How long do I push and how hard do I fight? Questions I have to ask as a warehouse worker with cerebral palsy

The animals are all eating dinner. The Teenager has gone to care for her last client of the day. I am emotionally wiped out from all the events of the day, or the week, or maybe the last couple weeks. My friend from work, a beautiful and sassy Puerto Rican woman whom we shall call Spicy (because of her outspoken Aries nature and her abundance of passion), told me I should go home and drink some tequila.

I’m still waiting for initial contact from the insurance company of the person who hit me Friday night after work. Unfortunately, I did hear from my insurance company about my six-month-bill due next month. It doubled in cost to more than $3,000. I’m just flabbergasted.

I always have a lot on my mind and a lot of responsibility on my shoulders, and I know with my volunteer work, I put a lot of the pressure on myself by saying yes to things.

I visited my chiropractor after work, actually having left early because someone else must have booked my 3:45 appointment. She believes my current issues probably stemmed from the change at work, and started with my back and then effected my hip.

Part of me wants to write this post and submit it to the online social media forum for people with disabilities, The Mighty, because I want a conversation, but I also don’t want to risk exposing myself to issues with my employer.

So, let’s see. Summary: I work in a warehouse folding clothes. I completely disclosed my disability to the person hiring me. This was more than two years ago. In the last year-ish, we’ve had our jobs changed, our shifts changed twice meaning we’ve worked three different schedules in that time, and a recent change (December 2022) in how they measure our performance.

But, you might think, how many ways are there to count how many clothes you fold in a day?

Well, when I was hired, they took the average of how many clothes you folded over the week. If the goal was 100 a day, then if you got 98, 100, 100, 102, 100 you passed the week without incident. I succeeded with this system. I might have several days at 102 or 103 and then a day at 95. And as long as you were consistently about 90 nobody cared. Realistically, my numbers were probably 90, 98, 100, 100, 105.

Now, we work in series of 20-day blocks, and we’re allowed to miss 100 twice in that block. They look at every day independently. I knew I could not reach that expectation. I asked my neurologist to fill out accommodations paperwork. My company has been fantastic working out accommodations for me– but what to do about the days I’m more crippled than usual?

To address this, I applied for intermittent FMLA leave. The company that administers it first granted me six hours every six months. So, I did a new set after talking with my examiner, and despite my listing weekly doctors’ appointments I got the equivalent of one day a month. And because I’ve been experiencing such issues lately, and with my almost cardiac scare last week, and my service dog appointments, I have no paid time off left. I will not have that time replenished for about a month.

That brings me to the present. So, even though I did 100, 100, 110 and 90 last week, I’m already one day down. Then they moved me to a different department Friday, and my body doesn’t handle change well.

Monday I did 86% while in complete discomfort and periodic intense pain. Yesterday I did 93% while in moderate pain. They wrote me up with a first warning today. Apparently each warning comes with a month of focus on an improvement plan, during which they lower expectations. I’m told I only have to hit 90%. Today I think I hit 95%. I can’t say exactly because I had an emergency preparedness training, a safety committee meeting, a sit-down with my boss so he could administer my warning and I left early for a doctor appointment.

When I signed the paperwork, I mentioned that my lack of performance is a direct result of issues stemming from my disability which may or may not have been caused by the change in my working conditions on Friday.

I’m trying to do everything right. But it’s damn hard and I’m damn tired.

Now… the questions I wish to ask and address do not relate specifically to my company or my boss. I think the situation I am facing mimics what we see in the medical industry as well. We no longer live in a society where doctors and bosses have the power to make individual decisions.

In the interest of fairness and preventing discrimination, we have blanket rubrics that determine how every person needs to be treated. My boss knows I work hard, and he knows I will come through in the long haul. His sidekick who interacts with us all on the floor has a disability himself.

And it’s not like I was hired last week. I was hired more than two years ago. And that person who took a chance on me? They got rid of her in well-publicized lay-offs.

Apparently, they have four rounds of warnings before you “separate.” But if I recover from this current cerebral palsy episode of malfunctioning body parts, hit my numbers, and then experience something similar in a couple months, do I get another first warning? Or does it progress to second? Do I care if they “separate” me? They changed the job I was hired to do into one I cannot do, and I can’t do it because of a disability they know I have.

This is when I also mentioned that I only intend to use that leave time for unexpected occurrences. That when appointments are scheduled I will continue to used my paid time, my unpaid time and voluntary time off when offered.

The advice I was given was to have new papers filled out (the third set in as many months) requesting a full week of time off every month. That implied to me that only answer is to call off when I have any sort of discomfort– because if I show up in the building and leave when I’ve already fallen behind that will count toward my misses. But I have no paid time left, and my official leave only covers one day a month.

And sometimes the motion of the day resets my misfiring muscles.

