Reasonable accommodations and covid-19

When I was first attempting to get a tech job, I thought of job hunting as my full-time job. I threw myself into it… and got nowhere.

I am disabled and I need reasonable accommodations. Here are the things I need in order to be successful at work:

  • Remote work
  • Flexible work hours

That’s it. That’s the list.

These things are advertised by many companies as standard “perks” of working there. These companies typically don’t hire anyone without many many years of experience, or they only offer remote work and flexible schedules to people who have the most seniority with the company.

And then… covid happened.

Suddenly, employers bent over backwards to accommodate remote work for all. Seemingly overnight, companies were embracing working from home. Companies that claimed they couldn’t let anyone work from home because it would interfere with company “culture” were switching to a fully remote model without a significant (or any) impact on productivity. Suddenly, workers without enough seniority to work from home were able to work from home like their more senior colleagues.

Suddenly, Zoom meetings were the norm, and the ability to work around “Zoom school.”

Suddenly, positions that employers insisted could not be done remote (despite only requiring a computer and internet connection) were made remote.

As if by magic.

Not only did this become no big deal, but the change was instant, without giving workers any grief about it, or requiring proof of their needs.

Disabled people everywhere witnessed this.

Disabled people, who have the highest unemployment rate of any minority group (and whose oppression intersects with many other identities which are also more likely to experience high rates of unemployment), watched companies to everything in their power to help abled workers continue to work and be productive.

Now, as workers are starting to return to their office environments (too soon, if you ask me, but that’s another post for another time), disabled people see that too. We see that as quick as it was to switch to a remote model and become an accessible workplace, we see companies throwing it away, in a race to reinstate the status quo.

Costco’s wayward catalogues

We keep getting Costco weekly specials to a PO Box we don’t use much… never mind that we aren’t shopping at Costco (Life Pro Tip: we have a membership only to access their reasonably priced Delta Dental plans), but also we don’t want wasted paper and space in our tiny post office box.

I suggested my partner find a phone number on the catalogue to call, to get us off the mailing list. After waiting on hold for 30 minutes, he finally got a human, who insisted she couldn’t talk to anyone but me because my name was on the account. (Never mind that I know my partner is an administrator of the account too.)

I’m in the middle of a busy work day. He passed me the phone and I quickly rattled off our addresses and my birthdate to “verify” who I am. (Never mind that the address is on the envelope, and my DOB is public record nowadays…) She offers to make my spouse an administrator so he can handle this BS, I thanked her and handed him back the phone.

He’s explaining that we don’t want paper mailings at any address on file, and the rep is insisting that we opted out of paper already, but cannot explain why we are looking at a brand new mailing received this week. No offers to ask someone higher up, just the suggestion it might be because we purchased goods from Costco.com (we haven’t, and never mind that her phone number is the one on the catalogue to opt-out)… so nothing was resolved.

Talk about bullshit jobs…

Supplements… again.

Turmeric has been found to be helpful with some types of pain and inflammation. My doctor recommended a supplement that combines turmeric with fenugreek, because apparently this combination is better than turmeric alone.

She recommended Turmeric Forte, which is manufactured by Mediherb in Australia, but the only company who can sell it is Standard Process in the US. Trying to find information about gluten-status is… difficult.

I left two messages in December for a callback from QA, and no one called. I called again this month to try again. I got more info, but it wasn’t good info.

Is Turmeric Forte gluten-free?

Mediherb manufactures their capsules in a gluten-free facility, and they test every batch for the presence of gluten down to 5ppm, which is outstanding. That alone is very safe for me and nearly anyone with celiac.

But then those capsules are shipped in bulk to Standard Process, who then takes this nearly pristine gluten-free product, and bottles it on the same equipment that they use to bottle all their oat- and gluten-containing supplements.

But Standard Process tests their products for gluten, right?

Nope.

They don’t test their bottled lots and they don’t test the equipment after cleaning to confirm the cleaning was effective.

When I spoke with their QA person, they had nothing to say. They seemed unconcerned that they could be adding gluten to a GF product.

Products like that aren’t for people like me.

But it blows my mind that I have always had such a hard time finding work while companies are totally okay with sloppy QA or sloppy IT. I don’t get it.

Anyway… The history of Standard Process is shady as heck.

Gluten-Free-ish Oreos

Nabisco has been talking up their new GF Oreos since last year, even though they wouldn’t be released until this week.

They’ve been pretty tight-lipped about it, officially. There were pretty social media posts with a classic Oreo, and a few words about them being gluten-free. But no details: what ingredients would they be using? Would they be dairy-free, egg-free, and vegan like the original? Is there a new dedicated GF facility for GF Oreos? There was nothing on Nabisco’s websites.

