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» LymeNet Flash » Questions and Discussion » General Support » help with frustrating supervisor

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Author Topic: help with frustrating supervisor
paleogal
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(note: edited to remove inaccurate and inappropriate labelling)

I consider myself lucky in that I can still focus 80-90% of the time and I can work full-time-ish. Some brain fog and trouble focusing, but my job isn't that hard from day-to-day and I can push through the fog. And write a lot of reminder notes for myself!

I have managed to arrange working from home once per week so I am also lucky there.

But right now, that isn't always enough. My supervisor is taking that one day a week as gospel, but sometimes I have herxes or flares and fatigue so horrid I can't do the commute and sit at a desk in a noisy cubicle with floor to ceiling windows all day - and <<gasp>> sometimes that happens more than 1 day a week.

Most of my job is computer-based work, so I can do that from home, from by bed, curtains closed and quiet - much more comfortable than at the office.

I do not have an official diagnosis of CFS or Fibro, and there are ADA guidelines on those. The PCP I had last year wanted to give me a Fibro diagnosis with a positive Western Blot, so I thought that was dumb and fired her.

I was thinking of bringing in the recommended accommodation lists for CFS and Fibro and saying, look, I can legitimately request any and all of these accommodations, given my symptoms, but all I want is the flexibility to work from home when I need to, which may be more than once per week, or it may be no days per week during a good week. Working from home allows me to manage all the other things.

My supervisor reacted yesterday to my request to work a second day at home this week with "in the interests of equity between team members, I'd prefer you work in the office today."

Not addressing the issue that equity is not the same thing as equality between employees, has anyone had any luck with this?

Or, alternatively, am I being too demanding? Is there something else I should ask for as a kind of negotiation or olive branch?

Things are getting tense between my supervisor and me, although at my last performance review he claimed he was very impressed and it was a pleasure to work with me, so maybe it's just this issue that is contentious.

Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

[ 06-25-2016, 09:04 PM: Message edited by: paleogal ]

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Keebler
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You might ask a ADA attorney - there may be a help line to answer the main question as to whether you need an official doctor's diagnosis / letter confirming a diagnosis of FM or CFS in order to

engage those symptoms sets for ADA consideration with your HR person.

You would need to go to HR and formally "declare" a disability - and ask for formal "accommodation" as long as the job get done - as I understand it but the ADA advocacy groups should have the exact detail on that.

No, you are not being "too demanding" - you are not just listening to your body but paying attention to the realities at hand. This also considers safety of others on the road if you would be driving on days when you would be best not. Don't tell your boss, that of course, as it might make it just too complicated. But to rest your mind, no, what you describe desiring is

"reasonable accommodation" indeed.

Is there a way to have a real one-on-one with your supervisor and ask if there are issues that you may not be aware of with your working at home more? Offer to listen to him. He may appreciate that and there might be something he's not shared yet about this.

Ask for time enough in a conversation to brainstorm for how this could work out -- or another plan.

It's tricky, though, as he already knows you have "health issues" but if you have not formally declared a workplace proper "disability" and asked for formal "reasonable accommodation" then you may be open for dismissal.

As your reviews are good, sounds like he'd be wise to work with you on this. Focus on how your plan can HELP the company by putting you in the best position to do your work.

As for a proper "disability" declared with HR, that may not need be a certain diagnosis in medical terms such as disease name. Again, the ADA advocacy groups would have best counsel.

Worth repeating:

Focus on how your plan can HELP the company by putting you in the best position to do your work.

Ask for his input in what he needs to make this work for him & the company, too, so that he feels heard. And if the two of you are working together on how to make this work well, he's invested, too.
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Keebler
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Glad to hear you are "lucky" yet saying that you are "one of the lucky Lymies" gives me pause. [Actually, it brings great pain to see that label connected to anyone affected by such a devastating disease.]

