Reintegration into working life


Three years after my accident: Everyday life has me back!

This article was originally published in the Daimler blog.

Around one year ago, the nice colleagues from the Daimler Blog asked me if I would tell you something about my experiences, which I was very willing to do. Today, I once again have the opportunity to write about myself and my daily life. However, the first question I asked myself was whether I would bore my readers because I can’t really report about anything very spectacular, i.e. I once again lead a fairly normal life.

6 min reading time

by Michael Much, Employee in the maintenance of steel foundry / casting tools in the Mettingen plant
published on October 16, 2019

But first things first: An unfortunate swimming accident has bound me to a wheelchair for almost three years now. The forecasts were initially very sobering. Although the doctors were of the opinion that I would have to go to a nursing home, it was an assumption that my family and colleagues were unwilling to accept.

Looking back: After the accident I had to spend a lot of time in the clinic.
Looking back: After the accident I had to spend a lot of time in the clinic.

My coworkers in the maintenance department of the steel foundry in Mettingen did everything they could to make my predicament known within the company. They collected donations to provide me with financial support and frequently visited me in the hospitals in which I spent almost nine months of my life. This assistance and the fact that my family gives me strong support eventually enabled me to live at home from where I can also work full-time. You can find out more in the previous blog posts and the Help-Much site.

My reintegration commenced in March 2018 with two hours of work per day. In July of last year, when the post appeared on the Daimler Blog, this had increased to five hours and to six hours in August and September. Since October 1, teleworking from home has once again enabled me to work full-time. When I consider that this is now more than nine months ago, I have to ask myself where the time has gone…

Christmas dinner 2016 in the clinic among my colleagues
Christmas dinner 2016 in the clinic among my colleagues

But what does my “new” workday look like, you may ask. To get to the point: It begins early! On weekdays, our alarm clock goes off at 5:00 a.m. I’m ready to start working between 5:45 and 6:00 a.m. I basically begin working when I switch on my notebook — something I wouldn’t have been able to do myself when my reintegration started.

But from this point on, my work is probably similar to that of most of my colleagues who telework. I note the time that I begin working, launch Skype and OpenScape in order to be able to receive calls and messages, take a quick glance at the Social Intranet because I always want to be up to date, logon to EasyPM so that my colleagues can see that I’m now working. Before I finally get really going, I take one last look at my e-mails to see if an important message has arrived.

This procedure at the beginning of my work reveals a lot about what I will do the rest of the day: Do I have to call anyone back whose Skype or telephone calls I’ve missed? Have I received a personal message on the Social Intranet that I have to respond to? Are there any new maintenance jobs that I have to assign to my colleagues? Are there any e-mails that I have to immediately reply to or that add a further item to my to-do list?

My main task is to provide organizational support for the maintenance team, where I worked as an industrial electronics specialist until September 2016. Most of this job has to do with preventive maintenance measures, consisting, for example, of the creation and revision of maintenance plans, the preparation of work assignments, and the procurement of replacement parts.

I have been able to expand my knowledge in this field in particular, because I was loaned to the OneM team for one month in March in order to help the colleagues of the replacement part planning unit perform the initial recording of the parts. I did this from home as well. Instructions were transmitted via Skype for Business. I can’t praise the technology highly enough, because I would probably be in a real fix without it!

Even though I have enough to do during my working day, I always look forward to new challenges — and something new always does come my way. It’s very important that one’s tasks are varied, especially if one only works at home. Luckily my job has plenty of variety. Added to this, I can use my break periods to exercise and train.

The many communication methods keep me in touch with my “old” colleagues as well as with the “new” ones. However, there are also visits. I’ve been to the foundry several times since my last blog post. Most of these times, I took part in meetings, but I also attended festivities such as the Christmas party and the party for Marten Wahl’s and my 25th anniversaries, which I was able to enjoy at a pleasant get-together in our workshop. At this event, I got to know our new department head (he has now been in this position for more than half a year) who immediately assured me of his continued support as I reintegrate back into working life.

It is currently relatively hard for me to go to work at the company on a regular or permanent basis, because the effort required is still too great. We live on the third floor of a building that lacks an elevator, so I have to use a stairclimber. Since I’m not really mobile, the trip to work is very far and I unfortunately still need to be cared for on site at all times. However, I will talk about further developments in the next paragraph.

My longtime colleague and friend Marten Wahl (r.) and me at our 25th anniversary
My longtime colleague and friend Marten Wahl (r.) and me at our 25th anniversary

Our daily life is characterized by ups and downs — just like the life of a “normal” family. However, the fluctuations are greater. Luckily, the times in which everything goes comparatively well predominate. I’m nevertheless in a slump now and then — for example, when the pain becomes too great or things aren’t progressing as well as I would like. When that happens, it’s important that I have strong family support. However, one shouldn’t underestimate the good and important feeling I have of being challenged by my work. Daimler is really ideal for me in this regard.

With respect to my condition, I notice steady improvements even though they are “unfortunately” accompanied by much pain. I put “unfortunately” in quotes because I can be glad that my brain is once again getting this feedback, because it signifies that things are progressing and that my body isn’t giving up.

I think it’s simply fantastic that I can continue to be a part of the Mercedes family and I’m certain that the feeling of having a great job there is really helping me to recover.

Michael Much

Michael completed his training as an industrial electronics technician at Daimler between 1993 and 1996. Since 1996 he has been working in the maintenance department of the steel foundry (formerly grey cast iron foundry)/casting tool construction in the Mettingen plant. Since spring 2018 he has been working from home due to an accident, but still in the same department. No matter what tricky situation you are in, there is no giving up!

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