scoliosis/subluxation, Speaking from Experience, Venting, Work

Workplace Woes


Welcome back blog readers,

I’m feeling the need to vent about workplace frustration this morning before I go in for my scheduled shift in a few hours.

Why do I seem to end up with a manager that doesn’t take my physical limitations seriously? I have a doctor’s note that was requested by him within the first week of my employment in June 2018. This note explains my medical condition, Scoliosis, and Subluxation as well as what my physical limitations are and the fact that I should not be scheduled more than a 6-hour shift. I have also explained that due to my condition, I can’t work more than 3 shifts in a row without a couple of days in between off to give my back a rest.

How my manager arranges the schedule, is up to him. While I prefer the later closing shifts (3:30pm-10pm), I do have open availability. I can be scheduled 3 shifts on, 3 shifts off or 2 shifts on, 2 shifts off, 2 shifts on in that rotation it doesn’t matter to me. What does bother me is when I’m scheduled the last 3 shifts of one week and then schedule the first 3 shifts into the next week. Like I am now, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. While my manager did mention to me before he left yesterday, he would allow me to leave 2 hours early tonight and tomorrow because he scheduled me for an 8-hour shift both days. While that helps a bit and I appreciate that he has made a small effort to relieve me, I’m still on for 6 days in a row.

Honestly, by the end of day 3, my back has had enough, and I really do need a day or two just to get off of my feet and relax. It would be one thing if I had a sit-down job, but as it is, this position is physically demanding even if I’m taking my time. There are aspects that I do but shouldn’t, just as there are aspects that I avoid because it’s just not worth the risk. Things like climbing an 8ft ladder in the freezer and pulling heavy frozen food from the top shelf, that’s a hard pass from me. The same thing with using a pallet jack/pump truck to move skids/pallets, I won’t do it. If I need products and skids are blocking that area, too bad. It’s not because I’m lazy, I just know my limitations and pulling a load with that kind of weight is well beyond what I should be doing. Yes, I could ask another associate for help, depending on who’s on with me, I will.

We have another associate that has a doctor’s note for working shorter shifts (4 hours) for the next six weeks, she has been accommodated. My note is for life or until my back gets worse, yet it often goes ignored, and I find that incredibly frustrating.

It feels like the first time I worked for this company ( May 2016) and was bullied into performing tasks that I could not do. I was asked to a note to explain my limitations, I got one, and it went ignored. I blew my back out a few days later and needed a few days to rest, spent a few hundred dollars on x-rays and treatment that lasted 6 months. During that time no accommodations were made to my duties or my hours as the doctor’s note suggested. I went back to work only to be bullied by my manager and a co-worker who got in my face, screamed at me and told me to stop being lazy.

I felt this way in October 2017 when I reentered the workforce after taking time off. I was happy to be back to work, doing something I loved. I quickly realized that most of the movements and duties were putting me at risk again. During my 3rd week, my back was really giving me issues, my mandatory 15 minute breaks made matters worse. Once I sat down and got back up, it’s like my back was worse for resting and trying to move again. Toward the end of a shift I needed to get off of my feet, so I pulled the stool over to sit while decorating a cake. Another (older) associate has been allowed to sit while she worked, I didn’t think much of it. My manager let me know that I wasn’t allowed to sit, if the owners saw me, we’d both get in trouble.

I explained my situation, to which she understood and when I asked about the other associate, seemed she was “grandfathered in” and management has made an exception for her. This associate walks with a bit of a limp and uses a cane, where my medical condition is not seen by others, only felt by me. Clearly, that still bothers me as I’m getting emotional just writing this.

It’s tough when you’re 5ft tall, and most work areas are built with the height of the average person in mind. An average person that can use the 3-compartment sink and not have to stand on their tiptoes and stretch to reach the On/Off knobs or lean into the actual basin to get the decorating tips and other utensils out. The average person that can easily load the top oven without balancing a baking tray wearing oven mitts on their tiptoes because you have limited space and you have something baking in the lower oven. Sure you can use a ladder in the walk-in freezer to reach items on the top shelf. For the average person, that’s not a problem, for me, I am continually overreaching, which is a no-no.

Anyway, I do need to wrap this up so I can grab a bite to eat before heading out to work my day 4 of 6.

Just because you can’t see my S-Curve (unless I bend over, then the hump at the right shoulder is noticeable) doesn’t mean I’m not in pain. Just because I have performed specific tasks unassisted, doesn’t mean I should.

Please hear me when I raise my concern about needing time to rest between shifts. It’s not because I’m lazy, it’s because I don’t want to end up paralyzed.


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