Sunday, 1 July 2012

Understanding? Or not!

Hello again and thanks everyone for reading! Well over 1000 blog views since my first post last week!

Since my last post a few days ago I've been back to my GP. I'm still feeling dizzy and lightheaded even though I've been taking iron tablets for anemia and for loosing weight without any reason. I also mentioned that I didn't feel my pain medication was working as well as it should be. I even pointed out that the specialist that I'm waiting of an appointment for doesn't suggest the medication that i'm on. My GP didn't agree, or didn't actually understand, and won't change my medication and instead she's chasing up the MRI results and specialist appointment I'm waiting for to get further advice before any changes are made to medication. At least somethings being done I suppose. 

I've now had more bloods taken to check up on my anemia and been put under weight observation. I've been advised to drink Complan or Protein shakes to keep my weight on. My wedding dress is not gona fit in four weeks time if it continues to drop off like it is and i'm starting to get worried!

I've never been big. I've always hovered around 8 1/2 to 9 stone. Pretty healthy for only being 5 foot 2inch. I've now dropped down to 7 stone 12. I know it's still within a healthy BMI  and most people would love to have this 'problem' but it's at the bottom end and I'd rather have a little bit of meat on me instead of starting to look like a skeleton. I don't really look like a skeleton, but I don't think having to buy size 6 clothes is not where I want to be!

I've also received my Occupational Health report this week. What a load of BALLS!! To put it politely :) Apparently, I should carry on duties as normal, unrestricted, and my responsibility of evacuation of the whole buildings patrons and staff should be passed on to someone else. Not actually possible if I'm to carry on working late shifts, against the Dr's advice on my 'May be fit to work' note, when there is no one else eligible of doing so after the hours of 9am -5pm!  -As predicted, what the lovely people at OH did suggest doing was a work space and desk assessment! Yes, go on then, because I spent most of my time at my desk when I'm the Duty Manager of a Entertainment Venue! IDIOTS!! Obviously they did not understand one bit about my role within the company and how physical my job can be! 

This was the reply they got to their report:

Dear Dr Blah de Blah (Name change, obviously)

Thank you for taking the time to write the report about my condition and including suggestions of how I may be able to stay in work. Unfortunately I do not think that anything you have included is actually going to beneficial to me and my condition to help me keep working.

The first thing I would like to bring up is there are a few statements within the report that I don’t agree with.

‘’Her condition can be exacerbated by extremes of movement on a repetitive basis but I believe her job does not entail this’’ – My Job involves a lot of movement. It includes periods of prolonged standing and walking the building which is obviously where I am having trouble as walking and standing for long periods of time causes me pain and I regularly have to use a walking stick to support me throughout my shifts.

‘’but at the same time there is generally more benefit in the condition with exercise as opposed to complete rest’’ – There is a massive difference between exercise and being on my feet for most of a 8 hour. The exercises which I have only been advised to do are ‘light’ exercise such as Yoga or Pilates. This does not anywhere near compare to the nature of my job. If I over do exercise I get worse straight away. If I don’t do light exercise for about a week I then start to feel the deterioration. The pain is not as instant as it is when I’ve been busy at work.  

‘’If Miss Middlemiss does any work at a computer it would be appropriate to have an individual risk assessment done of her work station.’’   - I really can’t see how a desk assessment or even a new chair will make any difference to a connective tissue disorder. I know what posture I am suppose to have at my workstation and have the fact sheet from Occupational Health pinned to my notice board next to my computer.

‘’Possible association of injury or illness with work: None’’  - I know that my illness was not caused by work but before I returned to work I was getting better. The last month has pushed me right back in my recovery therefore the illness has worsened with the association of being at work.

‘’Opinion on applicability of the Redeployment Procedure: Not applicable’’ – This to me seems the most sensible option to help me recover. There are other departments that don’t work such physical roles with the Gala. Why has this not even been considered?

‘’Miss Middlemiss did state that there was a possible concern with regards to accessing a fire alarm in the time needed to fit health and safety requirements, the main problem she has is with accessing this fire alarm switch in the time needed, I do not feel this should ultimately be a restriction to Miss Middlemiss in relation to the unlikely event that a fire would actually happen. However if it was thought to be a concern I would suggest that that part of her role be delegated to someone else.’’ – This is one of the main responsibilities of my role.  I am there to evacuate all patrons and staff in the event of a fire or any other emergency. The role could be passed to other member of management when I would be on a day shift but there is no other employee in who would be able to do so if I was working a late shift.

‘’Generalised muscular and joint pain, along with fatigue.’’ – Chronic fatigue is a big issue with this syndrome I suffer with. I would like to know how other employees of the council who suffer with Chronic Fatigue have been given reduced hours/phased returns when they are only suffering from that one symptom. CF is one of my many symptoms and you’ve basically said I’m fine to continue work as normal but have made changed for other employees.

‘’Miss Middlemiss should be given every opportunity to be able to work in her fulltime normal role unrestricted’’ – This has completely ignored the advise which was wrote on my ‘May be fit for work’ not from my GP. The main thing I feel you have ignored is that I live 20 mile away and work late at night after taking a full day’s worth of strong medication. I stated I was drowsy and fatigued towards the end of the day but this has also been ignored. You’re suggesting that I continue work as normal when if the advice is not followed on my note I am in my right to go off on sick leave.

I explained to you that I felt that work had made me worse and I feel that this report has no necessary information for my employer or suitable suggestions to help me stay in work.

I will forward the report to my employer along with this letter with the hope that something can be done in house to help me stay in employment.

