Tuesday, 6 October 2009
My Work Story!
Sadly, for me, on Tuesday 15th September 2009, I handed in my notice at work.
I am no longer an employee at Asda.
It was a really hard decision, but one that I needed to make, for my own health.
Here is my work story!
I was diagnosed with MS in 2002 and at that point, I was working in an office doing order processing.
From the time I had my tests and all the doubt and uncertainty that went with that, I didn't work for them for almost twelve months. I then decided that it was time for me to try and return. I knew I needed to take it slowly, so I agreed to just go back and do three mornings a week for about 3 hours at a time. I was able to do it for a little while but then about two months later, I had a big relapse. This was when my legs went and I ended up in a rehabilitation centre for about six weeks. I quickly realised that I might be putting too much pressure on myself and so I cut it down again to a couple of hours at a time for only a couple of days a week.
I remember having an appointment with my consultant and asking him what I should do about work. He was not too impressed that I was back at work, no matter how little the hours were. He wrote a letter to my work explaining that, as we hadn't got things under control at that point, it was unrealistic to think I would be back at work within the next twelve months.
As you can imagine, that went down well!!
I was referred to the company occupational health officer, who came and saw me at my house. I remember the meeting, because I have always remembered something he said to me.
He said that the only predictable thing about Multiple Sclerosis was it's unpredictability!
That has always stayed with me because it rings so true!
Anyway, it was discussed that maybe I should think about leaving. Giving myself time to concentrate on me and the MS and also allowing myself time to get my head around it all. I also realised that I was trying to go back to a job that I had done when I was fully fit. It was really hard to put that out of my mind.
So I left my job in the office in 2003.
I spent a lot of time trying to get my head around everything, but really, do we ever get our heads around it?
Time went by. In 2004, Martin and I put on our first concert, raising money for MS. That was something that would take quite a bit of time!
Eventually by about Easter of 2006, I was starting to get itchy feet. I talked to Martin about the fact that I really felt that I wanted to try and get a job again. He was fairly reluctant about the idea to begin with. He felt that, because I had tried going back to my office job and it hadn't worked out, he was concerned that I would be disappointed if it didn't work out again. A fair point, but I just needed to try. I needed to have a purpose. I needed to get out of the house and be in a situation where I had responsibilities again.
There was a new Asda supermarket being built in my town and I decided that I would apply for a job there, as I knew they would be hiring lots of people.
Asda have quite a tough hiring procedure. You have to pass the application form, then you have to go and take part in a group session and then you have a one to one interview.
I was so pleased when I got through all those processes and was hired as a checkout operator.
I was totally upfront and honest about the MS - it's a bit hard to hide the crutches! They didn't have a problem with the fact that I would only be able to manage on the checkouts and of course, it was a tick for them, to be able to hire a disabled person.
I started there on July 12th 2006. I was so chuffed!
I was able, over time to adjust my rota so that I was comfortable with the hours I was doing. I started off doing 14 hours a week, but by the time I had finished I was doing just under 12 hours a week. And my shift times had changed over the three years too.
When I started, I had big ideas about maybe eventually being able to go full time. It quickly became apparent that I was not going to manage that. So I lowered my sights!!
I did think that I would be employed there for a good few years, but that was not meant to be either.
This year has been a difficult one, as far as the MS is concerned. I had two relapses within the space of four months. The last one, I am still dealing with the symptoms, which include numbness down my right arm and hand, along with lots of pain.
Because of the latest relapse, which happened in July, I had been off work from the middle of July anyway. I really wasn't able to manage my duties, even the office duties, which I tried to do, when I attempted to go in for a shift in August.
The problem was, that I was getting myself very stressed about not being at work. I felt I was letting everyone at work down, I was letting Martin down and I was letting myself down. Of course, no-one else thought that, but I couldn't help thinking it. And it was really stressing me out.
I sat down with Martin and we talked about it. We came to the conclusion, that I really needed to put a stop to the stress, because it was just aggravating my symptoms.
So the decision was made. I took my resignation letter into work and saw the people manager, who was so lovely to me. She wanted to give the letter back to me and try and sort out putting me on a different contract, so that I could manage it a little better. I was very flattered, but as I said to her, all the time I have the possibility of a job to go to, then I am going to be pressurizing myself to get up and go to that job. I just couldn't do it any more. She has said that there will always be a job for me though, which is a lovely way to leave.
I was so upset at having to leave because it meant a lot to me to be able to go and work with a bunch of people I really enjoyed working with. But, since I have made that decision and I have left, I do feel as though it is one less stressful thing to have to deal with.
It is definitely the right decision for Martin & I, so now I just need to get on with the rest of my life!!