Doesn’t Understand What Resting Actually Means

| Working | February 16, 2017

(While working one night about two weeks ago I was moving a stack of cast iron trays, when the stack slipped and I caught it badly, bending my fingers of my right hand backward toward my wrist. It was very painful, but seeing as we were closing up within the hour and I had the next day off to rest I figured I would be fine and finished my work left-handed as much as I could. The following shift I am working as usual and my hand is killing me any time I need to use force or pressure — I can move my hand just fine, but squeezing dressing bottles, lifting ceramic dishes, moving equipment to clean it, or cutting with a knife os agony. I tell my boss what had happened the previous shift and I spend the rest of the night with an icepack close by to relieve the pain.)

Boss: “That sounds like carpal tunnel. You should get that checked out.”

Me: “No, it happened at work.” *I re-explain the situation*

Boss: “Well, take it easy, I hope it gets better.”

(Over the next week I am continuing to ice my hand while I work, and I’m taking Advil for the pain.)

Boss: “You’re still in pain? You should go to a doctor. I think it’s carpal tunnel.”

(I re-explain the incident with the pans falling and that I’m 100% sure it’s not carpal tunnel.)

Me: “Also, I don’t have insurance. I’ve spoken to two different doctor’s offices but without insurance they want me to have cash in hand before they will see me.”

Boss: “Well, rest your hand.”

Me: “That’s not an issue when it’s a slow night, but we’ve been busy. I’m constantly dropping stuff and I can’t work very fast. Maybe I should be moved out of the kitchen if I don’t have a station partner. I can work To-Go and handle the cash register instead.”

Boss: “Yeah, probably. Just rest your hand.”

(By the end of that shift I am in such agony from overuse that I am in tears and he sends me home. I borrow cash to visit a clinic near me and the doctor examines my hand. She comes to the conclusion that I’ve hyper-extended a muscle or a tendon connected to the first two fingers, and she wraps me in a splint to keep it supported, and writes me a note stating that I can only work if I can work left-handed.)

Doctor: “You don’t seem to be in a lot of pain right now, so I’m sure if you can avoid using it for a week or two you’ll be fine. This note should cover everything, and come back for a follow up.”

Boss: “So, can you work tonight?”

Me: “I think I can try it. I have a partner on my station, so she should be able to help me with certain tasks, but I shouldn’t be using my right hand at all. I should be moved to the cash register if I can’t have a partner.”

(The night goes smoothly, until my partner leaves for the night and I am alone on the station. Having no help to move heavy equipment, I actually manage to BEND the aluminum splint I am wearing. I mention it to my boss before I leave and go to the doctor the next day.)

Doctor: “Well, it seemed to have worked when you were able to work left-handed. Talk to your boss again about being transferred. This won’t heal until you’ve rested it, and if you’ve bent the splint that’s REALLY bad; you can injure yourself more.”

(She gives me two more splints, another wrap, and a prescription for an anti-inflammatory at no charge for the visit, and sends me to work. That night I tell my boss what the doctor said.)

Boss: “So are you calling out of work or are you working?”

Me: “I can work, but not alone in the kitchen. I’m really afraid of requesting time off if there’s another option, because Paid Time Off takes so long to process and I can’t miss a paycheck. Last year I requested PTO for an illness in February but I didn’t get the check until October.”

(That night my boss pulls my partner off of the cook line and has her portioning peppers while I cook alone, and I am in agony.)

Me: “Boss, my splint is bent again. I can’t avoid using my right hand on the line if I don’t have a partner.”

Boss: “Are you closing tonight or not?”

Me: “I don’t want to lose the hours but I can’t clean the equipment without help.”

Boss: “Okay, I’ll ask [Partner] to stay an extra half hour to get you caught up. It’s late enough that there won’t be many more orders and we’ll be out in two hours. I’ll call in the worker’s comp request for your doctor’s bill, too.”

(Five minutes later he sends my partner home, and I am struggling to keep up. By this point I’m in tears again and I’m severely pissed off at my boss for ignoring the agreement to keep my partner in the kitchen.)

Boss: “You know what? Go home, and don’t come back tomorrow. Rest your hand. I’ll put in PTO for you.”

Me: “And the worker’s comp?”

Boss: “Yeah, yeah.”

(I come back two days later and he’s still not put in the worker’s comp order. In addition, the schedule has been adjusted that I am working alone on my station, and closing solo, which means that for the last two hours of the night I am in charge of cleaning and cooking for three stations. In the process of working I have bent my last splint and I am once again in tears from pain.)

Me: “THIS IS BULL-S***. I can’t work like this!”

(I’m cradling my hand in an icepack and holding the twisted metal splint out for him to see.)

Boss: “You rested for two days! Why aren’t you better yet? Do you want to work or not? Are you sure you’re not just being dramatic?”

(This is still an ongoing argument at work. I’m not looking forward to tonight’s shift.)

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