Things I am completely unable to deal with

Item – I finally spoke to my mother and Trouble is OK. She’ll be out in a week. It was absolutely Trouble’s choice to go to this clinic and I am so proud of her for admitting she needed help and going and accepting that help I could burst.

Item – My mother on the other hand is being a tad crazy-making (hah!) with the ‘think positive’ attitude. I don’t want to think bloody positive. I’m 37, I’m in pain three weeks out of five, I’ve been trying to get pregnant for seven years, I’ve had seven miscarriages that I know of, I’ve had surgery twice, and endless ultrasounds and HSGs and blood-tests and positive is just not in my repertoire. The best I can do you is bloody-minded. Because, to quote Macbeth, I am in blood Stepp’d in so far, that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er.

Item – HR at work are sending me to interview with an Occupational Health Agency, whatever the fuck that is, because I have exceeded my ‘allowable’ allowance of sick leave this year, thanks to Cute Ute the Despoiler and her Monthly Rampage. As far as I can tell, I now have to convince a random stranger who may or may not have a medical qualification that I can be a productive member of the work-force, that I am not skiving, that a wrist support for my computer and a fancy work-light aren’t going to cut it, and that they really can’t recommend I be fired, please. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.

Item – The interview of fuckfuckfuckfuck is on a day I am fairly sure I will be entrenched in the glory days of Shark Week. I am trying to see if I can get it moved, or rerouted, or even cancelled altogether and never referred to again. My boss (who knows about Shark Week), said, unhelpfully, ‘but you’re not usually off on a Monday, are you?’ I have no idea what to say to that.

Item – The list of things to talk to my GP about tomorrow morning therefore grows exponentially. Occu-health third degree forms, prescriptions for private treatment (tricky!), the weeks of pain thing, metformin (again), possibly a waily fit about not being able to cope, my emmin-effin thyroid, what else? What else? Anyone? Beuller?

Item – And I’m not quite sure if I have ovulated yet (it may have been Saturday. It may have been the third blue moon in November), and I’m supposed to be calling the Expensive Clinic when I’m sure so they can fit me in for a quick uterine lining biopsy during my luteal phase, to see if it’s swarming with psychotic Natural Killer Cells, or if it’s more like London during the Olympics, a haven of functional public transport and very happy people ever so pleased to be there.

Item – Long straightened version of Dr Expensive’s Better Living By Chemistry Plan still in the works, I haven’t forgotten. I’m just being outnumbered by AAAAAAAAUGH at the moment.

Item – Apropos of which, H is more pro LIT than I am, especially as Dr Expensive said he was a good donor candidate. Given that he’s the one who’s donating the pints of blood and all I’m doing is the itchy bit, I’m inclined to let him have this one even though I read the science behind LIT and think ‘Where the feckin’ Lady Elspeth is the double-blind randomized control trial? Eh? EH?’


15 responses to “Things I am completely unable to deal with

  • a

    RCTs? What? Who needs those? (I just erased the part of my comment that would generate the flames…)

    Occupational Health Agency sounds like fun – bring copious amounts of medical records with you, so you don’t have to go back. Do they have laws protecting your employment in the event of discrimination due to a medical disorder? Also bring your most recent performance review or whatever metric they use to tell how useful you are.

    Glad to hear Trouble is OK – I hope she’s feeling better.

    I laugh at anyone who tells me to think positive.

  • Dr Spouse

    Oh my dear, you have had so much, I have no words.

  • kylie

    Do HR know/understand why you have so much sick leave? I find it interesting that they would even be going through the process. Would showing up mid shark week not be a convincing argument that you are indeed genuinely incapacitated on a regular basis?

    On the positive thinking issue- i find it helpful NOT to because it makes the inevitable disappointment less. Plus pessimists live longer. I don’t know what to say to people who suggest it now- apart from my husband, who after a marathon crying session, avoids the words altogether. That isn’t the most user friendly solution though.
    Hugs and quasi- positive thoughts

  • Twangy

    Occu-Health Agency has an Orwellian ring that I HOPE it is not warranted. You poor woman. Why the *&*%
    can’t your boss intercede for you?
    Don’t get it. As so often.

    If ONLY if was as easy as thinking positive. Gaaah!

    Oh, May. Sending you good thoughts and hugs.