I know many may have seen this and might still want to use whatever nicknames to describe themselves - but nicknames to describe oneself as a member of a group can explode far beyond oneself.

As all with lyme can have nicknames be put upon us, well, just asking to consider how viral such terms can become and the ramifications for dignity:

http://flash.lymenet.org/scripts/ultimatebb.cgi/topic/3/30226

Topic: Please, do not call me a "Lymie"
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Keebler
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ADA "reasonable accommodation" for "disability" for alterations in work assignments / load / structure can be very different from FMLA (Family medical Leave Act), though.

You might also think of things at work that would make things easier for you, such as switching out any fluorescent bulbs, other sensory adjustments, a head rest on your chair, a place for naps (off the clock) . . . .

There may be better groups for counsel. This is just the first one that I found that holds promise:

http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/193773

Resources for Americans with Disabilities

GSA is dedicated to supporting Americans with disabilities in the workplace and beyond. . . .
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paleogal
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Keebler - you are right. I am so sorry about the Lymie terminology above. I don't even know why I did that, as I generally refuse to claim any of my symptoms (i.e., it's "the migraines I get" not "my migraines"). I also forget this site isn't behind password protection of any kind and things can easily be picked up. I apologize for the unintentional hurt that I caused you and any others who read my post.

May I go back and edit the original post to remove the language?

And many thanks, for the advice. The main problem with my office is it's a big cubicle setting, and there's no way to swap lights, nowhere to nap (we have a single "privacy phone room" for the whole floor of 40 people; it's not large enough for me to lie down on the floor and is often in use by mothers to pump and for the phone privacy).

I could try to sleep in my cubicle, but I am over 6 feet tall, and I would stick out in such a way people could see me sleeping...that sounds creepy. Might be worth a try anyway.

Many thanks for these suggestions. If these are reasonable things to ask for, I can find out if maybe there's somewhere in a nearby building or floor with the accommodations.

I do have FMLA, but that applies to time *off* - as far as I understand it. So, I know I can take time off for appointments and such, but with my brain at 80% functionality, there's no need to take time off, when working from home helps almost all of the symptoms I manage on a daily basis. Grumble. I'll keep trying to find out more. Thank you all.

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WPinVA
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No, this is not an FMLA issue. FMLA is only for leave. This is an ADA issue.

Given that Lyme is a minefield, I would go get a fibro or CFS dx. Ask your LLMD. You surely meet the criteria.

Then, I would go to your employer, state your disability and that you need the reasonable accommodation of working from home x days per week, as needed, etc. Emphasize that you can still do the essential functions of your job, with this reasonable accommodation. You may need to get a letter from your doctor confirming your diagnosis.

https://www.disability.gov/resource/employees-practical-guide-to-negotiating-requesting-reasonable-accommodations-under-the-americans-with-disabilities-act-ada/

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WPinVA
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Oh and PS - US Dept of Justice Disability Rights section used to have a help line and probably still do - google to see
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randibear
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it's definitely ada, not family. get a diagnoses and go through your hr department.

course I did and my supervisor still sent me to th he flight surgeon for confirmation, then had a tw hour meeting with him. geexxx

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randibear
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my supervisor required me to have a drs notefor even one day, normal is three days.

he would call me at home to make sure i was there. every time I ran an office errand he would ask others where I was and often just show "up" where I was.

that with other problems led me to retire. our hr department had, ummmm, certain problems. so really they were ineffective.

he kept researching lyme and saying it wasnt valid. I also had documented cfs and fibro plus malignant hypertension. he still fought the ada.

for me it wasnt worth it so thank God, I could retire with full benefits.

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do not look back when the only course is forward

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Keebler
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paleogal,

Many sincere thanks to you for your consideration - and positive action - with the nickname / label issue. Very much appreciated and, I think, good all the way around.

I hope you find good solutions for your situation, really good solutions that work for all involved (as the better they work for others, the stronger the support will be there for you, too).

