. … no. That’s not healthy. Boundaries. Pull back on that.

    1. Frank Doyle*

      I also agree with this comment! “We take calls from the gym,” what, why? Why would you do that unless you were at the gym when you were expected to be at your computer? And I don’t see that as indication that your workplace “prioritizes teammate health,” just the opposite, in fact. They expect you to interrupt your workout time to tend to work.

      1. Abundant Shrimp*

        Right? Is it even safe to take calls from the gym? I don’t want to be distracted by work when I’m lifting weights, heck even on a treadmill there’s a risk of injury if I am distracted by a sudden call. Pretty sure the gym staff did not sign up for this, which is why mine has signs saying “all phone calls in the lobby only”.

        1. Happy meal with extra happy*

          Is this really relevant? I think pointing out general concerns about boundaries makes sense, but let’s not go down a rabbit hole of one throw away line.

          1. Abundant Shrimp*

            I saw it as the expectation for them to be available to take calls from anywhere, regardless of how safe or convenient it is for them to take the work call where they are, which is the opposite of work-life balance to me, but you’re right, I might be overthinking it.

            1. mreasy*

              I read it as “it’s okay to take a call from the gym if that helps you get your workout in,” eg the company is flexible.

            2. doreen*

              Funny thing is that I saw it as the opposite – not that they are expected to be available at all time but that it’s fine to be at the gym during work hours. Which is the only way it makes sense as prioritizing health to me.

        2. ragazza*

          I was going to say, please do not take business calls at the gym! Unless you are in the lobby or juice bar or somewhere like that.

      2. Random Dice*

        That made me go OH NOOOOOO.

        That instantly made my shoulders go up, in the “we’re faaaaaaamily” letters do.

    2. ChemistryChick*

      +1 to boundaries. Honestly, that culture sounds exhausting and if I knew my coworkers were mad at/upset with me for not constantly worrying about their mental/physical health on top of dealing with my own life, I’d lose it.

    3. ChaoticNeutral*

      This was my first thought as well. LW worked hard to project that they were fine to continue at their normal output; teammates treated them accordingly. I would encourage LW to do some reflection about why they felt the need to do that. This culture sounds unhealthy.

    4. Rosie*

      Ehh I interpreted the “we take calls from the gym” to mean they had the flexibility to work from the gym rather than the calls were intruding in on their own time – i.e., they were allowed to go to the gym at 2pm on a Weds with the understanding that they would be available if needed, not that they were expected to take calls from the gym at 7pm when they should be off the clock.

      1. Antilles*

        Yeah, that’s how it reads to me too. If you have a 10:30 AM meeting and would rather take your conference call from the gym treadmill rather than your desk chair? Sure, go ahead, get those steps in!
        I’m not sure how effective that kind of multi-tasking would actually be, but that’s how it read to me.

        1. LCH*

          agree. if you can attend a conference call without needing to look at any sort of supporting documents, does this meeting need to happen/do you need to be there? i guess people have calls they have to be on but don’t need to contribute or really pay attention at all.

        2. AngryOctopus*

          My best friend works in a satellite site for a grant based in Atlanta. All their meetings are zoom because of the number of satellite sites everywhere. The PI spends every meeting on her walking desk treadmill, camera on. My friend said it makes her feel sick to look at the PIs square, the movement really just throws her. She’s not the only one.
          They’re also a disaster and should not be leading this project, but that’s a different issue. We joke that the PI bought her walking desk with the grant $$ instead of putting it towards the actual study.

    5. E*

      And putting therapy on a shared calendar? I would not feel comfortable doing that and prefer a culture of just blocking off out of office time without sharing specific reasons. Work doesn’t need to know what your personal appointments are for, just that you aren’t available for an hour.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      That is what struck me in the question.

      … I made sure to make my voice and chat interactions as warm as possible to compensate. I ended up having a strong quarter and met every KPI and exceeded some, all to glowing reviews from my clients on our year-end survey.

      Your coworkers have no idea how much extra hard you worked and how much of a mental health impact you’ve had. You very much seemed to fine to them. Most of the time they probably forgot that you broke your leg at all and wasn’t 100%.

    7. Juicebox Hero*

      And speaking for myself, I don’t want anyone to see me while I’m working out, especially someone from work. Red face, sweating like a pig, wearing a junky t-shirt and shorts – not attractive and definitely not “polished”. And I’d sound like I was being chased by a bear and on the brink of giving out because of breathing so hard. Not to mention the interruption would kill my motivation and I wouldn’t finish the workout.

      I wouldn’t put my therapy appointments on a shared calendar, either. I’m not ashamed of having had therapy for depression and anxiety any more than I’m ashamed of having physical therapy a back injury. It’s just that it’s no one else’s business what my appointments are.

  7. Toni*

    Wishful add-on to video conferencing programs: a small banner underneath your picture where you can write whatever you want: Foot still broken! Still handling medical family issues! Remember I am off in 2 days! My camera is broken! We are renovating! Any snoring is from the dog! My cat likes to stare at people! The street is being torn up! No snow plows on my country lane! Etc. Just small things you want people to keep in mind.

    1. Antilles*

      Teams has an option to set your “status”, though I think it’s only visible if you check someone’s profile.

    2. iglwif*

      Yes, definitely need this!

      Mine would mostly say “Sorry about my dog’s loud opinions.”

    3. kicking-k*

      This is genius. Though “Still handling family medical issues” would be on mine permanently. I have a slightly similar issue to the OP in that I have family with long-term to permanent health concerns, and there are always going to be times when that gets in the way of work or I’m not on my A game because of stress or lack of sleep, yet it’s never *news* and I feel like if I keep bringing it up, I’ll be that colleague whose life always has drama going on.

  8. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

    It’s REALLY hard to remember personal details about coworkers when I’m at work, mainly because I’m so focused on work items. It’s funny- I remember personal things I should check in on (their health or their family’s; likes and dislikes; moves, etc) when I’m outside of work and not around them. That sounds counter-intuitive- I’m right there in front of them so you’d think those things would be top of mind because I literally see the person- but when I’m in work mode, I’m thinking about our shared work issues (is that line running, thanks for the paperwork, what supply do I need to order?) and so that’s what’s relevant at the time. It’s not that I don’t care about their wellbeing or their personal details- it’s that I’m focused on work when I’m in work mode.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Oh man, this! I have a coworker who is also a friend who was in the middle of looking for and buying a house, and I would just repeatedly forget to ask her how it was going (it is a thing we had talked about in the past), because I’d come in to work and be focused on what I had to get done, and we work in separate areas, so I wasn’t even running into her because our work wasn’t crossing paths at that point. And then I’d be driving home and be like “dang it, I was going to go ask Coworker about X, I gotta do that tomorrow!” Rinse and repeat my forgetting at work and remembering later in the day for like, a week or more.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Yes. I know some people do great about remembering the small details of other people’s lives, and I’m in awe of them. I have a big social circle and I’m sorry to say I don’t seem to do well at keeping track of everybody’s birthdays, special occasions, current challenges and latest updates thereof. Some people do! They text: “Wasn’t today your big interview? How did it go?” or “Did you get those results back from the doctor yet?” My mother remembers everybody else’s wedding anniversaries, which I think is Next-Level. If I realize something is important to someone, I will try to make a point of putting their birthday in my calendar and making a big to-do, but honestly … I do focus my energy mostly on my own small family, not all all my coworkers, even when I really like them.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. I remember a couple coworkers birthdays because they’re close to mine and when our team was smaller than it is now we celebrated them together.

  9. Tio*

    OP, this is something I’ve been guilty of – you sound like you’re putting on way too much of a brave face. It may be worth talking to your boss and telling her that you are really struggling and taking some of that unlimited PTO! It sounds like you have a culture at your office that supports that, so being a little more open might let them understand that you are, in fact, having a hard time. You give people cues on how to react to things; so if you’re showing up and seeming fine, they’re probably going to assume you’re doing ok and/or you might not want to talk about it! (Just please don’t overcorrect and trauma dump on anyone)

    1. Joan of Snark*

      I may be wrong here, but I feel like “putting on a brave face” is only half of the problem, as OP says they are “first to volunteer to support [their] teammates.” My guess is that OP feels they put in a lot of effort when others need help, then also put in a lot of effort when they themselves need help, and now that (it feels like) no one is helping them, OP feels like they are expected to perform at 110% ALL. THE. TIME. while their colleagues get to perform at 70-100% depending on what’s going on in their lives.

      I agree with you that OP really needs to embrace admitting when they need a little help and not powering through all of the time for all of the people. And, honestly, backing off of the voluntary extra work. It sounds like OP has put themselves in a position where it feels like everyone else on the team gets a break (no pun intended) but they have to be pushing themselves to death all the time, which would explain the hurt feelings and resentment.

      1. Banana Pyjamas*

        Exactly this. It was reasonable to expect reciprocity, but now that coworkers demonstrated they won’t show you the same consideration, STOP helping voluntarily. Only do your job.

        When coworkers bring up something unfortunate: “I’m so sorry to hear that! [end].”

        If they ask you to cover something: “(Sorry) My plate is full; you should ask boss about reassigning that task.”

        If boss assigns you something that you know someone else usually does, ask how they would like you to prioritize.

      2. Princess Pumpkin Spice*

        I actually think the brave face and volunteering to help are part of the SAME problem. This is something I’m guilty of – wanting everyone around me to believe that I can do all the things without breaking a sweat, even when I am drowning behind the scenes. It read to me like OP is volunteering to help before help is even asked for. “Oh, Jane is having a rough time! Let me volunteer to take X task off her plate to be nice!” And Jane says yes, because it is a help, but it’s help she would never ask for (and may not have truly needed).

        OP, focus on yourself and your own recovery. Explain to your boss that you are struggling with healing from a major break and caring for 2 ill family members. Look at your work tasks and hours and ask for a solution that will truly work for you. If your company is as amazing and accommodating as you state they are, it shouldn’t be a problem to hand off a few tasks, or shave a few hours off your days.

        I wish you and your family a speedy recovery.

        1. Tio*

          It also sounds to me like OP is not comfortable with proactively asking for help – she wants people to notice and offer, but I don’t see any mention of where she went to anyone and said “Hey, I’m in a rough place and need some help, can you do the TPS reports this month?”. This seems invalid to a certain kind of people – but sometimes you just gotta ask! And yes, this trait of not proactively asking is VERY often combined with the trait of intuiting who needs help and offering to help on their own.

      3. OP*

        This, 100%. It just feels mis-aligned, for lack of a better word? For example: A colleague just had a pet pass away. It was horrible and sudden and I feel awful for her. She did not show up to an internal meeting the next day, and I figured, “Colleague’s fur baby just passed away suddenly, I bet she’s just having a hard time” and rescheduled the meeting to next week, followed up with her gently to let her know that I’d rescheduled and to let me know if she needed more time (very little of our work is truly urgent) and didn’t think twice about her reliability, as she’s normally 100% on top of things. I don’t feel like I received that kind of grace from anyone on my team. I’m not salty about providing it to my colleague–I’ve been through this too and felt so bad for her. I realize this could just be my weird thing, but other colleagues have modeled the same concern for colleagues in other situations, and I don’t necessarily feel out of line for expecting that from others, but maybe I am?

        1. Performative gumption*

          OP I totally see where you’re coming from and have had the same issue before. I felt I always made a point of remembering what others were going through, helping, showing grace and then when I needed it, didn’t get it back.
          I’ve consciously pulled back now and it has helped hugely. As I do less for others my expectations of them are also less.
          The other thing I did was tell my manager I needed support and was disappointed not to have received it when others had. They genuinely apologised and hadn’t really connected me telling them what I was going through meant I needed support as I always seemed so together. It opened their eyes, made me realise it was the ‘taken for granted’ and feeling I personally wasn’t allowed to be human that was the real issue.

        2. ell*

          It sounds like you’re a super thoughtful person.

          Sadly, most people are not.

          I’ve given up with expecting almost any sort of decency anymore. If I get it, it’s a peasant surprise.

          Don’t stop being awesome though. Some people will definitely notice it and it makes the world a better place

        3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          OP, I feel for you. I had surgery and was out of the office for a while. I also did what you did: show up (on Zoom) and keep doing work. Those recurring items sent a more powerful message than hearing once or twice about my surgery. If you need people to know you need extra time, what a reduced workload, and/or that they should not contact you that often, you need to spell it out.

      4. Willow Pillow*

        I agree with this fully… but not asking for help is a common trauma response* and it can be really hard to unlearn.

        *I’m not saying that LW has PTSD or otherwise attempting to armchair diagnose, just adding that not powering through is often easier said than done

    2. Office Chinchilla*

      Agreed. I’m getting a tone from this that I had just before I had a one-week “staycation” last year. Out loud, I was very much “It’s fine! I’m fine! Everything’s fine!” But every time I got an email with a question that was even mildly tricky, I would freeze. Three of those in an hour and I wouldn’t be able to do any work, including responding to those emails, for the rest of the day. OP, I highly recommend taking time off and ALSO (this is really important and you should find a way to do it even if you don’t actually take time off) set an OOO that says you’re unavailable (or might be slow to respond, whether that’s true or not, if you’re still working) because you’re dealing with a family emergency. It will help keep your situation in your coworkers’ minds if they’re reading it every time they email you, and it’s asking for the grace you need without you having to say it over and over.

  10. Les*

    Expecting coworkers to personally care about you or your circumstances is a recipe for disappointment. We’re all very replaceable and not nearly as memorable as we’d like to think we are.

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      Any employer will not hesitate to lay you off if it benefits them with little to no consequences.

      So why would you give them anything more than what’s required? You don’t get anything out of it except more work.

      1. allathian*

        True, but treating coworkers as humans with needs besides work makes for a much more pleasant working environment. Just because we’re all replaceable cogs in the corporate machine doesn’t mean we shouldn’t treat each other with basic human decency.

  11. AndersonDarling*

    When someone is having difficulty, I take their first comments as guidance for how I should accommodate them. If they say it’s not a big deal, then I won’t bring it up again. If they go on and on about how painful/challenging/disturbing the event is, then I will check in with them to let them vent about it.
    If the OP responded to well wishes with “It’s not to big a deal” or “I’m doing fine” or other like comments, then the team prob took that as direction to not make it a big deal because the OP is fine. The OP may have been leaning on being business professional, while the team was taking it as social direction.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Agreed – I would also follow the lead of the person who was injured in how much attention I paid to their injury. If they bring it up, I will commiserate. If they don’t, I will assume they don’t want to talk about it.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Same, and when I say it’s fine, don’t worry about it, I mean it so I don’t expect people to check in again. My mother is the type who will hear about one little thing going on in your life and then will peck at it continually, mostly to make herself feel better about her “concern”, so when I say I’ve got it, don’t worry–I really do not want to be asked again.

    3. An American(ish) Werewolf in London(ish)*

      This. In truth, LW, I’d feel as you do – I broke five ribs badly a couple of years ago – happily, my boss totally acknowledged it (sent me food!), though few others did, probably because (being remote) didn’t know. BUT…

      Some people REALLY don’t like talking about their health – they don’t want people asking after their treatments, their medical information, their plans moving forward etc. They want to be treated as ‘normal’ or as normally as possible given whatever their circumstances are. So some people will have taken your strength and seeming ability to power through it without asking for many accommodations as a cue that you’re not keen to talk about it.

      It’s probably not a lack of caring, but perhaps an abundance of caution – not wanting to make every conversation about your injury (or your current caretaking duties), since you don’t.

      I’m sorry this happened to you (my ribs still give me trouble 18 months down the line) and I’m really sorry to hear about your Grandma and hope that your Dad makes a full recovery – sending Jedi caring if you want it.

