Can't Get My Work/Boss to Understand What Tinnitus Is and Stop with the Events [USA] — Help?

Discussion in 'Support' started by jdjd09, Dec 14, 2019.

    1. jdjd09

      jdjd09 Member

      So, I recently changed to a new field with software engineering. Specifically web dev. It is a better field than before, but the issue is that since I don't have a lot of experience, I want to make a good impression with my company. I've been in my job a little under a year now.

      However, I have this condition and my work conflicts with it. Also, FYI, I have it on the louder side than most. AKA, I can hear it ALL the time. It is not the kind you hear only when you cover your ears. Also, I have measurable hearing loss in the higher frequencies on a normal ENT hearing chart.

      This new job like this throw "celebrations" and meet ups outside work for everything. Hell, I won't be shocked if they start celebrating people brushing there teeth in the morning eventually. Anyways, I had to go to some celebration at a bar on a Friday night this week. After about 40 minutes, I said gotta go and ditched out. It was WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY too loud. Decibel reader was getting up to 90 dB and wouldn't be shocked if it got up to 100 dB at times. I wore 33 dB foam ear plugs too. I feel my tinnitus is a bit louder today, but because I left when I did I don' think I hear any new tones. But it is causing me to miss out on going places over the weekend. I NEVER go to bars outside work for this very reason.

      Anyways, this conflict at work leads to the following issues that conflict with my tinnitus:

      1.) They like to throw monthly or bi-monthly events at bars. Most the time it is during work day so no one is at the bars. Which makes it quieter and bearable with earplugs.

      2.) They like to force people to go to lunch meet ups at restaurants during the workday. This is NOT good for me because they are packed full of people and it gets up to 80 dB. I can wear earplugs to these events and it goes ok... but I can't hear what people say. It's miserable experience for me. They always want to go to a noisy restaurant too, anything quite (which is rare to find these days) is never a thing.

      3.) They like to force people to go into conference rooms for meetings, even though you could easily just call into the meeting from ones desk. They purposely do it too by blocking you being able to call in. Then, they proceed to play the speakers in the conference room louder than normal. I ask them to turn it down all the time, but inevitably someone in the meeting talks quiet and they turn it up, then back to square one. This leads me to have to wear earplugs and not hear the meeting.

      I explained all this to my boss early on, but as is usual with everyone in life it seems, they forget you have it or don't think it is a big deal because they can't see anything.

      I live in the USA, so we don't have a lot of worker protection rights like a lot of other countries in the first world.

      I am just at a loss of what to do. I am tired of all the above. I'm tired of the forced lunch meet ups, tired of the bars, and tired of the noisy conference rooms. I am tired of being told I can ask people to turn down the volume in the conference rooms, only for them to realized that they don't like how low I like the volume and play volume police all day and don't let me just call into the meeting.

      I'm tired of subjecting myself to these things that I would NOT do with the few friends who understand my condition or my girlfriend. I'm tired of fighting and explaining myself and asking for people to accommodate my situation.

      Can someone with experience with this PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE tell me how to get my boss and work to understand this is real, no I shouldn't be pressured to go to these meetings/meetups because you think I have a normal life and want to use it against me if I don't go, and I am tired of it?

      Please, can someone help me?

      PS: I am not new to this condition, I have had it for 4 years now. However, until this job, I didn't have this issue. I can't quit this job right now and running from the issue is not going to solve it (as other companies do this as well). I need to handle this. Can someone please give me guidance on how to handle this (with the understanding I am in a new field AND I live in the USA)?
      • Hug Hug x 1
    2. Lilah

      Lilah Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      It seems that monthly or bi-monthly events at bars (1) should not be a problem for you noise-wise with plugs. I would still try to go at least once a month and perhaps leave early.

      On the lunch meet ups at restaurants (2), try to bring your own lunch to work and tell everyone you are trying to save money, need time to decompress, on a diet, prefer home cooked meals, doctor's orders, etc. They won't ask you out for lunch after you do this a few times. However, try to go out on a Friday now and then to show that you are still part of the team.

      On conference rooms for meetings (3), this is pretty common at work and may seem unusual to others if you want to call in when you are in the same building. Do you have to participate heavily/present at these meetings? If so, there may be some pressure for you to go. I would talk to the boss again, perhaps ask if you can just attend the meetings where you have to present but can call-in otherwise.
      If it gets too unbearable, I would start looking for another job. It seems there is a lot of emphasis on team work and face time at your new job. Have you presented options to your boss on how to address some of these issues? Also, I would pick my battles and not complain about everything at once. Just pick one of the three items and discuss this with your boss.
      • Like Like x 1
    3. Tybs

      Tybs Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Fall from stairs
      Not sure what it's like in the USA, but over here (Europe), demand for web developers is extremely high compared to supply. You say you can't quit, but why not? These days you can just freelance working remotely for employers in the whole wide world, as long as you have your own PC and internet connection.
    4. linearb

      linearb Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      beliefs are makyo and reality ignores them
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      I also work in web dev; until I went remote I had a similar lifestyle in terms of conference rooms, loud happy hours, etc.

      I made it work with earplugs. I usually had two or three different kinds with me so I'd have options, but basically people thought of me as the extremely social high energy guy who was too quick with bad puns and always wore earplugs. In fact I think some of my brighter coworkers started wearing earplugs to holiday parties and stuff because of my example.

      I've been blessed with compassionate bosses, but I've also always tried to make my tinnitus my problem, and not my employers.

      The good news is, you're in a field where if you just want to work from a house in the middle of the woods... well, it's more doable than a lot of careers, anyway. That said, I figured out that I wanted to GTFO of the city in 2011 and I didn't pull it off until 2016
    5. PeteJ

      PeteJ Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      acoustic trauma?
      I don't know if this would work but what about a note from a doctor that you need to avoid loud noise and you are sensitive to loud noise thus you need to be excluded from non-work related events if you suspect that they will be loud? That way you can avoid the lunch meetings or at least the bar meetups.

      You shouldn't be forced to attend those events if they are too noisy for you and you shouldn't feel compelled to attend them.
    6. PeteJ

      PeteJ Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      acoustic trauma?
      I like your answer for him but re-reading it, it sounds like he can't quit right now unless somehow, he finds a remote job.

      I can only think of suggesting a sit-down with the boss and honestly explain the problem but I would bring a doctor's note. I can't think of another solution. Some employers are understanding and some aren't. It's already difficult to get any random person to understand, let alone an employer.
      • Like Like x 1
    7. Bobby B

      Bobby B Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Large caliber rifles&machine guns, +30 years of loud clubs
      None of these events will cause additional ear damage if you have good plugs in properly
      I use solid silicon 32db plugs which are pre-sprayed in ethanol disinfectant and kept their small aluminium case in my pockets
      It takes me 3 seconds to put those in versus foam plugs which is more time consuming.

      I think you should look into using other type of plugs

      If the meetings/events get too quiet I can create a gap by moving the plug slightly, or push it back deeper when it gets louder again so I can adjust sound levels as required. No one ever said anything and most don't even care as you already found out.

      We had louder company events like year end parties with music/bands etc. which I skipped altogether by taking vacations days on these occasions.

      Protecting your ears should be your own responsibility - don't expect others to even begin to understand these issues, or even show compassion.

      This is why us, the folks with noise induced damage are here in the first place: lack of awareness
      • Agree Agree x 1

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