B/G: I work at a gas station as a supervisor; my duties include unloading freight, stocking shelves, pumping gas, operating a cash register, and basically anything that needs to be done in a retail environment.
In the autumn of last year, I had what turned out to be fairly major surgery on my elbow. I was off work for 2 months, went back half-time for two months, and am now back full time. I am essentially 4 months into a 12-or-more- month recovery. (Can provide more detail on the surgery via PM if needed). The surgery was on my dominant arm, so it's been a rough ride.
Per my surgeon's orders, I am to follow my arm on what I can do, so basically in the mornings before it starts to ache, I am comfortable lifting/carrying stock, etc. By the afternoon the pain sets in, and I am better off working the register or doing paperwork etc. My boss is 100% on board with this, as are my coworkers. The problem, unfortunately, is coming from the customers.
As I've mentioned before, I live in a VERY small town, where everyone knows everyone's business. Every customer who comes in the door knows I was off work for a long time, knows it was because of surgery, and can see the huge purple scar on my elbow. The surgery site is still bruised & swollen, and by then end of a work-day it looks like someone hit me with a bat.
However, when customers are asking me to bring them items from the back, or asking me to fill their vehicles, and I politely direct another employee to do so, many customers go on the attack. "I can't believe you're STILL milking that surgery", or "Oh, right, your arm huuuurts soo much. I'm going to tell your boss how lazy you are". These things are not said in jest, and my boss has told me that several customers have claimed that I denied them service. (Again, boss is not taking these claims seriously as she knows my situation).
How can I firmly tell customers to back the heck off? I am not comfortable explaining exactly what was done to my arm, as it is gruesome and still upsetting to me... and it is also none of their bleeping business.
I have tried joking: "Oh, yea, I'm totally milking it. I smash my elbow with a brick every morning just to maintain the swelling, ha ha", I've tried complete silence... and nothing is working.