Asking for Accomodations / Job Search

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Tirzah
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Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2279
   Posted 7/14/2010 9:08 PM (GMT -7)   
ok, so I'm told the company is preparing an offer for me for a job in IT. Yet, one of the stated requirements of the position is that 2 one-week periods out of the year I travel to some far off state, live out of a hotel room & spend 10-hour work days playing "go-for".

So what am I supposed to say? The manager said it is an essential aspect of the job. The work on those 2 weeks would not be remotely related to IT & anyone with a junior high education, a moderate level of common sense, and 2 legs could do it, but... somehow they feel it absolutely must be their IT person.

I've talked with a few people who say that they can't figure out why I couldn't stay in IL & do my regular work while remotely monitoring a temp local to the area of the conferences.

I'm just so nervous to even bring anything up. I feel like just giving up. What's the point? I'm just really bummed because I really wanted this job but I know you all understand that CP is fairly unpredictable & putting the stress of travel, sleeping in a crappy bed & being on my feet almost non-stop for 10 hours a day just seems like asking to end up in the hospital [and knowing my luck they'd accuse me of being drug seeking & refuse to even so much as give me an advil].

I'm really worried about traveling out of state without any family or friends (thousands of miles from my PM) and putting in long hours on my feet.

Any thoughts? Should I just throw in the towel? Any thoughts on how to convince the hiring manager that it isn't unreasonable to ask to hire a temp? I don't know. I'm just so frustrated. I turned down better paying offers because it seemed like this job offered more flexibility & would be better for managing my pain. Honestly, I can't take having another huge setback where I'm bedridden for months on end. No job is worth that. I just feel sick about the whole situation.

-sad frances

Mrs. Dani
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Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 2787
   Posted 7/14/2010 10:31 PM (GMT -7)   
 
   Dear Francess,
 
      I wish I could give some advise about the job. All I can say is go at the pace you can, not at others pace. If that makes sense. Try to schedual alot of sitting breaks, if you can.
 
    I recently went on a trip for 2 and half weeks. I went to my doctors the week before I left and she/they helped me to plann out my trip. Meds needed, medical supplies, pharmacies "Just in case" and emergency contact numbers. I was apprehensive at first, and frankly afraid to bring it up. But once I did, I was glad and greatful for the help. So, my only suggestion is to talk with your doctors and plann it out. It makes things so much easier.
 
    I really hope you are comfortable with whatever you decide. It sounds like you are really excited about the job for the most part, so maybe you and your employer can come to some sort of compramise.
 
*hugg*
   dani
 
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
 
Chronic Pain Moderator


MIKEL99
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Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 914
   Posted 7/15/2010 3:50 AM (GMT -7)   
Sorry your having a tough time Frances , but maybe you said it best yourself , '' No job is worth you being bedridden for months on end '' . I think your right , I hope all goes well whatever you decide . Best of luck , Mikel

Tirzah
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Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2279
   Posted 7/15/2010 5:02 AM (GMT -7)   
Thanks Dani & Mike.

I think I'm gonna have to turn it down. Running a conference isn't really something that can be done at one's own pace. Seminars need to happen at set times. Lunch needs to get there at lunchtime. Equipment needs to be working by a certain time. I've put on conferences in the past & I do understand that aspect of it.

It was impressed upon me that the most important aspect was that I be "reliable" -- getting jobs done when they're supposed to be done & being available at a moment's notice to do whatever's needed.

Gosh, I'm just so angry. I feel like I'm never going to find anything that I can actually do. The last job I had to turn down b/c the boss was a moron & felt that back braces didn't fit with the company dress code (that one probably wasn't much of a loss -- what an idiot! sure, I could've fought her on it, but what's the point? who wants to work for someone that dumb?). Now I find out there's some random requirement that I have to be able to lift 40 pounds (I buy half gallons of milk b/c I get neck pain from a gallon) and I have to be able to be on my feet for 10 hours. Even if I could take regular breaks, I usually need 2-3 days after flying to recover and right now I am in a flareup -- walking to the end of a very short hall is excruciatingly painful.