    4. Sloanicota*

      Agreed. Sometimes when I’m going through something difficult, I *really* don’t want other people to randomly bring it up / ask my about it – but I know everyone is different, and I do understand they’re trying to be supportive. The best we can do is follow the person’s lead, and it sounds like OP is sending “I’m good!” vibes accidentally when actually they are wishing for more support. Unfortunately, the only solution is asking for more support.

  12. Lilo*

    I agree this is just remote work. One of my parents just had to have emergency surgery and I flew out to see him. I did tell coworkers I was working from a different place but, despite the fact that some of my coworkers are friendly enough that out kids do playdates, they didn’t 100% remember without prompting. If you’re online they see you in default mode. Especially after weeks or months, people just don’t hold that in their brains. I have one coworker who moves a lot for his wife’s job and even though we talk about work every day, I sometimes forget what city they’re in now.

  13. Pam Adams*

    With my major surgeries that kept me on remote/WFH status, I would mention things- ‘No, I can’t meet then, the home health nurse will be here’//’The dogs have learned to walk with the wheelchair’, etc., at least with my immediate team.

    I didn’t dwell on my situation, but I also didn’t hide it.

  14. online millenial*

    I think also comparing it to getting flowers when you had COVID is tripping you up–they were so considerate before, what happened? But that was a one-and-done thing. Send flowers, sign a card, move on. You’re dealing with some long-term issues that, like Alison said, are causing a ton of disruption and stress in your life but aren’t really as visible* to your colleagues. People also take their cues from you; if you’re projecting “everything is fine!”, then they aren’t as likely to reserve mental space for “colleague is going through a crisis.” It makes sense that you want to do that, and I don’t think changing that is a good idea. But it’s probably a contributing factor.

    *Except for the change in background on your calls. If you get the same people asking over and over, a tired/deadpan “yeah I’ve been at my dad’s place for the last couple weeks dealing with some family medical issues” wouldn’t be unwarranted, IMO.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Plus, COVID has been a giant bugbear for everyone the past four years. Everyone knows someone who had it, in some cases had a terrible case and/or long-hauler syndrome, and who died from it. It’s a big scary ongoing culturally significant thing.

      Whereas, people have been breaking legs for as long as humanity has had legs. Usually, one will have a cast for a couple weeks and are fine, therefore people will assume that this breaker of leg will also fit into that category. Obviously it sucks for the patient, especially when there are complications, but remember that people can’t read your mind.

      Ask for what you need or want, take advantage of the perks that you get, and don’t feel the need to be a martyr.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I was looking for this comment. Covid and broken legs definitely occupy different amounts of our brains.

  15. MsM*

    OP, unless you’re holding off until Grandma needs true hospice support, I think it might be time to stop worrying about the optics and just take some time off. It sounds like you need it, and you being gone might get the message across that this isn’t just business as usual in a way that the updates aren’t.

    1. TPS Reporter*

      agree, they seem on the edge of burn out. I have been there, with mental and physical issues, and had to take 3 weeks to do nothing. these issues increased for me once I started WFH and felt like I couldn’t disconnect.

      OP if you’re reading this, I challenge you to make some self care goals. Like plan some time off (outside of taking care of your family) and setting specific hours for when you are not connected.

    2. Love to WFH*

      100% this.

      I don’t think this would be hitting you as hard emotionally if you hadn’t pushing yourself so hard. This is NOT a criticism of you for working hard! It’s an observation that you have been through a lot, physically and emotionally.

      I highly recommend that you take some well-earned time off. Take some off now, while you’re dealing with family support. Then take some off when you can sit on a beach, or just read on your couch!

  16. Uranus Wars*

    I get the urge to feel like no one is paying attention, but also feel like Alison is spot on that they can’t see it. And, as mentioned in the first comment, everyone is their own main character. A broken leg is a big deal but I also agree not a lot of people get that – even if they do see it daily.

    I also think that while you love this environment, it giving me some unhealthy</i) vibes ….you did most of your work from bed instead of taking time to recover? you answer your phone while you are at the gym?

    I like that there is no stigma around therapy and you can openly put those on your calendar, but it also sounds like the exchange for unlimited PTO is no clear boundaries? Or maybe that doesn't matter and you answer because you are at the gym for 2 hours in the middle of the afternoon but then don't log in/answer after 5 pm or on weekends?

    1. Uranus Wars*

      Oops! Only unhealthy was supposed to be italicized in case you can’t tell by the mistyped command

  17. Antilles*

    all of my teammates acknowledged the message and sent their well-wishes at the time.
    This isn’t “acknowledging it”? In a co-worker context, it feels like sending you well wishes is an appropriate acknowledgement.
    I realize that jumping right back into work probably made it seem like I was completely fine, but in reality, I was recovering from surgery and my mental health was really suffering. I communicated what I needed when I needed it, but I also didn’t receive any proactive outreach from my team about how I was doing or what they could take off my plate.
    If you made it seem completely fine and were acting like everything was totally normal, how exactly would they know you were struggling or needed additional assistance beyond what you asked for?

    1. Shorely blinds*

      Yeah, I feel like the OP could take a different approach with the dad/grandmother situation by taking advantage of normal “how’s it going” parts of meetings. Like in response to “oh is that a new background where are you” they could say something like “yeah I’m at my dad’s, it’s been really rough but the doctors said his surgery went well” (or whatever is true) – you basically give a brief update that jogs the other person’s memory and allude to how it’s affecting you.

    2. TPS Reporter*

      I have a few direct reports who have this similar martyr type of mentality and I have to dig in a bit with them when they mention family/health/other issues. I have to be very explicit- take time off, I promise you it is fine. We will make a plan to cover for you.

      Just a shout out to the managers out there, especially with reports working from home. If you’re noticing them not taking a lot of time off and working through illness, try having a direct conversation about what they need. Because if they burn out and have to be out for several months or quit, then both of you lose.

      1. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

        I like your shout out to the managers, and wanted to throw in my $.02 about the need for flexibility as the injury or other circumstance works its way through. Needs are constantly changing. And to LW, I am very sorry you’re going through all of these tough situations at once. It is really hard, and hard to identify just what you need when you need it, and be able to communicate it.

        Another thing I’ve learned or come to some terms with over the past few years is that it will never feel quite “equal,” but I am proud of my personal qualities. It is important to me to remember dates and anniversaries, spouses’ and children’s and pet’s names, and make the acknowledgment to people. I know much more about my coworkers’ lives than they do of mine, and not because I don’t talk much. I give more than I get there, but I want to be a person who makes others feel good with these retained details. I have to accept that I don’t want to change that about myself, and push to interject personal details if I want anyone to have some semblance of the same. The problem with investing time is… how much time it takes. I do hope you’ve received some comfort from friends, family, and good colleagues in the time since you’ve written in, and are feeling a bit better with your physical and mental selves.

    1. juliebulie*

      I love it!
      I broke my foot in 2002 but did not think to make a blog of it! I wish I had, but maybe not, because it would have been very whiny and pathetic.

    2. Broken Lawn Chair*

      Agreed – I’m enjoying re-reading it now as I’m in week 7 of (at least) 10 weeks non weight bearing on my broken ankle. It, too, dreams of being able to shower standing up. But at least it gets to move around a little – when the cast was replaced with a boot at 4 weeks, I was directed to start gentle range of motion exercises. Also +1 to the peely, alarming appearance of the casted area. I have two surgical incisions and was directed not to scrub off the residual blood, so for a couple of weeks, even after the sutures were removed, they looked exactly like the big fake stitches you would make for a Halloween costume. Along with peeling, swelling, that yellow color from the skin cleaner they use before surgery, bruising, and other random discoloration. Oh, and the orthopedic surgeon’s markings and his signature where we agreed pre-op that yes, this was the part that needed surgery.

      And a little more on topic: my co-workers don’t know any of that. They know I’m out for a while because my job would be nearly impossible, but that’s all.

      1. Pam Adams*

        I keep threatening to do a week-by-week PowerPoint presentation of my foot surgery/recovery pics.

    3. Mimmy*

      I remember when this first happened. I just re-read the blog. Alison, I forgot how creative you were with this!

      Agreed with everyone that this is probably the nature of working remotely. I’ve never had a fully remote job, but when my current job was all virtual during the pandemic, it was easy to feel a bit disconnected with everyone.

  18. Caramellow*

    I do think OP’s situation is one of those things that is different for people who work in person, in the office. When people physically see an injury, a cast, an eye patch….they are reminded of the healing. I don’t think remote work makes people more unkind but I do think it lacks that immediacy. It may make it even more important to not be a hero and take time off, like Alison said.

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*


      I had foot surgery that involved casts, crutches, appointments, boots, etc. All I got out of my boss at one point was that I was taking far too long to get back to normal…sorry I guess?

  19. Caramel & Cheddar*

    I think Alison nailed the “we’re all the main character of our own lives” aspect of why people aren’t constantly keeping everyone else’s lives at the forefront of everything.

    But I can’t say I would have done anything different from LW’s colleagues here, either, to be honest. If I gave well wishes and you decided to power through, from my perspective that would look like you’re fine and I wouldn’t want to be intrusive, overbearing, or patronizing in assuming you constantly needed help with things if the image you’re projecting at work is that you don’t need any of those things, especially since it sounds like there were occasions where you *did* ask for help and got it (I think, I can’t fully tell from the wording).

    The other thing about offers of help is that most of us are bad at offering help because we’re usually not accustomed to offering specific kinds of help. Most of us are used to the “Let me know if you need anything!” type of offer, whereas what you were probably hoping for was more along the lines of “Let me know if you want me to take the TPS report off your hands / take over the Smithers account for the time being / submit your expenses” or even something more personal like “I’d love to send you an UberEats giftcard so you don’t have to worry about cooking!” or whatever. Lots of people are bad at asking for help, and probably even more are bad about how to offer it.

    1. LCH*

      this. i have a coworker whose parent just died. they were out for a week. i sent an immediate email upon their notification of what happened and our whole office sent a card (and maybe other stuff, no idea). they came back this week, are acting like their usual self, and are leading an event tomorrow. i get the strong impression from them that they do not want to talk about it.

      1. allathian*

        For some people in mourning, work is the small slice of normality where they feel able to allow themselves to think of something other than their loss.

        Some people are better at compartmentalizing than others.

        Some people are more parazyzed by grief in general than others. I’ve lost all of my grandparents and I don’t think I’ve ever mourned for any of them. Their deaths certainly didn’t affect my day to day life much, if at all. I was 5 when my maternal grandfather died (cancer, I only knew him as a very sick man), 13 when my paternal grandfather died (in hospital with pneumonia), 21 when my paternal grandmother died (dementia, I’d mourned the loss of her personality long before her death, which came as a relief), and 24 when my maternal grandmother died (heart attack) when I was in France and couldn’t make it to the funeral. I lit a candle for my maternal grandmother and attended all the other funerals. I might’ve been a bit more subdued for a while after each death (except possibly my maternal grandfather’s, but I don’t remember), but I don’t have any memories of being sad about their deaths except at the literal funerals. After that, life went back to normal for me very quickly.

        My parents and in-laws are aging and I’m well aware that they could either die tomorrow or live for another 20 years, and I have no idea how I’ll react when they inevitably die. I’d be surprised if I didn’t grieve them more than I did my grandparents.

        When one of my coworkers lost her mother a few years ago, we sent her a card and a gift when she went on mental health leave. We don’t have any bereavement leave here, but you can get sick leave when you’re unfit to work after a death, and the advantage of this is that employers don’t get to judge which deaths “deserve” bereavement leave and which don’t. IIRC she was out for a week.

        When my close coworker who has the same job description as I do lost his adult stepson to suicide a few years ago, he took a week’s leave and only told our manager and me the reason, everyone else was simply told that he was out on sick leave. I left a sympathy card and a small box of chocolates on his desk that were waiting for him when he next visited the office during the pandemic, and our manager got him something, too. But he didn’t want people to remind him of it by offering their condolences at work, so he didn’t tell most of our coworkers the real reason for his absence and asked me not to say anything about it, either. I was glad to know the reason because it took him months to get back to his usual work performance and I had to carry most of that load, and knowing why ensured that I didn’t express my frustrations over his sometimes lackluster performance to him.

    2. iglwif*


      If someone is off due to injury-or-something but then they come back and act like everything’s normal, then I’m probably not going to keep asking if they’re OK? I’m going to assume they are pretty much OK.

  20. Butterfly Counter*

    I feel bad, but I would 100% be OP’s coworker. I’ve broken an ankle before and it was only a bit of a hassle, so I wouldn’t necessarily think about it being something major that a coworker wants continuing attention for, especially after weeks and weeks.

    I am also forgetful. I teach and have many, many students who have accommodations that I need to consider when lecturing and grading. However, I tell my students that they need to remind me and to remind me often that they get these accommodations. It’s not that I don’t think that they are necessary or that I am hesitant to grant them, but I have hundreds of students, a million things to remember in my own life and work, and I’m barely keeping my head above water at any point in time. I generally know that *some* students might need accommodations in class, but I’m never going to remember who gets what. Never. I’m just not wired that way. So I tell my students to remind me. I don’t take offense at the reminder and do the accommodation right away, but I have a whole life I’m worried about and someone I work with having an issue just isn’t a thing I will generally think about.

    It’s not that I don’t care. It’s that if it’s not affecting me or what I need to do to make it through my day, my brain scuttles the information.

    Ask for what you want. Ask for what you need. Don’t be afraid to remind people. We’re all just trying to survive.

  21. Nina from Corporate Accounts Payable*

    I work remotely and had a major leg injury requiring surgery and two month of not bearing weight in the spring of 2020 when the world was trying to figure out how to deal with COVID lockdowns. Like OP, the only accommodation I asked for was to avoid going on camera for early morning calls since my morning routine took extra time.

    I don’t recall management or colleagues brining it up or asking about it more than once or twice because it was pretty much a non-issue as the injury did not impact my ability to work. It was a matter of out of sight, out of mind which was fine by me. It’s possible some of my direct reports have had major injuries I’ve forgotten about a few days after they told me. I’m sure if I worked in-person it would have been a much bigger deal since I probably would have had to take additional time off, work remotely when others were not and eventually shown up on a knee scooter with a boot. But it’s totally different when we don’t see each other in person every day. It worked to my advantage when I was pregnant and wasn’t ready to tell certain people until I got towards the end of the pregnancy.

  22. Hills to Die on*

    It’s so hard when you remember others and they don’t remember you.
    I was laid off and had pneumonia at the same time and was barely acknowledged by certain friends. The same friends who I helped to find jobs during layoffs, supported their new business, called and listened to the whole story about how sad they are that their dog died, etc. Some people are reciprocal that way and some just aren’t.
    I think Alison is correct that you would have to remind them – I can’t do this or that because I have a severe break on my leg so I can’t walk, go to coffee, whatever. I am sorry – I would imagine that hurts your feelings and I can understand why.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I have often observed that it’s rarely the *same* person we provide support to who ends up being the big supporter for us when we need someone. If we’re lucky, someone does appear, but it’s often not one of the people we went the extra mile for. I choose to believe those people are the stars for someone else! But sometimes the person who is the most supportive has nobody when the time comes – like the letters here about the big birthday cheerleader who organizes the cards/flowers/party for everybody and then gets forgotten on their birthday because nobody else thinks of doing it.

  23. WarblerB*

    OP I just want to say I’m sorry you and your family are going through it at the moment. As someone who does prioritize supporting my community (family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc.) when tough stuff happens, it can feel disappointing to realize how many other people don’t do that. I try to remember that I make the effort because showing up for others is a core value of mine. To avoid feeling resentful, I do what Allyson said and directly ask for support when I need it. I recognize we are all doing the best we can and at any given point we all may have different capacities to help.

