Saturday, February 26, 2011

Talking about it.

I went back to work for a couple of days at the end of this week, and boyoboy is there a lot going on there.  Our workplace is being audited and inspected by an authoritative organization next week, and everyone is scrambling to get ready.  On top of that we are starting to work toward going paperless; that'll be a major project for the next 6 months.  And I'm dealing with an employee who is great in many ways (reliable, pleasant, professional), however she's not detail-oriented.  I'm working with her to see if her accuracy can be increased to acceptable levels, but I'm not counting on it.  I'll be spending most of my time the next couple of weeks double-checking all her work and providing corrections.  At least we'll be able to say that we tried if things don't work out.

The bottom line is that I'd better get well and do it quickly, because there are things to be done that cannot wait.

When I went back to work I took some time out with a couple of the other managers whom I work closely with to let them know about my health situation.  I figure the people who have to cover for me or suffer inconveniences during my absence have the right to know why I've been out of commission.  I also wanted to line up their sympathies in advance in case should I need more time off.  These managers are all women I've worked with for years, who know me well.  We have mutually trusting relationships, and they know that I'm not the type to slack off because of laziness.

Two of my co-workers were concerned and sympathetic.  Interestingly, it was the one woman who has her own chronic health issues who irritated me with her response.  She felt compelled to remind me that it's important to think positive and to push through feelings like "I can't do it" and just carry on.  I found this annoying, although I know she meant well, for several reasons:

1)  The last time I pushed through my fatigue because I was thinking positively, I ended up in the emergency room because I had overexerted myself.  The hard lesson that I have to learn is to not push myself, but to listen to my body.

2)  There is an implied accusation in there that I've been a Moping Molly and need to be told to pull up my socks, keep my chin up, and put on a happy face.  While I've been situationally grouchy because aches, pains, and fatigue tend to do that to a person, I have successfully not wallowed in self-pity or pessimism (this time).  I find it condescending that this woman should feel compelled to tell me how to think or what to feel, especially when I don't need that type of reminder.  I can remind myself, thanks very much.

3)  I find any statement that sounds even remotely like "It's all in your mind" to be offensive.  Just because I don't have a diagnosis for my recurring fatigue, fever, and tender/stiff joints doesn't mean that I made my symptoms up out of the clear blue sky, due to wrong thinking.  I used to be quite depressed for years on end, and at that time it seemed plausible that my symptoms were related to the depression.  However, in the past three years I have not had any prolonged feelings of depression.  Certain elements of my job do generate some appropriate anxiety, but there has been no correlation between my anxiety and my symptoms.  If that had been the case I would have been disabled last year when I was responsible for moving the entire company to a new location.  I got through that OK with nothing more than a 2-day-long head cold to show for it.

The New Age movement has gone too far, in my opinion, with the "you create your own reality"  business.  Yes, there is certainly some truth to that statement.  But we cannot control everything in our lives with our intentions, and that kind of thinking results in people blaming themselves for things that aren't within their control.  It's not my fault that I'm sick.  Whether it's caused by a virus, an auto-immune dysfunction, or by environmental sensitivities, it's not my fault.

I spent today searching up blogs written by people with CFS and fibromyalgia, just to feel less isolated and freakish.  I know I don't have either of those syndromes because I'm not as disabled as people who earn those official diagnoses, but it still helped.  I also read on one of the medical sites that for every person with full-blown CFS there are around 10 who have milder versions of the problem. There are a lot of us, although people tend not to talk about it.  Right now, I can't not talk about it.

I'm still achey and running a low fever.  I know that I'm not well yet when I get up first thing in the morning and put my feet on the floor.  If my feet feel sore when I stand up, that means the episode isn't over yet.  It's not over yet.


Pixiebaby said...

I just had to comment after I read your post. Just because you aren't as disabled as others seem to be, as you wrote, does not mean that you do not have one of those conditions. It took me years of ups and downs before my condition got and stayed fairly severe. Sorry people are downplaying your issues, but glad to see that you stand up for yourself and are not letting them make you feel guilty over something which isn't your fault.

G said...

Speaking from semi-personal experience, I know that its tough when you have a chronic condition to get people to take you seriously when you're not up to par.

Worse is when you get it from the family saying that its just "all in your head."

Ya just gotta keep fighting the good fight.

Now, as for the "going paperless" aspect of your post.