If I knew it wasn't going to happen during a flare-up, I could probably make it work. But there are days just doing my regular job when I can't even make it to the deli next door to buy a sandwich. Not a lot, mind you, but there are those days. And after my recent experience with PT (where we barely did anything at all & I would end up literally collapsing from the pain after 10 minutes -- and all I was doing there was tilting my head down 20 degrees toward my chest). I'm just so sad about this one.

Mostly I've come to terms with having CP, but this one is a hard thing to take. I just can't stop crying over it.

frances

edt
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Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 773
   Posted 7/15/2010 5:14 AM (GMT -7)   

Hi Frances,

I am so sorry you have this major decision to make.  The best words of advice that I received and use often are "Honor your limitations".  For me, admitting that  I will not be able to promise I can complete a task or project has been the hardest to face. 

I agree with Dani, talk to your Boss, maybe between the 2 of you there will be a workable solution!

Sending you warm sunny (well er...actually burning hot) hugs from AZ!

XXOO
Patti


Tirzah
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2279
   Posted 7/15/2010 5:32 AM (GMT -7)   
She's pretty bad at understanding (1) that accommodations are sometimes needed & (2) what kinds of accommodations are helpful. One of the things I have been doing during my temp work there has been making our site more accessible for people with various disabilities. I can't count how many times she's said either that she doesn't know how I come up with these modifications but the members are happier than they've been in a long time, or that she just wishes that we didn't have any members with disabilities b/c it's a hassle to have to change the way we do things (even things that actually end up benefiting our abled members).

I did just talk with an advocate who suggested maybe renting a scooter at the conference center. Any thoughts on that? Has anyone who normally walks rented a scooter? I've used wheelchairs for shorter activities & mostly they were okay, biggest issue was random people thinking that I should be pushed & coming up behind me. Kinda crazy, but I guess when I walk they ask if I want to hold onto their arm (yeah, like that's going to make the pain go away :) but at the end of the day it's a minor annoyance.
But I'm not sure how painful it might be to sit in a scooter for a good part of the day?

Has anyone with sacroiliaitis (sp?) used a scooter for a full day? Any thoughts? Did it make your pain worse? Did it help?
Had anyone used one for multiple days? Did that change your experience vs. just a single day?

I would have to make it through the full week, but get comp time afterward so maybe I could rest up plus normally I'm allowed to telecommute whenever needed so if I was bad off for a longer time than my days off I could telecommute. But I do need to at least make sure that the increase in pain won't be so severe that it takes weeks, not days, to recover.

Retired Mom
Veteran Member


Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 1753
   Posted 7/15/2010 5:42 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Frances,

I have a slightly different opinion that the others who have previously posted to you. First, are you happy in your current job and is it stable? Second, do you HAVE to work? Third, is this new job better except for the two weeks part? Does it include an opportunity for advancement within the company? Can you possibly get an assistant during the conferences? I found that almost everybody wanted to go to conferences (lower level employees) and would be more than willing to be your "assistant" if you needed someone...many times that person can be a lower level employee from a more local office. It gives them a moral boost and access to company authority figures.

If this job is more financially reasonable, relatively secure, easier on you physically (except for the conference thing) and wil make you HAPPIER, then don't throw the chance away. Jobs are scarce and, although I DO agree that your health should always come first, you have to do what is right for you....sometimes just paying the bills and having good insurance may the key.

It's only an opinion, but sort of one I didn't see before.

I wish you all the best!!!!
Retired Mom


Tirzah
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2279
   Posted 7/15/2010 6:08 AM (GMT -7)   
RM-
Thanks for the ideas. We only have offices in a couple cities & the conferences are not usually held in those cities (though our last few have been). We're a fairly small nonprofit (about 500 employees nationwide), but have a very large membership base. Our members are really helpful people in general. And there have been people asking me to set up a subgroup for professionals with disabilities (we have a number of different types of subgroups & we actually even have one that is supposed to be making recommendations for how to make our organization more accessible but ironically it contains none of our disabled members -- visible or invisible disabilities).

I was thinking of setting up a breakfast for them so maybe someone who has a different type of disability would be willing to help me with my work.

My brother suggested hiring a temp I could supervise either directly or if I'm in really bad shape, remotely, but they don't seem too keen on that. Not sure why -- I've been temping for her.

