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I plan on having surgery in October and I will be using FMLA for the time I’m out of work. I’m all stressed about turning in the paperwork to my boss. I know it won’t stay private. I just don’t want to deal with their judgements. How do you deal with this?
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The best defense is a good offense. Better to come from you first than through the rumor mill and have to clear up the untrue gossip. I let a lot of people know why I was going to be gone. In some cases I kind of had to as I wouldn't be working on their stuff for 6 weeks, and then others might have heard about it (Our rumor mill is exceptionally fast) so I freely tell them.

This might sound crass, but I've taken the attitude "I don't care what one thinks of the decision or what one thinks of me". There are exceptions of course (God > Family > Friends) but just about everyone else falls into the "don't care" bucket. I know, I sound very shallow here. When I was younger I would care and so forth, but now I realized it really doesn't matter if frank or sally think it's a bad idea, or jim thinks I'm taking the easy way out. Sooner or later, we'll drop so much weight and our diets will change a lot, and people will put it all together.

I kind of think when people try to keep it a secret, it adds so much drama trying to keep the genie in the bottle. Life's too short to go through all that trouble if you ask me. For fun, I told a nosy supervisor I was having surgery to surgically remove my head from my rear. He replied something like "Excellent, we've been wanting you to get that done for years!". I then told him the truth, and he asked me if it was "hush hush" and I told him nope, go ahead and tell whomever you want, it doesn't bother me.

I'm sure it will go down like this: you'll get nervous first, tell people, they will react however, you will get excited about the surgery, come back after FMLA already losing a lot of weight, people might notice and they will say what they want, and at the end of the day you're going to feel great. (Wow that was a long run-on sentence!)

Aside from that though, on a technical level, I'm almost positive whomever "leaks" the FMLA paperwork has violated HIPAA and confidentiality, "reasonably expected privacy" laws. If you really don't want it to get out, you could tell him/her that you don't want others to know, and that by law the HR department can't disclose to other people. S/he'll get the point. :)

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The paperwork does not have to reveal the nature of the surgery does it? It should only state that you need approximately X time off for surgery and recovery, expected date of return, restrictions, etc. It really is no one's business. You will be speculated about at any rate, depending on work culture it could still end up as unwanted gossip. You could always say a hernia repair, if you have to and that you have to watch your diet while it heals, only if you feel you must. Start distancing yourself from work peers now, not to be antisocial but walk away if convos get into ANY gossip, be more conservative about sharing personal details now, just say 'Have to run, I have a deadline, or paperwork, mtg, phone call to make, use the restroom, nice seeing you, etc'. It is not lying as some might suggest, but private medical health info. Do people announce they are in psych therapy, or getting hemorrhoid surgery, or genital warts removed, or going bankrupt? I mean we have all gotten conditioned by the 'Jerry Springer' syndrome of oversharing these days - all to our detriment I think. Good luck.

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I'm having surgery on X date. The doctor says I need to be out until Y date. Thank you for your concern. That's it. FMLA forms generally don't have what the surgery is - just whether the leave is for a medical condition for your or a family member. Also, unless your boss is in the HR department s/he may never see the form - and HR cannot discuss the reasons. (Assuming you are in the US).

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12 hours ago, DNICHOLS said:

I plan on having surgery in October and I will be using FMLA for the time I’m out of work. I’m all stressed about turning in the paperwork to my boss. I know it won’t stay private. I just don’t want to deal with their judgements. How do you deal with this?

does your company have an HR person? I never turned mine into my boss, I went directly to HR with my completed paperwork. In fact, my boss didn't even know I would be out of work until 3 days prior to surgery. And when he asked me what was wrong, I told him I'd rather not share. You have no obligation to share.

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You can ask your doctor not to put the surgery name on the paperwork. Legally, your HR/boss (whomever handles the paperwork) cannot speak about the surgery even if it is written. If they do, you can sue! :)

Edited by Bryn910
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7 minutes ago, Bryn910 said:

You can ask your doctor not to put the surgery name on the paperwork. Legally, your HR/boss (whomever handles the paperwork) cannot speak about the surgery even if it is written. If they do, you can sue! :)

Very very very true!

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14 hours ago, DNICHOLS said:

I plan on having surgery in October and I will be using FMLA for the time I’m out of work. I’m all stressed about turning in the paperwork to my boss. I know it won’t stay private. I just don’t want to deal with their judgements. How do you deal with this?

In the beginning I was worried about should I tell people or keep it a secret because at my job just like all others everyone gossips, that's life though and we are all imperfect....BUT as the time passed I have gotten so excited and have pretty much told everyone (in the section that I work in at least) LOL...even 2 of my guy co-workers. I'm older though (probably would forget what made up story I had told folks...:lol:) and really don't care much about what people say behind my back because I know who I am...and I want to help anyone who ever thought about having WLS because I was one of the sceptics years ago but because I'm so comfortable with my decision I just feel like what the heck I'd rather people hear it from me than some lie from someone else. My surgery is August 29th, I have some co-workers counting down with me. But that's just me...I'm kinda crazy so you do what works for you :D:wacko:

PS: We do have an HR department and they follow the HIPPA Law to a T so no one would have found out from them, from past experience they only send a form stating that the employee is approved for FMLA for whatever number of days your doctor feels like you need to take off...no details on the form at all. I wish you the best.

Edited by wanda247
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Good Afternoon,

I used sick time/FMLA and I am a RN and I specifically asked my surgeons office not to put anything that would allude to what kind of surgery I was having, they stated they never did. It was very non specific no one knows the wiser. I did tell my nurses that I supervise and they have been very supportive. One of my nurses cousins had the sleeve over a year ago so it has been nice, she has been sharing her cousins experience with me.

Edited by TallyJeepGirl
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While I agree with honesty is the best policy, you can always use the Hernia/gallbladder defense. You will be on a liquid diet at work, and if people notice that you aren't eating out with them or see you not eating there wont be any question when you say, I'm on my pre-op diet for gallbladder/hernia surgery and it sucks!!!! It shuts down any questions immediately, because most people know that abdominal surgeries require a fast. When you start losing weight you can tell them the dietary change you had to make post op led to better healthy choices and over all you feel better so you are going to stick with it. Just a thought. I know how hard it can be revealing your plans and when you are already vulnerable you don't need other's opinions.

Edited by Tracy1978
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