Foggy thinks Sally has been pushing herself a little bit too hard and wishes she would/could slow down a bit (Not possible Fogs). Foggy would like his non-M.E. sufferer Followers to understand why work demands can make symptoms worse. He is going to use Sally’s typical work day as an example to show how working can affect symptoms.
Sally works in a large library…..she has said that the building is HUGE!! It takes 85 of her human steps to walk from one end of the floor to the other and there are 3 floors for her to get around each day. Sally has a direct facing customer service role and her shifts are fixed to meet customer demand. This means she is unable to tweak her hours if work demands get to much on a bad M.E. day. Her work day is rigidly timetabled and there aren’t many sit down/away from service area jobs to retreat to when the day gets too busy. There are often between 700 – 900 humans in the building at any one time and the building can become hectic and busy. This means that on a daily basis she is probably doing her 10,000 recommended steps during working hours.
Let’s talk practicalities for a moment. Working in a library means pushing heavy trolleys laden with around 75 books around corners, through doorways, across floors and in/out of lifts. Ever moved house? Got a bookcase? Remember how heavy those boxes of books were? Sally has to lift and shift these books on a daily basis. Anyone with M.E. will appreciate how carrying heavy objects can make your arms feel….extremely tired. Sally is an intelligent woman and is more than capable of answering any query. However, the physical nature of the role can make her brain 15 seconds slower than she would like. She often finds it hard to string a coherent sentence together; she forgets words. Her brain gets tired at the same rate as her body. There have been many occasions when Sally has been halfway up a flight of stairs to the floor above and her body wants to give up. She has to stop for a slight breather so she doesn’t completely grind to a halt.
Sally started working at the Library when she graduated from her masters degree 7 years ago. The role has completely changed from when she started; the Library has evolved during that time into a more customer focused environment. As the Library duties have grown and expanded, Sally’s tiredness has increased. During her first Occupational Health visit 7 years ago Sally was told that library work wasn’t ideal with her condition, but that all necessary adjustments could be made. This would be great if Sally had her own designated working environment but she doesn’t. Hot desking and shared information points mean Sally isn’t able to adjust her working environment to suit her needs. Sally has told Foggy she feels she would be able to manage her symptoms much better if she had a job with a desk, flexi time and her own seat! Unfortunately, the fluorescent lighting and air conditioning makes her symptoms worse than they should be and Sally has to wear tinted glasses and layered clothing to cope. When Sally gets cold she gets ‘bone-cold’ and no amount of clothing warms her up. When the Library heating kicks in the heat is overwhelming and stifling for Sally; this can often make her slightly breathless, heady and makes her body feels like it is wilting. This can be tricky when she is customer facing! Pacing therapy has to come in to play when her symptoms are bad but a direct customer facing role doesn’t really allow for unscheduled time away from the desk.. Other M.E. sufferers bodies simply can’t cope with the demands of working; She is lucky to be able to ‘push through it’ and continue working. She plans on working for as long as M.E allows her to; she has bills to pay the same as everyone else.
Foggy wants Sally to start looking after herself and thinks she needs to find a job which doesn’t wear her out quite as much. She is very good at her job, a natural communicator but struggles with the physical nature of the role. If any of Foggy Followers think she is doing a fantastic job with this campaign and can help with a future job possibility please get in touch.