Thursday, June 30, 2011


*Did you know that if you suffer a workplace injury & are subsequently discarded by your employer because they are worried about money, money, money, you are then completely powerless in that regard? The Workplace Safety & Insurance Board, (WSIB) will then give you 10 weeks (Aka Labor Market Re-entry Program) to find another job that you are able to do, even though you were doing great at your previous one. They won’t help you fight to get your previous job back, even though that is their supposed role. Once that 10 weeks is up,(July 1st for me) if you still don't have a job, that's it, no other plan, no discussion, you're cut off, period!

After numerous and I mean numerous interviews, I have yet to be hired. Frankly, I do not understand it as I have NEVER, had a problem finding a job in my line of work. I have an exemplary work history, which leaves me wondering why I am not successful in my job search. I am trying very hard not to have a pity party...I did my very best to find a job, yet it has not happened thus far. The deadline for WSIB to cut me off stands at T minus 1 day. Now, just as an FYI, I must offer you the most important piece of advice you will EVER get: DO YOUR ABSOLUTE BEST TO NEVER GET HURT ON THE JOB. If you do, it will be your worst nightmare. How I wish I could turn back time and accede to my husband’s wishes that I not go to the specific home in which I was injured. The ‘nurse’ in me, would not allow me to abandon the patient. Isn’t it ironic how I ended up the patient instead, and moreover being discriminated against? Perhaps I am not successful in finding a new job because I will be victorious in my Human Rights case and my employer will be ordered to give me my job back. Now, how’s that for thinking positive?

Since my injury in November of 2007, it certainly has been a rough road. The chronic pain was my largest obstacle and having finally garnered control of the pain that almost destroyed me, I believed it would be smooth sailing from that point on. In many ways it has been. I absolutely must turn this situation around and focus on the positive, as we all know that negative thinking causes all sorts of problems. As I was 'surfing the good old web' today, I saw an article stating that positive thinking can actually make people feel worse. I can't say that I agree with that at all but you may read their point of view here.

Back when I was suffering 24/7, I had no fight in me whatsoever. I couldn’t handle conflict of any sort. Now that I am not suffering every minute, I know in my heart I will eventually turn this situation around. In fact, I must if I am ever to return to the job I love and miss dearly. I suppose today’s thoughts are coming from a reflective place. In fact I do this often as reflective thinking is a must for nursing practice. Also, I turn the big *45* today…and I always find that I think back to the past and what has happened in my life up until that point. Isn’t that what birthdays are all about? The way I see it, I am basically past mid-life and if I am going to accomplish what I wish, I must get a move on. Thank goodness I now have the physical ability to do so. Life passes us by so quickly and therefore I feel I must do whatever is necessary to accomplish my goals because ‘time’s a tickin’…

Well, I suppose now would be a great time to go pray my little heart out and check the new job postings…

Take care and stay well,

Thursday, June 23, 2011

THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD.....OR.....COULDN'T: Coping in the workplace with disability and chronic pain

Returning and/or remaining in the workforce can be challenging for anyone. There are numerous stresses such as deadlines, conflicts and personal issues that can effect an individual’s success in the workplace. When one is disabled and suffering with chronic pain, the difficulties and challenges become magnified many times over. The World Health Organization defines disability as: “Disability is any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.” As a person experiencing returning to the workforce with a disability, I can assure you that it is a daunting task. A down right scary one at that.

I have previously stated that my pain is well controlled now and for that I could not be any more thrilled. I have also stated that I do very well as long as I don’t over-do it too much. Well, yesterday I did. I attended a combination job interview/job trial that kept me from home for too many hours. The drive time alone took one hour and 10 minutes ONE way. Then I had a brief interview/orientation and proceeded to carry out the tasks of the job for 8 hours.

As a nurse for 21 years, this job is something I have never done before. It is basically a quality control position. This pharmacy company provides pre-packed medications and blister packs for nursing homes, chronic care hospitals and retirement homes. In other words, it is a medication-packing factory. It is an extremely fast-paced environment as they provide this service not only for local places but also for nursing homes as far away as a 5 hour drive. Needless to say it is very busy. My job was to ensure that the pre-packaged medication that was sealed by the machine had the correct medication in it. Frankly, you would be surprised to see how many errors do in fact occur and therefore this quality control position is essential.

