My MTR gave me a STD, and my ADD

Monday, July 28, 2008

Exactly one month ago, I broke my foot (curse you, cute sandals!!!). The following workday, I send an email to my manager (I'll call him Pablo--the poor guy is on vacation), telling him of the broken foot and that I'd be OOO (out of the office) that day to see the orthopedic surgeon (I'll call him Bones). He calls me (from vacation--yes, he's a crackberry addict) with the appropriate shock and sympathy, but terrible timing; I am searching for a parking spot outside Bones's office. I promise to call him back after the appointment, when I have more news.

I come out of the Bones's office with a cast and a handicap parking permit (I have my priorities straight--you bet I'm milking this), and phone Pablo with the update--6 weeks in a hard cast followed by 4 weeks in a walking boot. After giving me the appropriate amount of sympathy, he asks what limitations this will have on my work. The obvious limitation is that I won't be going on business trips, but other than that, I really don't know. At this point, I'm still a new cripple. I say that I expect to be more tired than usual, and will likely be a little slower getting things done as I adjust. Pablo replies that I need to have my doctor fill out an MTR, "just to CYA, if a vice president starts wondering about your workload."

Most of my friends haven't discovered what many of my coworkers have long known; I suffer from ADD. Not the ADD you generally think of (though I'm probably guilty of that as well); in this case the diagnosis is Acronym Deficiency Disorder. And because I work for the largest computer company in the world (its common name is even an acronym), those acronyms fly fast and furiously around the workplace. We talk about TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) and FLAs (Four Letter Acronyms) and sadly, even our acronyms may have more than one meaning. I generally compensate for this by using a Sametime bot called "What is" that automatically lists all the possibilities for a given acronym (CYA spelled out = Cover Your Backside while "cya" in texting means goodbye; I won't tell you what I thought the first time someone ended a chat with BFN :-) ) Unfortunately, I am not a Blackberry user (despite many coworkers' and managers' attempts to assimilate me), and don't have a laptop available, so I just write down the acronym on my xray envelope so I can follow up later.

Back in my "office" (okay, it's really my livingroom sofa), I look up the MTR (Medical Treatment Report) I have to ask Bones to fill out. Unfortunately, it's not a well-written form. It's vague, and has large blank spaces where the Bones is supposed to describe my medical situation and work limitations. Bones's office is 40 minutes away with traffic (thanks to MoDot for closing the main freeway through town), and I don't feel very ambulatory, so I decide this can wait until my followup visit. Three weeks pass, I see the Bones for a new cast and give him the MTR to fill out and fax to corporate. Task complete.

Today, I get an email with my name, serial number and STD in the subject line. I don't THINK I have an STD. I open it to see that it's a CF (Certified Form) from from GWBS (Global Well Being Services) with notice that I have been approved for STD from 6/28/08 through 8/14/08. Trouble is, I don't WANT approval for an STD. Reading further, I see that STD means Short Term Disability. If I read this right, I haven't worked for the past month, and won't be returning to work for at least two weeks. Everyone knows that a broken leg wouldn't prevent me from stretching out on my sofa to type on my laptop and talk on the phone. I'm a mobile employee and work from home; it's just that I'm not very mobile right now. While I'm reading this and before I can process what it means, I get a ping from Pablo, "Can you talk?"

On the phone, I learn that this STD means I'm not only allowed to take time off, but not allowed to work until August 14th. Bones's recommendations are private (I'm not allowed to see what he wrote, and Pablo can't either). This can't be right. Can't I just say I'm happy to work even though Bones wrote otherwise? Aparently not. Pablo says that unless I have Bones revise the MTR, I'm on STD, and he will have to find someone to handle my work. He can't ask me to change that, but he knows this is ridiculous to think that I can't work.

But the problem is, well, Bones is ITSTL (Intimidating, To Say The Least). His examination rooms are full of degrees, certificates, and pictures of him operating on solders in Iraq. He has a handshake that can break your hand (and then he could set and cast that broken hand, if need be). Visits to Bones's office (I won't shorten that to BO, promise) consist of a friendly 15 minutes with a nurse, followed by 5 very efficient minutes with Bones. He can cast my whole foot and lower leg in less than 2 minutes! I come prepared with questions that seem important at the time I think of them, but in Bones's presence seem downright silly, and end up not getting asked. Shortly after getting my cast, I had an attack of CC (Cast Claustrophobia)--the cast was closing in on the foot, and I was feeling genuine panic; the toes were purple and cold and numb and I couldn't wiggle my foot into a comfortable position, and the itch was unbearable. After Googling my symptoms I worried that maybe I needed the cast refitted so I called the office. Bones response (with a large sigh): "You have a broken foot--what did you expect? If you have a problem with the cast, make an appointment and I'll cut you out and refit it." I haven't called back since. When I gave Bones the MTR, I nervously said that even though I know I can work, I need this to verify that I have a broken leg and can't go on business trips. It was sooo hard to get the guts together to ask him to fill out the MTR the first time, I just can't bear to ask him to revise it. I imagine him asking me what was wrong with it--since I didn't see it, I don't even know what was wrong with the report. I just know that I don't need an STD. What if Bones decides to revise the MTR to say that I made up the whole broken foot thing, or to say that I've become an excellent one-footed hopper (would that be an OFH?) and could fly to customer meetings on demand?

I ping my BFF coworker and tell her about my problem. She says I should suddenly decide I don't feel well, and that it has been a terrible struggle to try to work this past month. She does have a point--normally, I would love to have any extra time off. It's just the illegitimate time off thing that bugs me. I try calling the ESC (Employee Services Center--sadly, I'm not making these acronyms up, well, except for the ITSTL one). It's after hours and I'm stuck in a loop of recordings and menus. Like most things involving corporate, this isn't going to be resolved today.

PS: one fun thing about tagging this post is that anyone who Googles STD just might stumble across my blog :-)


MJ/Mom/GrammaJ said...

Quick! Get her back to work before she can write another blog that takes 3 days to read! JK. I really got a BK (big kick) out of it. I also have ADD- both kinds, I think.
This is a gift from heaven. Read. Rest. Pack. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

HAHA,thank you for giving me a good laugh.I just got my cast today and it really sucks although I am not sure what is worse the cast or crutches.Oh I am Dave from NYC by the way,nice to meet you. Well feel free to write, and let me vent,lol.

Luis Benitez said...

I definitely don't want to get approved for an STD either. I would have probably deleted the email if it had STD on it thinking it was SPAM.. unless it came from an official looking address.

I'm sorry you have to go through all of this. Hopefully you can get some rest soon in your new home :)

khepworth said...

Hi Tami!


khepworth said...

In case you don't know the afore mentioned acronym, it's short for:

Sorry to hear about your foot. But I guess a little MIA from work could be kinda nice. Congrats on the house! That's exciting.

BTW: I did replant what I could of my corn. We'll see how it does.... Good to hear from you.


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