Human Resources Won’t Give You A Shoulder To Cry On

, , , , , | Working | July 16, 2020

I’ve worked for years in the public library system. Last year, I started to have severe pain in one shoulder and a “popping” sensation. It got so bad that I ended up in the ER because I could barely even tolerate having my bra on, and I’m busty so I have to wear a bra. There, I was told I had osteoarthritis and needed to see a specialist.

The first orthopedist refused to write a letter to my work for limits, despite me telling him pushing full carts and shelving books was causing me severe pain. And this was in spite of the fact that he suspected I had a fractured scapula rather than osteoarthritis. He also referred me to a pain management specialist.

So, I went to my general practitioner, who wrote me an open-ended work limit, as I was still being shifted from specialist to specialist as each found something else wrong with me. Cut to December; I was on my day off having a really bad pain day between the arthritis and a migraine, when someone from Human Resources called.

Despite me telling her I was having a bad pain day, she proceeded to harass me about my work limits, asking me when I was “going to get over this.” I kept trying to tell her that I didn’t know as I hadn’t even been given permission to start physical therapy yet, as I had to see yet another specialist first.  

She refused to listen and kept insisting that they needed an end date, and she would say things like, “You can tell me you’re feeling better but I need a note from the doctor!”

“But I’m not feeling better! I’m in severe pain right now!” I’d say over and over again. “I have to see another doctor first!” 

She started insisting I go to the doctor that same day, something that was absolutely impossible short of cutting my arm off. 

Finally, between her constant harassment and not listening to me, topped by my increasingly bad pain, I burst into tears. She finally allowed me to get off the phone. 

The next day at work, I sent an email to HR listing all my doctors’ appointments, explaining what was going on, and saying I’d try to get another doctor’s note soon, but they had to be patient. I reminded them that the day I was called, I was in extreme pain at the time of the phone call. 

They sent me back an email accusing me of not even trying to see a doctor, despite me giving them names and dates of every appointment. 

I contacted my union rep to see if they could even do this but never heard back from her. However, I did get one orthopedist to write a letter to HR detailing all the different doctors I’d had to see just for my shoulder alone and the need for physical therapy.

My GP wrote me another letter, this time with an end date, but really, I’m still not ready to shelve or push heavy carts. Thankfully, my coworkers understand this.

As for my shoulder, yes, it is osteoarthritis along with two bones that are rubbing together because the cartilage is nearly worn away and inflamed tissue is catching between them. The orthopedist suspects it’s a repetitive motion injury from working for years in the library, caused by the very shelving that’s giving me so much pain now. I’ve started physical therapy and it is improving, and I’ll get a shot between the two bones soon. 

But I’ll never forgive HR for accusing me of not trying to see a doctor when I gave them the list of all my doctors’ appointments, and while I could get in trouble for submitting this story if they recognize it, I really needed to vent.

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