This weekend a blizzard hit the East Coast. Its center hovered close to my house, right around the Baltimore/DC area. There were certainly areas that got more snow than we did, but the 29.2 inch record that assaulted us was enough for me.
On Friday morning, I hesitantly drove into work, knowing the storm could be on its way as early as right after noon. Typically, I work from 9:45AM to 12:45PM on Fridays, and I had concerns about driving home when the roads were slick with the beginnings of snow.
I had called into work that morning. “I just want to make sure the office is open this morning.” I was greeted with a “Yes we are open.” Unspoken was that it would be silly of me to cancel work over a little snowstorm.
When I got to work, I overheard the Clinic Manager conversing with the office staff. They were deciding if they were going to be open the next day. As if they would have any choice after a blizzard came through all Friday night, continuing into the entire weekend. Wasn’t the decision already made?
Thankfully, work was cut short on Friday for me because most of my clients cancelled due to the impending snow.
The weekend came. The snow came as expected. The roads were treacherous and our apartment parking lot was and is a disaster. Sunday I got the notification that work would be open starting at 12 noon on Monday, meaning I would have to go in for my 4:00PM to 8:00PM shift.
My heart sinks. I do not want to go out in these conditions.
Because of my chronic pain, I do not want to take unnecessary risks. I know that keeping places of work open is often due to financial reasons. I can assure you it does not come out of a desire to care for our clients well, which should be the whole point. To that end, I do believe it is often selfish to make your employees come in when the conditions are treacherous and the employees are not absolutely necessary for someone’s health or safety.
This morning I was just trying to decide if I was going to call in to say that I was just unable to make it when I got another text: Work is closed today.
Work was cancelled, and I am so relieved.
What most healthy individuals do not understand is that something that is a little risk for them can be a HUGE risk for someone with chronic pain or illness.
Getting stuck in the snow may be an inconvenience when you are healthy, but it would be a disaster for me.
If I had to stay in my car longer than I planned to be out for the day, I would have a relapse.
If I had to shovel snow…well I can’t shovel snow.
If I had to walk to get help…well I can’t walk more than about 5 minutes without triggering a major unrelenting flare-up of pain for the next few months.
If I slipped on the ice…I don’t even want to go there. It would be disastrous for my pain.
If I got into a minor car accident that would have no lasting effects on a healthy individual…I can guarantee it would set me back for months, maybe years.
I do not have the resources to manage anything beyond driving to work, getting through work, and staying at work.
Add a snow-related inconvenience or disaster into the mix, and I would be toast.
The moral of the story? Be kind to your neighbors with chronic pain and disability this winter. Don’t ask someone to take unnecessary risks if they don’t want to – they may be living under circumstances you are not aware of. Shovel their snow, salt their driveways, get them groceries, and check in to make sure they are ok. These things may be inconvenient for you, but they are dangerous for us.
And for those of us with chronic pain and illness? I am speaking to my own self when I say I think we need to stand up for ourselves and not be bullied or shamed into risks we do not want to take.
First snow of the year, and I already can’t wait until winter is over.
How did all of you fair with the storm?
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