Saturday, 9 April 2011

Me, myself and work

The Broken of Britain are running a new awareness campaign this week, entitled #fitforwork (on Twitter)
Many people are blogging their work history - what jobs they've had, how their illnesses affected that, that kind of thing.

I was perfectly healthy until about 6 years ago so I don't have the same issues with work history as others.
So instead I thought I'd focus on what my condition would mean to an employer.

MS is a neurological disease that damages the nerve sheaths, which means, among other things, that my brain can't send messages the same way as normal so it has to use an alternate route. Think of it as having to go from A to B via C, D,E and F first. 'Normal' people of course just go from A to B, simple. All this means my brain and body are having to work a lot harder than most people just to do normal things.
Like getting dressed in the mornings. Or taking a shower.

So if I had to work, I'd be tired before I even left the house. Then the journey would be another job. By the time I got to work I'd be yawning and needing to rest.

My hands don't work properly so I can't type fast or accurately. Typing something that isn't full of errors is difficult and takes a lot more time and care. So meeting targets isn't something I could manage. Anything needing a high degree of accuracy is out too, employers tend not to like it if you send out letters with mistakes in them. Or put the wrong figures into a computer system.

I can't walk too far or too often or stand for long periods of time. So that rules out pretty much anything in retail.

Plus of course customers get a bit annoyed if you keep yawning when you're talking to them. Or if you have to dash off to the loo in the middle of serving them. They tend to get irritated if you keep asking them to repeat themselves because you haven't understood what they're saying and when you stop talking in the middle of a sentence because you can't remember what you were saying.
So that rules out anything dealing with the public.

I have to rest after doing a task. Just one task. And then again if I do another. And if I do anything too big then I have to rest for at least the next day, probably two.
And if I push it and try to do to much then I'm out for at least a week.

Anything with too much noise or too bright lights is out because it causes me pain. And not the sort of pain you can relieve with a painkiller.

I also have the inevitable doctor and hospital appointments. So I'd need time off for those.

Then there is the fact that my treatment means I'm immuno suppressed, which leaves me at a high risk of getting infections. Anything from a cold to a UTI makes my symptoms flare, leaving me in pain, shattered and unable to do much of anything. If I should get flu or a sickness bug then I'd be out for weeks. Something a 'normal' person could shake off in a day or two would take me weeks to recover from. I still haven't fully shaken the head cold I've had since January.

I tried to do an adult education course the other week. It was 2 hours a week for five weeks; I made two sessions.
I just can't predict how I will feel on any particular day.
I made plans for a day the other week that I had to cancel at the last minute because I woke up so drained of energy that dragging myself out of bed at 12.30 was a chore. I couldn't do anything, even get dressed properly. It was horrible.

So with all of this, with a hefty dose of unpredictability, would you employ me?
I wouldn't employ me, not like this. My best friend has already (apologetically) said that she wouldn't employ me either. I can't blame her. Employers want reliability, punctuality, stability. They want to know that the person they employ will be there for the hours they are paid to be, for the days they are employed to be. They want to know that their people can do the work they are paid to do. That they will do it well, all day, every day. That they won't cost a fortune in sick pay.

So please tell me - would you employ me?

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