  • Clare

    De-lurking and wading in because HR/OH is the one topic that I know about (how I wish I could help with all the other issues you have too). I realise that by outing myself as an HR-bod I’m asking to be sat in a corner while you all play without me and talk about what a bitch I am but, what the hell.

    A *good* HR/OH intervention should be about supporting someone (notice the emphasis on the quality and therefore, by default, that there are, unfortunately, many that aren’t). I know it can seem a bit like being called in to see a truancy officer but the emphasis really, really shouldn’t be on questioning the genuine nature (or not) of anyone’s absence.

    Their first point should be to establish exactly what the medical issues are. The information that you tell your manager will be distilled again when getting through to HR and if you’ve ever had a sick note from a GP you’ll know that they’re not exactly teeming with helpful info either. So the OH people may not really know what you’re going through and whether there’s anything they/your employers/your department can do to support you. (I’m not saying that you necessarily need help from them or that there is even anything they can do but they obviously don’t know that until they talk to you).

    Anyone who you speak to in an OH capacity should be qualified as such and might have been a general medical nurse or doctor previously.

    Now, I think this is the bit that might, in part, enrage people. People with a disability are, to a certain extent, protected under legislation. Briefly, a disability is an impairment which has a substantial and long-term (e.g. longer than a year) adverse effect on their ability to perform day-to-day activities (e.g. eating, washing, walking). By my reckoning, this would apply to you.

    However, just because you may have some protection, it doesn’t mean that they can’t do something about it (sorry). I’m not saying this applies in your situation but it’s a sad fact that many businesses cannot manage high levels of sickness. They are expected by law to make ‘reasonable’ adjustments to help keep someone with a disability in their role if possible. The level of ‘reasonableness’ or not will be established by criteria like how big an organisation they are. I don’t know the details in your case but I would guess quite large, in which case it is expected that they will be able to handle higher levels of sickness absence than a small, local company. There’s also any precedent they’ve set in the past with other employees.

    But sometimes people’s sickness levels are just too high (and I’m not saying that this applies to you in any way, just in general). It’s a sad fact that sometimes people with true, life-consuming illnesses have to be dismissed. And we’re not soulless, evil people: it’s often heartbreaking when you know that someone has done everything they possibly can to get better. From a business perspective companies also don’t want to lose people who have years of skills and experience in doing their job. But sometimes a business just has to function and, genuine or not, sickness absence can prevent it from doing so.

    In your case it sounds like you still perform your role wholeheartedly and with determination when you can, more than fulfilling your job description, which will definitely go in your favour.

    So, I’m not saying that by seeing the OH people they would be able to magically come up with a reasonable adjustment for you (sadly, they’re unlikely to offer to pay your bills at Dr Expensive’s clinic) but they may be able to acknowledge the crappiness of the issues you’ve been going through and, most importantly, that you’re still under investigation. While that is the case it’s a lot harder for them to say that you’re going to have these sickness levels for ever. They may be able to suggest something that your department can do to help you.

    I so wish you could see our OH advisor. A more fabulous person you couldn’t wish to meet. Kind, thoughtful and understanding, she also has the manner of an old-fashioned nurse: a soothing bosom with a no-nonsense approach. She would lavish you with sympathy and do anything she could to help, even if it just involved listening to you for as many hours as you needed to talk.

    By the way, I really don’t like my job very much for the vast majority of the time *sigh*. I hope you will all still let me join in the games in the playground.

  • Hat

    Go in with all the glory so they can see why you are off. I wouldnt move it. let them schedule it for your worst day and if its a day you’d rather be in bed, all the more so. Explain to them that normally you would have tried to rebook for a better day but since they want to know why you are sick voila… then say you will be glad to come back on a better day so they can see that despite the days you are death warmed over you can function on the better days.
    My mom’s version of “think positive” is “cheer up, its bound to get worse.” 🙂

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    Eh, the toad work. A very necessary squatting, sadly, for most of us. My impression of Occy Health is, as Clare says, of an organisation that has a poorer rep than it deserves. My experience of it as a member of NHS staff was very positive indeed. My (vicarious) experience of it at work within a heeowge soulless megalithic retail organisation (COUGHCOUtescoGHCOUGH) was that it was a lecture on the evils of taking an unwarranted sicky. Which, to be fair, I expect heeowge soulless etc organisation suffers from rather more than most. This is not happening here, and I’m sure that will be swiftly apparent to said individual. The fact that your GP prescribes you the Heavy Crew in terms of pain-relief is explanatory in and of itself. The question, of course, is how badly they see your absence as impacting on their cost calculations – but it sounds like you accomplish a good deal more in a week in which you are partially absent than many of your colleagues do in a week of full attendance. Tell ’em you add tremendous amounts of sterling bloody value, so there. And if it’s shark week, kick ’em in the stones by way of further explanation of the Pain.

