*but also found it slightly hilarious.
With little regard to the wellbeing of the office staff, my company decided to book ergonomic assessments for those that needed them the day after the summer party. The office was a productivity wasteland, littered with large lattes and cheese croissants and thumping heads; I think that I speak on behalf of all the unfortunate recipients of an ergonomic assessment when I say the last thing anyone needed is an enthusiastic lady getting us to do stretches and messing with our office chair.
I was no exception to the banging head and swirling stomach, so solemnly breakfasted on a full fat Coke and packet of Mini Cheddars. I planned to get rid of the evidence in plenty of time to do embarrassing stretches with ergonomic lady, but she was unhelpfully 2 hours early, when I was just about to go to lunch.
‘Do you mind if we do the assessment now?’
‘Not at all!’ I replied, with an expression that firmly told her I minded nothing more.
She asked me if I had eaten lunch, and tutted haughtily when I responded in the negative.
She then asked me about my condition, I told her (joints dislocate, bendy, arthritis, pain etc etc) all the while she was staring distractedly at my desk. When I’d finished, she looked at me blankly for a second and faux-politely asked me if I’d considered seeing a nutritionist.
‘It can really help!’ she assured me.
I completely agree that a balanced diet can help your general wellbeing, and if ergonomic lady had bothered to enquire, she’d find out that I eat one. However, eating more kale isn’t going to change the make up of my collagen, and courgettes aren’t going to stop my hip dislocating. She was a bit off-script.
I was too unwell to reason with her, so just nodded earnestly and tried to stop stabbing her with my eyes.
In her defence, she did fix my office chair, but was overwhelmed in every other way. After trying to explain that my joints just dislocate, it’s not when I’m engaging in contortionism or extreme sports, more like standing vaguely still or walking, she looked terrified. She flapped about a bit and asked about swimming (yep, heard of that before), and suggested getting up more often. Ground-breaking. The assessment concluded with her less than rousing statement of ‘errr… maybe stretch’, and she scurried off.
I don’t mean to suggest that I expected her to fix my condition, or to even know what it was. It’s weird, and I’m weird within the weirdness of it. However, I did expect to be listened to, and I did not expect to be judged. People with chronic pain know their condition and how it affects them; the same condition can differ for everyone, and everyone has their own individual experience. Instead of recoiling when you realise you don’t know what it is or how to deal with it, ASK US. Also, don’t look at someone eating crisps and assume that’s all they eat. I’d say those living off nothing but Quavers are in the minority, they’re also probably five.
Maybe ergonomic assessment lady was having a bad day, so I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. I would actually like to thank her on behalf of my boss, for gifting her with what she described as ‘the best thing to happen this year’ and providing her with a wonderful excuse to spam me with the government 5-a-day website. She had a lovely afternoon.