But I like your idea. I have been making friends with a lot of our members because I keep hitting on things like that we need aisles for people who use wheelchairs to be able to sit (right now they park their chair at the back of the room in the center aisle -- and then have to back in and out every time someone else needs to leave to use the washroom). I feel pretty good about being able to find one or more members who could help me out with different things. Maybe we could even comp their conference fee as a "thank you" for helping me out. Essentially that wouldn't end up costing my organization anything [other than the cost of a few catered meals]. We could also maybe give them some kind of impressive sounding title for the conference (the members are all about bragging about which one of them has the better title in our organization -- I don't get it, but maybe I could use that in my favor).

IT jobs are not terribly hard to come by, but I like this job b/c it's only 35 hours per week, has decent benefits & generally my boss is very lenient about things as long as the work gets done. But she gets totally panicky about these conferences. Conference fees are the primary source of funds for our budget, so I do get that they're important. It's just been frustrating to me that she feels that her IT person needs to go & play go-for for the week. If I didn't have CP I would have no problem with that, but the CP just makes almost everything more complicated.

Thanks so much for the ideas,
frances

PAlady
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 7/15/2010 10:16 AM (GMT -7)   
Frances,
I've been reading the responses and not sure where I fall in terms of my own opinion. I do know as edt said that accepting that I can no longer be dependable on a day to day (or even hour to hour) basis has been one of the hardest things to reconcile. But I also understand that it sounds like you like this job, and as RM has said jobs are hard to come by.

As I read your responses I keep thinking there's some spot for you somewhere in that organization, even if you have to take less pay - or maybe help create the position. You keep talking about the NEEDS of the members of the organization for adaptation for various disabilities and I think this is a bigger need than most employers even realize. I myself have tried to keep up my CEU's but have found I have to do them all at home (and needed a letter from my doctor last time my license was renewed because we're only supposed to do 20 of our 30 CE's from home study) because I know the chairs and other things are horrible at most conference sites. And their idea of "adaptation" usually is meaningless as far as my needs are concerned. So anyone doing conferences loses my $$, that's for sure. I wonder if there's a way to document that for you, and it could help support the need for this?

Plus was this discussed when you were hired or just thrown on you now?

Also, I wonder since it's IT work, how you could bring technology to bear for your own needs. You mentioned the scooter. How about some remote devices for volunteers so that you'd have an earpiece (maybe even a remote camera if needed in certain areas) to direct volunteers while problem-solving. I've both presented at conferences and planned and run them, so my guess is they want you on site for your brains not your body. Someone who can think about the big picture and do the problem-solving. You can get others to do the work. But you might need to make sure you get a room with an excellent bed (some hotels have tempurpedics or select comfort beds), and that your boss knows you will need regular breaks and perhaps to have a "command center" in your room via a laptop. These things, I think, could be considered "reasonable accomodation", especially if your boss knew anything about your health problems when you were hired. If you didn't let them know, and you signed anything saying you didn't have any physical limitations, that could be a problem.

If your boss is willing to work with you - and you could make this a promotional thing with the organization so it becomes something they market (and DO not just SAY they're doing it) so as to hopefully attract more business at the conferences. Maybe you could eventually give workshops for employers on how to do these things.

I guess I'm saying I wouldn't give it up without trying to make it work. I think your fear is blocking your thinking right now, and that's sure understandable. What's the worst that could happen if you tried some of these things, tried it once, and learned that it was just too much? The other option is to quit before you really know.

Don't know if any of this helps but I thought I'd toss it out.

PaLady

Tirzah
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2279
   Posted 7/15/2010 6:14 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi PA,
Thanks for the encouragement. Actually, they do want me on site for my body (well, not mine -- it's pretty useless -- but they want someone who can run errands). They don't feel like technology issues are important during a live conference & it's a small organization so they don't have extra low-level people who can do those sorts of tasks (well, sometimes they get interns, but that's not always possible).

I've been doing the job as a temp for several weeks now & have been offered the position but haven't accepted it yet (well, only the manager has offered me the job at this point; I need to get the formal offer from HR). I talked with my manger today about whether if I am able to through these modifications dramatically increase our membership numbers (which is her number 1 goal) could we get someone else to do the running & she did agree to that much.