    1. Bitteranon*

      It can hurt even more when the person who wasn’t there for you is there for someone else. In my case, my father died in the same week as a co-worker’s mother died. For me, nothing. No acknowledgement. For her, emails out to the entire division asking for a meal train and contributions to her family. It did greatly change my interest in helping my division and supervisor. Acting my wage became so much clearer when favoritism is so crystal clear.

      1. allathian*

        Oh yes, absolutely. Favoritism sucks, and I’m so sorry this happened to you.

        Did you and the coworker have the same manager? Ideally, the employer would have a system of support (with an option for the affected employee to opt out) set up for situations like this, but when there’s no system, it often depends on how active the manager, or a particularly close work friend of the bereaved person, is in organizing it.

  24. H.Regalis*

    If they saw you every day in person, they would definitely remember because it’d be super visible; but working remotely, it’s easy to forget unless you bring it up.

    I can remember little things about my coworkers—one guy is deathly afraid of spiders, someone else has a brother who lives in Ireland, one coworker loves going to concerts, etc.—but I couldn’t tell you what each one of them said they did last weekend in our most recent team meeting.

  25. Astor*

    LW, I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. It’s such a hard thing. It’s much easier for people to understand certain kinds of injuries and disabilities than others, and it doesn’t have anything to do with how difficult they are or how much you remind them of the details. It’s exhausting, and it’s worse while you’re already feeling so weighed down by so many things.

    If you can afford to take some additional time off, and not just work remotely, I strongly encourage you to do it. We’re taught to keep pushing through things, but we’re not taught that you need to rest afterward! Maybe if you weren’t dealing with family health issues then your regular life would be enough rest for you to recover, but right now you’re still pushing through without that recovery period. It’s hard – others do understand a lot better when you take that rest period at the start instead of at the end – but that doesn’t mean that you don’t still need it.

    Good luck! I hope your father’s recovery goes well, and that your time with your grandmother is peaceful.

  26. Dido*

    Covid was a serious pandemic that killed many and debilitated many more. A broken leg sucks and makes your life harder for a few weeks, but it’s not life-threatening, and as you said, you could do your remote job just fine and never told your team you were struggling. Most people have broken a bone at some point, so your coworkers probably just registered it as something that wasn’t too serious and forgot about it

    1. Busy Middle Manager*

      Come on, there is no reason to compare diseases to diminish someone’s story. It’s not a competition. For example, my mother was in the hospital last year for a week+ with septic shock from a “regular” flu, it wasn’t less septic because it wasn’t covid. A broken leg is pretty bad actually.

    2. Seashell*

      Yet, I would think it would be odd to be sent flowers for a mild case of Covid in 2023. I had it then, no one sent me anything, I didn’t think twice about it, and I missed a grand total of 2 days of work.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        Yeah. Obviously this will vary a lot from person to person, but I had COVID in 2022 and would have been surprised to get flowers — I just felt like I had a cold, so I obviously isolated but felt fine to work from home. Even at that point, most people I knew had had it (and most of those were post-vaccines/boosters and had a similar experience to me).

    3. Kaitydid*

      Comparing and diminishing is extremely unhelpful. I lost a friend over this kind of treatment.

    4. Helewise*

      This would be a good time for you to listen and learn from the experiences of others. Saying a broken leg “makes your life harder for a few weeks” shows that you don’t understand the LW’s experience. A break in a weight-bearing limb can take years to recover from, not weeks (deconditioning is no joke).

    5. biobotb*

      Jeez. How much a broken bone impacts one’s life can range from “barely” to “incredibly debilitating, takes months/years to recover.”

      Her coworkers probably did think it wasn’t too serious because she acted like she was fine, but it’s strange that you read her description of her injury and also decided it wasn’t serious.

  27. EGee*

    There’s a phenomenon called the availability heuristic where we tend to pay attention to those things that are easily brought to mind and ignore those things that aren’t. It was interesting that you mentioned receiving flowers when you came down with COVID. Well, my guess would be that it was at a time when COVID was in the news and people were (tragically) dying from it and suffering from it. So when you heard someone got COVID, it got your attention. Broken legs, broken arms, broken ankles….so commonplace (seemingly) that our reaction is often…”meh, they’ll be okay.” Despite the reality that any broken bone is a big deal. My wife fell and broke her arm several years ago…it wasn’t life-threatening but it was SURE was life-altering for a time. So you definitely have my sympathy. However, it might help to recognize that this is most likely just a predictable human tendency at play here.

  28. Gudrid the Well Traveled*

    Your mental health at the time could also be affecting your feelings and perceptions. One thing I noticed when I broke my ankle and spent time in a FB group for people with broken ankles is that there were specific times in the healing process when people would naturally feel depressed. It was usually temporary, only lasting a day or so, but nobody ever mentions it as a side effect. These occurrences were so regular – in person after person- that you could set your calendar to them. My non-medically trained opinion is that people are made to move and when your mobility is suddenly severely limited it also affects your mood. Plus it’s just so hard to adapt to the limited movement and still accomplish necessary things. So it probably felt extra bad to be struggling so much and feeling like it was invisible and unimportant to others.

      1. i like hound dogs*

        So true! My husband and I have both had serious knee surgeries (ACL repair) and I noted that effect for both of us.

        I think this is a little similar to when someone feels hurt that their friends don’t seem to put the same effort into the friendship as they do. Now, that can absolutely be the case (and very hurtful!) but I also think it has to do with every person’s unique day-to-day — who is exhausted after caring for small children all day, who is super stressed over a work thing, etc. When you’re not the one in the tough situation it can be easy to forget what it feels like.

        My vote would be for benign thoughtlessness. But I can see how it would hurt.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Also, we see all the things we do, but we tend to gloss over the things other people do for us.

    1. Sloanicota*

      This is really astute. If OP is suddenly really bothered by the lack of support from coworkers even if they realize it’s maybe an unusual thing for them to be so fixated on – there’s a chance this could be a symptom of some mood stuff it’s worth getting checked out. I sometimes have irrational hangups (not saying that’s what OP has, just noting it) that I don’t connect with overall mental health until afterwards.

    2. FanciestCat*

      Yeah, all of us know on some level that our bodies will eventually fail us, whether through slow attrition through age or sudden injury or illness. But most people try not to think about things like that. But when you get injured, suddenly that knowledge is at the forefront of your brain and it can do a number on your mental health.

    3. Princess Pumpkin Spice*

      I think the combination of being unable to move as well as unable to shower definitely play a huge role here.

      I had a period in college where I was really struggling with depression. I figured out in therapy that a) I don’t show when I’m depressed, and b) not showering worsens my depression, and finally c) taking a shower and washing my hair gave me enough of a boost that I could feel glimmers of myself again.

    4. Kaitydid*

      That’s such a good point. When I was on crutches even turning off the lights for bed was a whole ordeal. I live alone, so that was just my situation for a while. I know I never thought about the ways that life in general is just more difficult and how it impacts mental health until it happened to me. I don’t think people are malicious or bad for not thinking about that kind of thing in relation to coworkers, but it doesn’t feel good in the moment.

  29. Busy Middle Manager*

    OK. So I only got into the office 1-2 days a week for some variety so I’m not the biggest RTO pusher either, however, this is literally the downside of WFH.

    The accommodation for a broken leg pre-covid was WFH. So you already have the accommodation. I think that’s the logical reason why there is nothing to say. TBF I was the “other person” in this situation where a coworker worked remote from another location to help a sick relative, he always looked sad on calls and I sort of got it, but at the same time, dude – you got the accommodation. This would’ve been impossible a few years ago! You don’t need to be happy about it, but you should acknowledge and appreciate it a little. If this was 2018, you’d probably have to had take a leave of absence.

    I read the WFH-related subreddits and I’m not saying their overzealousness is the same as here, but t’s like people don’t remember pre-covid. People are forgetting that this all started as an accommodation and emergency measure.

    I do sympathize though, “out of sight out of mind” is a real thing. In my role it’s creating work load issues and information silos, I am picking up way more than other people; it’s way easier for people to say “I’m too busy to help today” on teams than it is when they’re sitting right next to you. Information silos are also becoming an issue. I keep acquiring a disproportionate share of new information and try to give status updates, but it’s just muted circles on a zoom and the lack of response or reaction is driving me insane.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      This is exactly it. There are a LOT of upsides to wfh being more widespread and available (even if just hybrid or as-needed), and the fact that you were able to take advantage of that both for your leg AS WELL AS while you care for a loved one in a different state are among the top upsides. But the downside is that engagement with your teammates is just … not the same.

    2. PK*

      It’s a blessing and a curse that white collar workers can now work through situations that would have previously required us to take time off. A blessing that tough life situations might impact our finances less than before, which can be such a relief as not everyone can afford to take leave no matter how serious their situation is. But now there’s an expectation for us to not only continuing working all the time no matter what, but also be cheerful on camera when our mental health is in shambles, even when maybe we could have financially afforded FMLA leave.

  30. Hendry*

    I think it’s the combination of a few things – everyone is interested in their own life, the nature of remote work, the fact that you plowed on through, and the reluctance of some to mention anything health or appearance related (see shaved head letter from earlier)

  31. ZugTheMegasaurus*

    Besides just remembering it, I think there’s also another layer of social difficulty in just being coworkers, especially remote coworkers. Like a few months ago, my colleague told me in tears about her elderly dog being diagnosed with congestive heart failure. I felt horrible for her; I lost 2 pets to illness a couple years ago and it was an awful time of my life.

    I definitely didn’t forget; I think about it on a lot of days. But like…I’m also not going to bring it up again before she does. I mean, what if she gets my “oh hey is your dog still alive” message the day after he dies or, conversely, on a day where the dog is feeling so good she stopped thinking about him dying for a little bit. I don’t want to ruin somebody’s day! I’m 100% supportive when she chooses to share that kind of thing with me (and I would certainly do something to help if asked), but I feel like I don’t have the kind of relationship where I can broach such a personal topic unprompted.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I agree with this too. Especially if people are not on camera or only on camera for meetings. But in real life too, I wonder if now is a good moment to bring up negative thing. Maybe you’re not thinking about it right now, and I don’t want to bring it up.

      I feel that way especially about family illness. Maybe you’re not thinking about it right now.

      It would be great if they would, when thanking you during the normal course of doing business, add “I know it must have been extra hard for you right now” but there is fear of bringing up negative and out of site, out of mind in play.

    2. Looper*

      I think being in-person creates more of those “empty moments” where having that type of private, personal conversation can happen: being in the breakroom together, waiting for the elevator, walking to the parking lot. Remote work interactions, outside of IM, are pretty work-focused. And I don’t think a lot of folks think of using the same platform they send gifs and gossip to send heartfelt condolences.

  32. Twix*

    I have to agree with Alison. I’ve worked at my current job for ~11 years and have had several crippling chronic health conditions the entire time. Pre-COVID, we were 100% on-site and my team was always pretty cognizant of them because, well, they saw me and how I was affected every day. We went to 100% remote during COVID, which has been a godsend for me in terms of managing my health. My boss and PM are still pretty aware of/sensitive to my conditions because they still have to deal with the impact on a regular basis (being out for doctor’s appointments and such). But my other team members tend to be less so because those issues are both much less impactful and much less apparent working remotely. And these are people I’ve been working with for years who know exactly what’s wrong with me! It’s frustrating sometimes, but it’s also just a reality of remote work.

  33. RussianInTexas*

    I would be OP’s coworker. Not that I don’t sympathize and all, but if you need something from me, ask me. I have my own stuff to deal with, and think about, and I 100% will not be keeping up with a colleague’s broken leg when I don’t even see them daily.

    1. Performative gumption*

      It seems though in this case she has asked and not received.
      Yet colleagues offer kindness to others and that lack of kindness is what is upsetting her as she feels singled out.
      I mean, how hard is it to be kind really?

      1. RussianInTexas*

        She didn’t though. She told everyone she was fine, and kept working as per usual. If you tell me you are fine, I will treat you as you are fine. I am not a mind reader, especially when I don’t see you, ever.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, I’m the same way. I’m from a very direct ask culture, and I don’t do well with people from guess cultures. You won’t get what you want/need from me if you expect me to read your mind. But if you ask, I’ll at least consider your request. I’m also generally fine with asking and getting a no for an answer.

          As a former people pleaser, I’m so glad that I no longer care very much whether people like me and my choices or not. I don’t go out of my way to antagonize people, but I don’t bend over backwards to do what I don’t want to do just so they’ll like me better, either.

  34. blupuck*

    My Manager badly injured his ankle a few months ago. He’s still in a boot.
    How do I remember?
    My husband went through a similar issue and I know it takes a long time to heal.
    So I MAKE IT A POINT to inquire about my manager’s progress.
    If I didn’t know that the healing takes months and months of effort, I would have stopped asking long ago. Because of course it has healed, right?

    I’m sure it is out of sight, out of mind for your coworkers.
    Don’t take it personally.
    Your efforts to appear normal worked!
    They all thought you were healed and ready to go.

  35. HonorBox*

    OP you’re a rockstar. You have pushed through your injury and the recovery without letting anything fall between the cracks. And having done so, you’ve also signaled to your teammates that you’re OK. You’re not OK, of course, but you’ve given no evidence that you’re dealing with some major things. You’re not wrong for wanting people to acknowledge, or even just remember, that you’re dealing with some crap now. But because you’ve performed so well in spite of the challenges, I’m sure people aren’t as concerned as they might be had you taken more time, shifted some duties to others, etc.

    For instance, the coworker who asked you to walk to a coffee shop… had you asked them to cover the meeting since you’re not able to walk and struggling to drive, they might have jumped in to cover you.

    I’m not here to pile on and say you’re wrong for feeling the feelings you are. You’ve pushed through adversity better than others and should be commended for that. And I agree with @Astor who said that perhaps taking some time for yourself would be in order.

  36. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

    Your mileage may vary according to your own comfort and your workplace, but this is exactly why I’ve been pretty candid about the 2 major illnesses I had in 2023 and their effects.
    Literally saying things like, “I’m okay- I’ve been sleeping 10 hours a night instead of 12, so that’s progress,” and “Pardon me for scratching- my hair is falling out. Oh yeah, it sucks, but it’ll grow back!” and “Thank you for offering to buy me lunch, but I still can’t eat much because of the splenomegaly. Another time?”

    Even then, I can tell some people forget and re-remember, and that’s fine too. But you have to bring it up if you want people to know about it.

  37. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

    I think it’s also worth remembering that a lot of people don’t like to discuss health issues at work, and your coworkers were probably taking their cues from you. If you weren’t mentioning it, they were probably not going to mention it.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      This. It is very easy to imagine a letter with the same medical and family fact set, but complaining about how everyone at work keeps talking about it and how exhausting this is.

      1. Rara Avis*

        Yeah, I’m struggling a bit because I told people about my breast cancer when I went out for surgery #1 — but then I had to have #2 and now am heading to #3 — and people asking how am I is becoming a burden, because “Fine” is NOT how I’m feeling, but I also will probably start crying if I get down into the weeds about how this was supposed to be one and done, but I’m that rare case that isn’t, and it’s like starting over every time I have to go back for another surgery, thus postponing the day when I can say that I’m in recovery … but at the same time, I want people to know at least something about why they have to pick up the work that I’m not doing.

        1. Baby Yoda*

          Understand Rara, also went through 3 surgeries for that — which should have been one and done.

  38. Volunteer Enforcer*

    You have my sympathies OP, but Alison’s answer speaks to my experience even working in person.

  39. Richard Hershberger*

    To be blunt, as I read this letter I began wondering what exactly the LW wanted but wasn’t getting. So far as I can tell, it is affirmation. I think they are misunderstanding the function of the workplace, and would do well to seek affirmation elsewhere.