Part of me is done fighting. I love my job. I love the company. I do hate my current schedule. But I like the routine of it all, I like that it leaves my mind free for my own endeavors. If I did give up on striving to meet the standards, I wouldn’t quit. I would still give as much as I could until the end.

But I just keep asking: when do I give up? Will I ever reach the point where I can do my job without hurting myself and will they ever reach the point where they stop upending the process of what we do? I don’t know the answer.

In better news, our neighbor brought us a fresh fruit arrangement. Which the Teenager and I devoured.

In case I forget to say later (it’s only 5:30 p.m. and there will be tequila in my future):

My blood pressure has been damn near perfect.

What I ate today:

  • 4:30 a.m., one cup Suprcoffe coffee, dark roast, with half and half
  • 6 a.m., first breakfast, Kind Breakfast bar, oatmeal peanut butter, banana
  • 8:30 a.m., second breakfast, plantain chips,* peanut butter
  • 11:30 a.m., lunch, stuffed pepper soup, diet pepsi
  • 4 p.m., herbal iced tea (rooibos)
  • 4:30 p.m, four slices cantaloupe, two balls honeydew, one strawberry, one massive pineapple heart covered with milk chocolate and sprinkles
  • 6 p.m., planned dinner, green salad, tequila

(and about 56 ounces of water)

*the plantain chips have some nutrients and are pretty low in sodium

And the medical fun continues… not the outcome I expected

So… when last we left our quest with the absence management company, I had mentioned that I sent my PCP an already completed form to expand the intermittent leave I had requested from work. Honestly, it’s getting more stressful than it is worth.

The doctor’s office sent me a message on Thursday last week that they had faxed the paperwork and I could pick it up when I was in the neighborhood so that I had the master copy in case the management company lost the fax like they did when the neurologist faxed it.

On Friday, I stopped by my therapist’s office and picked up the paperwork for my psychiatric evaluation for my service dog. During our chat, I mentioned that I had this physical feeling of anxiety that had not lifted since Tuesday, some tightness when I breathe, and the inability to relax, and I suspected high blood pressure since I was having headaches and constantly ringing ears.

He requested I have the doctor’s office run additional blood work and check my blood pressure. I said I would mention it. And that I was stopping in for my paperwork Tuesday, had my iron and Vitamin D blood draws scheduled for the following Saturday, and my annual check-up toward the end of the month.

The psychiatric evaluation mentions my struggles with stress and my past trauma and notes how I have worked through stuff, and also mentions that I display intermittent symptoms of general anxiety disorder and mild, recurrent major depressive disorder episodes. And I noted the diagnostic codes were the generic ones that don’t really say I have the condition, but that I’m teetering on the edge of it. (Is this why my health insurance won’t pay him? Do I not ‘require’ therapy in their corporate eyes?)

Then during the weekend, my fingers starting tingling. I contacted the doctor’s office and mentioned what my therapist had suggested and the staff scheduled me for a visit with the nurse today when I stopped to pick up my leave paperwork. And the doctor included some more blood work slips for me to add to my collection.

Meanwhile, I reduced my caffeine intake to two normal cups of coffee in the morning instead of my turbo-charged Supercoffee.

And today I tossed on my “Emotional Support Animal” t-shirt and for the first time since I have reached double-digits wore pigtails. And my new red glasses.

The Teenager called this my “Punky Brewster turns 40” look.

And then I took my vitamins for the second day in a row.

I did great at work today– I did 145 fixes, that’s 111%

Meanwhile… I’m out of PTO so my request off for the rescheduled service dog canine therapeutic evaluation was denied. I am fairly certain I can work that out with my supervisor.

I leave work, arrive at the doctor’s office, and when she’s available the nurse takes my blood pressure and doesn’t tell me what it is.

“We’ll do it again in a minute.”

The second result, based on her reaction, was no better than the first.

“The first reading was 150/98,” she said.

That sounded bad.

“The second reading was 150/96.”

That was not better.

She excused herself, and returned a few moments later, having discussed with her colleagues whether they should keep me in the office until they talk to the doctor, or if I could go home and they would get in touch with me later. Luckily, I was dismissed.

I came home, scanned the medical paperwork for the absence management company, emailed it and made myself a glass of cashew/almond protein milk with cacao powder. It wasn’t bad, for unsweetened non-dairy chocolate milk.

The examiner from the absence management company said she approved a leave of 1 day/8 hours a month, which is exactly what was put in one question in one segment of the paperwork. What is all the other information in the other four pages for????

And I’m loading up on water and I need to swear off the Little Caesars pizza and the savory food binges.

And to think it’s only Tuesday.

Anatomy of a Sick Day, part 2 (or why people with special needs are exhausted by advocating for themselves)

In the last few months, I made a promise to myself to be kinder to my body and give it more rest when my cerebral palsy-related issues flare. That was part of my logic in filing for intermittent leave, so I could feel less guilty about calling out. Because while I don’t call off often, and while I have a legit disability, I am after all American and consumed with a drive to push myself past pain and perform at all costs.

