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Teachers with MS

Are there any working teachers out there with MS? I was diagnosed earlier this year with RRMS. I am a primary school teacher and am currently on a phased return to work. I was wondering how other teachers manage their work life balance.

Dear Wattsie,

Sorry for your diagnosis, it is a real roller coaster.

I was diagnosed in May of this year. Summer term was difficult, summer holidays weird and now signed off for three months.

Very scared of returning and have an anxiety about work that I have never encountered before (I count down the days!) One particularly stressful day in the summer, by lunchtime I had a new symptom and was sent home (facial numbness and numb tongue, so I struggled to talk properly). My fears are that through teaching, I might acquire new symptoms quickly?

I am secondary, head of department, full time, three practical lessons back to back, lunch club and two practical lessons, then after school meets etc. Teaching is so full time and unpredictable, as you are aware. I just don’t see how I will function as well as I did before.

Phased return seems sensible, how are you coping?

Are you on DMDs? Treatment of any kind? Do you get tired by 2pm? I am worried that I can no longer make quick decisions or write quickly and I lose words. Every hour I rest for ten minutes. All of which is not conducive to teaching. Arrrgh…

I do hope that you are coping and that your school and staff colleagues are supportive.

kindest thoughts Ali

Hello Wattsie.

My PPMS symptoms have been with me from the day I walked into a classroom as a student teacher. I managed 22 years but the last 10 were really hard. I needed support and it wasn’t very pleasant being unable to do the whole primary school teacher thing. But the staff were brilliant. If you have the support and the determination it can still be your career. Eventually my needs became incompatible with the school environment and it was time to go to occupational health.

I was quite good at minimalist marking (still effective) and classroom management from my desk or whatever position I put myself into. My time with early years was tricky but again there was assistance.

If you want to keep going you will but it’s the toughest thing ever. A lot of my ex pupils are now friends on facebook; I must have done something right.

I admire your spirit and honesty.

Steve

I’ve just retired having taught for 10 years after diagnosis.

I did use Access to Work to help with funding for a taxis when needed and support in terms of reasonable adjustments in the workplace. I communicated every year with the head so it was clear to all how I was coping and what changes maybe needed the following year. Some I got others I didn’t.

Eventually I went part time and for me fatigue was the symptom that finally defeated me.

Everyone is different use all that is available to help , access to work , the head, occupational health ,unions , you have certain rights and be confident in pursuing them with the correct support.

Good luck teaching is a rewarding but very demanding job.

meganruth

Hi Wattsie! I know we have spoken via private message but thought I’d comment here incase anything is helpful to others (or others can offer advice to either of us!)

As a quick fill in - Im a reception teacher, age 28. I had a relapse (pre diagnosis) in July which lead to three weeks in hospital. I had no idea at all that I could even have MS. I had my diagnosis around 3 weeks ago (RRMS)

After meeting with my head at the start of this term, I decided to jump straight back in full time and see how it went. I thought I could deal with it day by day. However I had to ask to take my PPA at home this afternoon. I’m struggling to take that step back - I’m very organised with my workload but my brain doesn’t seem to register this and feels like it’s on overdrive constantly.

I LOVE my job so much (As I think we all do!) but I really hate the idea of phased hours - I know I’d constantly be thinking/worrying about work when I wasn’t in, and would likely feel much more stressed. Also I’d like to stress that my colleagues and head have been very supportive - I’m under no pressure at all to do full time hours, I made the decision myself, perhaps a bit too defiantly in the face of my new diagnosis

How are you finding managing the phased return? Do you feel like you can keep up to date with everything that’s going on?

And to everyone - do you do anything differently now when in work?

Sorry if ive babbled!

Amy x

Oh wow! Thankyou everyone for replying. I appreciate your individual replies so much. It really helps me when I hear the experiences of other teachers.

I started my phase return 2 weeks ago after being off for 7 months. I have had great support from my head and colleagues, plus my union helped me set up my phase return with occupational help. Teachers, please remember to use your unions and occ health. School has to make reasonable adjustments and we are protected by the equality pay policy.

