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Occupational Therapy with Susan Dorne Susan Dorne is a licensed occupational therapist with over 25 years experience. As a healthcare professional and an individual with MS, Susan is volunteering her time to help us in a question and answer format.

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  #1  
Old 10-17-2011, 04:45 PM
Laura Laura is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 11
an OT can't work?

Hi Susan
Forgive me for placing this in your forum but it feels most relevant. I am also an OT and I find it hard to give myself advice. I really don't know what to do at this point because I think they are gearing up to fire me. I read through all the disability and teachers forum entries but only ended up feeling even more depressed.

I was diagnosed just after I graduated from OT school in 2000. My first couple jobs were in healthcare but I eventually changed to a school setting for easier schedules and less physically demanding. As the demands working in education have steadily increased over the years I sometimes think healthcare wouldn't be as hard now.
Anyway, about five years ago I bit the bullet and applied for accommodations.

This is my latest dilemma: bottom line I am unable to keep up with the work load and they are very clear about one's expectations.
Of course I 'look so good' other than a slight limp but there are a zillion symptoms every day that affect my ability to do my job in the time required.
Worst symptom: numbness in my fingers. VERY difficult helping kids with handwriting or clothing fasteners or picking up papers or holding on to anything without dropping it or TYPING MY PROGRESS NOTES and IEP reports. (An adaptive keyboard is one of my accommodations but it is barely worth it for the other difficulties it causes.)
Very sorry for the long post but this is actually a condensed version. My question is this: I cannot fathom any job that I would be able to keep up with when every single thing I do is at a turtle's pace. (I take many many meds for symptoms but they only go so far.)
Adding to my insane fears is that I have always been the 'breadwinner' due to my husband in a low-paying job. he has been out of work over two years and is himself applying for disability! How will I pay for health care without insurance?
Thank you for your insight.
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  #2  
Old 10-17-2011, 07:45 PM
SusanD SusanD is offline
Occupational Therapist
 

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Miami, Florida
Posts: 215
Hi Laura,
Thank you for sharing your story with me. I was in the same situation 8 yrs ago, work was my life and although my husband worked, I was the breadwinner and had the insurance.

First thing I can tell you is DO NOT let your insurance lapse. You must have insurance even if COBRA is needed, worth the expense. Getting into another insurance after dropping out is very difficult and expensive.

Is there any way you can go onto medical leave? Perhaps you can talk to you physician about issues that you are having and treatment/rest may make a difference. Check the policy to see how that would cover you. If I am right, you can not be fired on medical leave and that leave can be extended based on your needs. Then if you can't return, you have time to look for alternative work, can switch businesses - not lose insurance, or maybe the rest and treatment - PT/OT/Steroids who knows could make you feel somewhat better. You can resign verses 'get released/fired'.

Fortunately OT has many venues to work at. Hopefully time will be on your side and you'll be able to see what may be available that could meet your needs. Maybe consider looking into specializing such as wheelchair assessment or home modification - for these you can look at existing businesses.
Perhaps work other than OT but can use those skills, or other skills you have, for a different type of business. One that is less demanding and maybe work from home.

It is difficult and I'm sorry you have to go through this.
I hope there is something I suggested that can help.

Good luck and keep me posted
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Be Well,
Susan
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  #3  
Old 10-18-2011, 06:22 PM
Laura Laura is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 11
Thanks for your advice Susan.
Tomorrow morning my manager returns again to observe me and discuss my inability to follow the documentation requirements.
Mmm, should be fun starting my day being raked over the coals. Fortunately, I like my manager and she could be much worse cracking down on me--she is only doing her job.
I hadn't thought about a medical leave; that's an option to consider while trying to find a solution.
Thank you again so much. For the last few years I haven't been checking the message boards unless I really need something and this is definitely one of those times! As you know, MSWorld is wonderful for offering a peer group that really GETS it. Your helping exactly matches that description.
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  #4  
Old 10-18-2011, 07:02 PM
SusanD SusanD is offline
Occupational Therapist
 

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Miami, Florida
Posts: 215
I'm happy to be here for you
stay in touch
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Be Well,
Susan
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  #5  
Old 12-24-2011, 06:27 AM
javalaura javalaura is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 1
Lightbulb Laura, 2

I looked at this thread because I am also an OT with MS. I have practiced in all settings, except for Peds. I was diagnosed with MS 10 months ago. I have been an OT for 14 years. Last year I changed from SNF work (caseload of 15-20 patients/day) to Home health because I needed a slower pace. I thought it was because I hit my glorious 40's. Have you thought of going into Home Health Peds? They demand a salary that is much more than most other settings and the pace is much slower and you can do your paperwork at home with rest breaks. I have made adaptations to my vehicle for the decreased hand function (shards of glass sensations, fair to poor coordination at times). I hope this has helped. Laura,OTR in Texas
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  #6  
Old 12-25-2011, 12:21 AM
Laura Laura is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 11
Another Laura with MS who is an OT?? Life is strange.
I appreciate your post; I 'll write a proper reply soon.
Merry Christmas!
Laura in Chicago
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