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Work Accommodations


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I'm completing FMLA paperwork for chronic cluster and looking for ideas for work accommodations. Others have recommended, "Ask for the moon, and see what gets approved." But besides for working from home and a work laptop to facilitate that, I don't really know what to ask for.


I'm a social worker.  I meet with clients (at their homes or in my office), do a 2 hour assessment, type it up, and refer them to a treatment agency. It's getting difficult to do. I'm canceling a lot of my meetings. I almost always have a cluster after every intake appt. Usually 1 intake appt a day and then the rest of the day is the follow up referrals. This was my dream job for years, but cluster has made me half an employee for going on 10 months. 


But even if I stop doing assessments or switch jobs, I want to know what kind of things have been helpful in the workplace for others. 


Thank you for sharing,


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I don't know that this subject has come up before in this form.  Obviously, you want to be able to have oxygen at the office, and with you in the field.  I don't even know this, but do you mean an ADA application as opposed to an FMLA application?

Have you thought about why you almost always have an attack after each intake appointment?  Many people think CH attacks are associated with stress, although that's usually a more general thing, and not such a one-to-one correlation.  Are these appointments usually at the same time, and that time corresponds to when you get cluster attacks?  Do you think there's something in the environment where you do them that triggers attacks?  (You might look at the list of triggers in the ClusterBuster Files section of the board, though I'm not sure it will help.) 

Overall, are you treating your chronic CH effectively?  Doing the D3 regimen (see the post about that in the ClusterBuster Files section)?  Got some pharma that helps (verapamil/sumatriptan)?  Would you consider busting (numbered files in that same CB Files section)?

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So, it doesn't sound like you have any suggestions except keep the oxygen with me? 


With your FMLA application you can request specific workplace changes (like if you had a sore neck diagnosis and wanted a standing desk or different chair) without having to also submit a ADA app although that is an option some people have to pursue. The protections you receive are provisions of the ADA.  No one advertises this and very few HR departments ever tell you about it, but you can write out your accommodation requests with your FMLA app.


I appreciate you are trying to be helpful with the other input, but I was hoping to keep this thread to just one topic (yes, I'm on on Verapamil and have Imitrex injections and oxygen and know about D3). Yes, I understand busting. 


I know exactly why my assessments are triggering the attacks. They are mental health and AODA intakes. The clients are crying, they are emotional and afraid their children are about to be removed or they are going to jail or perhaps an inpatient psych unit. My emotions are up. It's stressful. After the intake is done, when I relax, BAM every time. It doesn't matter if I'm in the client's home or my office or if it's 8am or 4pm. It's the nature of what I do when I'm in a cycle those emotional responses are triggering for me when I come down from them. I know you are are trying to be supportive and helpful.


I was just thinking if there were accommodations I should request initially that I haven't thought of yet.

  • removal of fluorescent lights
  • scent free zones at work
  • noise canceling headsets 
  • providing sound absorption panels 
  • allowing flexible work schedule and non-traditional work hours 
  • providing a dark, private area to use oxygen 
  • non-glare computer screen
  • work laptop to work from home
  • being allowed to work from home
  • more scheduled breaks
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I'll let others suggest.  You don't list not doing intake interviews as one possible accommodation, and I assume that's because it's either impossible to have your assignments changed in that way, or not something you want to give up. But under ADA, "Reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment . . . . For example, reasonable accommodation may include . . . job restructuring . . ."

And I'm sorry to take this in the direction you didn't want to go, in a way that I'm sure will irritate you, but "knowing about D3" and "understanding busting" are not the same as doing them, and ultimately, not having chronic CH is the only way you're going to restore your ability to do this work in the way you want to do it, and D3 and busting have shown themselves to be the best ways that I know of to accomplish that.

Since you've made clear that none of this is what you are asking for, you don't need to reply.  As I say, I hope others will make more of the kinds of suggestions you are looking for.  Best wishes.

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I think I get what you're asking more than others that haven't worked a remote job before.  No worries. :)

I worked from home for 8 years.  Large portion was due to my CH.  Here's a few things to think about that might help. 


Docking station


Internet (my employer paid for my high speed internet, $40 per month for maybe 4 years


My employer had a budget and could have bought me a workstation desk for home, but I didn't need it.  


Make sure you get into a schedule of meeting with coworkers.  Working away from coworkers and a supervisor 100% can create a disconnect in the workplace.  Scheduling a weekly or monthly lunch or office visit would help a lot.



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  • 4 years later...

So would you guys recommend doing the FMLA paperwork and requesting accommodations through FMLA over doing the ADA process? Is one easier to get than the other? I'm trying to seek accommodations for cluster headaches to work from home. 


Edited by btedev
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I would talk to your HR department and see what process works best for them.  FMLA has a limited timeframe of 6-12 weeks.  In a situation where you want to work from home to make O2 sucking easier or to bang your head where the damage has already beed done I suspect HR will have a mechanism unique to your workplace.


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