Phased return has proved harder than I thought because I am in and out of school. I also tried to go back hitting the ground running, however, I overdid it and ended up being off for 3 days last week with a viral infection! So now I have learned my lesson And am taking things in work more slowly. Today, was the first day I started feeling ok about work because I feel my confidence has taken a knock. I do get tired in the afternoons and haven’t even taught a full day yet! However, I have always ‘dipped’ in the afternoon.

I will be starting tecfidera in a few weeks and I have been told to follow a Mediterranean diet and exercise as much as possible, which is what I have been doing.

I have just been reading about the benefits of maqui berries. Has anyone heard about them or tried the supplement? Apparently it is good for the stomach and gives you energy.

Thankyou again lovely teachers for your replies, sincerely appreciate them.

Sarah xx

Hi Patience, I forgot to mention that I was on the leadership team in my school but have taken the decision to give up my TLR. I felt sad about it when I returned to work but now feel nothing but relief. Now, my priority is managing my workload. Please don’t overdo it. Your health comes first. Take care.

Even though you posted this long time ago, I am just reading it since I am feeling so bad lately. I teach 4th grade and have had MS for 26 years. I quit teaching since we moved from Mexico to Kansas and had to go back to school. I love it so much that I did and this is my 2nd yr as an "american " teacher. I am 50 yrs now, and doctors told me that they’ve noticed at this age flair ups are very unusual, well may not be my case!Who knows, I only know that I have never quit, I do take precautions (i am not coming tomorrow for instance) but I just needed to say, MS is not the end, it’s just another way of living live!

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Hi all, Diagnosed this week aged 39 and secondary head of English. Thank you for these posts.

Hi - a year later and I’m back!

still teaching full time, still love it. I’m teaching a new age group next year (year 1) which means I get to stay with my gorgeous class for another year (previously taught reception). It will be massively helpful to not have to learn 29 new names and personalities!!

hope you’re all keeping well. It’s a fluffing hard job on its own, without the MS!

Peace and love ready for next week! X

Wow it is two years on. I couldn’t continue at all. The school gave me a camp bed and I had taxis to and from work (26miles!). But fatigue was a killer. I lost my words in the classroom and sadly was incontinent twice (luckily not in front of the teenagers!). I was unable to work under pressure or multi-task. It is such an amazing vocation and I will miss it greatly. But after much advice and good support from health professionals (the school were horrid and dismissed me!) I applied for early I’ll health retirement. I was so relieved to find that I was accepted for the enhanced tier. The application however was a lengthy nightmare. I am happy to share my application through private message if it helps anyone else. I wrote an essay, my ms nurse was instrumental and she wrote an account whilst the GP, consultant and work occ health filled in forms. Sorry so lengthy though and I do wish everyone promising health and lots of love x

Hi All A primary schoolteacher for 12 years now, a job which I totally love. I have been working with this horrible condition for the last 7 years. Luckily for me, my clinal symptoms did no coincide with the results from the brain scan, so I could continue like normal with no symptoms. Suddenly in the last two years the shit hit the fan and symptoms started to push through. My biggest problem was lying about it at work, because I didn’t want it to affect my teaching performance …which it did. I never told of my condition but it became clear to see that there was a problem with my mobility during and after a relapse and the fatigue was/is ridiculous! Things turned from bad to worse with me being bullied at school(by my head,)then the individual in question demanded to know what was wrong with me or they would ensure that my teaching career would be over in a flash! This person had an incline that my condition was neurological from my constant hospital appointment letters from the National Hospital of Neurology. Although the letters never stated my condition, I had to request time off of school to attend and the biggest fear posed/questioned here was ‘A TEACHER WITH A DODGY BRAIN’! I was so scared. I still didn’t tell of my condition. As I continued to struggle through with various other problems such as, more relapses, anxiety, depression, miscarriages x 3…I became silent suffer and said nothing the pressure got too much and I was signed off for three months (mainly due to the numbness of limbs and work related stress). Eventually I plunked the courage and returned on a phased return just before the summer break. Thankfully the bully had been dismissed in my absence. Now I will be returning to my same year group full time. I am praying that this does not effect me…fingers crossed. I now use a walking stick and have finally admitted to having a neurological condition but have not disclosed what it is as I do not feel that disclosure will benefit me in any way. Thankfully reasonable adjustments have been made for me, giving me a ground floor classroom (near adult toilets) , so I can avoid the stairs. Teaching can be a very stressful job and the fact of the matter is…‘I can be replaced’! With this in mind, I am trying to take control of the situation and manage to the best of my ability until I can no longer do so Hopefully it wont get to that stage). Wishing all teachers a pleasant return to school in Sep. In addition I am currently taking Brabio., I’m told it is safe to take whilst trying to conceive? Does anyone know of anyone who has successfully conceived whilst on it?