    1. footiepjs*

      This is what I was thinking. While you can get some emotional support at work, OP, it sounds like you want something that is better sought from personal friends and family.

      Also, it really sounds like you need a break; take some leave!

  40. Workerbee*

    OP, take some of that unlimited PTO now. Seriously.

    You went through one traumatic incident without taking any, and now you’re dealing with three more big things at once – your dad had a probably-scary surgery, you also are taking care of your dad, and your grandmother is dying.

    So I’m adding a fourth thing to take care of, which I would for anybody: Your mental health & well-being need YOU!

    If you’re not used to taking care of yourself in such ways – and it kind of sounds like you aren’t, with the offhand way you equated “taking calls from the gym” with your team culture caring about health (that is not caring about health, that is instead not making it okay for people to focus fully on a true health benefit) – then at least consider that you won’t be of any use to anybody if you don’t put on the oxygen mask already.

  41. I should really pick a name*

    we put our therapy appointments on our calendar

    I assume this comes from a place of trying to normalize therapy, but I’m much more in favour of providing minimal detail about time off.
    When people get used to having all the details, they sometimes start asking questions if you stop providing them later.

    1. Abundant Shrimp*

      Seriously. I tell mine I have to “log off for a telemed appointment”. This is all they need to know.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I limit it to an appointment. If it’s sick leave rather than annual leave then it’s some kind of medical appointment.

        1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

          And, to add to this, only my boss knows if it is sick leave, because she’s approving my time card. (Though I try to arrange routine appointments on days I can wfh so I am able to flex my time more easily. This isn’t always possible, but it is the goal! Regardless, my calendar would be blocked with the Outlook “Private Appointment” feature for that or any other non-work related appointment, medical or otherwise.)

  42. Abundant Shrimp*

    I have worked through (in-office for most of these): a divorce, my dad’s admission to hospice, death, and funeral (minus bereavement leave), an emergency eye surgery, a back injury, a son’s mental breakdown which included incarceration… as long as my managers and teammates were understanding, did not demand top performance, and offered/agreed to work accommodations, I was a happy camper! Admittedly, being the center of attention makes me very uncomfortable and so I was perfectly happy with the fact that most of my teammates did not know or did not notice.

    I have not tried to plow through any of that stuff, because I already know how quickly I can reach my breaking point when I do that. OP, is there any chance that your resentment is at least in part due to your being burned out from trying to plow through when you shouldn’t and don’t need to? Please take care of yourself. WHY are you even plowing through?

    *one time when I felt resentment was when, after my eye surgery, I had a gas bubble in my eye for a couple of months, that bobbed around my eye and made me nauseous unless I wore an eye patch. A coworker from another team, who sat in the next aisle of cubicles from mine, saw the eye patch and asked if it was A HALLOWEEN COSTUME. Readers, it was September! Her husband was on my team and knew about my surgery. When I asked him why his wife had no clue, he said “we don’t talk about work at home” my dude, I AM NOT WORK. Admittedly the husband’s reaction to my eye patch was to say “Arrrr!” anytime he walked past me, which was also NOT GREAT AT ALL. Other than those two, I have zero complaints about how my teammates treated me through any of my life events. But, again, as long as I’m not being quizzed about my absences or my quality of work dropping, my life events being ignored by my teammates is a dream come true for me, and I get that others may feel differently.

    1. Abundant Shrimp*

      Want to add that, now that I think of it, some of my work teammates had gone through pretty horrendous life stuff when we were in the office together, and I confess I didn’t go out of my way to reach out, try to make them feel better, whatever. I’d sign a card and that was it. Mainly because I never knew what to say, unless they were close personal friends. That’s when we were in the office. Now that I’m on a remote team and only ever met one of my teammates in person, I barely even know what their lives are like. It is the nature of the beast, I’m afraid.

    2. merula*

      Neither husband nor wife should be making fun of a medical device, so I totally understand your frustration and you would’ve been well within your rights to go to HR.

      Respectfully, though, you are “work” to them? Not as a person, of course, but as a topic of discussion, and I can definitely see myself thinking “Abundant Shrimp told me about their surgery because of the work impact to me. It’s not my place to share that with anyone else.”

      If you wouldn’t expect another member of the wife’s team to know about your surgery if they weren’t related to a member of your team, I feel like you can’t expect this wife to know.

    3. Eisbaer*

      But you *are* work, to your co-workers. We all are. Talking to your spouse about the health of your co-workers (who they do not know or have only met in a work context) is talking about work.

      A spouse is obliged to take an interest in your health. A co-worker is not and a spouse’s co-worker is definitely not.

    4. KG*

      …but you are work.

      My husband and I used to work at the same company but different locations and would discuss work outside of work…but if anyone ever asked we said no.

      And we seriously stopped that because who wants to talk about work and people at work- for some of us maintaining the social expectations you have in a work environment is also work for us.

      Hello, my introverted friends.

    5. Abundant Shrimp*

      All of you are making a good point, and I would’ve been more than happy to meet these two coworkers halfway where I’m ok with them thinking of me at work, and they in return don’t make fun of my eye patch, to my face at least. I guess I admit I got mixed up about what I am to them because the “gentle ribbing” they gave me was the kind one would give a friend – not a coworker – I’m sure they wouldn’t do it to their boss, so why me?

      1. allathian*

        How do they treat their other teammates? I’d say that gentle ribbing between peers is fine if the relationship is close enough for that (in this case it pretty obviously isn’t), but not with a boss who can fire you for surprisingly minor reasons in an at-will environment, not that reasonable bosses would, but. Gentle ribbing and humor in general requires an equal relationship where neither party has authority over the other. I get it that some bosses joke around with their reports, but it’s a bit fraught to do so because showing that you don’t think a joke your boss tells is funny can be risky for the employee.

        In my first retail job when I was 17, one of our shift managers used to tell nasty racist jokes about Roma and Muslims, and he’d also instruct us to follow Roma and Muslims around the store because according to him, all of them would shoplift given the opportunity, and especially the women who wore voluptuous clothes where stuff could be hidden. This was in the late 80s and the store had neither security cameras nor alarms at the door to prevent shoplifting. I was uncomfortable with the jokes and instructions but didn’t think I could push back because just showing my discomfort meant that employees who agreed with his sentiments got first dibs on breaks on his shifts.

        That said, given that the wife also knows you as a coworker, even if not as a teammate, I do think that it wouldn’t have been out of bounds for the husband to tell his wife why you wore the eyepatch. I absolutely understand that when you both live and work together, it’s even more important to actively maintain work/life boundaries than usual, but even so I find it hard to believe that they never talk about the people they both know from work at home.

  43. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

    When I was managing a team of 10, I recognized that when a staff person would come to me and tell me something personal that was going on and affecting their work, whether or not they needed something specific from me (like approving additional WFH or whatever), it was a BIG deal to them. I hope I responded sympathetically in the moment/the meeting and helped them get what they needed… but I had nine more employees plus my own work life to manage, and it was just not going to be as big a deal to me as it was to them. And if we were all remote and I never saw their boot/cast/etc…. it is asking a lot of any one manager to be totally on top of an employee’s health situation if the employee isn’t bringing it up to them frequently.

  44. BellyButton*

    I really do think it is like Alison said, it was major to you, but when people don’t see it, it sort of fades away. Most would not have realized how long and difficult the recovery would be unless you mentioned it and talked about it. I broke my ankle a few years ago, but it was no big deal, the boot didn’t slow me down and once I was in the boot I had zero pain. So if I heard “broken leg” I might automatically think of my own experience if the person didn’t elaborate and might assume they would have as easy of a time as I did.

    As far as not noticing your normal background. Again, it isn’t something I would really notice. I meet with so many people I don’t remember what people’s regular backgrounds are. I would only notice if looked like they were in a hotel or outside some place beautiful. And if you in a large Zoom meeting, everyone is tiled and you can barely see the people, let alone their background.

    I think the OP’s reactions are more about her stress level and high emotions with all that is going on, and less about what the manager or coworkers have or have not done.

    OP, I am sorry you are dealing with so many difficult things at once. I wish you and your family all the best.

  45. Ahnon4Thisss*

    Slightly off topic maybe, but personally, I think you all need better boundaries about your work life balance. Supporting each other is absolutely fine, but knowing people’s therapy schedules because they’re on team calendars as such and taking calls from the gym? Please set some boundaries, for your own sake.

    You SHOULD have taken some time off. You broke your leg and had emergency surgery. You couldn’t shower, that’s how bad it was for you. It would have been completely understandable if you took a few weeks off for such a massive health concern. I’m assuming your coworkers thought your fracture wasn’t terrible because you got right back to work. I feel like a lot of these feelings may come down to not having enough boundaries between your work life and your life life.

    Another contributing factor, like many other people here have said, is that you are the most important person in your life. I’m sure your coworkers felt for you, but what else were they supposed to do? Per your letter, it sounds like they did what they normally do in times of need: helped you when you asked for it. You can’t expect people to track your entire life when they may have just as much going on in their own. People forget things sometimes, we’re only human.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        I sort of understand it if the intent is, “I can go to the gym during work hours as long as I’m accessible by phone for high priority issues” and not “I’m taking calls from my gym, an hour after my work day officially ended, because they figure since I work from home I should be reachable whenever.”

  46. Nessie*

    I had a broken leg where I couldn’t walk on it for two and a half to three months. I’m normally always in my office so it was not normal for me to work from home for that long but my boss and HR was kind enough to grant the approval. I wrote an email to my team explaining how I could be reached and that I could still do the majority of my normal work; I also wrote up a sign and asked a coworker to print it and tape it to my office door for anyone outside of our team who wondered where I was.

    I got a few brief sympathetic responses to my email (like your Slack channel). Two coworkers from other teams I was particularly close with sent their own messages when they saw the note on my door. I had to arrange for a coworker who lived nearby to drop off paperwork to my home twice during the months I was out. I put up away messages when I was at my regular physical therapy appointments to let people know when I’d be available. There were kind comments and well wishes when I finally returned in-person on one crutch. But other than that, it was pretty much business as normal. I didn’t expect or get flowers, cards, or any other gifts.

    So while it was a big deal for you, there wasn’t much impact on your work. In that case, your coworkers probably did honestly forget about your injury, especially since you’re already remote. I can understand feeling a little bewildered when you realize that an injury with a huge impact on you that turns your world upside down is something other people aren’t dwelling on it, but I think it’s pretty normal for coworkers to just focus on your work.

    1. Nessie*

      Forgot to add, I usually am the person in our office to organize and pick up food and drinks for client meetings. I did have two requests for that during my time working from home that I just quickly rerouted to the coworker who was taking care of it in my place. I wasn’t upset by it because I know people were just used to reaching out to me that it was a default request. They apologized when I reminded them I wasn’t physically in the office because of my broken leg but it wasn’t a big deal to me.

  47. AnonForThis*

    It’s being remote and the lack of communication/trying to be normal. 100%. Aside from the initial burst of events I really can’t tell what was really communicated.

    COVID still scares (some/many) people, as it should, so I’m glad to hear they took it seriously. But I agree that many people don’t realize how severe a broken leg can be, especially when surgery is required.

    Let me compare it to a colleague – last summer we had some major storms in my area. The team is all remote, and one person mentioned roof damage to her house and needing to get estimates/insurance/etc. Oo, bad luck, we all wished her well.

    A couple months ago, she disclosed to us that it wasn’t simply some shingles or a corner of the roof. No, she’d had massive roof damage to her house, was only living in about half of it with a lot of the rest of it not really inhabitable due to the damage still being worked on, delays in insurance/estimates/various work companies causing the overall lag in getting it fixed, and concerns like if she would have running water/if she could use her kitchen with the next planned work coming up.

    It feels like you told people that your roof got damaged and they all assumed all would be well after some shingling and of course that would be over fast. But in reality, you were struggling with being unable to use parts of your home and not really allowing anyone else to know that.

    For the current situation, I bet that none of them have had to deal with helping someone recover from surgery (especially an older parent) and with being there for a dying family member, at least not in the ways that you are right now, or with an extended period of time involved in the process. The information about that probably registers as something short-term, an extended weekend possibly and done?

    Do you have any ways to set your status to keep important things like that in mind for others? Some kind of ‘working away’ status in your work communication software (Slack/Teams/whatever) or even a team-specific email signature that you’d be OK with setting?

    And definitely think about making your needs known. It seems like you really value (understandably) being seen as a team player who doesn’t let people down, but if you put up a front like Everything Is Fine then maybe people will take that for granted, too.

  48. Goose*

    I dealt with something similar–I had major surgery and took two weeks off. I was open about it when asked, but people still assumed I had a long vacation. I also didn’t receive any notes/food gift cards from my team, when we do something for every baby/other life event. My feelings were hurt.

    But! As close as I am to many of these frolleagues (I hate this word, tbh), I can’t put expectations on anyone else. Everyone has their own stuff going on, things get forgotten. It’s okay. Your feelings are valid. Feel them. Then let them go.

    1. Abundant Shrimp*

      Have to ask. What is a frolleague?

      Sorry about your surgery and I hope you’re feeling better. And in this case, it sounds like your surgery was treated differently from other people’s serious health situations, which, I agree, sucks. I certainly hope no one at least asked if you’d had fun on your vacation!

      1. BellyButton*

        I thought it was a typo, until I looked it up! (FRiend cOLLEAGUE) A co-worker who is accepted as a “friend” on someone’s social networking page

    2. ragazza*

      Yeah, I was out for several days recovering from having my gallbladder removed. It was a relatively routine surgery and I was home the same day, but still, it was surgery. Barely any acknowledgment from my colleagues even though we’d sent flowers to people in the hospital, etc.

  49. sofar*

    LW, first off, this sucks and really does go to show how “being supportive of coworkers” has changed due to remote work.

    Now … off the top of your head, can you name (and have you acknowledged) all the trials, injuries and family challenges your coworkers have been facing? If so, and you’re the person who has organized help for everyone else and received no similar response from others, I can see the issue.

    If not … know that everyone is dealing with things and working remotely really DID change the way coworkers support each other.

    At the end of the day, I’d rather the company be reasonable with time off, allow me to take off time for physical therapy (and not hound me for meetings at times I blocked on my calendar) and do other tangible things than send flowers, check in on me, etc. And I’d rather they be reasonable across the board for EVERYONE so that anyone who needs flexibility than take advantage.

  50. Dr. Rebecca*

    OP, I get that the response has been counter-culture, but…y’all seem WAY in each other’s pockets. I can’t imagine spending as much time thinking about my colleagues as you seem to do. Maybe it’s okay to acknowledge something when it happens, to do so again if it causes an issue like not being able to walk to the cafe, and then not again at any point because who has the time to be so up in other people’s business??

      1. Dr. Rebecca*

        I’m even tempted to be like “your colleagues aren’t your friends,” but I *am* friends with some of my colleagues and I’m not as integrated into their issues as OP seems to expect. And I work in a field where “hey can you help me move a body” is an actual legitimate academic request.

  51. higheredadmin*

    People are fun. There are so many letters on this site where people are trying to figure out how to get their manager/colleagues out of their personal lives/medical issues/therapy appointments, and then we have letters from people who are concerned that their colleagues are not interested in them as a whole person. I think the takeaway is to remember to meet each person where they are, taking the office culture into account. Some people are very private, some people not so much.

    1. Cookie monster*

      Exactly. As a private person, I would absolutely relish the privacy afforded to remote co-workers. And the ability to turn the camera off if I wasn’t looking or feeling my best. Hard to do that in person.

    2. allathian*

      And if you put up a front and pretend everything’s fine, don’t get stressed out when people don’t acknowledge the difficulties you’ve managed to hide from them.

