Sunday, April 22, 2012

Truck driving and Meniere’s disease


Meniere’s disease can be a real life changer especially when it comes to work. The sudden Meniere’s attacks without any warning (maybe some warning) can cause you great disruptions at work and at home. Your productivity not to mention your safety can be in peril. In my own case I have been out of work for some time and I have been trying like a lot of folks to get on Social Security Disability. While my work  was mostly in front of computer screens (made me very dizzy) I can’t hardly imagine how scary it would be to have Meniere’s and work with heavy machinery or at a construction site.

I received a comment from Don the other day about that exact situation…

I'm curious and would like to hear from other reader's/poster's on returning to work with Meniere's. I have a feeling that my employer won't want me back (understandably so) as my job entails operating a machine, or driving a lift truck. Has anyone else been able to do this type of work? I really would rather be able to work vs. rely on Soc. Sec. but, it will be what it will be.

I can certainly understand Don’s trepidation about returning to work. The thought of having a Meniere’s attack while driving a lift truck can definitely be frightening. But if that is the work that you have been doing for a while it wouldn’t be easy just to walk away from it, although it would be better than having an accident.

What do you think?

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Thanks

13 comments:

  1. It was a really large point of stress and anxiety for me (and still is) with Meniere's/work. I am a RN and i work in an ICU with very ill patients. They can't afford to loose me while i'm at work. But, i also can't help it if i do get sick. Whats the difference if I have chest pain or have a menieres attack? both will require me to leave work, both will put them in a bad situation, and both of them are OUT OF MY CONTROL. That has really helped me to see that i can't beat myself up over something i have no control over. We can't stop living our lives because of this. Because whats the point? Que Sera, Sera friend. Whatever will be....

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    1. I am an elementary special education teacher. I have some of the same struggles that you do. I am learning that the best thing that I can do for my students is be at work as many days as possible. I have had to leave work a few times,and my students and colleages have coped with it well. Hopefully it won't happen too often.

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  2. I find this idea so scary... I was unemployed when I started having the worst Meniere's symptoms, but if I had still had my last job, I would have had to quit. It involved driving half an hour each way on the Garden State Parkway in NJ during rush hour, and I would have been terrified of having an attack while driving. Even now I worry about it, since I developed ocular migraines.

    As for working with large equipment, I don't want to scare Don, but I would be too afraid of being injured to do it. I also don't know what to suggest, other than filing for disability. If you can get the symptoms under really good control, that would be one thing, but with Meniere's, do you ever really know that you are safe?

    I've been wondering for awhile what kind of career would be conducive to Meniere's, and how to go about retraining. It's a tough one.

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  3. During the winter, my job involves snow removal (plowing roads and parking lots). Fortunately, I'm in a position where I don't have to be on one of the plows and can fill the role of dispatch/controller. It isn't as interesting or enjoyable, but I can still contribute without endangering myself or others by driving heavy equipment in the middle of a snow storm. I'm not sure what type of company Don works for, but maybe there is a chance he can move to a different position that capitalizes on his expertise in driving the equipment, but doesn't require heavy machinery operation all the time.

    Peggy, I am scheduled to meet with the VA Vocational Rehab office in the next couple weeks to discuss retraining options that would mesh well with Meniere's Disease. I'm looking forward to finding some options, since my time in the military is coming to an end, and construction management isn't particularly compatible with MD. I'll let you know what I find out.

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    1. Unfortunately running the machine and driving fork trucks are all that's available to me where I work. I was already told by our HR manager (I work in a Papermill) that they don't even want me there doing a desk job unless there is zero chance I'll have another attack. I assume many other companies feel the same way as they wouldn't want someone having an attack and getting hurt whether it's around machinery or in an office. I'm going forward with my treatments and see where things go. I'll keep you posted.

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    2. Ouch. Don, that seems pretty harsh, to say that they don't even want you in a desk job if there's any chance you might have an attack. I'm sorry to hear that... they sound very rigid and closed-minded about it. :(

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    3. They claim they are concerned for my safety, and I'm sure that while there is a bit of truth to that, they also have a bigger concern for liability. I know I'm frustrated with them because the only call I've gotten from any of management there was from an HR rep looking for more definitive answer's from my EN&T Dr as to what day I can come back to work. No other calls asking how I'm doing or any of that. My EN&T Dr just grabbed a date out of the air and wrote it on a piece of paper and asked his receptionist to fax it to them. He said he doesn't have a crystal ball, and he doesn't know for certain that it would be good for me to return their period. I don't know which is more frustrating, the fact that nothing seems to be working to eliminate the daily attacks (more bearable at least, and yes, I've had CT Scan and MRI, both negative for anything on the brain), or the fact that no one at my place of employment gives 2 hoots to give a 1 minute call to say "hey, how you doing, hope all goes well."

