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Walking advice.

I relapsed several weeks ago and had to give up a short term work contract due to my lack of mobility I was given a course of steroids which helped but only slightly so now I’m walking with a stick, I’ve still continued to go for interviews but walking into a meeting with a stick (I don’t divulge my ms but stick to a story about a dodgy cartlidge) means I never hear from them again, desperate to get back into work as I’m the main bread winner and my savings are dwindling fast. Waiting for my specialist to agree to put me on DMD’s and to get an appointment with a Neuro Physio to hopefully get me walking on my own steam again. Any advice for exercises etc to help my walking?

Hi

Really sorry to hear you’re struggling.

Specific exercises to help with your walking would be difficult as it depends on what is causing your problems. The neurophysio should be able to help with this.

In the mean time pilates, t’ai chi and yoga could all help. Anything that builds core strength will help, as would building general fitness by going to, for example, the gym. Your GP can refer you to the gym under the exercise referral scheme. The gym instructors should have special qualifications to work with people with MS.

Good Luck with it all. It’s early days yet so you may still recover quite a bit more from this relapse. Though it is probably a good idea to give your body some help with any possible future problems by getting as fit as possible

Anne

Hi,

You have my sympathies as I have numbness and weakness in my left leg and also walk with a stick. I had a couple of sessions with the Physio who gave me various different exercises to do, which mainly involve silly things like getting in and out of your chair and standing on your ‘bad’ leg for as long as you can, changing from your left leg to your right leg when you’re standing still, those sort of things. In the short term, these exercises did help and I do still continue with them (when I think about it!). Although having said that, the physio did tell me the last time I saw her that my leg is unlikely to improve so the stick is a permanent feature now. I know it’s easier said than done, but try and stay positive - don’t let it get you down!.

Sarah

Hi Louie,

A bit more of a lateral approach, this, but WHY are you discussing your reasons for using a stick at interview? You are not obliged to tell them, and they should not be asking. Yes, it will be obvious you have a stick, but I’m assuming you are not applying for jobs that involve a lot of running, fetching and carrying, that would entitle them to wonder: “How will you manage?”

The interview is your chance to promote all the reasons you’d be GREAT for the job, not to harp on about something they might see as a problem, and especially not to lie about it. Perhaps it’s the elaborating on the leg that’s making them think it’s going to be a problem? Yes, of course it will be obvious to them you’re using a stick, but if you start making “excuses” for it, you’re drawing attention, aren’t you, rather than playing it down?

If you gush: “It won’t be a problem, it’s just a dodgy cartilage!”, they might be thinking: “Hmmm. We never suggested it would be a problem - why so quick to jump in with the denials?”

Also, the very fact you are lying at interview may well make you come across as uncomfortable and insincere (I think only a very accomplished liar would be able to pull this off without a flicker). It might be this that’s putting them off, much more than the stick itself.

Tina

Mobility is a crucial part of my job as I need to attend meetings, get from A to B quite quickly, visiting other depts etc, to not be mobile is going to be off putting to any prospective employer. As for being an accomplished liar than as I’ve been using this excuse to hide my limp for 2 years then maybe I am.

Hi, I have to say that I agree with Tina about the stick and, although theywill notice that you have a stick, I feel that elaborating is unnecessary especially when your elaborating isn’t the truth. I mean, do people with a dodgy cartilage walk and move about in th way you do. I also feel that if your ms gets worse and you get the job, and you then have to say that you have ms, they will know that the doddgy cartilage was a made up story, even if you get the job and don’t mention the ms, won’t someone maybe ask about the dodgy cartilage, and might that not be a problem that might be expected to improve anyway. I sympathize with your situation bu since you are not hearing back from them anyway and think the stick might be putting them off, then I think you may need to try a different approach, either manage without the stick, if you can, or use the stick and give no explanation for the stick or be upfront about using your stick, say you have ms and put a positive spin on it you have ms, need stick at the moment but hope to improve and explain the great things you have done despite having ms. Good luck anyway with your job hunting. Cheryl:-)

They are always short term freelance contracts as the money is better and permanent jobs are few and far between anyway. If I admit to ms that would open up a whole can of worms, health and safety, is it just my leg that is affected? I could go on. I’m actually an aficionado now when it comes to cartlidge problems.

You say that mobility is a crucial part of your job, but what job, seeing as you don’t have one?

If you are only applying for jobs where mobility and rushing about from A to B is a key element, perhaps that explains why they’re put off when they see the stick?

I assure you not all jobs are like that. I worked from home, for many years, with nothing but a phone and a computer. Only very occasionally having to travel around for meetings. And that wasn’t even due to my health!

Perhaps you need to think more broadly, in terms of what type of job you could do, rather than what you’ve always done?

I also agree with Cheryl that lying about the leg might cause problems later, if you were to get the job. What happens if it does eventually come out (because you’re off sick, and need a doctor’s note) that you have MS, and must have lied about it during the recruitment process? They might not mind hiring someone with a disability, but I think they’re going to mind having hired somebody who lied.

