FWD: Medical Disabilty/Contracting/Jobs

Subject: FWD: Medical Disabilty/Contracting/Jobs
From: TECHWR-L Administrator <admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 08 Jun 2007 10:46:21 -0600

Forwarded anonymously on request - please respond on list.
Responses will not be forwarded back to sender.

A few years ago, I started having medical problems that turned out to be
adult onset of asthma. I thought "Oh, all I need is an inhaler and I'll
be fine." But I continued to have attacks that sent me to the emergency
room a few times a year. I went to a specialist and testing showed that
my asthma was very severe. The effect of this is that I have chronic
problems with fatigue and have periods of absolute exhaustion when it is
difficult to wake up early in the morning. Two years ago, I had to go on
short-term disability for a few months because my lungs were severely
inflammed. When I went back to work, I had to have a workplace
accommodation that said that I couldn't work more than 50 hours a week.
This was fine for awhile, but when the accommodation was in place for
six months, HR asked how much longer I would need it. The doctor said
that it had to continue indefinitely. My manager then proceeded to end
my job because she wanted someone in the position who could work more
than 50 hours a week. I was also getting sick quite often because asthma
affects your immune system, so I had used up all my sick leave and
vacation time for sick days which is considered bad.

I started contracting while I looked for another full-time job and I've
basically worked five contracts in the last 1 1/2 years without finding
a full-time job. I've had a few contracts that were supposed to lead to
full-time jobs, but as soon as the managers figured out that I get sick
a lot, they ended my contract. One manager told me it was a big red flag
to get sick the first month on the job. At first, when I filled out the
job applications, I didn't say that I was disabled, but after a few jobs
were ended due to my illness, and after talking to my doctor about it, I
started marking the box that said that I was disabled. I thought that
would keep people from hiring me if they had a problem with an employee
with medical problems. But so far, it doesn't seem to have helped me.

The problem is that I only have nine months until my Cobra medical
insurance ends, and at the rates that are charged for private medical
insurance in my state, I wouldn't be able to buy the medical insurance
and still pay my other bills. My income has also gone down because of
sick days that I have to take, which I don't get paid for (although I do
often make up much of the time during times when I'm not sick). I'm not
sure what to do.

The way that my medical condition affects my work:

1. I sometimes come in late in the morning during weeks when I'm having
problems with exhaustion
2. I catch everything that goes around the office and I get sicker than
other people
3. I can't work more than 50 hours a week or more than 10 hours a day

Luckily, I write faster than other people so I have been able to get all
my work done in spite of all the illnesses. But I think that managers
get frustrated that I get things done very fast, then get sick, then get
a lot of stuff done again, etc., because they see that if I didn't get
sick so much, I would be producing at a much higher level than the other
people. But there isn't much that I can do about it.

I've tried to find jobs that will let me work from home because that
keeps me from being exposed to people who are sick, so I have many fewer
sick days that way. But I haven't had any luck finding a job like that.
My finances aren't good enough right now for me to take a part-time
position, although I might be able to do that in late 2008 when I have
my bills paid off (I was a single mother for many years and I'm just now
getting the last one out of the house). Or, I could try to find a
manager who would let me work fewer than 50 hours a week and doesn't
mind that I have a flexible schedule--my personal version of chasing

So, does anyone have any suggestions for what I can do? Does anyone know
if there's a Web site or agency that helps people search for jobs when
they have a disability? I have so many years of experience as a tech
writer and such a broad skill set that it doesn't make sense to start
over in another field at this point in my life. Besides that, I have an
English degree, so what else can I do?


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