So the fact that I laid in bed for an hour this morning contemplating the benefits and the detrimental effects of not going to work, and still called out is a big deal to me. Being a good employee is a big deal to me.

But as soon as I posted my last blog entry, Anatomy of a Sick Day, I checked my personal email only to receive an email from my very nice claims administrator for the absence management company hired by Stitch Fix to handle leaves.

My sick day was being approved only as a courtesy as I had already used up my leave time for the year. I had a medical appointment in early November which launched this whole journey (Is it Time for Botox… in my Hips?) and followed up on a visit with the podiatrist where I was diagnosed with two Morton’s Neuroma (The Stabby Toe and The Challenging Gait).

I have chronicled my frustrations with this whole process in blog posts like WTF? Another Cerebral Palsy Aware Day and Toe-Day at Work.

I have had two falls since early November, and significant work changes throughout the fall. My right side has taken a lot of abuse in all of these falls and changes, and my toe still burns more than it should.

But somehow, despite have a neurological condition that has changed my bone and tendon structure, made it difficult for me to walk, and left me with muscles in my lower body that never relax, the absence management company approved my leave for up to three hours twice a year.


How is that helpful?!?!?!?

I reviewed the initial letters and paperwork and found that my very, very helpful and talented neurologist wrote that I should have leave for 1-2 episodes per year of an undermined length. She physically wrote in her own handwriting “undetermined” and explained that my cerebral palsy made me an increased fall risk.

And they decided that the only leave I needed was for regular twice-a-year visits to my neurologist. Why would I pay $30 per form to have special leave for two appointments per year?!?!?

To settle my nerves– because even after I wrote back to them that she requested leave for episodes not appointments they would not budge and said my only recourse was to have more paperwork completed, at my expense– I called my blind friend, Nan. Nan has a lifelong history of advocating for oneself and at this point even she is frustrated and exhausted by the constant mental gymnastics it takes to get the most basic attention.

She moved to a retirement community in September, since as a blind person she will lose her independence if she relocates at a period of time when she no longer can re-learn a setting. She told me how she asked an administrator to read her the activities calendar. The administrator read her one week. And told her to call for help getting more info.

At this point, it’s been almost six months. Nan’s rent is significant, and it would have taken 5-10 more minutes for the administrator to go ahead and finish the month. Yes, Nan can call someone to update her on the day’s activities, but as someone who never neglected to point out the accommodations she would need, shouldn’t some of this help be automatic by now?

Anyway, I’m going to download the medical forms and start filling them out myself, and see if my PCP will just sign them.


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.

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.

The Highlight Reel of the Ides of November

It is 6:45 a.m. I went to bed around 11 p.m. last night, after a long conversation with an old friend whom I haven’t had a chance to truly connect with for years (and while we “caught up” last night as if no time had passed, it didn’t feel like the happy reconnection I thought it would), and the dog woke me up at 5 a.m.

At 6:15 a.m., after loading the dishwasher and starting laundry and trying to snuggle dog into a nap with me on the couch, I finally made coffee figuring sleep would not return.

Now, the dog is gently snoring on the other couch.

I definitely would prefer to be a cat versus a dog. The dog seems an anxious and needy creature, where the cat has an attitude and most of them act like they have their shit together.

I haven’t written much this week because my physical and emotional struggles have left me in a survival mode, and upcoming changes at work have me concerned for my long-term success at mastering my cerebral palsy and achieving work/life balance that includes leading Parisian Phoenix Publishing.

And I’m okay with these struggles, they mean I’m human and I’m alive. And I guess I want other people to know that in an age where we “social media” ourselves to death and we’re exposed to worldwide turmoil and glamour, that I’m here with you in the trenches, surviving.

So, Wednesday turned out to be a hard day. We received the official word that starting some time in December, our performance metrics will be judged daily instead of by their weekly average. And that we can miss the daily minimum two days a month. I had already turned up to work crying because of stress in my everyday life. (Which only my friend in the parking lot saw. Speaking of my friend in the parking lot… she needs a nickname as she will play a larger roll in this blog post and hopefully appear more. I think I shall call her Southern Candy, because her roots are in the Southern United States and she likes to pass out hard candy.)

Now, after my neurologist/physiatrist appointment on November 9, (see Is it Time for Botox), I filed for Intermittent Leave from work which would allow me job protection if my work missed increases due to complications from my disability or more doctor’s appointments. I now have a lot of doctor’s appointments. With recent changes at work, I seem to have triggered a couple neuromas in my right foot, which my podiatrist shot with cortisone (See The Stabby Toe and the Challenging Gait), and unbeknownst to me, as I had never had cortisone to me, this transformed my good leg into a second bad leg.