It’s going to undermine trust between employer and employee. They will start wondering what else you might not have been completely honest about.

With MS being as unpredictable as it is, I don’t think only going for short-term contracts is any guarantee your health wouldn’t deteriorate in that time, and you’d end up being forced to explain.

Tina

I wish I had the luxury of being able to work from home but as a producer that’s just not feasible. Perhaps I should try and find a job in a call centre as I wouldn’t need to get up much.

Without intending to sound sarcastic, that’s exactly the sort of thing I mean! Surely a job in a call centre would be better than no job at all?

If you are determined only to consider types of work you currently have limited ability to cope with, you’re setting yourself up for rejection, aren’t you?

Perhaps you need to start targetting jobs that would suit someone with impaired mobility, rather than persistently applying for posts that would present serious practical obstacles?

What is a “producer” exactly? Do you mean of radio, TV, film etc.?

Or do you mean that nobody who works from home, or at a desk, could possibly produce anything, and you consider yourself a cut above that? I do hope it’s not the latter, as I personally would feel quite insulted. It really isn’t necessary to be always at meetings, or on the move, to have a meaningful job.

If you’re getting nowhere with what you’ve been applying for, perhaps it’s time to have a serious look at other options? Nobody can do ONLY one thing. Have a think about what you’re good at, what you enjoy, and what might not involve so much running around.

Tina

Jesus! What terrible and ignorant advice.

Hi

I just wanted to say that I hope you manage to find work soon, espcially as you say you are the main bread winner/ You must be feeling really stressed.

When I was working before I took early ill health retirement I always told my boss how I was feeling and she was very supportive.

Good luck

Shazzie x

And what a rude and ungrateful response, to someone who’s actually spent quite a lot of time responding to you, and trying to come up with some suggestions other than learning not to need a stick - which might not be very realistic.

Your present strategy isn’t proving very successful, so what will it take for you to consider a different one?

But it’s no skin off my nose what you do. I wish you luck, but am not overly optimistic, if all your hopes hinge on getting rid of the stick, and insisting on exactly the same kind of work you’ve always done.

Tina

I absolutely insist on the work I am qualified to do and not take some lesser role in for example a call centre, I will continue with my present strategy until there is no option to come clean but I will not take a job that I will find demeaning, I will sponge off the state if it ever comes to it. I found your advice unhelpful and depressing that I should just accept my fate. Please refer back to the question on my original post and advise on that only.

Hi, It might seem a silly question, but what is the exact problem with your leg? Is it spasticity causing problems walking, drop foot, or that it just won’t work/isn’t co-ordinated? For me fortunately the latter sorted itself out within a few weeks, but the former has been really helped by persisting with very simple stretching exercises (hamstring/quads etc), exercises with a Pilates ball & forcing myself to do short walks. I think I have again been fortunate with time, although it has taken 9 months to show real improvement. Hopefully you will get to see the neurophysio soon, and can get the assessment and guidance you need. I sympathise with your work situation. Although I have been desk based, I worked as a freelance contractor. I have just conceded that this is no longer the best option for me, or my employers, so am hesitantly considering alternatives. It’s tough - I enjoyed and felt rewarded by what I did & it feels a little hard to leave those times behind me. Anne

Hi if your walking problem is due to spasticity then baclofen may help. A neuro physio could also provide you with a foot splint if it is drop foot that you have.

Tina always gives really good advise and is really knowlegable. I think that you have just misinterpreted her comments. Most of us on this site have had to readapt and I know it is not easy.

Moyna

Thanks.

Hi, have you discussed with your gp the options of baclofen or zanaflex which might help your walking a bit. I have an FES which helps me but my walking is very poor. Have you looked into this? However I still think you might need to explain your stick in a different way or not explain it at all. Often the less said the better. I’m sure you are an expert at cartilage problems, but what if the person interviewing you also is, what if the person interviewing you doesn’t quite understand cartilage problems and thinks this is going to cause a major hassle for them when they employ you and instantly decides against you for the job. I may be forming the wrong impression here but I was under the understanding that people with cartilage problems might need an operation and to me this immediately sounds like someone who might be off sick not long after starting the job and I might not want to be bothered with that hassle. If I was then faced with ms which has just caused a person to need to use a stick then that might come across as more positive , especially for a short term contract. I might be prepared to take a chance on that person. You said you gave up your last short term contract due to your lack of mobility, how do you exlain this, I wonder,perhaps you don’t. But, isn’t the implication that you are out of work because of the cartilage problem. I know you won’t like this reply but life isn’t fair and sometimes you have to adapt. The job Market is tough at the moment and employers look for reasons to exclude candidates and I feel that walking in with a stick and explaining it in a spurious way, just draws attention to the stick, in fact, I’m not sure that you are n’t creating a problem which isn’t even there to begin with. Cheryl:-)

Have you tried going to the gym and strengthening the leg muscles and stretching them.

Thanks I will check this out. I’ve accepted that I can’t play football in the park with my son anymore but I refuse to give up on my work.