So. I have carpal tunnel syndrome. I figured this out when, while I was trying to write with a pen, my wrist exploded with pain and my fingers went uncomfortably numb. After that incident, I literally could not hold anything with my right hand (my dominant hand) and for all intents and purposes, that hand was generally useless.
Now, I know why my carpal tunnel just suddenly flared up: I work as a cashier at a retailer, and in the last three months I have thoroughly abused my wrists in trying to keep up with the pace of my job. I've noticed the pains getting steadily worse and worse, and I've been trying to offset it - practicing working more with my left hand (I used to be ambidextrous, but a religious teacher in my youth made me pick my right hand) and telling my customers to lift their heavy items themselves (sorry, they don't pay me enough to lift your stuff for you. Keep in mind that I'm a 5' 135 lb. young woman with no upper body strength.) And yet, it got this bad.
Of course, the fact that I paint, draw, played piano for about ten years, and type on various computers constantly probably didn't help either.
So I got a wrist brace to help. I wear it whenever I'm at work and school.
|Pictured: the healing process. Ow, it hurts to type. Ow.|
The other day, one of my managers pulled me aside and told me that the bosses at The Company didn't like when their employees wore braces like that. Never mind one of my other managers, also suffering from carpal tunnel, wore a similar brace for three weeks. The manager that talked to me, however, told me that The Company preferred its employees to not wear the braces because... they limited mobility.
To which I wanted to reply: "no shit, Sherlock!"
That's the point! I'm trying to limit the activity I do with my wrist, because that is the only goddamn way it will heal! And THAT IS WHAT I WANT, YOU KNOW. TO NOT HAVE REALLY BAD CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME ANYMORE.
The manager didn't tell me to quit wearing the brace, being sympathetic. She was just trying to alert me to a possible reprimand in my future.
Well, at the risk of sounding insubordinate, I say bring it! Bite me. I'm wearing a brace because I am injured, and I am injured because of the demands of my job. I worked for the same amount of time at a different retailer and didn't get a flare up there, so logic says that my current job most likely is the reason I have flared up this time. But, like I said, I can't really pin all the blame on my current job; I did do a lot of other stuff that abused my wrist, and I couldn't really quit doing that stuff because as an art student, I had to paint a lot, et cetera. So I can't really retort if I am approached about wearing the brace at work. And what's worse, my employers no longer accept doctors' notes regarding health conditions; one of my coworkers has no cartiledge in one of her knees, and they still make her walk up and down the aisles and do all the work that someone more able-bodied would be able to do. I have offered to cover her several times, because she limps something awful and it is apparently exceedingly painful - again, no shit - but she answered that she was better off doing her work herself because we both would be reprimanded for that.
So basically, our employers have no mercy for their employees. They'll happily burn us out as long as they have people working for them. In fact, the turnover rate for part-timers is insane at this company. One of my managers estimated that she would only be a manager for a few years because the burnout rate on that position is absolutely horrendous due to the pressure put on the managers. And The Company does nothing to help. Hell, they ignore freaking doctor's notes, why did I think they would possibly care about their bottom-level employees?
From my ranting on the subject, you can probably guess where I work. I'm not stating specifically, because I actually can't afford to lose this job. But oh, how I wish I could quit.
They schedule me for the most absurd shifts imaginable. I get two days off a week, thank the gods, but even then their logic is horrendously flawed - they schedule me for the shifts directly following my school day. I repeat - I leave home in the morning for an entire day of school (from nine until six) and then head directly to work, where I stay until the store closes at 11 PM. And on the weekends, they give me eight-hour closing shifts - including Sundays! I've requested that they stop doing that on Sunday, at least, because I get up early for school and I need my sleep, but nothing's come of it. I literally got maybe five hours of sleep last night, due to seasonal health issues. I don't need a midnight bedtime to be added to that.
Furthermore, when I started up school again I had to put in for a schedule change. I went through the proper channels, wrote out my requested hours and limitations, and submitted it. Three to four weeks later, they were still scheduling me to be working when I needed to be in class. I had to corner a shift manager and put the changes through manually to put a stop to that. And even so, I give myself a thirty minutes as a margin to my classes (it takes me thirty to forty minutes, depending on traffic, to get from school to work) so that they don't schedule me to be in work right as my classes end. Good thing, too - they schedule me as soon as humanly possible after class. I am literally going all day on my school days, and I get a few breaks here and there, but it is absolutely ridiculous that they keep doing this, despite the fact that I have emphasized that I have almost all day on Tuesdays and all day on Thursdays open. I would be happy to work on the days when I don't go to school. They just won't schedule me for that.
After a certain point, I just gave up. So now I'm running on fumes, nearly completely exhausted, and with carpal tunnel, and they have the gall to consider reprimanding me for wearing a goddamn brace?
Um, no. Sorry. I'm wearing the brace for as long as I need to. You can just deal with the fact that one of your cashiers, out of your hundred-thousands of employees, has a little less mobility than the rest. I still manage to do my job efficiently and accurately, and at least I'm not suing for work-related health issues!
Sometimes, I really hate being an adult.