Not gonna happen.

Again speaking from personal experience, when they say that they're gonna implement a new system that is quote unquote "paperless", you're gonna use more paper than you ever thought possible. Because believe it or not, you will need a paper trail and the amount of reports that you'll need to do your job properly will escalate.

Going paperless simply means using more paper in order to do any part of your job properly.

Jameil said...

Everybody's a critic, huh? How about I listen to my body and my doctor instead of you, dear coworker? Thanks for nothing.

DarcKnyt said...

I hate people like the one you mentioned here. They act as if they're the only ones who had "real problems" -- health or otherwise -- to deal with. Yours, of course, are imaginary or less severe than you think.

I'd be annoyed too. And I might've said so. Kudos to you for not.

Sparkling Red said...

Pixiebaby: I'm glad that you came by to offer your perspective. It's very helpful to hear from someone who's been down this road before me.

G: Fortunately my immediate family is all supportive, at least in their direct comments. Unfortunately I work for my step-dad, and I can hear the anxiety in his voice when I'm away from the office and he doesn't trust that his important work will get dealt with (although I always make sure it gets taken care of by my staff). When he gets anxious I feel reflexively guilty- something I have to fight against.
Funny that you should say that about the "paperless office" - I have heard that before! I guess we shall see how it goes. I'm sure it won't solve all our problems. More technology usually replaces simple, repetitive problems with unique, more complicated problems. Certainly there's no perfect system.

Jameil: Word. When anyone at work tells me they're not feeling well, my stock response is "Take it easy. Let me know if you need help or if you'd like to leave early and I'll make it happen." That's what I want to hear when I'm under the weather.

DarcKnyt: Thanks. Actually, I recall once or twice before over the years I have tried to gently tell this woman that my challenge is not to overcome my reluctance to work, but to overcome my impulse to overdo things. I guess she doesn't listen. And I'm too polite/repressed to say straight out that someone is annoying me, especially if that person is not my subordinate.

Jenski said...

I'm glad the other women were supportive! There are so many diseases that are not 'obvious'. My Mom can still walk around when her legs are completely numb from MS! Keep taking care of yourself and vent here about non-understanding people. You know you'll get get backed up here. :-)

Hevenly said...

Ow ! you're still sick. That sucks. There's just no accounting for people's responses. Some people (thankfully!) will be super and sympathetic. And others... who knows? You are one of the hardest working people I know so--if she was implying you're lazy--she's obviously wrong.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Hope you're feeling better and stay feeling better!

Lynn said...

I hope you feel better. That is the worst - having a prolonged illness like that. It makes me think of when I had mono as a college student. Awful.

Sparkling Red said...

Jenski: Thanks! It's good to know that I can count on you for a vote of confidence.

Hevenly: I save my lazy for Sundays. ;-)

Ron: Thanks! Imma get there.

Lynn: Mono sounds terrible. I've never had it, but a close friend did. She went upstairs to go to the bathroom and fell asleep halfway up, curled up on the stairs. :-(

LL Cool Joe said...

Wow yeah this pisses me off too. It appears the only way to get any sympathy when you are ill is to break your leg or something, because unless it's a physical injury that everyone can see everyone seems to think you are faking it.

Lulú said...

Although they may sound caring and positive, those kind of remarks can come across as condescending and obviously don't do any good. As you say, YOU can remind yourself of such things, you don't need someone else telling you to "suck it up," especially when it's not in your character to "whine." You've always been positive and a person who keeps on keepin' on; even when you know you should be resting, you push forward.

Rest up and take care, my friend! I hope you feel better soon.

DarcsFalcon said...

I bet your co-worker is less sympathetic because that's what she's doing - fighting through her chronic symptoms - and believes that if she can, then you can too, doggone it! Because yours is less severe than hers, don't you know, and SHE sucks it up.

Dollars to doughnuts that's what's going through her mind.

It's hard not to lose it with people who treat you that way - I admire your strength not to put her in her place. :)

And praying you find out some answers next week at your doc's appt. :)

Sparkling Red said...

LL Cool Joe: I would love to at least have an official diagnosis. A proper medical label carries a lot of weight.

Lulu: Thanks! Yeah, people should listen to themselves before they speak, and really think twice before handing out advice.

DarcsFalcon: Yup, I bet you're right. How she handles her own problems is her business - doesn't make it the right thing for me!