More about advocating for oneself, cerebral palsy and life in the warehouse

I last checked in with this blog on Monday, December 12. Today is Friday. I have diplegic spastic cerebral palsy and my workplace recently changed the way they measure our performance. The company switched from a weekly average to a firm daily number. I work in a warehouse folding clothes, and I’ve been there more than two years. Why do I do physical work when I have a disability, skills/talents and plenty of higher education?

Because I’m tired of emotional stress and the politics in a white collar office environment. I’m tired of being underappreciated, never getting credit for the good stuff I’ve done, and I’m tired of my creative, intellectual energy benefiting some entity other than myself.

I also love the mindlessness of my current work, listening to podcasts and brainstorming my own projects during the day, and my team. Working in a warehouse environment has brought together a diverse mix of people that I wouldn’t get to interact with otherwise. And I feel like this particular company, this warehouse and my supervisor and team give people opportunity and respect when other people/companies wouldn’t.

I have been struggling with my body for about a year. And my employer has never given me any trouble due to my disability. But, I also know that I will fail in this new metric system. So I applied for workplace accommodations and intermittent FMLA leave.

The leave request ran into some complications when the fax never seemed to make it to the absence management company. On Monday I contacted my neurologist to ask if they could fax it again.

On Tuesday, I took all-day VTO and ended up getting some frustrating communication from one of my volunteer activities. The kind of stern communication that feels like a betrayal and makes you reevaluate some relationships and commitments. I spent most of Tuesday sleeping and watching Hoarders. Because nothing makes you feel more psychologically grounded than seeing the homes in Hoarders.

The neurologist’s office followed up with me on Wednesday. I contacted the claims examiner via email to update them, and it was Wednesday afternoon when I received an email with the document and uploaded it to the claims management company.

This was the same day my supervisors at work asked me to submit the accommodation form I had given them to my claims examiner. Which I happened to have a scan of that document on my phone so I did.

I received word today that my intermittent FMLA leave was approved.

As for accommodations, Wednesday a friend from my roster saw to it that I got some work that was easy for me. By my calculations I hit 101%. But I was told I hit 111% because I receive extra non-production time for talking with people about my accommodations.

Before we left on Wednesday, one of the kind people from the original day shift brought me some of the work that was already boxed for me to set at my station for the morning. I also took the time to box the items from the bottom of my previous cart and get that ready. But when I returned to work Thursday morning, someone had taken my nicely packaged work.

It also happened to be the one year anniversary of my father’s death and I was at work when I got the call that I needed to come to the hospital and say goodbye. So, my emotions are on edge because of that, my anxiety is acting up because of the issues with my leave and my accommodations and the other things in my personal life.

My friend from my roster tried to get me pre-packaged work. I took VTO at 11:30 and I thought I hit 105%. The official number was 103%. I would estimate that half my work was the stuff that is easier for me. Thanks to that friend on my roster.

Today I again took VTO, this time at noon. I packed 89 fixes, by the skin of my teeth, which should be 100%. Only 24 of those were prepackaged. So less than 30%. I received more troubling news about three-and-a-half hours into my shift that made me realize that no one that could be considered my family has invited me for Christmas. I’m 100% okay with being alone, and Christmas usually ends with me in a panic attack, but I didn’t anticipate that suddenly at 47-years-old my daughter would be my only family.

My toe has been feeling much better, but I’ve only worked part-time this week. But I think the gel protector ring is helping tremendously. No nerve pain. But my right leg definitely feels turned in and clunky.

I think my life has been challenged on every front recently. The nice thing about such challenges is that they can inspire new beginnings and allow you to mold what you want out of life and stop living to other people’s expectations.

But sometimes– no, often– it still hurts.

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