When I returned home last evening I felt one step away from dead. I fell asleep quite early and awoke feeling horrid pain that I have not experienced for a while. Still feeling exhausted this morning, it quickly became apparent that I had ‘over-done it’ and my body was screaming this at me in no uncertain terms. The manager of the pharmacy stated that he would contact me by the end of the week and let me know if I have the job. I need to work, as WSIB will no longer pay me beyond the end of the month, which is 7 days from now. So, what to do…

I didn’t mind the job at all, my only concern is whether or not I can actually be successful long-term in this position. Will I in time become better able to manage the job or will I fall on my face and fail miserably? I want to be the ‘Little Engine That Could,’ truly I do. There is much documentation regarding this topic and you may read a few of them here, here and here. I know many disabled and/or chronic pain sufferers have been successful in their careers and I would love to hear from anyone that has ever been in this type of situation in which I now find myself.

Take care and stay well,

Monday, June 20, 2011


It has just occurred to me that it has been a long while since I posted anything about my thyroid or lack there of. In part, the reason for this was that I had bigger fish to fry lately. Does this mean that my thyroid issues are no longer causing problems? Well, yes and no. My thyroid was removed October of 2004. Thinking back on that time, I was absolutely terrified. Case in point, I recently found a message I posted to the Cancer Survivors Network via the American Cancer Society, which you may read here. I received some very good comments that helped put my mind at ease.

At that time, I had no idea how much of a difficult road it would be post-thyroidectomy. Unfortunately, I had little choice in the matter because my thyroid had been destroyed by radiation treatment for lymphoma many years prior. I didn’t lose my voice after the surgery and I was beyond ecstatic that the surgery went well and there were no complications until a bit later when they came in droves. Rather than reiterate all of the details, you may wish to read the article I posted here on Ulitzer. I suffered with all and several more of the listed symptoms except of course for the myxedema coma. If I had developed this issue I would likely not be on the planet any longer. The point is that I despite being a nurse for many years I had absolutely NO idea just how important this little gland is for every cell in the body. Also explained in the article is desiccated thyroid that turned out to be the answer to my ever-growing list of symptoms.

Almost 2 years ago to the day, I was invited to post a “Thyroidectomized Letter of Sadness” on the wonderful site “” which you will find here. It was a silly sort of letter but funny enough, that is how I felt and still feel. Regardless of medication, I miss my thyroid more than I could ever express. There are some great posts on the site that you really should read if you are having any type of thyroid problem. Laughter is and always will be the best medicine, well that and the proper thyroid medication of course…

Most importantly, I spent hours upon hours looking for thyroid information. I think I earned a PhD in thyroid from Mary Shomon. She is an exceptional patient advocate who also suffers with thyroid disease and has worked tirelessly to educate people. She has done amazing things for the thyroid community and her site is a great place to start. You will find pages and pages of excellent information at

I suppose that I have come a long way since that early post of 2004 on the Survivors Network. However, I recently had a brief chat with Ms Shomon about the effects that menopause can have on the individual with thyroid problems. As it turns out, it plays a big role, which certainly explains why I have recently been experiencing symptoms I have not had for several years. (Yes, I am unfortunately that old now.) Mary has also written a book (among many others) on this specific topic, which I plan to purchase this week. To get me started however, I have been searching through her site about the impact of menopause on the thyroid. If you are at that “lovely age” approaching menopause, start here for more information from Mary.

So, this is basically my update regarding thyroid, because after all, my blog did start out as “Journey through Thyroidlessness.” I sincerely hope that some of this information and links will help my fellow thyroid disease sufferers.

Take care and stay well,

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I am not a naive fool, I realize that despite what I want to happen, I may not get my job back. I can prepare the case to the best of my ability however many things in life don't turn out the way we want them to. So, do I sit around waiting for the case and then make a move to a new job afterward or do I look for alternate work in the meantime? Frankly, my point was what if I start a new job and then my former employer is forced to take me back? I did not and still do not see it as fair to a new employer. But, I have still continued to send out my resume and attend job interviews as per WSIB.