Yours Faithfully

Stacey Middlemiss

This letter was then sent to my bosses line manager with the added information that that if nothing was sorted out for me I would have no choice to go off sick, as I was in my every right to if the advice from the note was not followed. I would also be wanting to put in an official complaint of why no risk assessments had been done once I returned to work and most importantly why my 'Return to work note' from the period before my maternity had been signed off as fit for work and without me being there! The fact that if this not had of been filled in by myself, as it was supposed to have been done, I would have put that I wanted a referral to OH. I may have been given the opportunity of a phased return, reduced hours or redeployment until I got a bit better. But no. Carry on as usual and make yourself ill why don't you! Massive amounts of 'Care of Duty and Understanding?? ERMMM NO!!! I don't think so!

You can imagine, if this came through to you as an employer you may want to act upon it, quickly. They did. As soon as I got to work that day to start my shift I had a meeting with my line manager and her line manager. It was agreed that I'd be put on day shifts and lighter duties until my flare up settled down and I felt fit enough to return to my normal role. The only problem is its left me with nothing to do! I'm bored! What a mindless job if you have absolutely nothing to do but basically do a bit of cashing up on the morning, maybes a few orders of stock and nothing else! Can someone give me something else to do, please!! 

For a bit of background info, I work in an events venue and have a BA in Popular and Contemporary Music. As you'll know most events such as music, comedy and theatrical shows, are during the evenings. I've put on events myself, marketed them myself, know about music/event business, it was part of my degree for godsake!! There must be something I can do in this EVENTS VENUE! I can't accept sitting around at my desk like a spare part!! I'll go stir crazy from doing sweet FA!!

This is not the way I've been brought up. I need to work. I love to work. I love the Arts and Entertainment industry! I have a load of ideas! I have no one to listen to me! 

Is this ignorance? Or because they just don't understand? I'm more than capable! Just let me do something!

Hopefully someone will listen soon!

The last thing i'd like to share my day at the Northumberland Plate. I'll try and keep it short, I know this post is lonnnggg!!! 

It was unsure if it was to go ahead with the severe weather we had this week. Flash floods and storms left the end of my street looking like this!
This is the local pub and car park. You can't see any cars as they're all under water!
Luckily it did go ahead. My babysitting arrangements and early morning hair appointment didn't go to waste!

I don't really look forward to days out anymore. I can't be bothered to stand. I don't have the stamina. 

I go to the plate every year and know what its like trying to get a seat. We got there early and I took my walking stick as I knew I'd be bad later on in the day. I would have took the crutches but would have had no hand to hold my bag! 

With us going in so early we managed to find seats and a table. We (not me) dragged seats across the field so everyone could sit down. The weather, although was mostly sunny, kept having little showers, most of us kept going inside to protect our hair! Those that didn't stood out in the rain, with brolleys, just to keep our seats and table. 

When we came back from the bar/toilets etc, some women had decided to take our table, even though there  were people their saying they were keeping it for us! I ended up having an argument with them. They had apparently said 'well there's no one there now and we're not moving!' 

For anyone that knows me well, I can't keep my mouth shut.  I ended up arguing back and if the drinks hadn't of been so expensive she would have had mine over her head! 

They ended up moving a few minutes later. It may have something to do with me telling everyone that returned to our group how ignorant, and what stuck up bitches they were, (I shouted everything loud enough so they could hear) or the fact I decided to chain smoke and blow every bit in their face! Yep, i'm a bitch when I want to be! I don't make plans to get place early to make sure I have a seat and it to be taken away when I make a trip to the toilet!!

I also found out what the walking stick comes in useful for, except from the obvious. The queues were massive as usual, I was aching as usual, luckily there was a bouncer on the toilets, not as usual. Don't ask me why, but he was letting everyone use the disable toilets. Again, couldn't keep my mouth shut and spoke to him quietly about everyone in the queue using the access toilet before me when I had problems standing for long periods of time,. He let me go straight to the front, as he should have, we did ask if anybody else needed to be in that queue but they didn't.  No queues for me then.

One thing that I can't complain about :)

I did have a great day but as always the tablets and pain got the better of me. My hips were in agony and I just wanted to sit. When I was sitting I felt as though my bum was bruised!! I've lost a lot of weight, as I already said, I feel like I have nothing to cushion me when I sit down so it just feels like I'm sitting on bone!! I think i'll have to start carrying a cushion around with me lol!

We went for a meal in town after the race meeting had finished and I felt that sick and dizzy from drinking on the tablets, not that I'd had much to drink but I had to leave the restaurant before everyone had finished their meals.

No wonder I can't get excited for anything anymore. I don't know if anyone else has this problem but I always seem to end up feel bad and going home early even if I don't drink much or ending up far too drunk!! There's no happy medium anymore. I want it back please!!

I suppose the only point on 'understanding' the section about the races has is that I know for a fact I will have people questioning why i'm not fit for work but I'm fit to go out all day drinking and socialising with friends and family. Well actually i'm not. I have to find a seat wherever I go. I couldn't go into a bar and stand around and have a dance like I used to. I don't really enjoy myself. I set alarms on my phone so I know when to take my tablets.

 I do it because I want to feel normal as I possibly can! 

Having this condition doesn't mean I have to stay in the house, not go shopping or not socialise. It means I have to take things easy and manage the physical aspects I face everyday. 

I hope this helps you understand and makes you think about things before you judge anybody else that suffers with an invisible illness. 

Just remember next time you ever feel the need to have a go at someone for using a disabled toilet or a disabled parking space. 

You have no right to question anybody with a disability. Even if their young, look healthy and look fit like I 'sometimes' do, (when I'm not limping!)

You have no idea of their medical history, they might suffer with an INVISIBLE ILLNESS. So please think and try to understand!

Love Stacey xxx

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