I had "THE" talk today with my Big Boss...you know the one. The one most all of us diagnosed with MS dread having with our employer? The talk where we go in and bare our souls (and place our necks on the chopping block) and disclose we HAVE MS.
Actually my employer has known I am diagnosed with MS. I "came out" shortly after my diagnosis in 2003. I've routinely had to fill out the dreaded FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act forms, which keep my job for me in my absence) papers every time I have needed more than 3 days off from work in a row (which is almost anytime I've had a relapse!). I didn't keep my diagnosis a secret at work for several reasons, but mostly because my coworkers are more like family to me.
Until today, other than asking for time AWAY from work for illness, I have never asked my employer for anything. I've never wanted to go down the accommodation road and enter the realm of American's With Disabilities, so I've just managed to accommodate myself wherever I could. Good grief...last year when I briefly had to walk with a cane, my employer nearly "spazzed out"! So this year when I probably SHOULD have used a cane, I didn't...I just went ahead and stumbled a lot so as not to attract the attention a cane brings. After all, everybody stumbles!
Today I had to address the "Big Boss" about a temperature issue in our satellite office that I've been unable to remedy on my own. IT'S TOO DAMNED HOT IN THERE! Yep...I had to play the MS CARD.
As it may occur for several of you, when I get overheated my MS symptoms worsen. My leg gets weak/numb, my left arm (and writing hand) gets numb, and my left eye blurs. Not to mention the incredible fatigue that worsens from the heat. Our satellite office is nothing more than an oversized closet with west facing windows and absolutely NO ventilation...it's a torture chamber for someone with MS!
So to make a long story short (or perhaps even longer), I had to have "THE" conversation today about my needs to be able to do my job effectively and efficiently at the box office. The conversation went pretty well I think...I tried to refrain from my usual cutting-edge humor and get to the point of what I needed...an accommodation.
The "Big Boss" listened intently to what I had to say (or at least appeared to be listening) and told me she'd work on the issue. She even thanked me for coming in and addressing the problem directly with her AND for giving her some reasonable suggestions on how to remedy the problem. I walked away feeling all warm and fuzzy inside...that is, until I realized I was too HOT again! I learned too much "warm and fuzzy" can cause my MS symptoms to worsen also...LOL
Anyway, I don't think I'm on the verge of being fired...at least not since I've now thrown the "official" MS card on the table. That ought to buy me a few more good years at the very least...no one wants to be in the press for firing a gimp after all!
And besides...I don't think I'd look good in a "pink slip"...