      OP, if you want more support, you’re going to have to let your coworkers and management know that you need it. Take some of that PTO you’re entitled to, for a start.

  52. Posterized*

    As someone whose job physically cannot be done from home, but has a spouse and many friends who do, there’s an isolating effect to it that they underestimate. Especially when you’re dealing with issues that limit what time outside of work you spend outside the home. Your job/coworkers then become a mental substitute for the human connection you usually get elsewhere and it’s easy to fall into a pattern of overly emotionally investing in work relationships which will always lead to disappointment because (with rare exceptions) your coworkers are there to do a job, not be your social support network.

    Also sounds like your work sounds like it’s falling into what I call the “wellness trap.” While putting your therapy appointments on the calendar, being able to go to the gym, or having helpful coworkers is great, notice that the main theme here is the work gets done. You have unlimited PTO, but let me guess, there’s always a deadline or a deliverable or a crunch time coming up that makes you feel guilty about using that PTO.

    Are you adequately staffed? Do people cross-train to be helpful if someone is out? Are you expected to be available at the drop of a hat outside work hours? Do people generally acknowledge that you are a human with all that entails? Those are better questions to discuss wellness IMHO.

  53. Animaniactoo*

    Suggestion. At some point there is a little bit of small talk during the remote meetings?

    Sparingly use a few of these moments to mention things like “I am so relieved to have a boot instead of the cast now. It makes getting around so much easier!”

    “I have lots of Dr appointments for my Dad tomorrow, is there any leeway on that deadline?”

    Not all the time. But small comments in places that make sense “how is everyone doing today?” And still keeping it relatively light can go a long way towards not making the impact invisible on an ongoing basis – without doing anything that feels like “look at me! Look at me!”

    Fwiw, the coworkers who forgot and were reminded through practical functional questions probably feel embarrassed and awkward about it from their end.

  54. Love to WFH*

    This is really interesting. This would never happen when working in-person because people would see more of what you were going through — but of course coping with this would all have been far worse for you if who had been working in-person.

    This is a wake-up call to me to be more conscious about remembering what my coworkers are going through.

    The original poster isn’t off-base to feel forgotten, but also their coworkers aren’t Bad People for not remembering. Working remotely is a different world. I think we should all perhaps speak up more to ask for accommodation, and also make an effort to remember about things that were told but aren’t seeing day-to-day.

    1. Willow Pillow*

      “This would never happen when working in-person…”

      Not necessarily! The first year after my mother died was a big challenge, for instance, and I needed work to not trigger my grief so I rarely talked about it. Invisible disabilities can be like that too.

  55. Maggie*

    One of the dangers of being a “just power through it” person is that folks on the outside really don’t know the level of impact it had. If I had a colleague who got emergency surgery, I’d definitely express concern but if they were back on Zoom in just a couple of days and if they didn’t mention any ongoing issues around it, I really would just assume that they’re doing okay. That doesn’t mean that in order to get consideration you have to constantly air your personal issues, but you do need to let others in enough that they know where you’re at and how they can help.

  56. morethantired*

    At my work we have Slack channels for all sorts of non-work-related chit-chat to foster relationships and, well, for things like this. If you’re going through something, and feel comfortable, you can share it there. It’s so nice to keep that personal connection if you want it. Even if you’re not in those channels, in meetings people might say “Hey, Curtis, how is your leg?” at the start and then everyone’s reminded “Oh yeah! Curtis broke is leg! How is it going??”

    BUT — that’s a big culture change to try to implement. I would suggest getting a therapist because a major injury like that is traumatic and you deserve support.

  57. BellyButton*

    Just wanted to add. Take the time off. Your company offers unlimited PTO. Use it. When you are dealing with so any difficult things you need to take care of yourself.

    I had this discussion with an employee just last week. She told me she felt like she would be disappointing her team and guilty over their increased workload for covering for her. I told her that wasn’t the case at all, that we value her as a team member and want ed her to be healthy and well. Being part of a team means we do support each other- and that can sometimes means we need to cover some of their work because they are humans who may need/want to be away. It is OK.

    When we are dealing with so many difficult things, like OP is, we aren’t present. We aren’t doing our best work, and when you are a high performer, knowing you aren’t doing your best adds to your stress!

    Working for a company that does actually value work/life balance has shown me just how messed up the last few places I worked were when it came to taking PTO. Like the one manager and grandboss who both asked me to change my wedding date, that I had booked off more than 6 months earlier and made me feel bad for saying no. It worked– they Guilted me into working until the day before and coming back from my honeymoon early.

    Never again!

  58. Nancy*

    OP, I get it, I really do. It’s hard to go through a traumatic experience and see everyone around you acting as if everything is normal. It’s so important to you, why isn’t it important to them! But they are not you.

    It’s also hard reach out for help when you feel like are barely holding on. However, even if people remember, they often don’t know how to act in certain situations, so they will take cues from the other person. If you seem OK, then they will think you are OK. They don’t see you every day, and honestly, even if they did see you in the office, they have their own lives and work that they are focusing on.

    I recommend talking to your direct supervisor about what you specifically need. If you have a coworker you trust and can help with workload, discuss it with them as well. I had to do that recently and it has helped, but they needed to know what I needed first.

  59. theletter*

    With the working world turning more toward protecting people’s privacy and boundaries, you’ll find there’s a lot less ‘office grandparents’ who track everyone’s personal ups-and-downs. In fact, inquiring about health and family members isn’t always seen as kindness.

    The first time you respond to ‘how’s the leg?’ with ‘It’s fine, let’s talk about the Johnston account’, most coworkers are going to hear ‘please don’t bring it up again,’ because no one wants to seem overinvested in a coworker’s personal problems.

    You can, however, go against the grain of normality by responding to ‘how’s it going?’ with an honest picture. ‘I’m fine, but I’m having some family health emergencies so it’d be great if we could get an extension on the Johnston account. But we can get into that in a minute! How about you?’

  60. Llama Llama*

    You have to set your own boundaries and take advantage of what is already offered to you. My kids have serious health problems. While talking with coworkers I have do mention them and do talk about some of their problems but I usually just brush it off to them. So they don’t realize what a big deal it ism
    The beginning of April is a busy time for me at work. On schedule, my kids have health problems and are in the hospital each April. I don’t work! Technically I am just sitting around a hospital and COULD work. I feel guilty for half a minute and then realize I have my kids health to worry about. You have your own health to worry about.
    My manager and coworkers are sometimes surprised when I mention the health reasons that led to the hospitalization. They don’t live my life to know how hard it is and that is okay because they helped for those weeks when I was off.

  61. Fun Shirt Friday Is For Everyone*

    Letter Writer, I just wanted to say I’m sorry you’ve been Going Through It the past several months, and are still dealing with some cruddy life stuff. Virtual hugs to you, if you’re a hugger! I hope you are able to get the support you need, even if you have to specifically ask for it.

  62. PotsPansTeapots*

    PLEASE take some time off. You sound like you’re on the road to burnout, OP, and you need to take care of yourself.

  63. No ma'am*

    Side note here but those things that OP described as indicative of healthy, supportive workplace stuck out to me. Why do therapy appointments need to be in a team calendar; can’t the time just be blocked off without getting into specifics? And perhaps I misunderstood, but I read “taking calls from the gym” as speaking with work about work stuff while trying to get your workout in. That sounds…not supportive or healthy. And if your healthy work culture is such that you worry about the optics of taking time off due to a broken leg then I’m curious about how that place operates. Maybe that assessment is worth re-evaluation.
    Anyway, I can see how this would be “out of sight, out of mind” for your colleagues, OP. Not the greatest feeling in the world but it can easily happen for the reasons Alison described. Hopefully you heal up well and you’re feeling like yourself again soon.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Why do therapy appointments need to be in a team calendar; can’t the time just be blocked off without getting into specifics?

      Therapy is, in general, more stigmatized in society than doctors or dentist appointments. Having “therapy appointment” on the team calendar instead of just “appointment” helps normalize the idea that therapy is just a thing people go to. I think the idea behind that is to get to a point where saying “I’m leaving a little early today to go to [an appointment/a doctors appointment/a dentist appointment/a therapy appointment]” are all equally unremarkable in the office.

      As for “taking calls from the gym,” that initially sounded to me like “when I go to the gym after work hours, I sometimes have to take work calls.” But some other commenters pointed out it likely means “we have the flexibility to go to the gym during work hours as long as we are able to pause our workouts to take work calls when they come up,” which seems much more in line with a supportive and healthy work environment than my initial reading.

  64. Garlic Microwaver*

    What’s with my comments getting deleted if I follow the rules? Had a well thought out response, now it’s gone.

  65. Silicon Valley Girl*

    A lot of ppl are saying this is due to OP being remote, but I think it also sounds like OP being such a high performer & continuing to work at a high level (not taking time off, meeting & exceeding KPIs, etc) that also made their manager & coworkers think nothing was wrong. Perhaps if OP had said from the start, “I broke my foot & had major surgery so I’ll be on a reduced work schedule for the next few weeks & only available 20-30 hours a week” or similar, folks would have better understood their situation. You do have to be proactive about taking care of yourself & not let work run your life, esp. when it concerns your health.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Yeah, for me it’s more the still working at 99% thing. If LW was in the office with a broken leg, their cast/boot/whatever would be visible, but if they were working 99% in the office too, I’d still assume they were mostly fine because that’s the image they’re projecting *in spite* of the injury.

    2. watermelon fruitcake*

      I think it’s a combo of both. If OP were in the office with her peers and still performing well, people would nonetheless see the cast and understand the implicit limitations, even if they didn’t fully understand the scope of them or how hard the OP is working to keep on top of things. Because OP is out of sight and exceeding expectations, plus has refused to take time off, it’s natural her colleagues wouldn’t think twice about her injury or family crises. Because the one metric they do see – her work performance – is not only at level, but above and beyond.

      People have their own dramas to worry about. You can’t reasonably expect them to prioritize yours, especially when you aren’t visibly doing it yourself. I mean this in the absolutely kindest way it can be said, but if you want people to acknowledge you are suffering, you have to show them you are suffering. And even then, you have to accept with grace and without agenda that people have their own suffering at the forefront of their minds and sometimes that is all they have the bandwidth for. They’re not going to know the exact timeline of your recuperation. They’re not going to keep track of whom in your family is sick. That’s not an insult, it’s because your life is not their life.

  66. Elizabeth West*

    But while this is affecting your life in significant ways, it’s not unusual for other people not to focus on it the same way, because you’re still showing up in their days the same way you always have (just with a different background this time).

    OP, totally this in Alison’s answer. I went to work barely able to walk and using an assistive device before and after meniscus surgery and during rehab. I got regular inquiries about how I was doing, but I was visible to everyone most of that time and those who didn’t ask could see it directly. If I had been mostly remote, they might not have clocked it the same way. It also sucked because I had to work from home more during rehab and missed a lot of in-office fun team bonding activities. (Aaaand, Covid finally caught me so I am missing yet another this week, sigh.)

    I know it seems like they don’t care (I’m sure they do!), but busy coworkers are probably thinking about 85 work deliverables at once as well as their own personal stuff.

    I hope your leg and your dad are better, and I’m sorry about your grandmother. *HUG*

  67. gmezzy*

    OP, I am so sorry that you are going through all of that. It sounds like a lot! I want to share a little of my experience. Maybe some of it will ring true for you.

    I had a really hard couple of years recently with family illness/death, chronic pain, and other huge challenges. I felt like all the people in my life, including my colleagues, were totally unaware and I felt really separated and alone. It was really hard. I’m also a very high performer usually, and while I still did great through this period, I knew I wasn’t performing my best, and that made the separation with my colleagues feel even bigger because I was anxious they might catch on to my less-than-100%. I’m also usually pretty private at work and it was hard for me to know how much to talk about the struggles I was having to let people know without it being a Whole Thing.

    In retrospect, some of the isolation I was experiencing felt really big *because* I was struggling so much. I felt really sad and alone, and that made me feel disconnected from people, which compounded the loneliness. It was easier for me to be upset with other people than accept that it was a really hard time in my life, and it was just going to be hard until it wasn’t anymore. Not to say that it’s at all your fault at all, just naming that, for me, the hurt of other people not being totally attuned to me was realllllllly intense and I pointed a lot of fingers.

    What I took from the experience was that I needed to resource myself from people/situations who are available for that, at the time that I need it. That wasn’t my colleagues, and it wasn’t even some of my close friends, which was its own heartbreak. I also learned that I can still perform at work even when I’m having a really hard time, and maybe I don’t need to grind so hard.

    I’m sorry things are so tough right now. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  68. tabloidtainted*

    This is the reality of remote work.

    But also, is this the first time you’ve been on the “sick” end of this experience? Perhaps this is how your coworkers have always approached this and you were the person going the extra mile to help your colleagues?

    1. tabloidtainted*

      Oh wait: “This is the same team that sent me flowers when I had a very mild case of Covid last year!” Hmmmm.

      1. Skip Me*

        I feel like it all tracks, especially for this company which seems to be all about optics. Of course Covid would get them flowers. The world has decided the correct people/organizations are Very Careful with Covid, and incorrect people/organizations aren’t. So if this organization wants to seem good, they are going to be very performative in regards to Covid, but then expect their workers to take calls from the gym and put their therapy appointments on blast.

      2. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

        I think with COVID, so many people were impacted by it, some companies developed standard ways to support impacted folks. Like, “everyone who calls in with COVID gets flowers.” It happens often enough that it makes sense for the company to create a process/policy around it.

        Whereas the other things OP is going through are specific to them and long-term. There’s probably no company policy for “proactively supporting someone being impacted by multiple long-term health issues” beyond the work accommodations.

        It sucks when it feels like no one is paying attention to what you’re going through, and in a supportive culture ideally folks would independently think to check in with the OP, but I’m not sure looking at the discrepancy between “COVID flowers vs. multiple major crises” says that much about the company culture.

        1. Anon for this*

          I absolutely get why this aspect bothers the OP though. A bunch of people in my life, people I interacted with in person, were more supportive about other people’s mild COVID cases than my experience of a sexual assault/related physical injury. I don’t mean in terms of lavishing attention (which I wouldn’t have wanted), I mean even appearing to notice, even knowing what had happened, that I was going through something hard and upsetting, while they figured that out easily enough when people had COVID (however mild). And then there’s the way that so many people treated people with mental illness caused by the pandemic as extra valid compared to those of us who already had it. I can see how companies might have a standard procedure that would cause this discrepancy, but I basically agree with Skip Me here.

  69. AnonymousFormerTeacher*

    Please, please, please take the time off. You have it. Take it.
    -signed, a burnt out former teacher who should have taken the time I needed but didn’t because there weren’t any subs. I was carrying a whole department and my admin should have stepped in but didn’t because “you had everything under control”. I didn’t – but I didn’t ask for help.

    Then I ended up with a major health issue, exacerbated by stress, and I had to take 8 days off in the last 20 days of school. Now I’m not a teacher any more, and I left over 30 days of sick leave in the bank I couldn’t cash out – because I burnt out spectacularly.

  70. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    Try not to be hurt by this because your coworkers weren’t really uncaring:
    When you’re remote, people have much less idea of how ill/injured you are, especially if you’re still able to work remotely and also hav your camera off.
    When wfh both work and personal problems are much more difficult to spot and managers especially have to invest more time in spotting them – imo your manager could have tried harder to check up on you and then formed the group

    In office, everyone would have spotted a cast or boot immediately and you’d probably have received a lot more sympathy and frequent enquiries as to how your leg was progressing.

