I am so fortunate when it comes to ‘work’. My livelihood revolves around computers in my home office. I can arrive when I like, knock off when I like and if I choose, have a couple of hours nap in the afternoon and ‘time shift’ those to the evening or the weekend. It also means I can wear what I like and no one will have a second thought about my sarong and bare feet.
If I had a career as a landscape gardener, a mechanic, a plumber or a surgeon, my career (as it was) would be over. I guess an early dilemma when diagnosed with MS is who to tell. Some try to disguise the symptoms and prefer to be private about what’s happening, others don’t mind who they tell and others just tell immediate family and friends and see it as no one else’s business.
Early on, after immediate family knew about the diagnosis and treatment, I decided it was easier to just tell anyone who asked that it was MS. I’m not embarrassed about it and have not been asked to elaborate further by acquaintances (like the regulars serving at the supermarket or bank who notice that I have a cane). And if, in the future, anyone wants to know more about me and my MS, I can now give them a web address!
To me, it makes sense to be up front with your boss and work colleagues. I’m sure they will be accepting. Some may be curious, some may go unnecessarily out of they way to try and ‘assist’, some may have trouble coming to terms with it. A lot of people don’t know much about MS, so being open with them helps create awareness about the disease. You and your MS can then become part of their journey (and vice-versa) with a sense of openness, honesty and trust.
Of course, there are occupations where capability and productivity might be diminished, but don’t despair – often a boss will be able to assist in areas you hadn’t thought of, especially if you are valued as an employee. For example, if you are a good mechanic, you could be moved to a supervisory role or a desk position. If you work for someone else as, say, a gardener or plumber, perhaps consider becoming self-employed and paying others to work under your direction. If you’re a dancer, become a director. If you can continue working, do so – it will help with your self-esteem and your social life.
The office irritations for me come with diminished concentration/focus, short-term memory and fatigue. I find it best to have no or little noise about and to tackle tasks one by one. For example, while writing this I don’t dare check my emails in case I get distracted and lose this train of thought. I find making lists useful – ticking off the items ensures things are done and gives a sense of reward once completed. With the travel business part of my life I also have trouble placing client names to what they require, so I have created a handy reference file that can be accessed quickly rather than have an embarrassing, “So tell me who you are again” response.
My other irritations are trying to focus on filling out forms and doing bookwork. This is not a new thing with MS but I’m certainly going to use MS as the excuse to get someone else to assist in those areas!
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