questions at work

This board is for adults and teens to discuss issues relating to BPI since birth (OBPI).
Joined:Fri Nov 09, 2001 3:47 pm
questions at work

Post by erica » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:30 am

Hi all!
It's been a while, but I thought I would post a question and get all your answers. Well I recently started a new job cashiering at Michaels. I was a little worried about the effect it would have on my arms, but luckily I'm not lifting heavy items or doing too much repetitions in my work. I really enjoy my job.
However since it is summer I've decided to wear short sleeves. Thus my problem is revealed. I have a large scar on my lower arm from surgery, and several smaller ones from self injury. So the scars combined with my limited use of my arm has led to a bunch of questions from customers. The most common thing I get is being asked if I broke my arm, or they plain out ask what happened to my arm. I'm really getting tired of constantly saying that it is a birth injury, because then they inevitably ask what happened. I just don't know what to say. I know that if I wore a long sleeved shirt then they probably wouldn't notice as much, but it is just so hot out. Any suggestions. I have been asked these questions in my last job cutting fabric at wal mart, but they were regular customers who once were told did not ask again, so I was not asked constantly.
I just don't know if there is a simple answer that would stop all the questions. Any help would be greatly appeciated. Thanx bunches.

Joined:Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:03 pm
Injury Description, Date, extent, surgical intervention etc:X

Re: questions at work

Post by AngelaW » Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:24 am

Ooooo, I feel for you. We had a discussion on this on the tbpi board. It's sooo irritating when the first thing a person does is ask you "What happened to your...........?" I also have to wear a knee brace to the gym and one lady on the bus even told me I was being rude because I didn't answer her when she shouted "What happnened to your knee?" at me from across half the bus. Grrrrrrrrrr.
Unfortunately people these days just don't realize that curiosity doesn't mean it's polite (or desired) to ask their questions. I think unless you are willing to cover up, you will just have to prepare and strengthen yourself for the inevitable questions. (and please don't feel like you have to cover up!. I wear tank tops when I want to and let other people worry about their opinions :) )
I can only speak for me, but what really helped was 1) accepting that the questions are inevitable, and 2) realizing that I have the control as to what information I give out. Just because someone asked, it didn't mean I was obligated to tell anything about my personal life.
I know you mentioned not knowing what to say. Having a planned, impersonal response helps me. Unless they're really being nice/or concerned about asking (as in because they care and are not just being nosey), I usually just answer politely "It's a long story." and most people get the hint.
I hopes this helps. Hang in there. It's a new job and as you get more and more regulars I think you will find the questions will lessen over time.

Ang :)
Last edited by AngelaW on Mon Jul 25, 2011 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joined:Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:43 pm
Injury Description, Date, extent, surgical intervention etc:brachial plexus stretch during thoracic outlet syndrome surgery on may 18, 2010.

Re: questions at work

Post by jmar » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:03 pm

on the other side of this, i had a nephew that recently passed. he was severely handicapped. he hated for people to stare at him. he would rather have had people to ask why he was in a wheelchair rather than just stare at him or (grrrrrrr) make fun of him.

i also heard of a man who was injured and had severe scars down both of his legs. if anyone asked about them, he would say he fought off a shark. or made up some funny story.

User avatar
Joined:Mon Feb 19, 2007 12:59 am
Injury Description, Date, extent, surgical intervention etc:LOBPI, had surgery when I was 9- they moved muscles and tendons from one side of my arm to the other side. I can lift my arm to about my eye level, can't straigten it all the way and can't completely supinate my wrist.
Location:Richmond, RI

Re: questions at work

Post by karategirl1kyu » Fri Jul 29, 2011 4:43 am

if theyre your customers, give them either a brief rundown or a funny story.. or make up little 'business card' like things with this website on them so they can find out themselves...

Joined:Mon Nov 18, 2002 4:11 pm
Injury Description, Date, extent, surgical intervention etc:I am ROBPI, global injury, Horner's Syndrome. No surgery but PT started at 2 weeks old under the direction of New York Hospital. I wore a brace 24/7 for the first 11 months of my life. I've never let my injury be used as an excuse not to do something. I've approach all things, in life, as a challenge. I approach anything new wondering if I can do it. I tried so many things I might never have tried, if I were not obpi. Being OBPI has made me strong, creative, more determined and persistent. I believe that being obpi has given me a very strong sense of humor and compassion for others.
Location:New York

Re: questions at work

Post by Kath » Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:38 pm

It can be very annoying at times when we are questions in public. Since you are working when these questions are asked perhaps you could give out a BPI Assistance Card.

