A reader contacted me a few days ago looking for work. When I found out why he needed work, I was shocked, and asked him if I could post the details here. From what he told me, it sounded like something a lawyer could help him with, but obviously I have no definitive idea if that is true or not. I'm hoping one of my readers may have some advice for him.
Note - I had him make this letter anonymous, but obviously if you work for a place willing to accommodate him, please leave a comment with a way for him to contact you.
I've recently hit quite a wall with my current job, which happens to be for an unnamed Fortune 500 company. I have degenerative disc disease such that I can't sit in a normal posture for more than 30 minutes without experiencing severe pain in my back and legs. I have gone to great lengths to try and deal with the pain and potentially get better. I've spent quite a bit on chiropractic care, nerve blocks, and drug cocktails including steroids, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers and pain killers. I continue working with the most arduous physical therapy techniques I've been taught. I've bought or played with every ergonomic or pain relief device I could find. The only thing that seems to really help is a recliner I purchased for my home office that puts my body in what's known as a "zero-gravity" position. Recently, I took 10 days of vacation to try my home office chair combined with breaks of light exercise and I actually started getting better.
I requested for company to help me out and they initially agreed to purchase me a corporate standard ergonomic chair and footrest, which actually does little for my condition but I was willing to give it a try. Unfortunately, I still had to spend the majority of my day standing while working on my laptop or walking around or stretching to try and accomplish SOMETHING while coping with the pain the best I could. This didn't work well for me.
So I submitted a request to my company along with my neurosurgeon's recommendation to allow me to work from home as needed or to purchase the same equipment for me at work. It has been many weeks since I submitted this request and since then I have had 2 separate bouts when I could not get out of bed for several days due to excruciating pain in my lower body and hips. Apparently, I have been favoring my hips to deflect pain from my back, which has caused my hips to become severely out of alignment. I know longer have any more sick or vacation time and according to company policy I will be forced into Short Term Disability if I have any more absences.
This Thursday I received notice that my company has rejected my accommodation request and claimed there was not enough medical evidence provided by my doctor to justify me working from home.
From what I've learned one has to have an MRI showing the discs fusing together or something that looks "bad" before one can get any accommodation or disability benefit. All the surgeons I have seen made it very clear that my condition is probably not the result of an acute injury nor is there a correlation between how "bad" the discs look and the amount of pain that's caused by the pressure in the nerves.
Here's another kicker. I'm only 29 and I'm actually in good shape physically, which makes this quite embarrassing and it also makes me a target for suspicion since I don't "look" sick or disabled. I have a lot of core strength and mobility, but what I need to recover is to consistently allow decompression of my spine and stimulate circulation. This is exactly what a zero-gravity chair helps do. There are a handful of recliners that allow me to get that effect while still being able to work from my laptop, none of which come cheap.
Sad story, but the bottom line is that I'm looking for a new web development job that would allow me to work remotely most of the time. And of course, if you know ANYONE who thinks they can help me with this issue, I would be immeasurable grateful!