And, if certain arrangements help you do the job better, that will help them, too.

I hope this process will help them see what a valuable part of the company you are - and that your skills in working with solutions that also consider them -

well, that's a good attribute, too, and -- it might also help to mitigate any misperceptions of someone who asks for "special" treatment of being a "diva" as can happen for some who request accommodations. Sadly, jealously can ensure.

I hope you can find some good "mentors" regarding the ADA, legal safeguards and proper steps to follow but also have some good calm heads to be put together to be creative yet practical about how to approach it, as well.

Keep to the practical if things start to feel emotional. Keep the considerations objective & clear.

Take care.
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WPinVA
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[QUOTE} "I'm far more familiar with FMLA because that is what I use for flares and medical appointments. You have all given me a reason to re-think this and look into ADA. Thank you."

No, the FMLA sounds appropriate for what you describe - needing LEAVE for flares or appointments.

The OP was asking a different question - a request to work from home due to a disability. That is an accommodation, not leave.

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WPinVA
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"Do people have experiences as to whether ADA has helped them or has backfired that they are willing to share??"

Know that the law is on your side if your request for a reasonable accommodation "backfires." This is called "retaliation" and it's against the law.

https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/facts-retal.cfm

Document everything! Make requests in writing or if you meet with someone in your company about this (supervisor, HR, etc), follow up in writing with a polite note summarizing the meeting. Keep copies of all correspondence, all medical info you give to them, etc.

If you experience any "backfiring" document that too, in writing.

Feel free to PM me if you want more help.

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MichaelTampa
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FMLA is for unpaid leave. It could be used here if that is what you want, or if it is the best you can get, given you cannot get proper disability accomodations.

ADA is for accomodations for work for disabilities. This is what you really state you want, in terms of working from home as an accomodation. These accomodations are required by law if your health condition is serious enough, and the request is "reasonable".

If you want to push more, sounds like you'll need to be more formal, with HR, assuming your employer has one. Sounds like you have been negotiating informally with your manager, and as long as that works, fine. HR should judge if you meet the conditions. You will need documentation from your doctor that your manager does not need to see but your HR does.

Then to some extent someone (HR, your manager, or a group discussion) will handle if working from home can be a reasonable accomodation. Given you can make it through those hurdles, it should take it out of the context of what your manager is worrying about, that you get to work from home when others do not, or more frequently than others, etc.

This is one of many reasons why these decisions should not be made by the manager. They have the wrong concerns. And, if HR approves it, the manager is not put in a bad spot at all regarding requests from other employees. If anyone complains about it not being fair, the manager can point to HR making this decision, and this at least helps his standing with the rest of his team. The manager is not viewed as treating people unfairly.

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MichaelTampa
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One more comment on the diagnosis. See below definition of disability per ADA. Also available from this link:
https://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.htm

You will see limitation of major life activities or major bodily functions is key. This is what you need a doctor to support with some dx. Many of us have been given many dx, depending on type of doctor we go to, and how they view the situation.

It doesn't have to be the base dx causing all of one's problems, nor the one you think makes the most sense for explaining your problems. It just needs to be a dx that will make sense to the doctor signing the letter and to the person in HR reading it.


Sec. 12102. Definition of disability
As used in this chapter:

(1) Disability
The term "disability" means, with respect to an individual

(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual;

(B) a record of such an impairment; or

(C) being regarded as having such an impairment (as described in paragraph (3)).


(2) Major Life Activities

(A) In general
For purposes of paragraph (1), major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.

(B) Major bodily functions
For purposes of paragraph (1), a major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.


(3) Regarded as having such an impairment

For purposes of paragraph (1)(C):
(A) An individual meets the requirement of "being regarded as having such an impairment" if the individual establishes that he or she has been subjected to an action prohibited under this chapter because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.

(B) Paragraph (1)(C) shall not apply to impairments that are transitory and minor. A transitory impairment is an impairment with an actual or expected duration of 6 months or less.


