Why NOT tell your boss?
AnonymousMay 29, 2008 at 7:07 am
Hi, everyone. A couple of weeks ago, I just started working again for the first time since GBS hit me early last year. Actually, I’m working again for the first time since I had my daughter four years ago! So this is kind of a big deal for me.
I love my new job. It’s the perfect job for me–truly a dream job–and something that I really really REALLY don’t want to mess up in any way. And my supervisor is wonderful, very understanding, very sweet.
I’m not having trouble performing the basic job responsibilities since it’s pretty much a desk job, but then there are things like being asked to take something somewhere that involves walking a long distance (the job is on a college campus) or carrying something heavy (probably not heavy to most people but heavy to post-GBS me). And yesterday I was asked to do something that involved a lot of walking, and today I am in so much pain that I am using my cane again for the first time in months, though I refuse to take the cane to work with me today.
I know I could keep up the ruse and pretend to be normal and just continue to suffer in silence when something really pushes me a bit too hard. I hate saying no because I don’t want to look like I’m not willing to do the work, because I really want to. But it would just be such a relief to tell the truth about GBS to my boss so that she would understand why I have trouble with some things.
So I know all the reasons I want to say something, but what I’m asking you guys is to tell me the reasons NOT to. I’ve heard horror stories about telling supervisors about illness and medical conditions and then having a lot of problems with their jobs. And you can’t unring a bell, you know? I’d be devastated if I blew my chances of promotion or something in the future. I don’t want anyone to think I’m unable to do the work, or to think I can’t handle more responsibility, because I absolutely can.
I know it’s illegal to discriminate, but let’s be realistic here. Plus I think a lot of times people make decisions based on unconscious assumptions, and that’s what I’m worried about more than anything. I really want to work my way up to more responsibility here, and I don’t want the crap that GBS has left me with to get in the way of that.
But at the same time, it would be such a relief to be honest with my boss. I’m such a bad liar and when something is bothering me, it’s really hard for me to cover it up. I wish I could just tell her why I’m struggling.
Any advice? I’d be so grateful.
AnonymousMay 29, 2008 at 8:00 am
I know your predicament. I went back to work probably sooner than I should have. Are your shoes the most comfortable you could buy? My work knew what I got because the owners brother had gbs.I dont have to hide anything yet I dont let on that I am hurting.There are days that I dont have to do much walking,then there are days that I walk alot .Those days are such that I cant wait to get home and veg on my chair with a vicodin. I was hit in oct 07 and when I look back I have to say my cramping isnt as freguent as it was just a couple months ago.My suggestion is if the walking is occasional then tough it out ,with the best shoes you could afford.Thats what Im doing, I know some would say rest rest and rest. I cant do that!!
But only you know what you can take as far as pain goes. If it is so debilitating for you to do the occasional walks with weight , then you must be honest about it with your employer. I dont know if this has helped but you know you and I arent alone in this.
AnonymousMay 29, 2008 at 8:23 am
My GBS came on just two weeks before I was set to interview for the position I now hold. I had to call and ask if the interview could be rescheduled.
Everyone on the planet told me not to tell them why I needed to reschedule–“just say you have the flu,” I was told. But I knew it wasn’t the flu and I knew I didn’t want to work anywhere that was not going to hire me just because of GBS.
So I explained that I had contracted GBS and I hoped I could have the interview when I was strong enough to do a good presentation. They appreciated my honesty–hired me, too–and my boss is very considerate about what I can and cannot do, given my fatigue.
Maybe I’m the anomaly, but I’d like to think that honesty is the best policy.
AnonymousMay 29, 2008 at 8:27 am
Suzanne, I worked for a state medical college before gbs, I was open about all of my previous health issues and it did nothing to help in the long run, actually now that I can’t work but still stay in touch with those that I had worked with, I see that it kept me back in many areas. I did my job plus prior to gbs, even though I did my job I had to do everything that I was told to do even the extras that my supervisor knew I couldn’t/shouldn’t have been asked to do since I was on restrictions due to my knee surgery. They had me over the barrel several times and kept pushing and since I didn’t want to seem like a problem person I did everything and when that one thing came up that I absolutely could not do I was accused of going against a supervisors’ request and they tried to fire me because I refused to do it. And that was with a drs note stating I was not supposed to be doing half the stuff they were telling me to do in the first place. Needless to say it really shouldn’t be used against you but it can be used against you at times. If I were in your shoes I really don’t know what I would do. If you inform your higher ups of your syndrome, than you will have done your part if any problems do come up in the future, just make sure everything you say is put in writing and be prepared to fight for your rights if the need ever comes up. Congrats on the Job!!!:) Take Care.
