After 10 months of tingly arms and legs, a bout of optic neuritis, unexplained tiredness and brain fogs, as well as doubting my own sanity—I was finally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
After 10 months of tingly arms and legs, a bout of optic neuritis, unexplained tiredness and brain fogs, as well as doubting my own sanity—I was finally diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis). Even though this was not entirely unexpected, it was still a shock and at the same time, a huge relief. My response turned out to be ‘full on research mode.’ I searched the web high and low for information and anything related to MS and funnily enough my parents did the same—must be a family trait. Probably for a good month or so, I was in a haze of information, feelings, uncertainties, insecurities, strength—or to put it bluntly, I was one big mess on the inside but very functional day-to-day.
After my family and some close friends, my supervisor was the next person I told, mostly because she was there when I had no clue about what was going on and it just felt right to tell her. I also pretty quickly decided to tell HR because I wanted them to know in case things got worse unexpectedly. I recently came across this blog post from Heather on The Mighty. She also tweets as Dizzy the Donkey which is worth a follow. The first thing that struck me was that she decided not to tell people because of the fear of being judged. I had exactly the same fear of being judged or perceived as lazy, slacking or not working as hard, which was one of the reasons why I decided to be somewhat open at work about my MS diagnosis. I told close colleagues and office mates and others if it came up due to people noticing changes; most notably, I had to explain my new diet to my lunch club colleagues. This was followed by waves of “but if I admit that I have to change my working hours or ask for other adjustments, I would not be considered as good an academic.” I have never really been a 24/7 academic and always valued my weekends and time off but this was never visible at work. Now, with adjusted hours, 1 day a week working from home, and days where I looked like s**t, it’s a bit more obvious that I’m not 100% fit all the time.
|Read on: I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis three years ago|