(4) Rules of construction regarding the definition of disability
The definition of "disability" in paragraph (1) shall be construed in accordance with the following:

(A) The definition of disability in this chapter shall be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals under this chapter, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of this chapter.

(B) The term "substantially limits" shall be interpreted consistently with the findings and purposes of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.

(C) An impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability.

(D) An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.

(E)
(i) The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such as
(I) medication, medical supplies, equipment, or appliances, low-vision devices (which do not include ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses), prosthetics including limbs and devices, hearing aids and cochlear implants or other implantable hearing devices, mobility devices, or oxygen therapy equipment and supplies;
(II) use of assistive technology;
(III) reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids or services; or
(IV) learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications.
(ii) The ameliorative effects of the mitigating measures of ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses shall be considered in determining whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity.
(iii) As used in this subparagraph
(I) the term "ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses" means lenses that are intended to fully correct visual acuity or eliminate refractive error; and
(II) the term "low-vision devices" means devices that magnify, enhance, or otherwise augment a visual image.

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WPinVA
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This looks like a great resource!

How to request accommodations:

https://askjan.org/media/accommrequestltr.html

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WPinVA
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Found it!

The US Dept of Justice ADA Help Line --

https://www.ada.gov/infoline.htm

If someone calls and asks them if Lyme is now considered a disability, please post back here with their answer. I would like to know what they think! The ADA definition of "disability" is supposed to be broader than it was before (now that the act has been amended). But from the little bit of digging I did, the courts don't appear to have answered this question yet and people would be safer using a more established diagnosis.

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MichaelTampa
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I would think a dx of lyme, by itself, would be not even close to sufficient, just like it would be insufficient for applying for social security.

For either, how has lyme affected the person, is the key.

Lyme could be a supporting reason for why the other issues (such as fatigue, for example) were being experienced, if felt helpful to provide. There, it might be interesting if a court ever ruled on that, specifically. My memory is an acquaintance did a search of the courts on that within the last 1-2 years, but did not locate anything.

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WPinVA
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I did a quick court search and didn't find any decided cases on Lyme as a disability under the ADA either.
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Keebler
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Fatigue, itself, is a mighty word that might help hold you up (for your request to work more from home) as your body slumps (so to speak). And, of course, for pain management?

Vestibular conditions might be of help as "code terms" if they are part of the mix: dizziness, vertigo, balance, nausea, Meniere's, perhaps even tinnitus and hyperacusis.

If those are things you've discussed with your doctor over time, there would be records. And, a vestibular specialist could also help with some key tests to document.

Vision issues . . . if you have vision that shakes, that could be nystagmus, often along with the vestibular issues of lyme.

Light sensitivity (try to stick to that term as the standard term, "photophobia", can boomerang and it's just not correct but it's used by lots of doctors when there is nothing "phobic" about it for most who have it).
-

[ 06-26-2016, 09:01 PM: Message edited by: Keebler ]

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randibear
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problem is, at least here, is that doctors say there is no lyme in texas. thats why I said cfs and fibro. at least those are recognised.

for me, so close to retirement, it wasn't worth fighting. and everyone knew hr was against the employee.

it was jus too toxic. so consider all aspects, plus I didnt have the money.

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do not look back when the only course is forward

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randibear
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the manager was friends wit hmany of the other department heads. there were leaks and I didnt trust them.

I had close personal friends in hr and it was a buddy syztem. her friends got promoted etc. the real workers went unrecognized. and information went straight back to your boss.

it was not a fair environment.

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do not look back when the only course is forward

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healthywealthywise
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Yep.....everybody's recs are right on. But definitely talk to a legal expert FIRST. Get a letter in writing.

Talk to someone first, get it documented and show that documentation WHEN you talk to HR first. Not the supervisor. Make them put it in your personnel file as if co. sold, new one can't say we didn't know. Be a pest if you have to.

