Forum

Reasonable adjustments

I haven’t disclosed to work as haven’t as yet needed any reasonable adjustments. However currently management are thinking about changing where I work. I currently work full time for the NHS in one particular hospital. There I feel safe and secure and believe I do an excellent job. They have told me that they want me to work 2 days a week in a different hospital. Can I say that this would just be sensory overload. Perhaps increase my spasm frequency. My reasonable adjustment I would like is don’t ask me to work 2 days a week in a new environment. Just leave me be where I’m working safe, happy and confident? Relatively spasm free. Any thoughts Thanks Min xx

Hi Min,

I don’t think you need to get into the specifics of exactly what might happen - e.g. increased spasms - as there’s very little medical evidence for this.

Instead, I would keep it pretty broad, but factual. Obviously, you would have to disclose what you’re ill with (MS), and say that, as such, it is serious, and you don’t need any additional stress at the moment. I would add the “at the moment” bit, because you don’t want to convey that you would never consider any new challenges or promotions ever again, and thus sideline yourself permanently.

Leave the door open a chink, in case something crops up that you like better, or feel more confident about.

Tina

x

Thanks Tina - wise words. As we all know MS is a funny one with everyone’s MS being different. For example I get acutely sore eyes if I inject rebif into my tummy, right arm or right leg. No problem injecting into my right leg, back or arm. Neurologist, MS nurses and rebif company never come across it. But it is FACT if I didn’t inject I wouldn’t get sore eyes. So what’s happening now is thinking about my managers decision to change where I work is causing my left leg to spasm. From what I understand reasonable adjustments are to make my life easier. Therefore leave my job as it is and don’t ask me to work elsewhere would make my life easier. My leg would not spasm. Case closed. Yes I know it probably won’t be that simple. It is going to be a big deal to disclose MS as I have previously fiercely guarded it. I just feel that people will look at me and think well she looks alright. Not understanding the hideous invisible symptoms. If I tell my manager who will she have to tell? Thanks for reading Hugs Min xx

Hi again Min,

Haha - no idea about the Rebif bit (not on DMDs myself), what a weird one!

I’m not disputing that, in practice, you tend to find stress makes your leg spasm more. However, I think you need to be careful about presenting it as fact, that if you worked at the new hospital, your leg would spasm more, because you cannot know this for sure, and if work happened to seek a medical opinion (I’m not saying they would!), you probably would not be able to find anyone to say that working at the new hospital would definitely cause spasms. They are not going to say anything more specific than that stress can be an aggravating factor with MS symptoms, which I think is as about as much detail as you need to go into, too. Who knows exactly what it would cause - and I don’t think you should be expected to predict - but the fact is, you’re not well, and do not need any extra challenges at the moment.

I’ve been thinking about whether or not to emphasise the fluctuating nature, because, on the positive side, that leaves open the possibility you might feel better in future, and be willing to try something new. But on the negative side, it might mean they won’t let it drop about the new hospital, and keep asking every couple of months whether you feel well enough to reconsider!

If you say no, will they quickly appoint someone else, and it will just go away, or will they still be nudging this time next year, hoping you’ve enjoyed a resurgence in health?

I think, if you like, you can just tell your manager, and ask that it not go any further. However, he or she will probably also want to tell HR, and get it on record officially. This could be in your interests, as HR can and should know more about their duties and responsibilities towards you than your individual manager might. If he or she has never had a disabled employee before, or specifically one with MS, he/she will probably want guidance from HR, so will want to consult them. Colleagues do not have to be told at all - although sometimes it might make it easier to tell those who could be affected. For example, if you are going to be rejecting certain kinds of work (like work at this new hospital), and the net result is they will end up having to do it, it might help if they understand you have a health issue, rather than being left to assume you are lazy or inflexible.

Personally, I was aware I was not getting through as much volume of work - although I think it was still of a good standard - so I thought it only fair to warn immediate colleagues (who might be expected to compensate for it) why work output had dropped. I didn’t tell literally everyone I dealt with, though.

I did tell one customer, because she was nice, and I liked her. I was finding the journey to go and visit her (3 hours on the train!) increasingly arduous, though, so rather than let her think I’d cooled towards her, I told her I wasn’t well, and asked if we could do more things over the phone. Which was a shame, as I’d actually liked meeting her face-to-face, and she usually provided a very nice lunch, but she was fine about me finding it hard.

I didn’t tell my other customer, who was grumpy and had never liked me, though. I think the week I was diagnosed, I forgot something (minor) he’d asked me to do, and he snapped: “Have you got a problem with that, or something?” It was on the tip of my tongue to say: “Yes, I’ve got a serious problem: I’ve just been diagnosed with MS; I’m sorry that I forgot your [stupid] thing.”

Luckily, I held myself back, but never did feel like confiding in him that I was seriously ill. Whenever he used his trademark: “Have you got a problem?”, I used to think: “Oooh, more than you will ever know!”, but I never did tell him.

T.

x

Thanks again Tina - more wise words. My previous post about injections I messed up. Acutely sore eyes injecting in right side of body and tummy. No problems injecting in my left side and back. Sorry for any confusion. Min Xx