When my employer discarded me, WSIB sent me through what they call the ‘Labour Market Re-entry’, program. This involved me attending a sort of job workshop operated by the Ontario March of Dimes. They are a group that advocates for the disabled. I truly did not want to go but frankly had no choice as it was a requirement from WSIB. As it turned out, it was not as bad as I thought it would be and the people running the program are very good at what they do. My issue with it all is that I don’t truly consider myself disabled anymore. My pain was my disability and now that it is controlled I am doing well. I realize the underlying issue still remains, however as long as I am careful and ensure I don’t overdo it, my pain is absent. That is all I wanted all along and what I struggled toward since the workplace injury occurred. I have nothing at all except praise for the March of Dimes. They are a kind-hearted bunch of lovely folks that encourage and help anyone with a disability. If nothing else I am a better person for having met them all.

At this point, I have been on several interviews and nothing has yet materialized. The most recent interview was as a nurse for a physician’s office, actually for two of them. I thought the interview went great and for the first time since I started this process, I actually could visualize myself working for these doctors and enjoying it for many years to come. Moreover, even working for them and caring a less if my Human Rights case against my previous employer went my way. Further to this, there is the issue of travel. There are few jobs in the little town in which I live and used to work and all of the interviews have been held in the closest city to me. This means a one hour drive one way. That was a big issue for me, as I did not wish to spend two hours of every day simply driving to and from work. Even so, I was still thinking positively about the doctors’ office position and truly felt as though I would enjoy the job despite the drive time required. But, I have not heard back from them yet. I wish I knew why.

My only concern with having the March of Dimes involved was the fact that they do follow-ups and assist potential employees with the job search. They contact employers regarding the particular issues effecting disabled individuals in the workplace. The fact that I do not consider myself ‘disabled’ anymore means I certainly do not bring it up with potential employers. If I felt it would effect my job performance in any way, I would speak up and explain the details of my injury. In several cases I have asked March of Dimes not to contact any employer on my behalf and I don’t believe they have. Therefore, I am at a loss as to why I have not yet found another job. Nurses are in short supply and I have never had a problem getting a job. Except for recently and frankly I don’t understand it. I have to keep telling myself that whatever is meant to be will be and perhaps it may well work out that I will be given my previous job back and won’t have to worry about all of these potential employers and interviews.

The bottom line is that I absolutely abhor all of this uncertainty. I simply want it all said and done. Whether I win my case or not and whether I will be working for my previous employer or a new one entirely, I just need it to happen soon. In the grand scheme of things this is not a horrible issue considering other challenges I’ve faced in the past. It’s just that for some reason the uncertainty of this situation just weighs very heavily upon me. I’m simply just a peace-loving individual and I want and need the peace that will come with the resolution of this situation.

Take care and stay well,

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY: Part 3 of the Lengthy "Back Story" it continues...

November 1, 2010, after a normal workday I received a call from my manager. She stated: “I spoke to head office and they said you are not to come in. You are on ‘hold.’ After asking her what on earth that meant, she replied: “They just said to call you and tell you that you are on hold.” I then asked her to please find out exactly what that meant and to call me back when she knew. Well, I didn’t hear from her for several days so I contacted her again. She still had no rhyme or reason for their ‘on hold’ scenario. Every couple of days, I would call again and either ask her directly or leave her a voicemail. NO RESPONSE…My response did however arrive 2 weeks later in the form of a Record of Employment. They had decided that I represented too much of a risk to their bottom line.

They were chock full of the ‘what ifs’ and the financial risk to the company that they could care less about what they were doing to me. The day that the dismissal letter arrived, you seriously could have knocked me over with a feather. I WAS SHOCKED! I had no idea that this is what “on hold” actually meant. Now, I could understand them doing this if I had not been doing well over the past 7 months. Yet, I did absolutely great and never missed a day due to my injury or pain.

Prior to my successful return for the 7 months, I had tried to return to work repeatedly and failed each and every time because my pain was still too severe. Frankly, I could understand them discarding me after one of my numerous failed attempts, but to have me return and do well for 7 months and then cast me aside? I simply do not understand it at all. Anyone that I explain it to shakes his or her head as well. Further to this, it meant that I was again forced to deal with WSIB (workers comp) and that in itself is a big ole barrel of cherries, sour cherries at that!

