Accommodation

Accommodation.

That can be a wonderful word meaning a place to stay while on vacation or perhaps your living arrangement.

For those of us with chronic health issues, it means something completely different.

It means apprehension, anxiety, and usually a lot of paperwork.  It’s something that marks us as “different” or “special”.  I had to have accommodation during school for the late submission of assignments, understanding on attendance policies, and even choosing how severe symptoms or illnesses may or may not be during the duration of the term and “padding” my accommodations list accordingly.  Every semester I had to meet with a disability counselor in order to set up my accommodation for the coming classes.  “What’s new this year?”  “Same issues as last year?”  It made me think intensely about what was wrong with my body and how those issues affected me.  Migraines, a knee injury, CFS, frequent infections, allergies–all of these or none of these could spring up on any given day.

At work, accommodation seems far scarier.  It’s working with HR and weighing how much to ask for and what to say.  It’s far beyond attending classes and homework deadlines–it’s trying to anticipate what my body will do for eight hours a day and what my team may need and how all my other appointments and treatments might work.  It was a competition to get the job, and asking for accommodation makes me feel weak and makes me think they see me as too much of a special case.

With the lack of sleep due to the pain, the pain itself, and the strain of everything going on right now, I’m very emotional.  I feel weak both physically and emotionally, and the last thing I want to do is have to think about how else I should be or might be different.  I feel embarrassed (both because of what accommodations I have to anticipate and because of how emotional I am when I have to talk about what I’m going through).  I often feel blown off by others who hear that it’s “just” pain.  “Wait until you’re a mother” is a typical response when I talk about CFS, as if being sleepy (and admittedly emotional strained) with a baby compares to being physically fatigued and unable to feel rested.  I feel so idiotic sometimes, especially when I can’t control my tears or emotions.

Going over accommodations makes me feel exposed.  Chronic pain and illness make me want to hide under the covers and not talk about anything.  I cuddle with my cats or snuggle into a stuffed Olaf from my husband.  After so long I’m dreadfully tired of being considered different.

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