Trust me, I didn't know and was well-regarded at my career. Once alerted, I went to the top of the downsizing list. Not performance related, it's just business. Right.....

I could have sued but I was too weak, too sick but it NEVER showed in my job-I was in fact their top group performer 'tl the last day. Didn't matter.

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paleogal
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quote:
Originally posted by Keebler:
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Fatigue, itself, is a mighty word that might help hold you up (for your request to work more from home) as your body slumps (so to speak). And, of course, for pain management?

Vestibular conditions might be of help as "code terms" if they are part of the mix: dizziness, vertigo, balance, nausea, Meniere's, perhaps even tinnitus and hyperacusis.

If those are things you've discussed with your doctor over time, there would be records. And, a vestibular specialist could also help with some key tests to document.

Vision issues . . . if you have vision that shakes, that could be nystagmus, often along with the vestibular issues of lyme.

Light sensitivity (try to stick to that term as the standard term, "photophobia", can boomerang and it's just not correct but it's used by lots of doctors when there is nothing "phobic" about it for most who have it).
-

I hadn't thought to approach it from what *symptoms* I have vs. a condition - but yes, there is a (decade-long) record of these types of symptoms.

Sidenote - Keebler, any advice for nystagmus (I'll also search now)? That is an irritating symptom and it does get worse the longer I sit in front of my computer (though that would happen at home and at the office). Most of the other things on your list I have often or occasionally.

Thanks, also, to MichaelTampa for the complete definition - that is helpful and I *definitely* qualify for a disability in many ways there.

And I'll give the helpline a try, thanks WPinVA - perhaps they can help clarify the best (and also easiest) path forward. Part of me just wants to give in and work at the office every day, but I know that will set me back healthwise at the moment. Really could've used a nap today at 3, but alas, not an option.

Thanks for the thoughts and support, everyone.

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randibear
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word of caution. don't mean to be so dang negative nelly but I saw this is soooo often.

tell no one at work, I mean no one, if you ever talk to a lawyer, research, have special medical appts.

it's not worth the risk of letting them know beforehand what's going on.

course not all offices were like mine but I'd say the majority come pretty close.

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do not look back when the only course is forward

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Keebler
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Nystagmus - while it involves spasms of the eyes, it's really not necessarily just an eye "issue" it's a vestibular issue . . . &/or neurological.

When the vestibular system is messed up, any neuro function can "misfire" so to speak.

Only in extreme cases, might an eye exam show this. And some ear specialists can miss it, too. It requires special equipment most often found in the offices of neurotologists. But do read up on the diagnostics of it since the date of posts in the set below.

As Nystagmus can have many "causes" or influences . . . among those,

avoid fluorescent lights - very important. Post in set below as to why this matters so much but, basically, they all flicker, even if you can't see it. And for those with nystagmus, that flicker can make things worse and cause migraines, etc. LEDs - not on a dimmer - better if at a warm tone, not cool.

it can be a sign of toxicity, addressing infections along with liver support is vital.

Avoiding ibuprofen (causes constriction of blood vessels entire body & strains kidneys) and also acetaminophen (liver toxicity) important for different reasons.

Also a sign of magnesium deficiency. So, magnesium 3 x day in divided doses. Never all at once. Turmeric & Vinpocetine also helpful for various reasons.

And, a particular ear canal issue could also be connected which would take a very specific CT scan would be needed - a typical CT scan likely won't show this and MRI would not show this at all. See the Superior Canal Dehiscence posts.

Also see YOGA FOR THE EYES, very important to do these kinds of exercises / dark rest cycles.

http://flash.lymenet.org/scripts/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=065801

Topic: TINNITUS: Ringing Between The Ears; Vestibular, Balance, Hearing with compiled links - including HYPERACUSIS
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[ 06-30-2016, 06:29 PM: Message edited by: Keebler ]

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WPinVA
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"I hadn't thought to approach it from what *symptoms* I have vs. a condition"

Well actually it's both.

