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Spinal stenosis and Fibromyalgia and want to leave work

ussieussie Member Posts: 8 Listener
edited November 2017 in Employment and careers
Hello, I have just joined and I’m looking for some advice please. I have Spinal stenosis and Fibromyalgia which leaves me in chronic pain. My Doctor is not supportive, I live on my own and have to work to support myself. I work on a checkout in a supermarket which involves a lot of heavy items which causes my back to lock up. I have asked my Doctor to support me in leaving work and trying to claim benefit to help me stop being in so much agony, she refuses by saying it won’t help my depression to give up work, even though I tell her how much pain it causes me. I am 59 years of age. Does anyone have any advice for me please, I feel like I am knocking my head against a wall. 


  • Sam_AlumniSam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,731 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @ussie welcome to the community.

    It sounds like you are in a tough situation here, would looking for a less physical job be helpful to you?  It might be useful for you to chat with an employment advisor, you can get in touch with the Work With Me team here. i have moved your post to the ask an employment advisor section to see if they have any ideas to help.

    Do you see anyone in a specialist pain team? If you've been struggling with pain for more than 12 weeks, there are many services that can help. 

    I understand that the pain is difficult for you but do you feel that the GP could have a point about your mental health and having the routine of work? 
    Senior online community officer
  • TeddyloTeddylo Member Posts: 23 Listener
    I'm in a similar situation & feel so worried & stressing myself mentally. My doctor signed me off as my job involved other people's care & involved lifting & moving people eg stand aid, hoist. My doctor could see the level of pain from blood tests. I have a capability test on Friday which I'm dreading then I have to wait until my work consult their lawyers. I'm getting depressed & wishing I was fit & healthy again. 
  • ussieussie Member Posts: 8 Listener
    Hi Sam,
    Thank you for moving my post to the Work with me Team, yes a different job may help off course although I have lost a lot of my confidence. Yes I have done numerous courses with the pain management team at the Nuffield Hospital in Oxford, living with long term pain and the Optimise course. They do help, but the day to day living with pain wears you down. Yes I understand the Doctor has her reasons for saying it is better to go to work, for depression, but the stress of trying to manage to stay at work when you have time off for pain and then on your return to work you get a disciplinary for absence, it is stressful, demoralising and makes you afraid to feel ill or scared to tell anyone what pain you are in. And when your Doctor does not understand this, you feel you would just be better of dead! 
  • ussieussie Member Posts: 8 Listener
    Hi Teddylo,
    I do understand your worries, it is a horrible situation to be in, unfortunately nobody can see pain! I do hope things work out well for you, try not to stress to much as I have found that increases my pain. 

    I will I’ll be wishing you well.
    Ussie x

  • Sam_AlumniSam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,731 Disability Gamechanger
    I do get where you are coming from @ussie - it is so difficult.  I totally get the loss of confidence too, I was out of work for a while due to having lots of operations and it totally knocked me.

    It is really important to look after your mental health as much as your physical health, are you getting any support for this?
    Senior online community officer
  • pia_scopepia_scope Scope Support to Work service Posts: 41 Courageous
    [email protected]

    I'm sorry to hear about the situation that you are in.
    My first thoughts are, have you spoken to your employer about it?
    Are they aware of your health conditions?
    Would they have a more suitable job role for you within the company?

    My advise would be to talk to your employer first to see if there is a solution available.
    If it's not possible, then maybe it is better for you to look for another job?
    It might sound daunting but try to see it from the positive side.
    You might just find a job that doesn't cause you any added pain.

    If you find yourself in the situation of looking for another job, and if you would like support with employability skills, then you are more than welcome to contact us at [email protected] or by calling 0300 222 5742.

    I wish you all the best & hope that you will find a solution to your situation!

    Please let us know how you are getting on.

    Scope Employment Advisor
    Phone: 0300 222 5742
    Email: [email protected]

  • ussieussie Member Posts: 8 Listener
    Hi Pia,
    i have had numerous conversations with my employers, due to having disclipinsries for my absence levels. They are not interested in my health problems even though I have worked for them for over 20 years. They say if you are not fit to do the work you should not be working, but like I say my Doctor won’t sign me off even though I am 59 years old next month and have numerous health problems, it is very depressing for me to be in this situation. Even if I tried to get a new job my employers would have to declare to them my absence levels and I am doubtful they would employ me as I am hardly a good bet! 

