The Catch

I’ve been having intermittent bouts of vertigo (some severe), along with worsening tinnitus and resulting difficulty understanding what people are saying. My GP said I got poor results on the tympanogram, and is sending me to an ENT, whom I see next week.  I’m no longer driving on the highway, and take extra care if I’m carrying my grandson.

Meanwhile, someone at school told the principal that I was “doing the wall thing”, meaning touching the wall to steady myself as I passed down a hallway.  This resulted in being called up for a Official Meeting.  By the time I left, I was feeling queasy and light-headed for entirely different reasons:

  • Being a couple hours late to phone in my absences due to migraine and due to a Emergency Room visit for vertigo, had previously earned me a stern warning for procedural lapses.
  • Going to or staying at work if feeling dizzy is prohibited because an educator with vertigo is a liability.
  • Leaving work 30 minutes early for a doctor’s appointment must be taken as sick time.
  • No “flex time” is allowed for appointments (i.e. leaving a bit early and making up that time by staying later another day).
  • Thirty minutes, half a day or a whole day all count equally as an incident of using a sick day.
  • Taking 19 sick-day events by October due to viruses, migraines, vertigo or doctor appointments is excessive, and any further such absences can result in termination of employment.
  • Which specific number is unmentioned, but up to the Powers That Be in the Human Resources department.
  • Any employee who is feverish with a virus must stay home.

Alas, this is all legal, and there seems to be a large limbo of being disabled by irregularly re-occuring conditions without actually being Disabled enough for some kind of accommodation.

Even if I somehow negotiated with H.R., the interpersonal climate with the school admin is too prickly to stay.  This is a shame, because I have a great relationship with my classroom staff/faculty.

I’m looking for a different job, hopefully something full-time that also pays well enough so I can have just ONE job in my life.  But everything I’ve seen pays fast-food wages, or else is so technically specific that my skills profile is a mis-match.

The free-floating anxiety is just HELL.


  1. andrea said,

    5 September 2010 at 4:24

    I got letters from a couple of my doctors, and turned them into my boss and the Personnel department. Lo and Behold, my absences from the problems were covered under FMLA. Remember, “Nothing officially exists without documentation.” Get letters not only mentioning that you’re under doctors’ care for [XYZ], but also detailing what accommodations will be helpful to you.

    It never hurts to ask…
    I wish you the best of results!

  2. Rhonda Rice said,

    29 August 2010 at 18:57

    This really scares me. I am currently facing some hard times at work with serious vertigo, complex migraines and extreme exhaustion. I am so afraid that I am going to be asked to leave or even worse put my students in danger during a moment of poor congnition or flare up.

  3. 6 November 2009 at 23:24

    I’ve had some bouts with a few of the symptoms you describe, but never have had to deal with so much together. I’ve had tinnitus for so many years I just ignore it. Unfortunately, my hearing loss is disturbing to those who can’t understand how much it affects ones’ life.

    My audiologist showed me a chart that shows people with severe hearing loss go through the same feelings and symptoms as those with severe depression.

    Good luck and my prayers are with you.

  4. Stephanie said,

    3 November 2009 at 10:26

    Good luck finding a right-fitting job!

    And thanks for the new word: tinnitus. I never knew there was a word for this experience or that it might be related to vertigo.

  5. fridawrites said,

    26 October 2009 at 3:21

    Andrea, this is really awful of them. I’m really sorry about this, and my heart goes out to you.

  6. 25 October 2009 at 10:40

    I have had tinnitus as long as I can remember and I do not think it is connected with my ears, it more likely bears a syneasthetic connection with my visual snow, and is a persistant migraine phenomenon.

    I too have been suffering increasingly severe bouts of vertigo, although that could be my inner ear I suspect it is more likely connected with the trapped nerves in my neck. It is exceedingly annoying because I cannot get out of bed now without suffering from it, and when I try and get under the car to work down there it is really bad and effectively prevents me from doing that.

    Many years ago I had a bout of vertigo that lasted nearly a year, which was more severe than I experience now, after a while I was able to drive a car inspite of it, I had to take sea sickness medication though.

    I cannot see how vertigo is a liability to an educator, if that is so I should abandon all my hopes of ever becoming a lecturer.

    The notion is totally absurd, if one cannot stand because one is liable to fall over one sits instead.

  7. Clay said,

    25 October 2009 at 2:53

    Ya know, if there was some way I could magically lose 20 or 30 years, I wouldn’t do it! Because then I’d have to go back to work, and in this lousy economy. Wouldn’t mind losing 20 or 30 pounds, though. ;-)

  8. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. said,

    25 October 2009 at 0:25

    actually… i’ll get my qualification bragging rights sorted… :)

    got my paper from Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences the other month and am now an educational and organisational ethno-psychologist/psycho-anthropologist! whatever those things might be!

  9. David N. Andrews M. Ed. (Distinction) said,

    25 October 2009 at 0:24

    “The free-floating anxiety is just HELL.”

    I certainly know what you mean and agree entirely. I’ll try an e-mail you with news… but I’m not holding my breath about much good happening in the next few weeks…

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