  71. OverEasy*

    LW, it sounds like you have been trying really hard not to burden your team. It’s thoughtful, but I think it may be part of the problem. You’re minimizing your difficulties and that makes people think you don’t need help. If your culture really is open and supportive, I think it’s worth trying being more open about the challenges you’re having. Even if it’s reminding people during small talk that you did X over the weekend but it was not as good as usual because of your leg, taking a day off and noting that it’s to assist with your parent’s care. When you have supportive people around, if you feel you can trust them with this information, then they may be able to offer you the kind of support you’re looking for. You should also just say what you need! It can feel unprofessional, but if they are a supportive team that cares about you, you can feel confident they will not see it as a sign you aren’t good at your job.

  72. BecauseHigherEd*

    Adding to Alison’s comment that not everyone realizes how serious a broken leg can be. My mother broke her leg after falling off a ladder when I was in high school, and eventually it required two surgeries and a knee replacement. She couldn’t go to the bathroom on her own, couldn’t work for months, couldn’t drive…it had a huge impact on my family (in some ways, it was more serious than when she had cancer).

    All of this is to say that your coworkers won’t always know what’s going on all the time or how serious it may be. Heck, you may not necessarily know all the details about your coworkers illnesses/health situations. No one is a mind reader, but it doesn’t mean people don’t care.

  73. H*

    I was just thinking about this. I am so fortunate but I have a colleague who is legally blind with multiple medical issues. She has to get surgery soon and sometimes I forget she is doing the same job as me with all of these challenges. I was just thinking about how I could support her virtually prior to her surgery or a gift I could send virtually.

  74. Sparkles McFadden*

    Please realize that some people really do not want coworkers to know about anything that’s not work related. I set boundaries early and work to maintain them. I still have cordial relationships with coworkers, but I’m not going to tell them what’s going on outside of work. Based on what you’ve written here, I would think you were doing fine, or that you didn’t want coworkers asking about personal issues.

  75. Kaitydid*

    I like Alison’s advice here. I’m recovering from a grade 2 ankle sprain, which required crutches, then a walking boot for a couple months. I only come in to the office once a week, and people didn’t really notice or remember that I was injured unless I said so or was right in front of them in the boot. I wish people would, but work is work and that’s not what people are thinking about. A former friend even seemed to forget how badly I was injured because “sprain” sounds like when you roll your ankle and need to rest it for a couple days. Anyway. Good luck healing, LW!

  76. Fluffy Fish*

    I say this so gently, but you can’t approach things like all is good and fairly normal and also have the expectation that people will have a grasp of how difficult things are for you.

    In a way your colleagues are a dream for not being nosy about medical stuff.

    It’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to let your colleagues know things are HARD and that you need extra support and consideration.

    I’m sorry you felt unsupported and not cared about by your team. Hopefully there’s not a next time but please ask for what you need and dont find it necessary to push through when you really need rest and recuperation.

  77. Emily*

    I’ve found that with remote work, it can really help to over-communicate things, especially if it’s something that’s fairly invisible to your team-mates otherwise. For either of the situations you describe, you can definitely remind your teammates of it more often, through something like a status message in Slack or a quick mention in an internal recurring status meeting. It might feel like you’re complaining or being “a whiner” but it you keep the tone light, especially with a team that tends to be pretty open about life stuff, it’ll help keep it on people’s radar without making a big deal of it. In Slack, a status message with a cast emoji or a note about being in an alternate work location will probably be enough to bring your situation back to mind without having to spell it out again. For a meeting, you can add a quick “can’t wait to get this boot off so I can go on walks” or “still in [hometown] helping out with family” as part of your update once a week or so. I appreciate those kinds of updates or status messages from coworkers, because I know I’m not going to remember everything everybody has going on, even if I’d like to.

    Other people have touched on this, but I think it’s also helpful to remind yourself of the limits of your perception when you’re having this kind of frustration. You remember all the times that you took a coworkers life circumstances into account, because it was a thing that you did. But you have no idea about most times when you might have forgotten about their circumstances! If it was a bigger deal (like bowling or the meeting) you’d remember because they’d mention it, but if they were sitting there silently wishing you’d thought to mention their situation or take it into account, there’s no way you’d know that, and so there’s no way you’d be able to remember that it happened.

  78. Young10*

    Please listen to Alison’s advice. It’s okay to feel the way you are but unrealistic to expect everyone’s minds to be on your life. If you need some help as it pertains to work, then reach out. But if what you need is more on a personal support level, then I highly encourage you to seek support form someone who actually sees you in person more often.

  79. kiki*

    I realize that jumping right back into work probably made it seem like I was completely fine, but in reality, I was recovering from surgery and my mental health was really suffering.

    Unfortunately, if you seem fine, your boss and coworkers are going to follow your lead and assume you *are* fine. I know this is really hard for people who are capable of putting on a good front. But if you need time or more support, you do need to ask for it. Or in the case of FTO, just go ahead and take it. Suffering silently will just make things worse for you and needlessly delay receiving the help, support, and time off you deserve.

  80. Turingtested*

    I might get rightfully piled on, but if a coworker has a health condition like the OP’s I comment on it once (some generic oh I hope you get better soon let me know what you need). If they react like OP by not taking me up on the offer; not discussing their ailment further; and putting on a brave face I never bring it up again because I assume they don’t want to discuss. I’d much rather a coworker think I was a cold fish than trying to pry into their medical status.

    1. Garblesnark*

      I agree with you. I’m disabled, and I often have the opposite problem of having to say “we are at work right now, so let’s not talk about my medical problem that doesn’t affect you,” sometimes multiple times a day to the same person.

    2. enma*

      No idea why you think you’re going to get piled on. What you think you would do (acknowledge once, express sympathies) is exactly what LW’s coworkers did, and the rest of your comment is completely in line with the grand majority of the comments that came before yours.

      1. Turingtested*

        In general people are rightfully touchy about health related stuff and I admit I’d rather you think I don’t care than think I’m nosy. doesn’t seem quite right but imo there’s not a better way to handle it in professional settings.

        1. enma*

          Yeah, but my point was that regardless of society as a whole (which by definition includes the worst we humans have to offer), most of the commenters here agree with you about this, which is why I thought it a little strange that you started your comment like that.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      No pile, that’s super common and really the way it should be.

      Way too many people are overly nosy about colleagues medical stuff.

      You have to speak your needs at work – they’re not friends or family and should be erring on the side of “not my business”.

  81. Rachel*

    It feels like the flip side of this could easily be a letter.

    “Dear Alison, I broke my leg but I’m able to work. I want to put it out of my mind as much as possible and just focus on work but people keep asking me how I’m feeling.”

  82. nonprofit worker*

    This has kind of happened to my husband. He had a major surgery in November and has felt like he hasn’t received the support he wanted/needed.

    This is what I’ve observed: (1) Most people have no clue what recovery from different surgeries actually looks like. A lot of people expected him to bounce back immediately, but his doctor estimates 6-12 months until he can truly be recovered. Also, people forget that he recently had surgery all the time (not in a malicious way, just like “oh, right, how are you doing? when was that?” casual conversation way). (2) He was, like the OP, very concerned with putting on a good face once he was back to work, and I think this backfired on him. If you act fine, people will take the cue. Also, I think people don’t want to understimate his abilities and in doing so, this makes him feel like they are pushing beyond what he can reasonably do right now. But really, they can’t read his mind, and he’s acting like he’s OK!

    All this to say – I think what you could do differently is being more direct. Tell you teammates and your boss that you need support, time off, or things taken off of your plate. It sounds like your company culture will be very supportive, but you need to express your needs.

  83. Garblesnark*

    This all sounds very familiar – I grew up the kind of person who would always volunteer to jump in, to help, to pick up the work, to do the favor, to lighten the load, and then I’d be frustrated when I didn’t get the same back from others.

    I don’t think nonscientific personality tools sum up who we are or are deterministic. But reading about the “enneagram 2” and advice for people who identify with that description helped me down the path to better boundaries, both in not offering help I couldn’t afford to give and in actually asking for the help I needed.

  84. HotSauce*

    If you need help no need to be coy about it, just reach out and ask. People have their own lives to manage without having to worry about coworkers, and that’s not to say they don’t care, just that their focus is elsewhere.

  85. Problem!*

    A lot of this can be chalked up to “out of sight out of mind”. I took over a team during the height of COVID and one of my team members off handedly mentioned something about being disabled and I had a “wait what?!” reaction. I honestly had no idea since we were all remote and nobody had passed this along when I was promoted to team lead. I guess it didn’t occur to anyone since his particular disability had zero effect on the work we did, especially since he was working from his own home where he had every accommodation he could need already in place.

    One of the positive outcomes from everyone working from home is it leveled the playing field where no one could make biased assumptions based on things like age or disability because no one could see them. But I guess it’s a double edged sword for situations like this.

  86. a clockwork lemon*

    I had major surgery last year that involved several weeks of extremely limited mobility and several more months using a cane. I didn’t make a big deal of it so my coworkers didn’t either–it didn’t affect my work for the most part and it got pretty old pretty fast hearing people ask how I was feeling or how my recovery was progressing (slowly! painfully!).

    These types of things are really personal and everyone has different wants/needs. It seems like OP’s coworkers followed LW’s lead and acted like everything was normal because that’s how OP presented things.

  87. nekosan*

    I was hit by a car as a pedestrian a few years ago, and I used my slack status to remind people. (Just things like “hit by car”, “broken ankle”, “working from home with broken ankle”. I’ve found slack to be good at showing statuses like that to people wanting to message you.)

    And I 100% understand the wanting to push through and not take time off, but really… that’s what time off is for. I was originally going to just work through everything, then I decided “nah, probably best not to when I’m on prescription painkillers”. Plus I figure if things fall through the cracks, that’s a sure sign to the company that they Really Need to hire more people in my area. (When I was younger, I used to push through a lot more, but as I get older, I’ve realized that people usually don’t notice the extra work and that it’s important to take care of MY OWN health.)

  88. CL*

    A colleague I work closely with (mostly remotely), have drinks with when in town, and see occasionally on weekends is having some health issues impacting their mobility. I ask how they are doing regularly but until I saw them in person recently, I could not fathom the impact it was having on their daily life. Remote work doesn’t give us all the same information in-person environments do so changes how we see/process things.

  89. OrigCassandra*

    One aspect of this I haven’t seen mentioned is people wanting to respect your workplace privacy, especially medical privacy. Which is absolutely praiseworthy! But it means you have to give a certain amount of permission, explicitly, for people to talk to one another about your situation.

    I got very suddenly and life-threateningly ill last fall (not COVID, trust me to get something that isn’t what everybody else is getting!) and was hospitalized for a week. When I could, I emailed the department chair and associate director with what was going on, but I neglected to tell them that I wasn’t fussed if they told others.

    So they didn’t. So most of my colleagues didn’t know! So they couldn’t offer help because they didn’t know I needed it! And that was totally on me, not them.

    (I’m doing fine, by the way. As close as dammit to a full recovery. I’m extremely lucky; what I had kills a terrifying percentage of its victims.)

  90. Fabulous*

    I am 100% the coworkers. I work on a remote team as well and one of my coworkers had a hip replacement (or some surgery on his hip) a few months back and was out for 3-4 weeks to recuperate. Now that he’s back, the only times I remember this is a) when other people bring it up, or b) time like here/now, when it relates to something. And honestly, it didn’t even pop in my brain until I read some of the other comments and I was like, oh yeah! I relate too!

    I feel terrible for never remembering, but like other people have said, I only see my team’s faces during calls; I don’t see their struggles.

  91. Typing All The Time*

    Hi OP. I hope your leg is healing well. Maybe it’s time for you to start to ask your office to accommodate your needs more in relation to your recovery.

  92. Anonymon*

    OP, I could have been your boss, and I’m pretty ashamed of it. Someone on my team broke both legs. After the initial flurry of dealing with the medical stuff, they settled back into their high-performing, independent, totally remote routine and never said another word about it. Years (a year?) later, they mentioned, “That time when I broke both my legs,” and I realized I hadn’t acknowledged it at all after the initial occurrence and was mortified.

  93. THAT girl*

    For all of the benefits of remote work, I think this situation perfectly highlights one of its unfortunate results. Part of me wants to say, be careful what you wish for. But the other part of me gets where LW is coming from. A company who has a lot of things in place to support their employees as whole people rather than just workers including remote work, flexibilty, unlimited PTO, etc. but seems to be missing the mark on the truly human part of support comes across as less than genuine. But as Alison said, human nature doesn’t always work that way. Each of us is responsible for our own personal care (physical, mental, emotional) and LW is very fortunate that her employer DOES have some of those things in place that makes taking care of yourself a whole lot easier. So many people do not have those luxuries at all.

    1. For Ril*

      I couldn’t agree more. We wanted to be away from our colleagues, so diminishing team relationships is the result of that. I care far less about my colleagues because I barely no them anymore. Everything requires a sacrifice.

  94. Overit*

    A work truth I learned when I was pregnant (and often quite ill due to the pregnancy): Your coworkers do NOT care about you. If you are lucky, they will ignore/forget about it. If you are unlucky, they will make negative comments, joke about your ill health, make your life harder, and complain incessantly about perceived (not real) impacts on them.
    2nd work truth: if you have been high performing before an illness, everyone will now resent and complain about you taking a sick day/2 hours off for a medical appt or on several uplifting occasions, literally walking slower on the way to the breakroom.
    3rd work truth: never expect colleagues to show you the same respect, care and support you gave them. They won’t.

  95. Eldritch Office Worker*

    I’ve had long covid for over a year. Every day dragging my ass to work is a huge mental and physical struggle, even WFH and I work much of the week from the office.

    No one remembers I have long covid because it’s not visible and I’m showing up. Your leg also isn’t visible, OP. I totally get it, I do, you’re going through a lot and wanting others to key into that is natural. But they can’t see it, they aren’t living with it every day like you are – it’s not that don’t care, but it’s nowhere near as present in their lives as it is in yours.

  96. Insert Username here*

    I’m stuck on the “we take calls from the gym and put our therapy appointments on the calendar.” This sounds like a place where it is expected to blur boundaries. An employer that supports and promotes employee health and addressing their health is one thing. This sounds like something else. Also I agree that the expectations here are unrealistic. People aren’t going to remember everything about your life, especially when they don’t see you in person.

    1. WellRed*

      I just commented on this. I wonder if there’s a subconscious thing here where it seems like they value wellbeing but don’t really put it into practice, leading OP to this place.

  97. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

    I imagine the LW is overestimating the amount of support coworkers are getting as well. It’s easy to dash off an order for flowers. I doubt other people are getting much more headspace from their coworkers unless they are bringing up their issues and needs explicitly and frequently.

  98. SusieQQ*

    I agree completely with Allison’s advice, AND feel really bad for the LW. LW just wants to feel like they matter to their team.

    As a manager I try really hard to make a note of it (I will make a literal note!) when DRs let me know about things like health issues, breakups, or anything else going on in their personal lives that might impact work. Then I play the delicate dance of following up to let my DR know I’m thinking about them but also not being overbearing or constantly reminding them of it if they’re trying to use work as a distraction.

    Sounds like maybe LW is pretty motivated by their social relationships with their coworkers.

  99. Yes And*

    There’s a story (I have no idea if it’s true, but I’d like to think it is) that Margaret Sanger was once asked what she considered the earliest sign of the dawn of civilization. Her questioner expected her to name the incidence of some technology (tools, controlled fire, the wheel, the usual greatest hits). Instead she answered: a healed femur.

    Early humans were nomadic, and someone with a broken leg was not only a liability to themselves, but to their entire tribe. Finding a healed femur in the fossil record meant that someone’s tribe had carried that person with them from place to place, picked up their work in the survival of the group, and tended them until they were able to do for themselves again. That was the true beginning of civilization.

