Me? DisAbleD?



I have been doing a bit of searching lately on the effects of Fibromyalgia and the workplace. My biggest concern with my new job was my regular occurrence of time off due to flares. On average, I would be out about one day a month (sometimes more). I am happy to report that I did go thirty days with no time off for this. Ok, I take that back. I had a recent flare but it only affected half of my work day.

Knowledge is power! Right? In 1990, congress enacted law that was signed by GW Bush on July 26th the same year. It is called the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability. The ADA defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that limits life’s activities. Fibromyalgia, as with any disability, is a case by case situation and some will fall under the ADA code and some will not.

As Little Miss Proactive, I reviewed the recommendations found at the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). They have publications for both employee and employer on specific accommodations that can be made to benefit both sides.

For me, my two biggest are concentration issues (i.e. why did I walk into this room?) and migraines. JAN recommends the following for concentration issues 1) provide written job instructions 2) prioritize assignments and 3) provide memory aides, such as a scheduler or organizer. For migraines, 1) provide task lighting 2) allow flexible work schedules and 3) allow periodic breaks. I work in an industry that is known for a stressful work environment, can’t accommodate stress!

I have to say, the new employer is hitting the ball outside the park. They have provided a flexible schedule (early in, leave mid afternoon), an ergonomic workstation and all job requests made of me are in written communication. I already utilize the Outlook calendar to remind myself of important daily tasks. I also take breaks. Two fifteen minute breaks a day. I use this time to take a ten to twelve-minute walk each morning and afternoon. It produces those yummy feelin endorphins that keep me alert and productive.

I did list myself as a disabled American on my job application. It’s a first. I am not making any claims of woe but I am protecting myself. Not only as an employee with a disability but with an armament of knowledge as well. I find that education is the key when dealing with a chronic illness.

My next biggest hurdle is exercise and food…ugh!