    Yesterday after getting off the tills after 3 hours solid working with no break I was in so much pain, my back had completely locked up and I could not even stand or move then when I get come the exhaustion kicks in and all I can do is sleep, but sleeping is agony too so I wake every hour or so and then wake up feeling tired, please tell me how it is fair to continue when this is my daily cycle? 

    Ussie x

  • TeddyloTeddylo Member Posts: 23 Listener
    Ussie, your situation is like a mirror image of mine & I really feel for the impossible situation you find yourself in. I have a meeting at my work today at 2pm & I am absolutely feeling so stressed about what they are going to do or try & push me into..The culture in many work places including mine can be very stressful, unhealthy & uncaring & especially in my place if someone is seen to have special arrangements it causes an absolute mutiny with other staff so the situation remains toxic until the person leaves !
  • ussieussie Member Posts: 8 Listener
    Hi Teddylo,
    How did your meeting go, was it as bad as you thought it would be? I cannot believe in this day and age that employers are not more disability aware, it is shameful that they do not do more to help employees with disabilities to be comfortable at work. I have been asking for a chair to allow me to sit more comfortably at my checkout for more than 6 years- to no avail. The chair I use does not support my back or legs and my feet just dangle, but they do not care. 
    I do hope your meeting was successful and the outcome was what you hoped! 
    Wishing you a good weekend!
    Ussie x
  • GeoarkGeoark Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,373 Disability Gamechanger
    @ussie it is not fair, and unfortunately this is not uncommon with shops. I have friends who suffer with working in large chain stores though they often have policies in place.  The general impression I get is it one of the areas where promotion can be quick and you often end up with youngish managers who are not aware of disability issues. Not an excuse, just an observation.

    If you work for a chain of supermarkets I would recommend getting in touch with HR and request a work place assessment as this does not seem to have happened.

    A good resource to check out is http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=3017

    The first pdf is also a good one to read, and can be found at http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/1/0/Equality_discrim_understand_basics_Nov.pdf

    It doesn't matter if they care or not, if taken to tribunal they would have to justify their actions, or lack of them. It doesn't have to go to tribunal, as ACAS has helped many people to resolve issues without going this far. 

    @Teddylo you might find these useful as well.

    I hope you both manage to find a suitable solution.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • TeddyloTeddylo Member Posts: 23 Listener
    Well my meeting at work yesterday was productive in that they are terminating my employment on capability as my doctor said I couldn't go back to physical work, so that's it. I'm waiting on a letter they said they will send to me to take to the benefits office. I've also just found out that my application for council tax reduction has not been applied to my account & to cap it all I just received my pip report & my assessor clearly is in need of a hearing aid as she has not recorded the information correctly & has included exercises I did not even do. Why is everything so difficult. I think I will need to try & get to the advice shop which is not easy to get to for help on all this. I hope things get easier for you with your job, you really do have to fight for everything now !
    I hope you have a good weekend & I'm going to have a stiff gin to tonight while planning my route of attack on the DWP & council !

    Teddylo x
  • jamie1965jamie1965 Member Posts: 85 Courageous
    I have the same health issues as yourself and a few more I’m lucky my doctor is brilliant my work place however are not I have been working for them 10 years and I turned down being a manager as I did not want the responsibility of looking after staff when I was struggling to look after myself I to have to go to capability hearing shortly as I am on my first warning but there occ health nurse has told them not to expect me back for a while and that they should look at given me a laptop to work from home the only thing is they seem to be managing everyone with health issues out of there jobs and the staff they are getting rid of our there most of experienced and best workers they have filled the office with agency staff and apprenticeships to take calls none of them know what they are doing but they work 40 hrs a week for half of what I get and they have no intentions of keeping them on and are quite vocal about it to a lot of places say there are modern companies but there work ethics are Victorian my tummy turns over every time I see my office block cause I always wonder what they gonna try next it is an awful way to feel and live and a shame I used to love my job that’s why I am so good at it but now I feel so disappointed in them and myself I hate being in pain everyday some days can’t walk at all and they have the cheek to say if we come down and help you to your desk can you come in I was sick in the office the other week very embarrassing but there response was take 5mins you’ll be fine I told them since when do you have a medical degree I’m going home and I called my partner he come to get me have not been back in yet 
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