Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What happened to Elaine

It's been way too long since I updated my blog
This post will span over many days
it will be informational for some of you
and a heads up for others
perhaps some of you can relate

After being unemployed for many years, I did land a job which started in March 2011.  At this job, I was a Senior Online Time & Attendance Analyst. 
Probably a very few know that I have light sensitivity with doctors notes for employers not to sit me where florescent lighting is shining in my eyes.

All was well at this job until the end of October 2011.  As in most tech jobs seating is changed around in the department from time to time.  My first two desks were fine after the supervisor made sure that there were no lights shining into my eyes.  The third move was when the problems started.

Here I'll ask a question - when a company has a handbook which states that you will have an accommodation coach when you have a "disability" (in this case, my doctors notes regarding lighting), shouldn't I have had one?  My belief is that I should have, but was never given one.

So, at the end of October 2011 with the third move, I had uncovered florescent lights shining in my eyes.  Immediately I wrote an email to the supervisor (who was new and apparently not informed of my doctor notes) and to the team lead that I needed to move because of the lights.  The supervisor, unknown to me, had left on vacation.  The team lead asked what was wrong.  I explained about my doctors notes which the previous supervisor was given and that I had a migraine, knots in my stomach and blurry vision from the lighting.  Now the "safety person" gets involved and stated that it is a part of "ergonomics".  Well no, it's really not.  After being given the third degree, I left and went home sick.

Have you been affected by florescent lighting or just lights in general?

Each day for about 1 and 1/2 weeks after that, I felt lousy.  Finally, I made an appointment with my doctor to find out what was happening to me.   She explained to me that my blood pressure was so high that an immediate EKG was necessary.  Within minutes, my doctor appears and advised me that she was calling an ambulance to take me to the hospital (which is less than one mile up the road).   I drove myself to the Emergency Room at the hospital with a copy of my EKG in hand and written out blood pressure reading.  They were supposed to take me right in but made me wait (with no one in the waiting room) for 15 minutes.

Here's where the "fun" begins:

I'm taken to intake, blood pressure is 248/153.  If you are reading this and have medical knowledge you know that I was at stroke stage.  A medication was given to me to lower my blood pressure, a CAT scan was taken as the hospital staff wanted to make sure I had no broken blood vessels in my head.  

How would you feel at this point if this was you instead of me?

After spending approximately 6 hours in the Emergency Room I was able to go home.  

If you think that this is where my story ends .... well, no, it's not.

After several more doctors appointments it was decided that I should apply for  short term disability.  "Short term" is an understatement.  On or about November 16, 2011 all the papers will filled out and sent back to the appropriate parties.  Because I had not been at my job long enough, I did not have long term disability.  Short term covered me for 6 months.

During the first 6 months, my doctor and I had to deal with the companies disability people. My doctor and I were so upset with them because they couldn't get anything correct.  Finally someone who actually listened and documented everything correctly was assigned to me and with that I started to receive my "disability" payments.

From November 2011 through May 2012, I had been assessed by my general practitioner, Cardiologists, Pulmonologists, and others.  

From April 2012 to present day, I wear prescription glasses, one pair dark sunglasses and the other no tint.  When I go to doctors appointments, I wear a golf visor in addition to the prescription sunglasses so that the florescent lighting is not shining in my eyes.  Yes, you can laugh because I must look hysterical!  As you can imagine, this has also impacted grocery shopping, clothes shopping, and any other activity which I enjoyed years prior.

Each time I went to a new specialist they would ask how my health had gotten this bad.  Each time I explained the story I would get pains in my chest.

In April or May 2012, I filed a charge with the EEOC against this employer.  I represented myself as no attorney wanted to take the case because it was a large nationwide employer.  Long story short, the EEOC treated me badly, kept passing my case around to workers in that office to the point that I didn't know who was handling it.  It was around September 2012 when I received a letter that the EEOC found nothing wrong (REALLY?) and I could appeal to the US District Court which I did.  At this point, the large nationwide employer hired a law firm to represent them.  I continued to represent myself.  The US District Court Judge was always very short with me but gave the attorneys for the other side time for everything.  WHY?  This went on until about March of 2013 when I couldn't physically continue representing myself.  I had constant pains in my chest every time I had to deal with those attorneys and the judge.  It was just too much.

Yes, I did continue to see my general practitioner from November 2011 to May 2012 when my insurance ran out.  Thankfully, my cardiologist (a wonderful man) would charge me $50 per visit because I had no insurance.  As you, dear readers, can imagine, I was on all kinds of medication.  Blood pressure, depression, and anxiety pills were prescribed among other medications.  It took over a year to get the right combination of medications for my blood pressure to become somewhat stable and under control.  I consider myself extremely lucky to have a cardiologist who wouldn't give up on me.

This true story continues tomorrow with What is going on with my back and knees?