    I don’t have any advice to offer the letter writer. I was just reminded of that story.

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      Margaret Mead, I think. Margaret Sanger might have had a different take on it.

  100. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

    I am so forgetful about stuff like this, not just with co-workers but even with my own family. (I forgot to check in with my mom about a minor surgery she had a couple of weeks ago until my dad reminded me. Duh!) I try to make myself to-dos to check in with people I know are going through stuff because I do want to be caring. But sadly, if I forget to make a to-do, I will probably just forget. It’s not personal! Just people being too busy.

  101. CRM*

    OP – I’m so sorry you are dealing with a broken leg. I hope you are recovering well.

    If it makes you feel any better, last year I moved across the country for my partner’s career, and my coworkers don’t remember either. This was a huge change in my life that hasn’t been all positive, so I have big feelings around it. But we all work remotely, and it’s standard for us to have Company-branded backgrounds on Teams, so everyone immediately forgot that I moved. It’s nothing personal. In addition to the point that colleagues can’t see where you are working from, I think that fully-remote workplaces tend to be less involved personally. “Water cooler chat” is largely out the window, so the majority of meetings are focused on work with a maybe a minute or two of pleasantries at the beginning. I actually prefer it! Less drama, and less time going into topics that I’d rather not be discussing or thinking about at work.

  102. Doctor What*

    My mom was in a car accident in which her leg was broken and she needed surgery. They reported in the news that there were only “minor” injuries. Yeah, there was nothing “minor” about it. Minor injuries are the ones someone else has.

  103. Shopping is my cardio*

    Something similar happened to me and after a while I just learned to let it go.
    A few years ago, pre-Covid so everyone was working onsite, I broke down in sobs and tears in the office because I had received a call that my mom had attempted suicide and was in the ICU. I cried at my desk and a few coworkers saw me in distress. I shared the reason with them, not going into details but I did tell them why I was sobbing uncontrollably. To this day, years later, nobody has followed up to ask how my mom is doing. Not a single person that I talked to that day. Yes, I understand the topic is difficult but a simple: “hey, how is your mom these days?” would be enough. Fast forward 4 years and I have had to take emergency trips to my hometown for visits due to more ICUs, and further suicide attempts. My coworkers know why I have to suddenly take these trips and not one person has ever asked me how my mom is doing. Very frustrating but at the same time I just let it go and understand that they are coworkers, not friends – and just leave it at that.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      I am so sorry. My sibling committed suicide at the beginning of the pandemic and I had a similar thing happen to me, but I just chalked it up to the generalized chaos of that time period. I think people get very scared around mental health issues and don’t know what to say, so they don’t say anything.

      At the same time, I was surprised to find that when I did tell people what happened (as in, telling them that my sibling had committed suicide, rather than dying in an accident or of illness) so many of them had someone in their life who had also attempted to or completed suicide. It’s just that no one talked about it.

      1. Shopping is my cardio*

        I am so sorry for your loss. It is a hard topic but once people open their eyes to it they realize that it happens A LOT – it is just that people don’t want to talk about it. Many hugs to you!

    2. Random Dice*

      Oh honey. I’m so very sorry. That is awful, in an ongoing awful way.

      This Internet stranger offers Jedi hugs, if you want them.

  104. WellRed*

    Taking calls from the gym is the opposite of prioritizing health and it’s unfair to other gym goers. OP if you need time to recuperate, take the time! If you need to care for your family or grieve a loss, take the time!

  105. Dorothy Zpornak*

    yeah, I’ve heard people describe this before and I just DO. NOT. GET IT. If someone I knew well told me they had broken a leg or had surgery or something, I can’t see how I could possibly forget that. Typically, if I know something is going on with someone I know, I’ll think about their situation several times a day, and I’ll typically have to plan out a sort of mental calendar for when I’ll check in with them, so that I can show concern but not bug them by asking for constant updates, because otherwise I’d ask every time I see them, because it’s always in the front of my mind. 5 years ago, a coworker shared once at lunch that his grandmother was declining mentally, and I still think about that regularly and wonder how she is doing and if he’s still struggling with it, even though it’s never been brought up again since 2019 and I haven’t seen or spoken to this now former coworker since he left our organization a year and a half ago. I had 2 coworkers who shared several years ago that their pets were having health problems, and I think about that every couple of weeks and hope their pets are doing alright.

    Is it really normal to be so self-absorbed that someone tells you about something major in their life and you never think about it again?

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      There’s probably a happy medium between never thinking about your colleagues’ lives and regularly thinking about your coworker’s grandmother that he mentioned once five years ago, though. That’s… a lot.

      I think it’s unfair to describe people who are not giving you the ongoing response you want because you’ve communicated to them that you’re absolutely fine as “self-absorbed.” LW’s coworkers acknowledged their injury and then by their own admission the LW acted like it was no big deal. LW’s coworkers are not self-absorbed, they’re just not clairvoyant that they actually wanted a different response from them.

    2. samwise*

      Yeah, I put a note on my calendar to “check in with Basil about his grandma” or “send card to Sybil”. I’m not going to remember, I have a lot of work and personal stuff on my mind, but I know it’s important, so…

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I know my coworkers well as coworkers, not as friends. I would ask if they were friends, and sometimes I ask them privately if they have shared something personal with me directly, but, mostly, if they don’t offer I don’t bring it up. We’re friendly and I know the generalities of their personal lives but we don’t get into each others’ medical stuff, etc.

    4. Colette*

      Many, many people are dealing with their own health issues, financial problems, family members with health issues, young children, aging parents or grandparents, work stress, volunteer committments, and a thousand other things. They don’t have the time or capacity to remember the details of the lives of everyone they know.

      To be clear, it’s not that they don’t care or that they don’t remember the conversation, it’s that it’s not an immediate thing for them the way it is for someone who is going through it.

      I do think you’re an outlier here as far as remembering everything going on with people you don’t see regularly. But I’d be willing to be that the OP’s coworkers know she broke her leg (and they might remember if, for example, someone else breaks their leg) but they don’t know the details because the OP didn’t share them. As far as they can see, the OP broke her leg, she spent a few weeks not turning her camera on, and then everything was fine.

      The OP, on the other hand, spend a month unable to shower, had to re-learn how to walk, probably had months of physio. I was in physio for 2 years after I broke my leg, and I still struggle with going down stairs 8 years later – but my coworkers didn’t see that, even when we were in the office.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I know a coworker of mine is dealing with some things, she is on oxygen. She never actually said anything, so I am not going to ask.
        I also only think if it when something reminds me about the fact.

    5. RussianInTexas*

      For a coworker that I never seen in person? Absolutely. I will not remember at all unless I am reminded. And after 5 years I would forget a coworker even has a grandmother. I don’t even know if most of my coworkers have kids or how many, nor care, really.
      Also, if I have a medical issue, please do not constantly check in with me.

    6. watermelon fruitcake*

      Is it really normal to be so self-absorbed that someone tells you about something major in their life and you never think about it again?

      Harsh take. A proportionally fair response to this is, “is it normal to be so self-absorbed that you think your personal health and family struggles should be other people’s priority, as well?”

      To turn it around: how much does OP know about what all her coworkers are privately going through, right now?

  106. Invincible worker*

    Last year, I was very sick, and due to a comedy of medical errors, it took forever to get diagnosed and treated for the condition. My boss knew I was ill, but until I shared some pretty gruesome details, she had no idea how terrible it was. I lost a ton of weight. I participated in nothing fun, even when our whole company went on retreat together. Not one person beyond my boss asked me how I was doing. I’m not a complainer, and I continued leading meetings and trainings as my usual cheerful self. When I scheduled the surgery, folks were very shocked it had been serious enough to warrant that and when I came back from leave, I guess I seemed normal enough for no one to worry.

    I realized it’s because I had barely made a “thing” out of it. They took my lead, I guess. Also, while my condition is hardly rare, I’m surrounded by young people who are in amazing health – I think they couldn’t relate at all. Even my parents were kind of chill, so I’ve decided if there’s a next time, I’m going full-on basket case writhing on the floor in pain, whether it’s deserved or not (kidding, but maybe not?).

  107. Jellybean_Thief*

    100% this. I tell myself this regularly (also: “everyone is the hero of their own story” — IE, no one wakes up and sees themselves as the antagonist.)

    I had a similar situation to the letterwriter’s about 5 years ago — my mother went on hospice and I moved back to my hometown temporarily to help her die. But I was also 37 weeks pregnant, and while I told the board of directors (I’m the ED of a nonprofit) IN PERSON that I would be taking leave to take care of my mom and probably wouldn’t be back before I went on maternity leave, it was obvious that the board at large just said “OK, Jellybean Thief is on maternity leave now.” I included the board president in the email I sent interested colleagues to notify them of my mom’s passing, but where my staff sent condolence flowers, my board sent a baby gift.

    Shortly after I returned from maternity leave, I was in conversation with a board member and he was checking on a deliverable we’d discussed shortly before my leave, and I made joking reference to “Yeah, I was planning to do that, and then my life fell apart.” There was an awkward silence and then he was like “…I hope your life is doing better now?”

    All this to say — a bomb might have gone off in your own life, but it’s just not going to compute for others. Advocate loudly for what you need, or explicitly tell your boss. Probably this is too on the nose, but you could always give them the book “Leading through Loss,” which has become my managerial go-to when I have a staff member going through grief.

  108. samwise*

    On the one hand, I totally get why you’re upset. When I broke my leg, my ordinarily lovely co-workers let doors close on me (instead of holding them open), walked at their usual pace (so I ended up half a block behind them), and went straight into the accessible bathroom stall when I was heading into the bathroom when they were — so I had to stand around and wait for that stall because it was physically impossible and completely unsafe for me to use the other stalls.

    They apologized every time I pointed it out. But I had to point it out, and they kept doing it.

    On the other hand — you’re all remote so they don’t see your crutches or cast or boot, they don’t see you moving slowly, etc. You’re not the number 1 (or even 2 or 3 or 4) issue in their minds. So you’ll just have to get over your sad feels about it. And in the future, lead by example: if one of your coworkers has an illness or setback, be the person to check in on them about it, be the person who says “we can’t go bowling, Wakeen’s arm is in a sling”

    1. CommanderBanana*

      ^^ THIS. A few years ago I had fairly minor foot surgery and was in a boot for a while, and I was surprised and dismayed by how freaking rude people were. I was going to a work happy hour and got to a large crosswalk and my coworkers all bolted to the other side to beat the light, leaving me standing on the sidewalk because I couldn’t run. I turned around and went back to the office, got my stuff and went home. Those coworkers were generally pretty crappy people anyway, but my god, it was so blatant.

  109. OP*

    Hi everyone, OP here. Thank you for the suggestions and supportive ideas.

    I wanted to explain on the taking calls from the gym and therapy appointments on our calendars thing. I should have included this detail in my letter: no one at my company takes calls from the elliptical, and the commenter who said it’s unfair to other gym goers is absolutely right! Another commenter suggested that it’s more like “if it’s easier for you to get your work-out in, it’s OK to be at the gym during work hours” with the expectation that you don’t go if you have a packed schedule that day, or like some other big project due that day. It’s really more like wouldn’t be out of the norm to hit the gym at 3:30 if your schedule can flex that way, and if a client did happen to call out of the blue, the expectation would be to take that call from the lobby or the juice bar (but no expectation to answer after work hours). No one’s doing a planned Zoom from the treadmill; you would be shut down on that quickly. My gym has nooks for co-working in the lobby and I’ve huddled in there to quickly answer a time-sensitive email on my phone between leg rehab workouts. I should probably have better boundaries about this, but I saw it more as a helpful allowance for my recovery.

    For the therapy appointments, less of a clear expectation there and I don’t participate in it (although realizing now that I would probably really benefit from getting back in therapy!) but knowing my coworkers, I suspect it’s more around normalizing therapy. Many colleagues also have 100% private appointments on there with no detail, which is totally fine in our culture too.

    Anyway, just throwing that into the mix. Thanks again for the support and the feedback!

  110. FunkyMunky*

    I get everyone’s replies here, but I also don’t get how airheaded coworkers were either. I take one sick day and I always get concerned msgs.

    1. Colette*

      It sounds like the OP got concerned messages when it happened – it’s just that a broken leg can take months or years to heal, and her coworkers didn’t keep up the concern.

  111. ypsi*

    To the poster with the broken leg:
    I am very sorry that this happened to you, not to mention having a Dad in need of post-op care and the dying grandma. I can relate (though only in terms of the accident). Two months ago, I had a fall and I ended up with a triple fracture in my ankle. I was fortunate enough that the bones remained where they were supposed to be and I did not surgery, but even without surgery, it was tough. I live alone and I don’t have any family so I had to rely on a retired neighbour who was able to drive me to appointments, bought my groceries, etc. A few friends visited but those more or less “cheer me up” visits, without any actual help.
    I survived, and I recently started to walk without the cast but I am still visibly limping etc. It was an incredible sacrifice from you not to take any time off and work as usual. After careful consideration, I decided that my days of personal sacrifice are over. My job is extremely high-paced and stressful and everything is expected yesterday at the latest. In addition, I have worked years and years overtime after work (logging in from home) – we cannot claim any overtime hours so basically I gave up personal time off. None of this has reflected in my pay increases (company is incredibly cheap and although each year we exceed expectations it seems that money is flowing to the directors, vice-presidents, presidents etc. (of which we have almost as many as employees). I am also no spring chicken ( retiring next year) so I decided to take off all the time I could. Yes, I knew it would have impact on others but every year in summer, when almost everybody is off on vacation, I work pretty much solo and have to do the work of almost the entire team. Nobody cares how it affects me.
    I did not receive any get-wishes, cards or flowers (fortunately, I knew better than to expect any). I did receive 3 ready-to-eat lunches (purchased at a grocery store) and that was all. But, this only happened after a manager of another team (who basically does not know me at all) found out from a friend of mine on that team about my injury and he poked my manager saying they should send me something. And he sent two frozen meals himself. I learned of this through my friend on the other team (I didn’t try to find out, she told me).
    I am still working from home because I am not allowed to drive for another 2 more weeks (I drive stick so I need both feet for driving). I am not feeling guilty for my absence because other people would did (and would have) do the same in a similar situation.
    Sending you hugs and I hope your leg will be as new soon.

  112. House On The Rock*

    LW, I’m sorry you are juggling so much and haven’t felt empowered to take time off for yourself and your family.

    Many of the comments have focused on interactions with coworkers, and I’d echo those. However, I do think that your manager’s reaction, especially initially, was lacking. They shouldn’t have given any indication that your medical emergency was a burden (they’ll “manage”?) and they should have connected you to the group that handles FMLA/disability leave in your organization. They would have then (hopefully) helped you navigate taking time off, which is, or should be, different from your PTO. Part of that is working with your care team to document what you can and can’t do in terms of work. I’ve managed a number of staff through different types of leave, and part of a manager’s job is telling people to take the time off they are entitled to take. Also, there are specific rules around who can and can’t contact you while you are out on FMLA – which helps protect the employee from feeling they should be working. They literally cannot!

    So while I completely agree that your coworkers can’t be expected to keep track of your situation, and you did present (intentionally) as being generally ok, your boss should have dug a bit deeper and involved HR to make sure you got the time off and support you needed.

    Good luck!