So, this is why I started the Human Rights case. I do not think they should be allowed to literally BLINDSIDE an employee the way they did me. I am absolutely not the type of person that would ever launch a frivolous lawsuit and frankly I could care less about getting money out of them. I simply want them to give me my job back. Is that too much to ask? Well, apparently it is because they have hired some Human Rights lawyer that charges almost $3000.00/hr. For my side, well it’s just iddy bitty me. I’m no fancy lawyer and in fact I know very little about law, but I do know when my rights have been violated. I have already told them that I have no interest in this case and that I don’t even want money. I just want the job I love back! Most people think I am crazy for wanting to work for this company again. But for me, it isn’t about the employer. It is the job. I love community nursing and always will. It would be awesome if there was another agency in the area that offered home care but right now, Bayshore is the only one. I don’t do it for the employer, I do what I do for the patients. The company is largely irrelevant as I have always loved community nursing.

The most pathetic part of this is the latest documents that I have received regarding their reply are full of lies. Believe it or not, outright blatant lies! I have always been honest, sometimes honest to a fault and would never lie about something as serious as this. Apparently the Human Rights Tribunal can force them to take me back and it is my fervent hope that they will do exactly that. What they have done is wrong! If I win my case, it will also be publicized and perhaps then they will realize that they can not dispose of injured employees like yesterday’s garbage. Unfortunately, this in not the first time they have done this to an injured worker and quite frankly it is a downright disgrace.

At this point, I have just replied to the lies in their documents and apparently they are to respond again to me and then the case will commence. As much as I don’t want to go through this, it needs to be done, not just for me but for all the present and/or future employees of this company. Wrong is wrong right?

Take care and stay well,

P.S. Presently, because I have no idea how long it will take for my case to come up, I have been forced by WSIB to look for work. Interviews abound…fun, real fun…

THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY: Part 2 of the Lengthy "Back Story"

April of 2010 was an awesome month for me. I finally achieved what I had wanted since my workplace injury on November 2007. (For anyone that does not wish to read older posts, I was injured trying to catheterize a 500-pound woman). After a couple of months of working on getting my pain medication to an optimal level, I was ready, willing and able to return to work. Frankly, I had long ago resigned myself to the fact that I would never be able to function well at all, never mind returning to work. But, I did. I was literally more excited than a small child on Christmas Eve…

My employer, Bayshore Home Health, decided that I would be ‘buddied’ up with another nurse to ensure that I was able to carry out the tasks of the job. It had been 3 years and so I thought that was quite a reasonable plan. I knew I was atrophied and would need to build up my strength. It would afford me the opportunity to slowly work my way up to becoming independent again. Good plan right? I was told that this was only a temporary measure, that once I was able to build up my stamina I would be given my own caseload to take care of as I had done for years.

After a couple of months travelling along with my fellow nurse, I was doing great and had not encountered anything in the community nursing environment that I was unable to do. Both my colleague and I reported to our manager that I was doing well and was more than ready to be out in the community on my own. Every week or so, we reported the same thing and always received the same reply from the manager: “Just a little while longer until your doctor and head office says you can be on your own.” So, I shut my mouth, continued to work Monday through Friday without a problem. None whatsoever!

In hopes of removing my need for a ‘babysitter’ my physician filled out a report stating that I could see patients on my own. However, because of my injury, she stated that I should only see patients requiring lighter type care. For example task such as: changing dressings, taking blood pressures, giving injections. Unfortunately, my employer was apparently thinking that my physician was going to clear me for any and all possible patient care. Anyone with a lick of sense would realize that after an injury that incapacitated me for 3 years, a doctor would never give full clearance. After all that had happened, she would have been a fool to say, “Yes, you have free reign, go do whatever they ask you to.” They expected me to be able to jump back in and provide nursing care to anyone even 500 pound patients. Just a tad bit unreasonable?

The very sad part about it all is that my employer was warned that this particular patient situation was an accident waiting to happen. I had my manager come into the home to assess it for herself and after promising to get more assistance, she ended up just telling me to “Be careful.” All of the other nurses had already refused to nurse this patient due to the risk, yet I, feeling guilty that she would be left without care could not say no…A nurse with a heart, working for a company that could care less about their employees. Am I a fool or what?

Please stay tuned as part 3 is to be posted today as well.

Take care and stay well,