Well now they’re in stores, but nothing’s changed. GF Oreos are still not on the company’s websites. I tried to find an ingredients list, but the closest I could find was an MLive article talking about trying them.

They’ve got rice flour (not surprising) and… oat flour.

I don’t think oat flour is safe for celiacs. Maybe some can eat them without symptoms, but I am unconvinced silent damage isn’t happening. My reactions to GF oats are so severe, just as severe as consuming gluten grains, that I may as well be eating wheat.

If nabisco cared about the celiac demographic, they wouldn’t have used oats. Oats are a lazy way to make food that can be labeled GF. GF oats are easy to acquire now, and GF labeling rules are lax. So instead of making something that’ll be enjoyable by the largest number of people, they go for the largest marketing gimmick and the fad dieter demographic.

I don’t really miss Oreos, but I miss convenience and normalcy and the fun of sharing a treat with someone. I don’t even want to give money to companies like Nabisco. It’s not like I’d be making Oreos a regular part of my diet, or anything more than a rare treat.

But gimmicks like these just make me feel more excluded from the modern world.

The messy world of supplements

A delayed celiac diagnosis means I struggle with adequate nutrition. I’m still combatting a lifetime of unabsorbed nutrients. It’s exhausting.

I have to rely on supplements in some cases, and supplements are the Wild West of the nutrition world. Little regulation goes into them, and it’s entirely possible that vitamin bottle doesn’t contain any vitamins at all, and the only way you’ll ever know is if someone tests it, or if it contains something risky and someone gets hurt.

I am allergic to lanolin, which is used to produce the majority of vitamin D3 supplements. D3 seems to be better absorbed by most people (especially those with gut problems) compared to non-lanolin derived D2. I took massive doses of D2 for months with no impact on my single-digit levels. I managed lanolin-derived D3 for awhile, but eventually the allergy symptoms got too severe. In the last several years, a vegetarian source of D3 has been discovered (lichen), which works well enough.

A new bottle of D3 I recently purchased caused me a lanolin-like reaction. I decided to write the company, because it seemed like the wrong D was in the bottle. I emailed the company with the lot number, explained the situation, and hoped they’d look into it.

They contract with a 3rd party QA service, which asked me to call them on the phone. I talk on the phone a lot for work and I’m exhausted. I asked if they would work by email. The email bounced back and there is no way to get a hold of them without calling on the phone.

I emailed the manufacturer again and explained I am tired and disabled. I’m happy to help you with this free labor, but please let me do it by email. They said they would.

I never heard back from them, and today I got an email reply, weeks later, claiming I gave them an invalid lot number so the case was being closed. I checked my sent mail, and the lot number they’re working on is different than the one in my original email.

Seems like working by email should prevent this, because everything is in writing, but the communication still got all bungled up.

I replied with the correct lot number, but who knows what’ll happen.

No one even offered a coupon for the two brand new bottles of D3, which are medically necessary but unsafe to take.

Celiac + allergies under capitalism is a dangerous existence.

I don’t do resolutions

But I think I’ve got some advice for myself in 2021:

  1. Put on my own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs.
  2. No one knows more about me than I do. Time to act like the expert I am.
  3. My story is worth telling.

things that are no more

i was trying to dig up an old post about my internet setup from when we first moved into the RV. I was using a “lollipop,” as part of a project I had worked on. Apparently the website for the project is now defunct, as tends to happen with projects that don’t go anywhere. I did find my original post about the technical aspects of my setup (where I also apparently learned Hugo once already, but I clearly forgot everything since it felt like new when I did it again most recently; but that’s okay because I moved GFRV over to WordPress ages ago)… not the post I’m looking for, but that’s okay. I haven’t used the Lollipop for over a year now anyway.

I also found where I posted here about Ginger’s passing. I understated my grief back then. Her death was heartbreaking. I miss her every day. She was the best kitty BFF a person could ask for. She was perfect in every way.

what to do now?

do i blog again? do i give up on any kind of public voice? i honestly have no idea. maybe let’s try again.

i’ve been seeing people touting the miracle that is oat milk, framed as an alternative to almond milk, which is currently being demonized for the perceived amount of resources required. however, almonds are still better than animal-based dairy, and subsidies are never factored into these calculations. Not only that, but almonds themselves grow on trees that don’t need replanting year after year, which is better for the air quality for local workers and residents, compared to fields replanted each season (and that’s not even addressing the less ethical practices of field burning as a means of turning it over for a new crop).

anyway… i wish that the oat bandwagon wasn’t shitting on people with celiac and wheat allergy. seems like the vast majority of gluten-free fad dieters are totes cool with oating the hell out of their lives, and since companies only care about selling product, they sure as shit don’t care about oat contamination for the small minority of the GF market who has to be GF for medical reasons.

yet another way the world isn’t made for people like me.