It absolutely removed all my pain, but — and this is probably why my podiatrist asked when I planned on returning to work and seemed satisfied that “tomorrow” would give me adequate time to recover– it made it impossible to control and rely on my right leg as I typically do. BUT I can also say it made me acutely aware of how I use my legs and unfairly make my right leg carry more than its share of the movement burden which is why my right hip has issues.

My left leg “scissors” causing my left knee to pretty much cross in front of my right leg when I walk (and yes, that is as awkward as it sounds) but now my right foot drags, causing my toes to curl under my foot. I have compensated for this change in walking pattern by buying cowboy boots. Not real ones, but ones we sell at work: the Kassy boot by DV by Dolce Vita. (Unboxing on YouTube here.) They allow me to hear my walk, feel my foot, and not step on my toes.

At our weekly meeting, our supervisors announce the metric change. I understand their logic. They plan workloads daily so they should measure results daily, simply put. And as this change rolls out, I’m confident the company will “do the right thing” in implementing it. I’ve been there two years, so they have investment in me as I have investment in them.

On my good days, I average 101% to 103%. But on my bad days, without some extra support that minimizes my physical struggle, I average 95%. So with the weekly average system, I’m still a “fully performing” employee. On a really bad day, which happens ironically about once or twice a month as their new system will allow, I give everything I can and sometimes only hit 85%.

Now, unlike some of my colleagues, I am also on a work roster that has changed shifts twice in the last calendar year. Yes, I have had three different work schedules in the last year: Monday to Friday, 3:30 p.m. to midnight; then Sunday to Wednesday, 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Monday to Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. All very different.

Add a neurological condition to that and it’s hard to adapt. When they offered Voluntary Time Off on Wednesday, allowing us to leave three hours early, I took it. My emotional state would best be labeled as frazzled and my right hamstring had started bothering me, probably because it felt like my right leg was a useless tree trunk.

Here is the happy part. The kindness part. The part where the light shines from one person to another. Thursday morning, I get a text from Southern Candy at 5 a.m. “Stop by my car when you get to work.”

She gave me a cat figurine. A cat in frilly dress with pink bloomers, staring into a goldfish bowl that even included a goldfish.

“I know you had a hard day yesterday, and it made me think of you.”

I brought it home and placed it on one of my Parisian Phoenix bookshelves. A place I can see from my workspace at the table and/or when I’m having dinner.

To skip ahead, I’ve been thinking it’s time to record and place a request for permanent accommodations at work. By Friday morning, when one of my colleagues said he’d like to help me out with the easier work but too many people had doctor’s notes, I decided to email my supervisor. So he and I now will try to make that happen. Around the same time, my neurologist’s office called to see if they could move my December 6 appointment to December 9. The times they offered overlap with a preexisting doctor’s appointment I have.

And my intermittent leave needs to be certified by December 9. I returned their call, expressed my regret that those appointments would not work, and asked the person on the phone to please leave a message for the doctor and her nurse that my employer had sent paperwork and that I would have more paperwork and that I would gladly pay any associated fees.

I also wanted to mention I am trying to eliminate inflammatory foods from my diet, but that can wait until I see her. I am wondering if I should request to work with a dietician and get a new set of bloodwork to check not only the standards like iron and cholesterol but also vitamins like B12.

I’ve done really well not stress eating in the ten days since I’ve seen her, eating vegetarian baked beans at work yesterday while my colleagues ate piping hot pizza. My weight is slowly dropping.

I’ve eaten no junk food in the break room, choosing fruit leather and yogurt over Cool Ranch Doritos and fancy fruit snacks. I even reduced my caffeine intake. Yesterday for dinner I made thick egg sandwiches with eggplant, mozzarella and extra sharp cheddar on my favorite multigrain buns and a little chipotle mayo and avocado hot sauce. One for dinner and two to go in the freezer for work lunches this week.

Although I know my perceptions are faulty, I feel like my only success this week has been with Andrew at Apex Training. I got my gym sweatshirt, and the dog immediately jumped on me and coated it with mud so I don’t have a decent selfie… yet. But these guys at the gym have been a lifesaver. Andrew works so hard to meet my needs and come up with innovative exercises to challenge me and train my muscles to cooperate. I did a seated shoulder press this week with 30 lb dumbbells, which ignited my inner strength as my lower body becomes more useless.

I discussed my hamstring troubles and we did some balance exercise yesterday. Andrew thought I was going to stand on the balance trainer and hold a weight on one side to create instability in my stance. Then, he saw me try to stand on the ball. And we opted to practice that first.

Finally, I asked The Teenager to check on Foster Kittens Jean-Paul Sartre and Giorgio in their habitat at Petsmart. I will see them today but it brought my heart joy to see that they are doing fine.