Apologies in advance. What you see in my daily posts are raw, unedited commentary. While I do go back and read them, I do not edit them for content or tone. My filter was obviously turned off today.
We have done the routine throughout our lives. From school days to employment, a day is missed due to illness, and when we return the next day, we are expected to pick up right where we left off. When we were children, on average, we were fairly resilient. Most of us never skipped a beat. There were some exceptions that we all probably knew that it was not so easy to recover.
It caught me completely off guard the first time a doctor told me that I would need to take off from work to recover from something. I had the biopsy for my Hodgkin’s on a Friday, so I had the entire weekend to recover. I had a desk job, so when I came back to work the following Monday, it was no big deal. Others were not so easy. There was the “staging laparotomy” which is major surgery to remove the spleen and do various biopsies to see how much my cancer had spread. That took a month to recover even just 50%, but at least there was always forward progress.
My heart surgery was a different story. I had been in decent physical shape, but when I came out of the surgery, I had never felt as weak at that moment that I can ever recall. It had been less than twelve hours and I basically felt like a blob. But every day, I seemed to get better and better. A bout with pneumonia and sepsis back in March, while inconvenient did not create much struggle to recover. But my most recent diagnosis of bi-lateral pneumonia (double pneumonia) has left me for the first time, using the word setback. Any other time I have been laid out, and doctors ordered to me to go easy and not overdo it, I went and did it. I knew that I could. I do not ever allow myself to be held back. I have to much to do, too many responsibilities to care for, too many people relying on me.
But this time, my body was in charge. Upon discharge from the hospital, as I always did, I tried to make progress to get back to work as soon as I could. I needed to get back into the social circle. I needed to not feel sick. Not this time. Within five to ten minutes of activity, my body’s energy was wiped out. Five minutes in the cold air left my lungs in agony. It took about a week for me to realize that my body was controlling when I would be returning to my activities. But it was also causing me to reflect on just how much activity I push myself to do.
It is not sustainable to work 50-60 hours a week, run kids to lessons, attend several meetings, assist family members with issues or crisis, take care of the home and so much more, especially when your health is not perfect, poor diet, bad sleeping issues. My body has me slowed down right now, and while I am in that gear, I need to figure out how to remain in that gear. But another major concern has now come to the front of the line. During this recovery, I have managed to reduce my level of stress to near zero. Do not misunderstand me, I have things to deal with that have fallen behind with this illness, but I have not been pushing the limits of having a stroke. The main culprit, my job. Well, maybe not the job iteself, yes, it is physical and there is risk with it, but the job itself does not create the stress. I do not think I can even say management is the cause, a contributor perhaps (at least one or two of them), but several co-workers who feel the need to drag others down into their dismal existence.
I have been out for over three weeks recovering from double pneumonia. By itself, this is fairly serious. With my added health history, even more so. But only one co-worker even acknowledged that I was out, not one manager. And I am okay with this. I believe in keeping my personal life separate from my business life. The problem becomes that my co-workers do not commit completely to this belief. They do not ask or show concern, but they will spew lies and other misinformation, accusations, because somehow, my illness has affected them personally. This will result in putting me in a defensive position as I return to work this morning. I was not disappointed.
Literally within minutes of arriving in my building, I was greeted not with “Welcome back” or “How are you feeling?” or even a cynical “Hey, who’s they new guy?”, I got instead, “I need to plan out 2013 differently to use FMLA to get me extra vacation time.” It is so fucking frustrating to promise myself, my family, and my doctors that I am going to do everything within my power to keep my stress to a minimum, and this one asshole has managed to light the fuse already. Realisticly, I know that conversation has already been occurring while I was out, even during the week that I was laid up in the hospital. This confrontation should not have come as a shock to me like I allowed it to do.
I informed the moron that “I was admitted to the ER on December 10 with bilateral pneumonia and a fever of 103.8″. I thanked him for his concern for my health with his comment and how my health obviously was of concern to him as I could tell when he visited me. Oh wait, he didn’t visit me. Then I launched off. “I was in the hospital until December 14th. My doctor ordered me to remain out of work until the 21st and by then, I had regularly scheduled vacation time still left that the company forces us to use and not carry over to the new year. I had to cancel our vacation plans because I was sick and could not tolerate the weather conditions while I was healing. Explain to me how I used FMLA to get me some extra vacation time which I didn’t even get to enjoy?”
And then I went to my work area. Of course my absence meant having to clean up everything as day after day, the person covering my assignment did nothing to prepare for the next day in anticipation of not being assigned the task the following day, in essence screwing the next person. Well, that was me. So I spent an extra hour and a half restoring my assignment to a degree that I could accept as “clean” and stocked up. And then, I notice equipment of mine is missing. I have a cart that had extra gear on it, but I mainly used the cart to assist me with lifting issues as I no longer carry heavy loads. Someone obviously made a complaint about this, and the entire cart was removed leaving me to find an alternative. I have asked my supervisor for it to be returned (I have looked everywhere for it, and it is either thrown out or moved out of the building) and have been told they will look into it. I have had this assignment for over two years and this has never been an issue, but a scumbag of a co-worker takes advantage of my absence, makes a bogus complaint, and without me here to defend myself, management acts.
So much for trying to change. It is only lunch time and I am exhausted because I spent so much time this morning spending my emotions and energy. By late afternoon, I am almost caught up, and happy with the way my area looks again, but that feeling is now overcast knowing that once again, I am letting the ignorance and arrogance of others impact my right to earn a living and support my family. My focus will take my attention away from enjoying the job, to concentrating on when and where the next act of bullying is going to occur. With my recovery, I should have expected no less.