The definition of a disability under the ADA (short version) is a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.

So for an example of the analysis:
physical impairment = fibromyalgia
major life activity impacted = walking

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Keebler
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-
You might also look at it like this:

The symptoms are the physical &/or cognitive impairments that cause an inability to do certain tasks as expected normally - or to perform each time, all the time, with expected endurance to keep up.

The diagnosis is confirmation by a doctor that those symptoms do, in fact, constitute a medical condition and that you, indeed, do have such and that the constellation of such symptoms, along with the prognosis constitutes need for some accommodation to do the job.

Formally declaring to HR - and this really matters - a disability due to a medical condition

and

requesting reasonable accommodation is a vital legal step. An ADA representative can guide you in how to do that. And keep it all to yourself until you talk with someone with such knowledge.

Adding to this, how you present yourself with this, businesslike and making it not personal so much as practicality

"there is this consideration and here are some things needed in order to make this all work" sort of logic might actually help impress HR and your supervisor.

Treat it like any other task at hand with problem solving and innovation. I would think that would be a good thing. Hope so.
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[ 07-01-2016, 04:46 PM: Message edited by: Keebler ]

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Tincup
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Any time you file for anything you can pretty much be assured your private medical records will no longer be private. And the number of people with access to them will scare you.

THINK before you file anything.

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www.MarylandLyme.org
www.LymeDoc.org

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TF
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In my many, many years of leadership training, by far the best advice given by anyone was this:

Do not continue to work for a boss who does not like you! Find a new job with a boss that likes you.

This applies also if the boss used to like you but no longer likes you.

If you continue in that situation, you will at best not get treated fairly (not be given the recognition you deserve, not get accommodations that the boss would easily give to someone he likes, etc.).

And, at worst, you will walk into work one day and be told that you no longer have a job.

I have seen it happen over and over. It is foolish to stay in a situation where the boss does NOT like you.

People don't want to look for another job just because of this person. They think that their outstanding performance will mean that everything will be OK. It won't be OK!

I had to change jobs once because I stood up for a principle and the boss then hated me. It didn't matter that I was the best performer, was creative, made her look good, etc.

I hated changing jobs because of this. But, guess what? I did. I went into an entirely new careed field, and I prospered. I got promotions and was so appreciated. It was like night and day. My career was no longer at a standstill. It was the opposite.

I was given the highest award possible in my agency. Many, many things happened. I was highly favored.

So, when I got lyme disease, my frequent absences and need to leave work after 2 hours or 3 hours didn't cause any problem.

I know people who went to work one day and were told they were fired, or the process to fire them was being started, etc.

Don't let yourself get in that situation because then there is no good outcome. Look for another job long before this happens.

This is to everyone on this board. I know it doesn't seem fair that you should have to do this. Well, you just have to realize that it is in your self interest to leave the job you are comfortable in and find another one.

It saves so much misery in the long run.

If a boss does not want to accommodate a reasonable request, like to work from home more often due to current illness, then the only way this situation is going to work out is if the bosses' boss is totally on your side and thinks you are great.

In that case, then you just have to always go over your bosses head to get treated fairly. If you want to do that for a while, you can. But, that can REALLY tick off your boss also.

So, either get to work directly for the one who likes you, or look for another place to work. Do NOT stay in a job where the boss does not like you. Even if you LOVE that job.

General advice to everybody.

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TxCoord
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Well said TF!!

I have worked for a very controlling supervisor and when I resigned (be careful about "quitting" because you may have to suck up your pride at a later point in time and ask for work) I got a call from the ADA and one of the County Commissioners asking me why I left.

When you do a good job and you leave, the impact may be further reaching than the controlling sup may have realized as well as their supervisors.

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I have a good time wherever I go!

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randibear
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amen......

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do not look back when the only course is forward

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