  113. CoffeeCat*

    It’s an unreasonable expectation for a team culture as health-oriented as this one to scrape up the bare minimum of empathy?! Within the context of flowers for mild Covid, the give/take as bandwidth varies, and to the point of therapy appointments on a shared calendar(?!) OP, I disagree with Alison. Your manager dropped the ball with the indifferent response (even if the news came on an off day for her, she should have been more proactive with your support needs soon after). And your coworkers “have no idea” after they all responded to your Slack communication? That’s pretty sad and not something to just lightly gloss over that its “unrealistic” human nature to remember problems in your personal life that are impactful enough to announce to your colleagues. It’s pretty harsh to declare the onus is on you to advocate to be treated with the same grace and support others receive – they’re in the wrong for treating you differently! Imagine substituting that logic with disability accommodations or race/gender/etc. Overall – sorry about these life difficulties, sorry about the response from your team, and sorry that it looks like you’ll be on repeat explaining “my background is different because I’m out of town supporting ill family (as you already have been told!)” Since generally your manager is wonderful and kind, maybe consider speaking to her about how you’re feeling and delegate to her to stop the repetitive questions from the team. Of course everyone’s ultimately pretty self-centered but this is beyond the threshold of reasonable expectations among coworkers. Anyone would understandably be disappointed and unmotivated if this happened to them. Your feelings are valid and NOT UNREALISTIC. Sending good vibes.

    1. enma*

      Alison validated LW’s feelings, but feelings themselves can’t be realistic…nor can they be unrealistic. Feelings just are. Did LW have the feelings? Yes? Then the feelings exist. That is a fact. It’s LW’s expectations that are unrealistic. The LW made a strong effort to hide the adversity they were facing. They had their reasons for doing so, but the tangible effects of this was that the LW’s struggles were hidden away and far out of focus for the coworkers. That didn’t lead to the result LW was hoping for, but it’s not surprising that it happened. If the coworkers did forget, that’s unsurprising given the lengths LW went to to stoically power through. If the coworkers remembered, it’s fully reasonable (desirable, even) that they not invasively pry into LW’s business, especially if LW hasn’t brought it up first.

  114. Elsa*

    This post and comments gave me a lot of food for thought. I’m also currently working at my remote job with a broken leg. So far I’ve chosen to not let people at work know, other than the two colleagues I work most closely with. I prefer keeping my privacy and not having to talk about it. I hope you feel better and that you get the support you need.

  115. e271828*

    “We have unlimited PTO, so it wouldn’t have been an issue to take time off, but it was our busy season and I felt like the optics wouldn’t be great…”

    OP has just learned that loyalty to the business is repaid in… nothing.

    If you have freshly broken your leg, no matter what season it is, take PTO! Not taking PTO sends a signal that it’s no big deal and that you prioritize the company’s welfare over your own.

    1. Bitte Meddler*

      Eh. I’ve worked through broken bones and cancer treatment before. Not because I expected the company to fall all over themselves by my generous display of corporate loyalty, but because I knew I would be in a better mental and emotional place if I had work that needed to be done every day. Everyone has different personal requirements for what works best in their healing.

      But, even with friends and family, if I had wanted acknowledgment of / sympathy for my health condition, I needed to work it into conversations fairly frequently: “Sorry for not getting back to you sooner, my leg was throbbing inside my cast and I had to lay on the couch with it propped up higher than my head for a couple of hours.”

      If I didn’t mention it, they forgot about it. Pretty par for the course.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Look, if you don’t avail yourself of something, don’t complain that you didn’t get it. It’s there for her to use and she chose not to. That’s not “repaid in nothing”–that’s “didn’t use something that nobody but herself stopped her from using”.

      My workplace encourages us to use our PTO but I don’t expect them to force it on me if I choose not to, and I don’t expect my coworkers to remember (whatever thing is dogging me right now) and take it into account when they have more than enough of their own stuff going on.

  116. fhqwhgads*

    Your fourth paragraph basically says to me “I did everything I could to make the injury invisible in work contexts”, both in terms of literal and figurative visibility. But then your fifth paragraph expresses dismay no one seemed to remember it happened. You powered through the immediate aftermath and did your best to sound and seem normal. So people ran with that. Worst case scenario you did such a good job powering through they genuinely forgot anything happened/thought you were healed much sooner than you were. Best case, they thought they were taking your lead and not saying anything about it because for the most part you weren’t either. Probably some folks did one, some the other and a bunch in between. Whichever, they didn’t do anything wrong.

    1. Starbuck*

      Yes, if LW tried so hard to make it invisible and minimize the impact at work and not really take time off – it’s not really surprising that coworkers took that lead unfortunately and didn’t treat it as a serious ongoing thing. Because how could they tell it was?

  117. Mmm.*

    I forgot I had a dentist appointment today, and I only have to worry about myself. I see myself in person every day. I brush those teeth. I still forgot.

    So it makes sense that someone who isn’t living my life wouldn’t remember even things as big as a broken leg.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I have a doctor’s appointment coming up and have to check pretty much every day to see when it is. I’m afraid I’m going to take the bus instead of remembering to drive that day and getting there will be a massive pain.

  118. Bitte Meddler*

    At the end of a long project, the manager of the project gave me (the team lead) feedback that she was disappointed in how I’d given one of the more complex pieces to a junior staff member instead of doing it myself. I was kind of gobsmacked because I’d communicated early and often with her and with my actual manager about what I was going through at the time… radiation followed by surgery followed by chemo.

    I was so freaking proud of myself for not taking FMLA and for being 90% productive, and she blanked out everything except: “Bitte asked a junior staff member to take on something I would have expected Bitte to do.”

    And I’d even had two whole conversations with her at the start of the project about how I would be asking this [very close to being promoted] staff member to take on this particular piece because not only would I be lacking the brain bandwidth, but it would be a great learning opportunity for Junior Staff and would serve her well when she got into her new role.

    It’s not the only reason I left that job, but it for sure went into the “Why I Should Leave” column when I listed reasons for staying or going.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Oh my god. That is horrible and I hope you let someone know about it when you left!

  119. PK*

    In my experience, there are two types of people in the world in regards to illnesses/injuries/hardships. The first is someone who dreads the thought of anyone bringing up what they’re going through, doesn’t want to talk about it at all or very little, and immensely appreciates when others don’t make it a topic of conversation.

    The other type of person is the opposite, and does greatly appreciate when people check in and provide pro-active sympathy.
    (Two subtypes of this person – the one who pretends everything is ok but secretly does want the attention but doesn’t want to ask. The other is the person who mentions their own struggles a lot, openly asking for comfort or sympathy)

    Neither type of person is wrong, it’s just that, especially in the remote workplace, I think most people rightfully default to assuming someone doesn’t want to talk about something difficult, especially if they gave a polite acknowledgement when it first happened. Then, unless a person is giving continual, very obvious signals “I am open to talking about this and I appreciate you continually asking me how I’m doing” It’s professional to then not bring up someone’s hardships unprompted.

    You could imagine a different letter of this situation written by the first type instead: “Allison, I broke my leg a month ago and STILL my team keeps asking me if I’m ok, if I need time off, etc. Even though I’m not bringing up my injury, and I’m keeping my cast off camera and I’m working hard to keep all my performance metrics the same, they are infantilizing me with the way they are treating me. It’s like they think I can’t do my job even though I’m proving I can! How can I tell them to just back off already?”

  120. Oh, yeah, me again*

    Not clear about why you want didn’t show up on camera for 4 weeks! “Not showering” wouldn’t show, as long as your face was washed and you were shaved and shampooed, all things you can accomplish at a sink (or at a barber shop/salon, if able to get out of the house at all) and they can’t *smell* you through the camera, so why . . . .?

    1. WellRed*

      I can see it being difficult to bend over a sink (could she even stand?) to wash one’s hair with a newly broken leg. And even if getting out the house is an option, sitting in the salon chair, which is generally separate from the shampoo chair (in salons) could be quite difficult. This comment is a perfect example of not understanding.

    2. Colette*

      Have you ever washed your hair in a sink while standing on one foot while knowing that if you lost your balance, you’d be in a lot of pain? That’s not really a reasonable thing to expect someone with a broken leg to do.

  121. Quinalla*

    It is extremely easy to forget about things folks have told us if we aren’t experiencing it ourselves somehow. If you were in the office with a cast/boot, they would likely be reacting how you are wanting, but when all they see is your face on camera and your words in chat/emails, it just isn’t how it works. It’s like my coworker that was pregnant and gave birth doing COVID, we all kept forgetting she was pregnant cause we only saw her neck up on camera. It was weird cause normally pregnancy can’t be hidden at work after a certain point, but it didn’t work that way with us all remote.

    I broke my hip 10 years ago (it have permanent screws, but I managed to heal!!) and worked from home for about 6 months because going in would have been impossible at the start and still difficult/dangerous until I could put real weight on my leg. People at my work were aware since I was WFH when that was very unusual, but all the clients I work with mostly had no idea. We worked over phone/email anyway about 99% of the time as we worked with folks all over the country, so most folks I worked with regularly at other companies had no idea that I broke my hip and found out years later when I mentioned it in passing. I know it’s a little different than what happened to you, but it is very much a thing with working remote.

  122. Raida*

    I’ve done everything I can think of to communicate with my team:

    …made sure to make my voice and chat interactions as warm as possible to compensate.
    … I communicated what I needed when I needed it
    …became apparent that multiple colleagues did not realize the extent of what happened.

    It sounds like you didn’t share the gory details, put on a facade of being perfectly all right, it was the busy season, you hid your appearance – that’s communicating what you need and what they need to know.
    That’s not mentioned any communication about how you were feeling.

  123. Shirley*

    “Also, a lot of people don’t realize what a big deal a broken leg can be.”

    It’s surprising, but some people don’t actually know what a femur is or how serious it is to break one!

  124. Anony7373*

    You have to remember that these people are your coworkers, not your friends. You sound like you expect them to send you flowers, etc but coworkers will only give you the simple get well soon. its your family and friends who will continuously check up on you.

  125. We Happy Few*

    I actually get where LW is coming from. Years ago I had major surgery that had complications where I nearly died. I was in a coma for a week, in the hospital for a couple of months, and off work for four months. I had to relearn how to walk, my speech was affected, and all of my hair fell out from the stress. I didn’t get so much as a card from them when I was in the hospital, and when I went back to work (full-time with a full workload, still in a wheelchair) people pretty much glossed over, well, all of it.

    It’s not something I dwell on, but not going to lie, it still kinda stings when I do think about it.

    1. Bob Wilson, Anchorman*

      I’m sorry that happened to you- I had a similar experience when I had an extended period of leave due to mental health issues and not one single person contacted me to see how I was doing, and then after I returned the whole team rallied around with flowers, cards, offers of help for a manager who had a very very minor procedure.

      It really does sting to realise that the people you give so much support to couldn’t care less if you died.

  126. Lusara*

    OP, I understand where you are coming from, but look at it from the other side: you continued to work full time through the entire thing. The only indication anything was different was you turned off your camera for a month. Nobody every saw your leg. There was nothing to remind anyone that you were having any problems, and you went out of your way to make sure that you didn’t show you were having any problems.

  127. KG*

    I think everyone covered the broken leg pretty well, however I want to add something. How did the accident occur? That may have been part of the nonplussed reaction AND also why you felt the need to keep working in your- not so healthy sounding workplace.
    I say this because when I was in my mid twenties I broke two ribs and an arm among other injuries crashing in my mountain bike.
    At the time, I was working my way up but was surrounded by many people older than me. I can see a manager thinking, oh, Brianne of Tarth broke her leg snowboarding over the long weekend- great, we’ll figure out how to work around this and not think about the bigger issues at play- because they are managing you, yes, but mostly work out put. I’m sorry to say but I think you are relying too much on work and coworkers for support. And you have learned that this relationship only goes so far.

    Coworkers can become friends, but don’t assume they are friends just because At work the are friendly. Work dictates that.

  128. Audiophile*

    I went through something similar when I had major surgery last year that necessitated a hospital stay.

    Even though everyone acknowledged it, it didn’t sink in until I was in the hospital.

  129. meow*

    I broke my ankle driving home from work and bad conditions and my boss continue me to force me to come into work at the office over an hour away when I couldn’t drive (right ankle) and also forced me to work a conference where I had to walk a ton as well as struggle by a plane train and subway multiple times. You got off lucky

  130. Tiger Snake*

    I’d challenge the LW to consider if she really knows who of her coworkers is struggling with injuries and family stuff right now, either. “Out of sight, out of mind” exists as a term for a reason.

    The thing with being remote and having ensured no one is impacted by an injury you never brought up is; well, of course they don’t see anything they need to bring up.

  131. Despachito*

    I think this is an illustration of a paradox which seems to be becoming pretty common – on the one hand we do not want coworkers to be nosy and meddle with our personal business (fair enough!), but on the other we feel alienated if they do exactly this – do not care about us beyond what affects their own work and workload.

    I do not see another solution than to very clearly communicate what we need/want at the moment. OP is doing her best and more in terms of work (which is awesome), but seems not to be doing the communication part, and expects coworkers to find out by themselves. This is doomed because they never will, but I see a pretty good chance that they will do as she tells them, IF she tells them.

  132. Bob Wilson, Anchorman*

    OP, I’m so sorry this happened to you and I know first-hand how hurtful it can be when it seems like your colleagues have forgotten you.

    Last year I had some real mental health struggles and ended up having 5 weeks off work- other than the colleague I’m actually friends with, I didn’t get a single call, text message, card, nothing. A few weeks after I came back one of the managers had 10 days off for a minor op (think ingrown toenail level) and the team rallied around sending her flowers, cards, messages, offering to go and help her around the house. I’d always thought I was fairly well-liked at work, and it came as a horrible shock to realise that no one gave a shit.

    I’m so sorry this happened. You deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.

  133. Mim*

    I have a co-worker who had the same surgery that I had a few years ago. My surgery, while not easy or fast to recover from, went as expected and allowed me to return to work in roughly the estimated timeframe. It was a not uncommon type of surgery for someone of my general demographics, and as with many folks who get that type of surgery it was needed, but not an emergency or life threatening situation.

    My co-worker’s surgery, however, resulted in some rare complications that left her in a lot of pain and other physical complications that necessitated a follow-up surgery. What for me was a 2 month blip for her became a multi-year life disruption. I wouldn’t have known anything near the full extent of how hard things were for her on a daily basis if she hadn’t volunteered that to me one day when we were chatting. And I’m sure she did not share those details with everyone. She was very good at masking her pain and keeping up with her work, and I doubt that most people knew much about what she was experiencing.

    That is all to say, I’ve never broken a bone, and wouldn’t have had any idea that a remote co-worker who broke a bone was experiencing what you did, especially since you worked so hard to prevent your situation from imposing too much on your work. I wouldn’t usually ask co-workers for more information about an illness or injury unless they were already a close friend or opened up a conversation about it with me. Your co-workers probably had no idea what was happening with you, and if they were curious they probably erred on the side of giving you your privacy, knowing that many people don’t feel comfortable sharing medical details at work.

  134. anone*

    Years ago I broke my ankle and was in a walking cast for a couple of months. At one point when I was off my crutches but still in the boot, I was a co-organizer at a 3-day in-person conference. I was pretty mobile by then (it was a very minor fracture, only painful if I moved the wrong direction), so I was motoring around the conference at near regular speed, but still in a very obvious giant plastic boot and with a bit of a wonky gait for sure. Regardless, there were people on the very last day of the conference (which wasn’t *that* large of a conference — a few hundred people and we all knew each other pretty well) coming up to exclaim because they thought I’d broken my foot *that day* just because it was the first time they even noticed I was wearing it. We just aren’t as observant as we hope we are!

  135. Raw Cookie Dough*

    OP, this sounds like a great opportunity for you to create the type of work environment you want to have. Check in with your coworkers and see how they’re doing. Listen to their responses and provide kindness and support when they need it. Pick up on sublte hints dropped about your coworkers’ wellbeing. Remind your other coworkers when someone is out for an injury or illness, or is grieving.
    Be the change you want to see in the workplace.

Comments are closed.