Cracked, broken and a little disappointed

Today I did an ‘adult’ thing: I took care of me.  Ok, most days we all do this without thought.  Today, this action involved thought.  I have been working a series of temporary jobs on quite frankly a battered and broken body.  I had accepted an assignment with the following description:

*matching invoices

*organizing slips/paperwork

*pulling paperwork, entering data

 I’ve worked for this company before: it is a fantastic, proactive corporation that is forward thinking.  The reality is that the job involved standing in a non-temperature controlled warehouse pulling invoices out of boxes.  I know my limitations; I’ve painfully become aware of them.

 The company I’m working for and I looked at job modifications: there was one critical element that could not be modified.  I am grateful for them for working with me to try to figure out how/if the job could be modified: yes, it’s the law, but I’m also a temp.

 Today is one of those days, there aren’t enough ice packs, heating packs, muscle relaxants and e-stimulation to quell the pain.  The pain is exhausting.  In the midst of all of this, I was listening to a podcast on lower back pain: I was hoping to get tips on how to manage multi-level disc involvement.  Instead, I found a podcast delivered to medical students about how many people with chronic pain are looking for disability claims.  I felt stabbed.

 As I stood pulling information out of a warehouse, I heard the myth of chronic, persistent pain continued by a medical school professor.  Today was a day I’d give you everything I own if you could promise me a pain free day.  Just one day without pain: one day.  I wanted to find that lecturer and let him examine my body and tell me that I was seeking special treatment. I wanted to find him and show him a few years of working in jobs which caused me to undergo countless steroid injections into my back, a few nerve burnings and constant pounding dull pain. Actually, I didn’t want to see him: I wanted to find the medical students who were subjected to these myths.

 A few decades ago, a wise orthopedist told me that ‘around’ the age of 35, I’d have issues in standing, walking distances.  Telling a 15 year old that . . . well, 25 is ancient.  I wish he was wrong.  I wish one minute when I was 10 didn’t alter my life forever.  And I wish I could find a job.  The sad thing: I can work; I tried to do this job and just realized that I couldn’t.  72 hours of non-stop pounding pain and not being able to modify an aspect of a job, I had to let my boss know that I wouldn’t be back on Monday.  I had to surrender and admit that while I’m willing to do anything, my body can’t.

 And just once, just once, I’d like for my body not to betray me.  For various reasons, I’ve had 31 surgeries: 28 of them orthopedic: all on my legs (everything except my left knee, knock on wood).  And I want to find the myth-mongers who say pain like this isn’t real and let the walk in my shoes for a week.  I’m not interested in disability: just a job that doesn’t leave me wrapped in ice for 10 hours.  And just once, I’d like somebody to understand how emotionally painful this is without saying something like “well, I know my pain isn’t as bad as yours but. . .” or “Oh, I hear you.”  I don’t know what I want people to say.  Maybe just an acknowledgement that the system sucks, that most people who live with chronic pain aren’t looking for an easy way out and maybe understanding that there are jobs that just can’t be done not because of pride but because of the body.  Or maybe I just want a hug.

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8 Responses to “Cracked, broken and a little disappointed”

  1. Jean Says:

    Sorry you’re in so much pain. My mother has broken both of her hips (one replaced, one pinned together with 5 large screws) and is in constant pain, too. I can’t imagine working with that kind of pain. I hope the temp agency can find you something that is more suitable.

    • zebrastravels Says:

      Ok, pins are painful. Metal + bone + weather! I’m so sorry for your mom! Most days are most days, I think we all live with things that others would find difficult (I mean, if I had to put a contact in my eye?). Today, I would have just kicked a wall if I thought I’d be ok (hahaha) – completely frustrated. The ‘good’ news is that the person I was working for, since I explained the situation, has made it clear that it wasn’t a work ethic/no show issue but an ‘improper’ job description from the agency.

      In my ultra-skeptical view of corporations, I was very glad to see her attempt to modifiy the job to keep me: and there was just one critical element that couldn’t be modified.

      • Jean Says:

        Yes, my mom would agree that the pins are painful. She just had that surgery back in March and still is in a lot of pain but she is 78 and has osteoperosis so I’m guessing she’s healing slowly. However, she manages to visit my father almost every day (he’s in assisted living now) so, like you, she just keeps going. I hope the temp agency finds a better fit for you soon!

  2. Melinda Says:

    I am so sorry that you are going through this. Thank you for such an honest, moving blog post.

  3. Titus Says:

    Lella, I understand completely, and offer you a myriad of hugs from now and until you are completely sick of my embrace, and then more. The system royally SUCKS!
    I don’t want to be on disability. I can’t stand not being able to go out in the world to earn money, especially after the economy ruined me financially. The nonprofit I founded is all about preemptive medical intervention with dogs to keep people moving and healthy so they don’t spiral into multiple disabilities and immobility. I see the advent of the power chair a the most evil creation, used way before it’s needed. Sit yes, but don’t scoot under motorized power.
    As a temp I don’t see you getting full coverage of ADA. It’s too easy for you to give up and quit, or for them to ask for a replacement. Jobs are scarce. Here in my valley where those with disabilities could always find modified employment, it’s almost nonexistent now. I highly recommend you get in touch with your local DBTAC: http://adaptiveenvironments.org/neada/site/home
    They are the place to get answers and are very helpful as they are the front line regional ADA resource. I actually use ALL the centers when I need answers. Here is another resource I have found:
    http://www.pascenter.org/state_based_stats/local_resources.php?state=massachusetts
    Might be worth checking out their links. Plus let them know that you have a DBTAC link for them to add. ;)
    You are going to dislike me saying this, but at some point you are going to have to evaluate what you are bring home pay wise and then what you are eligible for on disability. You can still work a certain amount with limitations on disability. If your doctors support your application, it will go well for you, but it’s a long awful process. But one thing the process WILL do is loop you into to vocational rehab and they will work hard to get you a job that will accommodate you. That alone makes it worth filing. Unfortunately for me, no employer wanted me around with my history of falling, nor the medications I take – I’m to much of a risk to their bottom line – so if I want to anything, I have to invent it at home.
    I’m always available to call. I was once were you were. I’m betting on a better outcome for you. Sometimes you really have to shake the system to get it to work for you. Unfortunately I’m pretty familiar with the @#$% system.

    • zebrastravels Says:

      Thanks Ty. . .I’m sure sleep and the fact spring is here will probably help. That and the love of a few good cats. I’ll look into your plethora of resources!

  4. Ellen Says:

    Sorry Lella. Sounds like an awful situation. Not too sure what to say, but I hope today has been better than yesterday, and that tomorrow will be even better. Hugs to you.

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