Hi i am 48 and have just been diagnosed in the holidays with MS don’t find out until Sept what type…Im a Cover Supervisor in a primary School,like most people who have commented I LOVE MY JOB.I return on Mondayim a little worried how i will feel,i am going to have to learn how to pace myself.The right people know ,but i dont want to be the talk of the staffroom so keeping it to myself.x

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Hi Louiza, I too have been diagnosed over these holidays. My last post was anonymous. Unfortunately, I am not in for the next few weeks as my current situation means I cannot use my left leg very well or arm at all. This happened within a few hours on 10th August. I woke up with a weak arm, walked into A&E and within hours my leg was unusable as was my arm. It has been getting better. I can walk with a stick but had a fall yesterday and had to have the ambulance out. I had no symptoms before 1st July when I had pins and needles for 3 days on my left side.I was hospitalized for 4 days as my blood pressure was really high 260/160. The whole thing has happened so quickly, 2 head MRIs, echo, ultrasound, spine MRI, then discharged, went on holiday for 16 days (walking 5 miles+ a day) got home, fell asleep and woke up as described. Within 4 days, head MRI with contrast and lumbar puncture and MS diagnosis. It’s a lot to take in. I haven’t had symptoms for ages and been waiting like a lot of people seem to. I feel like telling everyone at school because I know that they will better understand why I have to say no or be unavailable at times- but ai have lots of physio to get through before then… Clare

Hi Louiza!

I am typing from my classroom… my leg is numbed as well as my face. Has been like this since Monday. I was diagnosed with MS in 1992 and first I thought it was my deal and not everybody should know but guess what, nowadays I am in charge of telling everyone whets happening BEFORE they label me as lazy because I sit a lot i my classroom when I feel like this! My experience has been very positive because instead of judging, people have been very supportive and I know I can count on them! Just an advice from a veteran…

Thanks for your comment…My Head and Deputy know and the 2 teachers i work with and i feel they are the only people who need to know right now…If things change then others may need to know,but until this time im going to try and carry on as normal…!! But what is normal, i have a very sore heel,which started this whole process…so i do limp round school and get more tired than normal. thanks xx

I didn’t realise until I had posted that it was actually 2 years!

I too was diagnosed over the summer holidays, and decided to meet up with my colleague and TA who I worked closely with every day (was just the 3 of us in a two form entry reception year group). I talked them through it all but asked them to keep it to themselves whilst I got my head around things and was ready to tell others. I felt those two needed to know as I worked with them all day every day, plus it helped that we were all very close anyway. When I was ready I spoke to others in school and received lots of support and kind words,

you do this as it suits you - it’s such a lot to accept and there’s no right or wrong way of telling people. I just personally found this worked for me and my situation xx

I think teachers should have good physical and mental health. I have one teacher who loves sophisticated punishments for all College students. It looks very strange, but he enjoys this approach to education. So I always try to attend his lectures and to write papers with the help of specialists of the service https://www.superiorpapers.com/

Hi, I am still off work sick. I have been learning to walk again but struggle, even with a stick, to go far and it causes fatigue especially in my arm, which becomes pretty useless. Have any of you got helpful advice for going back to the classroom? Thanks, Clare

Hi Clare. What age do you teach? I hope things go smoothly for you with regards to your return, as and when you’re ready.

I really really struggled through the whole of last term, and ended up in quite a bad place emotionally (my own fault for not asking for help sooner). Going back on Monday after the break, with a positive attitude & hoping I start to enjoy the job as much as before.

Good luck to everyone returning after the Christmas break. I definitely already regret eating so much cheese, will do even more when I’m running around after my class!! Xx