PsA at Work & Accommodations

Hi everyone, I just started a new job and I am not sure about telling my supervisor about my arthritis. I work at a desk most of the time except for when I am up and about helping patients but of course the pain and everything else that comes along does make things harder. Since I work in healthcare I want to assume they will be understanding but I still feel nervous about letting my boss and coworkers know. I am on probation for a year and although they cant legally fire me, I am scared about them knowing affecting how well they think I can do my job. I was wondering about your own experiences at work and telling your supervisors. Any advice you could give me? Also, do any of you have any accomodations or special work-related supplies (keyboards, tools, chairs, etc.)that have made your job easier? thank you all for anything you can share!!

Personally I wouldn't mention anything to my boss or coworkers. Everyone has something they deal with and by putting yours on the table right at the start of a new job it's almost like asking for special consideration. It will taint the way they see you. While they can't legally fire you they can change your job requirements to make it your choice to leave or give you bad reviews focusing on your short comings.

I use a track ball mouse at work instead of the standard mouse due to joint issues. I supply it myself. I also have a special back support for my chair which I also supply myself. I let them know that these tools just make it easier for me to do my job which they were ok with. Please think twice about discussing your issues with your sup and coworkers. I work in the healthcare field and they are not understanding about things.

I agree with Milo's my dog (and Milo's my dog's name too :) I refuse to let work know...especially in this economy. Animals tend to prey on the weak or anything they assume is weak, so I don't want to give them any reason to think I'm easy prey. I told 2 of my close work friends, but that is it. Unfortunately, that means I have to sit in my uncomfortable and non-ergonomic chair and work all day on my non-ergonomic computer on my non-ergonomic desk. On days when I'm really hurting, I tend to second-guess my decision to keep it to myself. But then I just bought what I needed myself. The only thing left that isn't ergonomic is my desk because they are built into the cubicles. :(

Listen to these two ladies. They speak reality. I have gotten in trouble before for saying similar, but no amount of legislation, or "rules" will change the real world work jungle to fantasy land.

Milos owner ie right about one thing, health care is the last place you will get "sympathy"......

There may be a time when you HAVE to make changes, thats when to do it. There be a time when you need FLMA, thats when to file it.

I have been at my job for almost 4 years. I reached a point when I couldn't do some things and I was missing work. I filed FMLA paperwork for intermittent time off for Remicade, Doctors appointments and Flares. I know this is my last job. When they can't accomidate me anymore I will apply for SSDI. I have enjoyed my career but there is a limit to my abilities and my health continues to decline.

If you are new you want to impress them, not be seen as a burden. I put some major time in trying to impress my current employer and it has paid off. They appreciate my work and are willing to accept my current situation. I would suggest you do the same. When you are established as a dependable employee and not probationary is when I would consider telling them, and only if you have to. When it becomes necessary file FMLA right away.

While I have fantastic bosses who are understanding, I've been in jobs when this wasn't the case. Tell employers as little as possible, trust me on this. My only accomodation with my job is using a small cart to tote my nursing supplies and work bag from car to patient's home and back. I bought it myself and make little fuss about it. I don't complain about pain or fatigue, and I let them know that Psa will not stop me from performing 100%.

I am going to have to agree with all of you - I say nothing to my employer. Although they technicallly cannot let you go due to health reasons nothing keeps them from finding some other reasons to let you go. So unless i have to tell them, I prefer to keep it to myself. As hard as the current economy is, I don't want to give them any extra reason to put me on the list. I believe in the 'need to know' basis.

I totally agree about not telling. I taught school for 28 years and I have had PSa since the age of 16. I made the career changes to accommodate my needs without letting my employer know they were for my personal accommodations. I taught elementary physical education for 19 years and went back and retrained myself so that I could teach Computer Science. Last year when my Rheumatologist said you can't do this anymore I had great documentation that I had tried to accommodate myself by retraining and I also was lucky enough to have the same Rheumatologist for over 30 years. My employer was very surprised when I told him that I was leaving due to my disability but very supportive at the time. I am not sure it would have gone as smooth if I had let someone know along the way. I think you have to protect yourself in all areas. I remember having 3 hour infusions and rushing back to school to teach my afternoon classes and being totally exhausted. The only people who really knew were my close teacher friends who taught beside me. I think it is very hard to not do your job well when you are the type of person who is totally committed to you work and always strive for perfection.

You don't have to use a bad chair, bad keyboard and bad desk. Just talk to HR saying that your back is bothering you and that you need a more ergonomic environment. You don't need to go into specifics.

Comfortable employees are happy and productive employees. Companies actually get that.

I had no choice but to speak to my boss after 5 weeks - I had the Lamborghini of onset - zero to >60 joints in 4 weeks.

I have a lot of autonomy, but nobody is going to miss the impact of >60 joints stopping and the pain and extreme fatigue that goes with it! They were very sympathetic, genuinely. I had worked there for a year in a very small company, and they were clearly concerned for me personally that it would be the end of a great life (and the start of an average one).

But regardless of that humanity and the sympathy, over the next month or two the obvious doubts became subtly apparent - can we really rely on her? What will happen if she can’t do it - there’s no one else to fill in on that project…

So to be honest, I took some extra steroids (looking down the barrel of osteoporosis of the spine at 37), plastered on a smile, and told them it was all under control.

Having said that, I would definitely echo a couple of other comments lots of people have made - all sorts of people will request better quality chairs etc because their back isn’t great. There’s no need to go into specifics, and remember to make it a mild request, not a demand or as though you think its a right (if people roll their eyes, drop it).

It’s reasonable to ask, reasonably. :slight_smile:

thank you all so much for your input! I was already thinking what most of you said but I guess I needed reassurance. its a scary thing to realize but thats life. I was an intern here before I got this full time position so my supervisor has known me for about 6 months but its probably best I dont say anything unless it is absolutely necessary, like many of you said. I guess the whole “looking fine but being sick” thing is gonna work in my favor this time. I am only 24 so most people have a hard time believing me even when i do tell them im not healthy anyway. again thank you! its a great feeling knowing other people out there understand what i am going through.

I would like to add my own "thank you" to everyone for their input about this topic. The issue of whether or not to tell my employer has been nagging at me for about a year now, and reading the responses suggesting keeping quiet reinforces my decision to do just that. No matter that my boss knows I have arthritis, she doesn't know the extent of the spondylitis (psoriatic arthritis) with the accompanying fatigue, iritis, uveitis and everything else that comes with this condition, and until I can no longer walk into the office on my own, she will never know.