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    4. I am sorry... it's sad when you see the harsh realities behind corporate America. :(

      And I understand the frustration. I spent a very long time that way, but I didn't have a job at that point to worry about. I had been laid off by my last real job about a month before my first bad attack, and I have a feeling they would have let me go pretty quickly in any case once the Meniere's attacks started.

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  4. I have had a lot of discussion with my wife about returning to work, and she is in total agreement that the mill I work in is NOT the place to be in with MD, especially since my dizzy spells aren't anywhere near under control yet. She really thinks I should just go the disability route, and if I get to point where I feel there is something out there I can do different (been at that mill 15 yrs and another one prior for 4) then go for it, but not to be ashamed to be on disability. I already had one person tell me thats the easy way out but that's not how I look at it. Some people are just so closed minded about this disorder and have no clue what any of us have been through.
    Anyway, I did speak to an acquaintance who works for an outreach group that helps people get disability claims successfully accomplished and she says she certainly believes I have a case. As I've said before, I know it's early for me, but from what I've sen here and heard from others (a friend of my sister has MD, and is on SSD) it looks to me like it's the road I'm headed.

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    1. I think this is probably a wise choice, Don, and I wish you all the luck in the world with it. I just got approved for disability this week, after about 14 months of applying, appealing, and putting in for judicial review. It's NOT the easy way out, but it could be the only way to go.

      Do your research first, before you make any moves. I'm glad, by the way, that your wife is completely behind you on this. That makes all the difference in the world.

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  5. Hi Peggy I have MD had it since 2002 but was finally confirmed in 2009. This year has been the worst for me. I am totally deaf in my left ear and I work in a call center with heavy call volume. I applied at vocational rehab and they sent me for an eye exam and to the ENT to see if I qualify for assistance. The ENT I saw was the same ENT I saw when I first had my MD Attack. He is not the one who confirmed my MD. He recommended a cross hearing aid and told me that I am very sensitive to sound and I need to protect the only ear I can hear from. I drive but I am very afraid and as a result I become stressed and an attack begins. I have my daughter drive me most of the time and even with her driving I get an attack. I am almost out of fmla. My sister and neighbor said I should apply for disability but I don't know if I can be without an income for 2 years waiting for approval. I am so confused and a single mom. Do you have any recommendations for me?. Also what kind of proof you had to submit for disability approval? Even typing this email I feel dizzy, nausea my left ear has the constant ringing that drives me crazy. Thanks Elsa

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    1. Oh, Elsa, I am so sorry for what you are going through. I know how most of that feels, but being a single parent must make it so much harder.

      All I can say about the period while waiting for disability approval is there are some options for getting financial help while you wait, but they vary from state to state and can be hard to find and difficult to get. We ended up taking out a line of credit on our house, which we are very fortunate to own outright. Even so, it was an incredibly stressful time.

      The proof they require is usually in the form of medical exams and letters from your doctors. I had my ENT/neurotologist write a letter for me, and a social worker I was seeing for depression for awhile. The government basically wants proof that you are unable to work, and a doctor's support can provide credibility. I also found that working with a lawyer was very helpful, because they know what the Social Security Administration is looking for. They can guide you in providing the right information and building a credible case.

      When I looked for a lawyer, I was lucky to have friends who have been through the process and could make recommendations and refer me to someone reputable. Then, I spoke with one of the lawyers by phone to find out what the process would involve, what their fees would be, how long it would take, and so on. They took a very detailed history of my experience with Meniere's, how long I had it, what tests I had been through, and so on. My doctor's office provided the details on how many tests I had, what they showed, etc.

      It's a grueling process, BUT, if you are seeing doctors and get help from a lawyer, it is much, much easier. Once it's in motion, it becomes almost automatic. You just have to keep the lawyer up-to-date on your appointments and test dates. And then you have to wait, and wait, and wait. But for me, the wait was actually shorter than I expected!

      I wish I could tell you it won't be difficult... but the truth is, it will kind of suck. I don't know why there is so little support for people going through this process. But when you get to the other side, it will be worth it.

      Do you have any family who could help while you are applying? Are there any ways you can cut down expenses? We did all we could to limit costs, from cutting our TV/internet/phone access to having the power company shift us to an averaged monthly cost so our utility bills wouldn't fluctuate so much with the seasons. But I can't help but feel there MUST be other ways to help people get through this!

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  6. Hi Peggy

    Thanks so much for the information. I know I will have to make some sacrifices, it will be tough but as you said in the end it will all be worth it. Would you mind sending me your lawyer's information? Thanks Elsa

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