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Someone else told people I have MS

Hi all hope your all well, This is just a little rant really so sorry before hand.

Just before xmas on 18th December I got diagnosed with MS im not sure which type yet. I am a very private person and do not like people knowing anything about me. I told 1 person at work and she has been on and on and on at me to tell my boss about it (I dont need the added pressure of her on at me all the time, especially at a time like this) even though at the moment i have nothing wrong with me, and im still working. Since being diagnosed I had 1 day off sick and that was Xmas eve which was 6 days after diagnosis. I even went in on the day I found out.

Anyway last week I had flu, it was proper flu and nothing to do with MS and was off for 3 days. Before that i had a bad day and told her i just wanted it to all go away. The 1st day i was off sick with flu she went and told my boss I had MS and another person who did not need to know. I asked her not to say anything to anyone when I told her. I am still coming to terms with it let alone telling other people. I had no choice but to go and speak to my boss about it. Its not that i thought he would treat me any different or im scared of him i just didnt want anyone to know. I feel as though my choices are being taken away from me.

The reason im writing is 1st to vent and 2nd to ask if anyone thinks im being unreasonable in being angry with her because everyone I have told has said the same thing “Maybe its for the best”. That really annoys me as it is my choice if i want people to know and i dont have to tell him if i dont want to. I was going to say something when I was ready but i felt so much pressure to go and see him.

Thankyou Take Care

Tasha

Hi Tasha,

No, you’re not being unreasonable, it is not her place to tell anybody, even your boss. It is your choice about who you tell and when.

I can only think perhaps she told you boss out of concern when you went off sick, however, she still should not have done it, could she have misunderstood what you meant when you said you wanted it all to go away? She should never have mentioned it to anyone else though.

I had no choice from the beginning to inform my boss, and then let my colleagues know, I was unable to do my job anymore so it was easier than the constant questioning about how long I was going to be out of action.

I hope your boss was sympathetic and will give you lots of support. Have a quiet word with this woman and ask her not to tell anyone else and to inform the other person she told the same thing. It’s not her place to tell anyone, its yours, if and when you choose to do so.

Don’t worry about ranting, its what the forum is for, amongst other things.

Cherry x

Hi,

First of all, I’m sorry about your diagnosis.

But secondly, although your friend (possibly now ex-friend) had no right to repeat to the boss something that you’d told her “in confidence”, I’m afraid bad news does travel fast, and once you’ve shared a secret with anyone, you’re accepting the risk they may or may not keep it to themselves. In this case it seems your confidence was misplaced, although it does look as if your friend was probably acting from the best of motives.

I’m assuming she did not know you had flu’, and from her perspective, one minute you are telling her you’re having a hard time with the MS, next thing, you’re off sick. I’m guessing she wouldn’t know it was a coincidence, and would assume the two things were connected? So she may have thought she was being protective by putting your boss in the picture.

I’m not saying that makes it alright, and that it shouldn’t still have been your choice. But what’s happened has happened, and there’s no going back now.

I suppose you could have denied it, or just maintained a dignified silence. Really, unless the information came direct from you, your boss has no business listening to office tittle-tattle that might or might not be true. However, in your place, I probably would have felt the need to clarify the situation too. If you said nothing, he would have been left in the awkward position of knowing, but only unofficially, since it didn’t come through a verified channel (You!).

I do personally think it’s advantageous for work to be in the picture - whether or not it came out in the way you would have chosen. Apart from anything else, you do know it gives you certain legal protection from discrimination automatically, regardless how ill you are, or may seem? That includes the right to have “reasonable adjustments” made to your work, to accommodate any difficulties you may be having (it doesn’t mean you must have adjustments, if you don’t need any, neither that you’re entitled to any and all you might think of - “reasonable” must be reasonable ON BOTH SIDES - i.e. it will take into account the amount of expense or disruption to your employer, to do what you ask - if it’s minimal expense or disruption, it’s more likely to be “reasonable” than if it would involve redesigning a whole building, for example).

It also means your employer cannot act quickly to dismiss you, on grounds “it will only get worse”. You are protected from the moment they know, whether or not you’re visibly disabled, and whether you’ve been off sick much - or at all.

Some symptoms of MS could be mistaken for a drink or drug problem, or just poor attitude (e.g. difficulties with memory or concentration, failure to shoulder as much work as previously). So, in that respect too, it’s probably better for work to know, so that any difficulties are not recorded as “performance issues”. I found even the stress of diagnosis meant I was getting a bit absent-minded, and had trouble focusing on the job in hand. I’m not sure any of that was directly attributable to the MS itself, but pretty common for someone who has a lot else on their mind. I felt, at the very least, work needed to know I’d had very profound personal news, and wasn’t just asleep on the job.

So I’m sorry if I sound like I’m joining the chorus of: “It’s for the best.” I think it probably is, in the long run, but that doesn’t mean I think you shouldn’t have had the choice over when and how to break the news. Does your friend know you feel your confidence was betrayed, and you were robbed of choice?

Tina

x

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Hi Tasha, I know that I’d feel exactly the same as you did, after finding that someone had betrayed a confidence…but I’d also be hoping that it was done by out of concern. I’d also tell the person how it has affected me. I’d then know never to share a confidence with them again! I don’t think you’re being unreasonable at all.

Rosina x

Of course you’re right to be cross, but don’t waste your time being surprised or disappointed: few people wait long before finding an excuse to unburden themselves of information told them in confidence.

All I would say is, try not to fixate too much on the control/information management aspect. Of course you are clinging very hard to anything that looks like control at the moment - something like an MS dx does that. So a challenge to the little bit of control you do have (controlling who knows and who doesn’t) feels, perhaps, like a more serious assault than it really is.

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of justified anger at a broken confidence (although you can expect a wide-eyed, ‘But I was only trying to help…’ from your blabber-mouth of a colleague). But try not to let the whole thing get you down.

Alison

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