I got lucky (well, if you believe in luck) today & won over a very powerful industry insider who has agreed to partner with me to recruit dozens of new members (possibly well over 100) who she has in her network. Getting that many extra people would definitely cover a lot of possible options [possibly even including hiring a temp to do all the manual labor tasks at the conference, though she's still not too keen on that]. We also just today added a new web-based continuing ed course that will bring in quite a bit of money -- and that was largely in part to the changes I made to the last web course b/c many of those people now signed up for this one -- something that almost never happens.

I keep trying to drive home that I have a lot of skills & if the primary goal is to make enough money to be able to do more things & have a greater impact in the industry, then I can do that no problem. Maybe I can't get there the same way someone else could (if someone else could) but I do get there with striking results. She's been okay with me having a fully flexible work schedule (as long as I get my 35 hours in, I can work any arrangement of days & hours I'd like, either in the office or remotely). She's okay if I'm not feeling well & need to leave mid-way through the morning. But somehow she just gets so hung up when it comes to these 2 stupid conferences!

I've planned a lot of conferences & the way I've managed is by meticulous planning/organization, better than average communication & explaining to all my vendors/speakers/etc. that I have a disability & they need to be able to give me a bit more time to take care of things (i.e., go to your room more than 5 minutes early because it will take me longer than that to get out to your meeting space & start trying to resolve the issue). And I've always worked with temps. Ultimately, I'm responsible for things, but they do most of the grunt work. I just make sure the trains keep running & if times get super desperate I jump in.

But with my last job most of the conferences were held locally (people flew into Chicago). The few that weren't I typically managed from my local office with on-site staff (I used to work for a large corporation).

The situation is pretty hard. I'm fully aware that I can't do things like everyone else. But that doesn't mean I'm helpless either. I've been looking for a Results Only workplace for nearly a year & finally found one (basically -- minus 2 weeks of the year). I can lay down in my office, stand up, sit down or walk around whenever needed. And if I take it there are apartments 3 blocks away. There aren't too many jobs out there like that & I mentally can't handle not having something productive to do. I think about really, really dark & negative things all day long if I don't have something to keep my mind engaged. So I have to find something & in spite of the fact that my boss is really, really, really ignorant about disabilities, she is nice & generally pretty smart so if I can figure a way to manage these 2 weeks, I'd like to accept the job. But that's a tall order & I'm not positive it can be done. I won't make the mistake I've made in the past & totally over-do it thinking it's the only way to save my job only to end up losing it anyways. If I have to give up, I will. I've got 5 months til the next conference, but I'd rather not take a job for such a short time only to quit or be fired as soon as I have to face the conference.

Oh man, I'm exhausted from all this thinking.

frances

PAlady
Veteran Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 7/16/2010 12:41 AM (GMT -7)   
Frances,
It does take energy to figure out all these options, but it sounds like this job is worth that effort. The fact that for all but those two weeks you can have such enormous flexibility doing something you like is too good to pass up without that intense thought - tiring as it may be.

You have a great head on your shoulders, and if you can keep yourself thinking "out of the box" and slowly bring your boss along, you may just create a great situation for yourself. You mention temps and interns, but I think earlier you also mentioned maybe using volunteers in exchange for their conference fee. With the way the economy is today, I'll bet you can get some decent volunteers who are also professionals. Years ago I did that, and got to meet some prominent speakers because I did the AV set up for the room. If you have an application process you can look for people with the skills you need, and again these will be more motivated and interested in what's going on than just hiring temps from an outside agency. In some situations students from a local college (especially upper level students or grad students) can also be harnessed. If you can get as many competent people as possible - you may find a couple who start to do this regularly with you, so they get to know what's expected, but they get a free conference - it may start to fall together.

But if after closer examination your boss can't understand enough to really give you the flexibility you need, well, you'll know then. I also find HR departments and the requirements can put snags in things. I hope that doesn't happen for you.

I'll be watching to see what you decide.

Good luck!

PaLady

Tirzah
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Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2279
   Posted 7/16/2010 5:18 AM (GMT -7)   
Thanks, PA.
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