Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hats, Hat Policies, Hats Galore, Another Reasonable Work Accommodation

I feel like it took a great experience and a slap in the face to wake me up. I've been on a tear ever since that happened. Not only did I finally find the type of hat I'd been looking for and ordered it, but I ordered FIVE hats in that first order. I knew all I needed to do was to find the right style and I would be able to start moving forward.

Well, I think I may have gone a little overboard. No, I'm not even talking about the number of hats I ordered. No way! I've started wearing these hats everywhere. Actually, the first place I wore it to was mass. I figured I had nothing to lose. I never felt right about wearing my hats in church because my old hats definitely didn't belong in church, at work or any place I would consider fancy (it doesn't take much for me to consider something fancy). I had the perfect opportunity. It was pouring down rain before mass. If I was ever going to wear it, this would be the time.

I always play these tricks or games with myself. I told me that I would put the hat on to get to the church and then just forget to take it off. This was exactly what I did. I felt self-conscious throughout the whole mass, but didn't dare take off my hat because I would have uncontrollable hat hair by that point especially with the rain going on outside. I only had one thing left to do which was already on my to do list. I finally sent my pastor the email to see if there was anything he could do to help with my lighting sensitivity.

In my email, I had mentioned an alternative someone here had brought up; turning off one of the fixtures to create a darker zone which could be used for other people with light sensitivities too. I had thrown in some other things like a hat and mentioned how no one wears a hat to church any longer and how priests and others should understand that some people may need to wear hats for medical reasons. I also asked for any ideas or suggestions he might have.

I pretty much received back the response that I expected. They can't do anything about the lights, but he liked my hat idea and went into how women always wore hats to church before some big religious council meeting that happened in the ‘60s which changed the church worldwide. He also said that one of the saints wrote a letter that a woman should have her head covered during the Eucharistic assembly. I'm for that as long as it shadows the lights and I can wear the style of hat I like which is not a fancy hat that you would see at a royal wedding or even on Easter Sunday.

Next was getting past my family. May was the perfect month with four different first communions along with some fancy parties to attend after. I entered each party with a different cool hat on. In my typical fashion, I didn't say anything to anyone and just showed up wearing these hats. I got many positive comments and whenever someone would ask me about my hat, they would inevitably answer their own question. They would say something about the cool hat and surmise that I was just being fashionable or a trendsetter. Hahaha! If you really know me, you would burst out laughing just like I was on the inside. Me, fashionable? Don’t make me laugh again.

It wasn't until the last party when someone asked me how my 'headaches' were doing that I ended up in an explanation about how my experimentations showed that hats worked better for me than sunglasses because when I wore sunglasses, the light would get in through the top of the frames which was like not having any protection at all.

All of a sudden I heard a big 'AHA’ from the side. My mom was listening to everything. She continued with 'that's why you've been wearing these hats'! My sister figured it out as we were leaving the second party and commented on how she thought it was cool. I guess I like to have fun wherever I can find it and run these little experiments to amuse myself as I ease into some of these changes.

I've gotten many other comments on my hats and only received a couple of negative ones. These only came from people who should know better. No worries, they are the ones who looked silly, not me. The best comment was when I wore one of these hats to the supermarket instead of my normal hat. Out of nowhere and completely unexpected, a stranger walking by me said 'cute hat'. Wow, that was really nice and something I can and did use to draw more strength from.

Ok, I told you I was on a roll and I definitely didn't stop there; with church and fancier places. My work has a policy about not wearing hats while at work. I work in a medium sized division for a huge corporation and understand why they have such a hat policy. I currently have a great light accommodation at work where I have filtering light sleeves on the bulbs in my office. However, there are many times I don't feel like I can leave my office or I will face the stabbing daggers of the fluorescent lights throughout the building. Honestly, I can't stay out on my team's aisle for very long or I feel like I start to transform into someone else or maybe it’s that I want to change into somebody else.

Now I have my cooler hats and I am getting more comfortable with wearing them in different scenarios. When I picked out the styles I did, I figured I could wear them at work if I really, really had to wear a hat so my next step was getting past our company policy.

I'd already started preparing for something extra and had gotten a note from my neurologist and a neuro-ophthalmologist. I figured two notes would be better than one, but I really think one note would have been suffice. I had already talked to our HR director and she knew that I had some doctor notes, but I needed more than what we had previously spoke about.

She had mentioned that the hat wouldn't be a problem in our building, but if I was ever in a meeting with one of the big wigs (BW), that I should probably remove it. I was compelled to stop her to let her know that I felt I should be able to keep wearing my hat no matter who was in the room. She thought about it for a moment and decided she was not the right person who could make the decision I truly needed. I ended up going to our corporate medical department and finally got a ruling from the VP doctor who is a direct report to the top BW in our company.

As a reasonable work accommodation for my light sensitivity, I have been approved to wear a hat while at work as long as my manager is aware that I may have to wear a hat. My manager is great with all of this and has told me on many occasions that he would not have a problem with it. He actually has less of a problem with it than I do (from a professional perspective) just like I would not have a problem if one of my people needed to wear a hat for medical reasons.

I think I needed to go this official route as it will take any argument away from anyone who might protest my hat (there are some who would do that) as I now have the approval from our corporate office. I know my manager would always stick up for me, but this would help us if someone higher up the chain were to say something. It will also cover me for when I go away on a work trip next month where I am/was terrified of the lighting situation because I remember what it was like last year. Luckily, I was able to divert the lights then by getting to the room early enough to 'fix' the lights before anyone would notice anything. I'm not sure I'd be able to do that again this year, but I have a more reliable method now; my hat.

Since I have been wearing my stylish hats more and even before I received the approval from work, I ordered three more hats! At this point, I have to stay committed to my hats which are actually another way of staying committed to my health. I don't like turning stupid if it can be prevented and am hoping my hats will be a good preventative measure for me no matter where I need to go.

I have definitely had a busy month since I realized how I forget my hat too often, how I needed to stop forgetting it and developed a theory on why I kept being so absentminded with it. I am hopeful that I have addressed everything I need to around this issue now and will only have more new, stylish and trendy hats in my future instead of stupid moments that could have been avoided.

I guess I tend to go a little overboard when I finally get slapped around enough to get motivated, but I am now on a better road than I was just one month ago. Do you tend to go too far when you run into things like this too?



Heather said...

Good for you! Do you have pictures of your hat collection? I'd love to see them, but if it's too much trouble for you then no worries. :)

I still need to get on the ball about the whole perfume thing at my church. This morning I was FINE until I got to church and hugged too many people, and I smelled so bad that when I got home I changed shirts and still had the scent all over me. And now, of course, I have a massive headache. I was just talking to my preacher about my headaches too; I don't know why I didn't think to bring it up. You just motivated me to send an email, so thank you!

MigrainePuppet said...

Heather - My pastor also mentioned two other possible options. We have a cry room and a votive room. I had tried the cry room, but it had CFLs in it and to me, it was very isolating; not to mention if there was an actual crier in there.

I'd never been in the votive room - until yesterday. I did wear my hat to church and had passed through the votive room to check it out. I was very touched to see incandescent bulbs in this fixture since I was pretty sure they would not have been in there before. I ended up passing through and went to the pews.

However, I think the lady who sat in front of me took her morning bath in perfume. I knew I would not be able to last even part of the mass in that seat and quickly made my way back to the votive room. It was much better than the cry room, I could remove my hat and there were no foreign smells in there.

I don't have pictures of my hats yet. I have problems getting pictures from my phone to my pc, but I'll work on that. Good luck with your perfume efforts.