Toe-day at work

I ran out of juice yesterday. Fatigue, lack of good sleep, adrenaline from publishing Larry Sceurman’s The Death of Big Butch (see a post by Larry on the Parisian Phoenix website today, click here), anxiousness regarding doctors’ appointments and my service dog application, the toll of my various foot and leg issues, and the excitement of my traveling companion, M, coming to visit all caught up with me.

Let’s start with a joke. Because it’s Monday. And we can all use a laugh. And this is clever.

What’s the worst thing you can read in Braille?

Emma Tracey, the Blind Co-Host of the BBC All Access Podcast

Before work, I went through my collection of protective toe devices. The little foam doo-dad the podiatrist gave me is looking rather worn and tatty, especially since or perhaps despite the fact that I’ve been hand-washing it.

The larger gel separators I wore over the weekend, held in place with the bunion wrap, seemed too big and the pressure hurt my toe more.

So, today I tried out the gel-line toe protector sleeve, which, according to the instructions, they make long enough for your finger. Doesn’t that make it a digit sleeve?

As instructed on the package, I held it up to my toe and then used scissors to trim it to the right size. And I wondered if the piece that remained after the cut might be large enough to use like a toe right to cover the damaged flesh and the portion of toe that rubs. This wouldn’t actually separate the toes, but it might eliminate the friction.

I decided to try it.

It fit! “Waste not, want not,” after all.

I wore my obnoxious patterned Vans sneakers (that came in one of The Teenager’s fixes. She proclaimed them hideous but I fell in love with them.). Ready for work.

We won’t talk about the fact that I struggled hard to get my socks on this morning. Sometimes my lack of mobility makes be feel like a T-Rex when I need to do stuff with my feet.

Today I handed my doctor-filled-out, official form for workplace accommodations to my supervisor.** Now my supervisor has been working in the other side of the warehouse. He will be there relatively long-term. This had me nervous, and I kept checking my work email seeking some sort of acknowledgement. None came.

Until first break, I clocked in at 100% of the Daily Minimum Expectation. But I fell behind after break. The official numbers don’t account for our 10-minute paid breaks. By official numbers, I was probably 102% or more before first break. By my numbers, I was around 98-99%. My numbers account for the breaks.

Around the halfway point of my shift, I had fallen to 97%. And then I got a phone call and Siri read me the voicemail. My examiner had called, stating that she would be denying my intermittent leave request if she did not get my form from my doctor by 5 p.m. Apparently, she’s in Arizona. Her 5 p.m. and my 5 p.m. are two different things.

I had filed for intermittent FMLA leave November 9, because the shift change I was forced to make in late October has made scheduling my doctor’s appointments nearly impossible. The company that administers the claims for my employer sent a form to my doctor, but it took nearly a week for me to find out which doctor, because I had given them the name of my primary care physician and my specialist.

The neurologist received the form November 12. (I know because the neurology office sent me a receipt and the parent hospital sent me a bill, which I had to scan the receipt and mail to the hospital over the weekend.)

My specialist couldn’t start the form until I paid the fee. For some reason, the office did not tell approach me about this until November 22. They called me while I was at work and I had to call them back once I had my wallet and was off the warehouse.

When I called them back, of course I was placed on a call-back list. I received the follow-up phone call mid-shift the next day (November 23), but luckily I had my HSA credit card in my pocket and I answered the call. I paid the $30 with funds from my HSA.

Now, the paperwork had a due date of December 9. But remember, November has a little holiday called Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving occurred on November 24 this year. My physiatry/neurology specialist called me around 1 p.m. Monday November 28. We had experienced computer problems in the warehouse and I had come home early. She spoke with me while she filled out the form and promised her nurse would fax the forms by the end of the week.

I had an appointment with my specialist December 9, so when I hadn’t heard from the examiner by the end of my work day December 8, I emailed her. I wanted to confirm she had the paperwork. And I wanted to file an absence for December 9, as I had two doctors’ appointments that day. She did not response until today, December 12, because she had been out of the office December 9.

Because she had been out of the office, she gave me the extra time to file the forms. But that extra time was four hours. I can’t even reach my specialist within four hours.

I emailed both the examiner and the neurology office, but heard from neither by the time the neurology office closed today. I guess this means my claim for a leave will be denied. I hope I can open a new one and either resubmit the prior form or ask the specialist to update the date on the form, or worst case contact my primary care physician and have him do a form and also attach the specialist form. “Luckily,” I’m still having issues with my toe which means I will probably see plenty of doctors.

Sigh. I mention this because this is what I’m obsessing over while I’m struggling to get my numbers at 100%. And I’m mentioning this because I am capable, and I can often find work-arounds other people don’t think of. But what if I were a disabled person that relied on caretakers and support staff? What if I had to rely on more people to coordinate these things? What if I had communication difficulties? It is exhausting to advocate for oneself.

Fast forward to lunch. I want to say my stats were at 96% or so. Our employer offered full day Voluntary Time Off for tomorrow and at this point I was stressed out enough to apply for it. I don’t have the money, but I also don’t feel like I have the stamina.

After lunch, my stats kept falling. They had reached 94% when someone “in charge” approached me to ask what my accommodations were because one of my peers (my sassy friend) had mentioned it to her. My supervisor had mentioned my accommodations to this person but she misinterpreted his concern to be about something else, until my sassy friend inquired about me. I think my sassy friend has become our elected leader.

After our final break, one of my teammates (who always supported me when we were on our own shift) brought me the easier work for me to do. Basically, he brought me the work already in boxes so I didn’t have to retrieve the items in the cart. I finished the day at 98.4% of DME which is amazing when you consider that about 75 minutes earlier I had been on track to complete 94%.

In addition to all of this, I never did hear back from the neurologist nor the examiner. The neurologist’s office is closed now. And when Arizona time reaches 5 p.m., my claim for intermittent leave will be denied.

And remember my toe? I had substantially less toe pain today than over the weekend, and no general foot pain.\

And I got the VTO for tomorrow.

Now the answer to our joke…

What’s the worst thing you can read in Braille?
Don’t Touch!

Emma Tracey, the Blind Host of the BBC All Access Podcast

And yes, I called Nan and asked her if she had ever heard this joke. When she heard it, she nearly bust a gut.

** If you’re new here, I have diplegic cerebral palsy and have worked in a warehouse folding clothes for two years. Today they changed the system of how they measure our efficiency. We used to get our weekly numbers averaged into our performance figure but starting today, they evaluate the figure daily. Without official accommodations, I won’t meet the daily figure. My typical performance is pretty similar to last week, when I did 101%, 101%, 101%, 94%, and 100%. When you average that, my performance is 99.4%. But I miss the mark usually one day a week. Now they only give us two days to miss in a month.

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