    Totally have the waily fit, btw. You are Entitled to one every now & then, and I think it is Your Turn this week. GPs can be helpful if they Really Get it. (Segue: Moustachioed chappie! Is he still about?) And I’m sure you won’t be the first patient enquiring about the drug scenario, so I imagine they will have a practice policy on Yay or Nay?

    Pat on the back for Trouble. I have NO IDEA what to suggest about your mother. Unwarranted optimism is a proper infuriator – I know, I married it – but all I can say is that when the Official Optimist suddenly becomes pessimistic after all… you feel twice as angry with them, and demand to know Why The Hell don’t they believe anymore? Very difficult.

    I am now picturing Uteruses I Know Of Old as cities. Getting me started on visual analogies is ever so easy, I do it with the least little suggestion. I think my right one is Dodge City, and my left is Jonestown.

  • Emily Erin

    Oh dear. I tend to agree that you should drag yourself in full glory on your shark week day so that they can understand why it is that you’re not at work. I also agree with bringing your work performance review. I wish that things were easier. Sigh. Hoping hard for good things and forget the stupid cheery optimism. There is a time and a place and it’s not now (sadly). Glad that Trouble is getting the help that she needs and that Minx is well looked after.

  • Anonymous

    Just wishing you best of luck. It’s hard not to feel scared. I’m sorry you have to suffer this stress, it’s so unfair. I wish I was more eloquent, so I might be able to express exactly how much on your side I feel. If I may state the obvious – you’ve done nothing wrong and any reasonable OH person will see that you deserve some flexibility from your workplace.

    All the best again.

  • Korechronicles

    It’s awful and there’s no getting away from it. I was lucky I was the only female in my workplace when I was going through this and the wonderful gentlemen (and there is no more appropriate term for them) could not do enough or have been more understanding. My bad experiences have been totally with other women, from my mother who thought it was mind over matter (Hi from my now deceased Mum to May’s Mum, you would have been bosom buddies I am certain) to the supercilious GP from the sub-continent who thought I was at her 24 hour surgery at 4 in the morning, whiter than chalk, vomiting and moaning, barely able to walk, bleeding like stuck pig just to cadge a quick pethedine injection.

    I’ve also never forgotten my first project management role when I went looking for one of our young computer programmers who had gone to the loo and been gone long enough for her co-workers to start asking questions. I found her in a blood-spattered bathroom usually seen in Rambo films, passed out in a on the tiled floor, in the middle of an early miscarriage.

    We all have the capacity to be quick to judge when things don’t meet with our strongly held, always correct, view of the world or our cherished values. The best advice I heard, and which I have tried hard to follow, was from a school principal very early in my working life when a staff room discussion turned to the mother of one of my students. The general consensus was that she was completely loopy and her protective hovering over Richard and his younger brother was ridiculous and over the top. It got nasty and personal very quickly. I was very uncomfortable because she had told me at the parent/teacher interview that she had endured 9 pregnancies with 5 miscarriages and two stillbirths to have her adored boys. I did not feel it was my story to tell. But the principal, who also knew her history, said quietly, “It is better to seek to understand than to judge.”

    I really hope that your work HR/OH is seeking to understand. Good luck with the preparations and the interview itself. If men had periods we would have a week’s menstrual leave a month written into our contracts.

    • Bionic

      Oh, yes, the worst offenders generally are other women. I still wish I’d spat at a former boss of mine who could see I was sick and then sneered when I answered her as to why.

  • Bionic

    I’m very behind the times around here, but I am waving a sentimentally large and lacy handkerchief in greeting, affection, and general suppot from this train platform. It’s a big job, but it’s a big handkerchief, too.


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