Sunday, September 12, 2010

Working With RA

A recent post from Lana, Weakness vs. Strength, brought up an important question for all RAers that work. "Often times, I wonder whether asking (for an accommodation) makes me better than those hundreds of people who have other chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Do I deserve an accommodation and they don’t?" In my opinion, this is a touchy subject with employers. I think how they respond to asking for accommodations would depend a great deal on your overall work record and production. I don't agree with this, it's just my opinion that how they would look at it. But then again Lana brings up a valid point in, is it fair to the other employees. My view is that, while it is not fair to the other employees, it is also not fair that we live everyday in pain and have to conform, the best we can, to healthy workers standards. We are far from weak, yet we are judged everyday at work against standards that healthy employees often struggle to maintain.

I am in a unique situation in that my printing supervisor is very aware of rheumatoid arthritis. His wife has it and we talk from time to time about how each of us are responding to treatments, fatigue and mental attitudes. He is not much of a people person, even though he is a supervisor, yet you can see the pain in his facial expressions when talking about his wife's struggles with RA. But, as soon as we finish one of these conversations, I am expected to perform 100% of the required production even though I am enduring the same disease his wife has. I don't have a problem with this, I like proving myself in spite of living with RA.  At work, if you have continued sub par production days, you will get a written warning that goes on your permanent record and in some instances, can get laid off for 3 days. Fair ... no, but I keep on doing the best that I can. Currently, my press crew is second out of 6 crews for production for the month of August.

 I have had FMLA for the last 4 years but have never used it. The bottom line for me is that if I don't work, I don't get paid. I have to work, my wife, daughter and the dogs are depending on me. But in the back of my mind (probably most of our minds) I wonder if there will come a day when I just can't do my job anymore ... that thought scares me.

11 comments:

Squirrel said...

I think that thought scares us all, and even more so with more physical jobs.
Maybe there's a role within your company you could take on in the future that is less physical?

Living It, Loving It said...

Definitely a scary thought. For me, the fact that I am only 34 and that my husband will retire at least ten to fifteen years earlier than I will really scares me. I don’t want him to have to work long into his old age simply because of me. I also worry about how much longer before this disease wins. At the same token, however, I am hopeful. The days that the pain is bad are harder in terms of being hopeful but the days that are not so bad, I can be hopeful. I think all we can do is take the cards we have been dealt and play with them. The only thing has changed for me is how much pain I am in. I still work as hard at the office and at home. I figure if I keep moving, RA won’t win. I make accommodations on the days I hurt like taking the elevator instead of the steps, going to bed early or taking a power nap during the day on the days that I am extremely tired, and I don’t overdo it on the days where I already feel overwhelmed. All we be is hopeful and make accommodations – it keeps us from being vulnerable to depression.

Anonymous said...

I am right there with ya buddy.

tharr said...

Squirrel, I agree with you. I think that scares all of us that are still able to work. I work 12 hour shifts on a pretty physical job, some days at the end of the shift, I can just barely make it out to my truck.
I have thought of a less physical role, the only thing right now would be a supervisor and I can't see myself fitting into that role very well.

tharr said...

Lana, I think the same thing about making my wife support us if I have to ever go on disability. I have worked since I was 15. The first 2 years were just summer jobs, but after that I have always had a job even while playing hs football and attending college. Working has always been important to me. I hope disability never comes, but you're right ... I'll just have to play what I am dealt. I'm not going to just lie down and let RA win.

tharr said...

Anonymous, thanks!

Living It, Loving It said...

Terry -

Have you seen the movie “Surrogates?” Maybe, we can just get surrogates and not have to worry about being sick at work. ;)

tharr said...

No, I haven't seen Surrogates, I checked the trailer out. Sounds like a plan Lana, but why use them just when we're sick?

btw, I did see the Expendables last night. Non stop action, it was better than I expected.

Just Me said...

It goes without saying, but I feel your pain brother. I got 7 more years before I can retire but plan on staying 9 to 11 more if my body holds out. Sometimes I wonder how much of my pain is from RA and how much of it is from regular abuse of the body over my career. I suppose it is a combination of both with the RA really kicking the crap out of those already weakened joints.

waynette said...

Boycan I ever relate to this! I was a single mom and a waitress. My boss was so good to let me keep trying(I hadnt been to the doc yet) After having to be carried out unable to walk I had no choice but to quit. I thought id just rest for a week and get another job. I laid on the caouch and was not able to get up anylonger. If it werent for the unconditional love of my parents I think I would have laid there and died.They moved me into their house and got me to the doc. It was a very scarey experiece not knowing what would happen to my kids and everything now is better than its ever been for us!!

tharr said...

Mike, I wish I could look at retiring in 7 years!! I don't know how much abuse my job impacts me, but I know that I have damaged it from football, baseball and racing motorcycles. RA certainly doesn't do anything for a worn out, abused body.

Waynette, glad you stopped by. It's great that you had an understanding boss, even though you couldn't continue to work. It's also good that your parents helped you out. It is indeed a very scary time when we know something is wrong, but don't know what it is. So glad you are doing well again. I hope you will stop back by again.