how to cope with giving up work

Hi, I’m looking to see how people have coped with the prospect of having to retire from work through ill health. I have been nursing now for 21 years since leaving school. My diagnosis of terms was in 2006 following the sudden death of my mother. Since then I had to initially deal with post traumatic stress, then my MS. I have never allowed it to rule my life or who Iam but over the last year my condition has deteriorated considerably. My immediate work mates have been great but unfortunately management are completely different. I have reduced my hours and lightened my duties but,as all nurses will tell you, sometimes you just have to get on with it. My management tend to do things without discussing with me and when questioned its always put that I misunderstood them. The most recent example being the policy of referral to occupational health. Normally this is to discuss return to work but when I attended the Dr was the first I knew the my boss had stated that they could not continue to support the changes needed any longer. They questioned redeployment even though it has been discussed that there is no lighter area to work in. So instead of preparing myself to try and return to work Iam now trying to get my head round the very good possibility of having to retire from the only thing I’ve known. This now has my thoughts and emotions all over the place.

Any advice on coping would be greatly appreciated.


Hi Lindz,

Your Mum passing away suddenly must have been a big shock. I don’t know what it is but they are the only people that give completely unconditional love; for most; not all.

As far as your work goes; nursing is one of those professions where your body has to be tip top to cope with the rigours work gives you; apart from working awful shifts.

You’re still young enough to get into something else. Don’t think it is the end of my working life.

Remember; MS is not a stop sign; its traffic humps; tomorrow; next week; next month will probably resolve some of those fears you obviously have especially if you have RRMS.

Call Access to Work; see if they can help Get support in work if you have a disability or health condition (Access to Work) - GOV.UK

You sound very pragmatic about your options. As the great philosopher Doris Day said ‘what will be; will be.’



As you can see from my avatar; I was going to be an airline pilot; still never mind, that was many moons ago.



Medical retirement is a BIG challenge. Suddenly all the lines in the sand that defined your life are gone. Now you have a chance to explore and discover new things which you do not know you can do. I now run my own website and am a service user

Retirement was very sudden decision and it did take me over a year to adjust, 24-7 at home when my job involved travelling to Europe 5 days a weeks. 30+ years as a computer geek. My life is now fuller, busier and more enjoyable than when I worked but it has taken a lot of effort.

OK MS is a nuisance and a great inconvenience but I have learnt to live with it.

Good luck


Thanks for the advice. I have always believed in what will be will be, and I live with MS. MS is not me it may define what Iam capable of doing but usually there are ways round that. At the moment the thought of retiring through ill health could be made easier if I had the support of my manager instead of being made feel like an inconvenience. Iam hoping after my meeting with them tomorrow things should be clearer and I have an idea what they are planning. Also getting away from the stress they create can only be a good thing. So thanks again for your words of wisdom

you are being bullied! There are procedures employers have to follow when dealing with someone with a disability - you have the law on your side re reasonable adjustments s etc. Don’t commit yourself to anything in the meeting and then get proper advice from a solicitor dealing with disability issues. Is there a branch of nursing you can move to which isn’t as physically demanding? - School nurse /g.p surgery nurse?? You didn’t ask to have m.s. - don’t feel apologetic about having it. You have to familiarise yourself with your rights - let your employer know your not going to be pushed about - and the bottom line is you may have to fight for what you want.

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I have been asked by my employer to consider ill health retirement as I have gone through their process of long term sickness and we have our final meeting next thursday, I have said I don’t want to retire so they are going down the dismissal due to incapacity through disability/ill health. I only worked 12 hours a week but the money came in handy. Tbh the work was getting to much for me. My attitude, what will be will be. If it’s the end of my paid working life then I won’t let ms take over me I know it’s there but I’ll let it know I’m here to fight back.


definitely seek advice before agreeing to anything. Also make sure you get everything in writing from them. If you are asked to attend any meetings, demand that someone present takes summary notes from the meeting and that these notes are distributed to all attendees and query anything that you deem to be an inaccurate record. In this way, you are protected if somewhere down the line, someone changes something and then comes up with “oh you must have misunderstood”.

is there a union rep that you can talk to? Or Local Citizen’s Advice Bureau?

If you haven’t done so already, dig out your employment contract to see exactly what are the rights and obligations of employer and employee.

Also you say that your colleagues have been very supportive. Try and get some of their support in writing.

the other thing I would recommend is keep posting on here with regular updates and your MS friends here will give you as much help as we can.


Hi Lindz,

Contact the Disabled Law Service, Multiple Sclerosis Legal Advice Line | Disability Law Service they are paid a retainer by the MS Society and will even go to the meeting with you.



some good advise above. For me giving up work was a double edged thing. On one hand I was “giving up” a part of my identity and some self respect (stupid really) but on the other hand I removed quite a layer of stress and my ability to manage my limited energy resources was improved massively. I can now have a “not great” day without letting colleagues down.

Your manager sounds like a fool, you are not an inconvenience even if your circumstances are inconvenient.