On our website we have some medical alert cards. We also have a card explaining what a brachial plexus injury is. You can print out some cards and simply tell someone. "i sustained a brachial plexus injury at birth, here is a card that explains the injury. Perhaps you can share it with someone else and help prevent this injury." Maybe this will help stop the questions and also come across very professional.

Go to the page with Assistance Cards. ... Itemid=101

Scroll down and print out this card...


The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that control the
muscles of the shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist, hand and fingers.
Injury to the brachial plexus can result in full to partial
paralysis of one or both arms. Stretching, tearing and other
trauma can cause this type of injury. It can occur during the
birthing process or due to automobile, motorcycle, or
boating accidents; gunshot wounds; sports injuries; specific
medical treatments/procedures/surgeries; or due to viral
causes. For more information go to or call
UBPN, Inc. at 1-866-877-7004.

It explains the injury and then you don't have to go though it with all sorts of strangers who are rude to ask. No one asks a person why they are blind or why they are in a wheelchair... it would be considered in poor taste and rude. But people seem to think it's fine to comment on our arms.... Would you ask them why they had a pimple or a big nose etc? I doubt it. I tend to react calmly to questions and use it to educate but when you are working it is rude to engage you in this conversation.

I've had cashiers as me what was wrong. I just picked up my change and packages and simply said "I have a brachial plexus birth injury." Walked away and was ticked that they called attention to something that is really none of their business and they were just being rude and nosy.
Kath robpi/adult

Kathleen Mallozzi

Joined:Fri Nov 09, 2001 3:47 pm

Re: questions at work

Post by erica » Tue Aug 02, 2011 5:26 pm

Hi All!
Thanx for your replies. I'm getting used to the questions again, but thankfully nobody asked any questions today. I guess I will have to think of something to say lol.
Thanx again.

Joined:Tue Mar 29, 2011 5:53 am
Injury Description, Date, extent, surgical intervention etc:left arm bpi since birth,can only bend my elbow mostly ne feeling n when i get it its not the right sensation

Re: questions at work

Post by emilyalberger » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:37 pm

the best way to cope with the questions is the elaborate stories =]...ive used the "bear attack then falling off the cliff" one many times and that has one of the best reaction faces ever...n if u bring out the tears it helps in more than one way, ive gotten free things cause they made me cry lol

Joined:Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:35 pm

Re: questions at work

Post by Erdrix » Tue Sep 06, 2011 10:48 am

I would tell kids, "You know when the bus driver tells you to keep your arms inside the window, next time you do it."

Carolyn J
Joined:Tue Apr 06, 2004 1:22 pm
Injury Description, Date, extent, surgical intervention etc:LOBPI. I am 77 yrs old and never had a name for my injuries until 2004 when I found UBPN at age 66.

My injuries are: LOBPI on upper body and Cerebrael Palsy on the lower left extremities. The only intervention I've had is a tendon transplant from my left leg to my left foot to enable flexing t age 24 in 1962. Before that, my foot would freeze without notice on the side when wearing heels AND I always did wear them at work "to fit in" I also stuttered until around age 18-19...just outgrew therapy for it. Also suffered from very very low self esteem; severe Depression and Anxiety attacks started at menopause. I stuffed emotions and over-compensated in every thing I did to "fit in" and be "invisible". My injuries were Never addressed or talked about until age 66. I am a late bloomer!!!!!

I welcome any and all questions about "My Journey".
Sharing helps to Heal. HUGS do too.
Location:Tacoma WA

Re: questions at work

Post by Carolyn J » Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:38 pm

I like "Erdrex's answer". I have found humor was the best answer. Now days peple don't ask as they assume I've had a stroke!!! :?
Carolyn J
LOBPI/73 :? 8-)

Joined:Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:43 pm
Injury Description, Date, extent, surgical intervention etc:brachial plexus stretch during thoracic outlet syndrome surgery on may 18, 2010.

Re: questions at work

Post by jmar » Tue Sep 06, 2011 4:11 pm

Erdrix wrote:I would tell kids, "You know when the bus driver tells you to keep your arms inside the window, next time you do it."
hahahahahahahaha good answer. may save a kids arm from injury, too.