May 29, 2008 at 9:49 am
First of all and most importantly, CONGRATULATIONS on going back to work. I am so happy for you AND you like the job. It sounds like things are going well!! Now, regarding your predicament, I guess it comes down to how often you think you will be asked to make these “pilgramages” I imagine that is what they feel like. If it is often, you have to think about your well being and all that you will have to do when you get home. Will there be enough reserve left in you. I guess if you can feel your boss out and figure out if she would be compassionate, I might talk to her. I am a firm believer in fate, if she is not receptive, and dismisses you, then this situation was not meant to be. When you explain the situation to her, maybe you could offer to take on other responsibilities (desk ones) of some one else that would allow them to do the walking. I bet if you show your willingness to compensate and are open from the get go, it would command compassion and respect from your boss. I still hold faith in the human race and their ability to be kind and human, so I bet your boss would be ok with it. On the other hand, I have been accused of being naive more than once.
Hard decision, good luck and glad you are feeling better!
Dawn Kevies mom
AnonymousMay 29, 2008 at 2:17 pm
I am the boss at my place of work and I would like to offer you a point of view from a boss.
If I asked you to do a task and it caused you pain, I would feel terrible about it. One of the most important tasks of being a good manager is to assign tasks based on who is best fit to perform the tasks. I like my workers to grow by accepting challenges, but I feel I screwed up if they become frustrated or the task hurt them in any way, shape, or form including emotionally, physically, or mentally.
With that in mind, if I found out you were suffering in silence, I would be angry at the situation. I think I would feel upset that you weren’t comfortable enough with the social atmosphere at work that you would hurt yourself before coming to me with the truth.
Bosses are humans too. Trust your boss so that he/she will assign you tasks which you have the greatest chance of success. If it is a dream job, then the boss will help you succeed.
AnonymousMay 29, 2008 at 9:43 pm
Honest has always been my policy. I too am a boss and would much rather know that one of my employees has a medical issue then to cause them pain or suffering. I also can appreciate your apprehensiveness…………..new job, new boss. My daughter had just begun her new job after graduating from college when GBS struck her again, round two. She cried and cried believing she would loss her job because she was hospitalized. Faithfully, every morning I called her employer and gave them an update. She had only been there 4 weeks and they didn’t have to hold her position but they did. When she returned, they too realized that she couldn’t stand for long periods of time (a must for a pre-school teacher) so they made accomodations for her. It will be a year on September 7 from onset and Brandy is very happily still teaching as they did give her a chance to prove they had made the right choice. Here’s hoping your employer recognizes regardless of some accomodations they may have to make that they too have hired the right person for the job. Best of luck and Congratulations!
AnonymousMay 30, 2008 at 12:07 am
I cannot answer whether to tell or not tell, but like many decisions in life, you are the one going to have to live with it and who knows the situation best, so follow what your heart says….
That being said, attitude in life and in presentation makes a lot of difference, whether you tell or not. When I told my bosses, I kept saying that Guillain Barre is a temporary condition and that it might take two years to recover enough to function close to normal. It might take longer (as many others experience), but the written literature is mostly about two years. That set the stage for the fact that it might take a little while and that there would be evolving abilities as I improved, but that improvement was expected to occur. I then jumped into the ways I could help using my own strengths to make the department better when I was recovering. So trucking across campus is hard, rather than emphasizing that, come up with ways that you could be a really great asset in the office and let someone else take the pilgramages (hopefully someone that likes getting out into the sunshine or meeting with other people or something positive).
The other thing I tried to do was to find ways to help do what I really needed to do. For me this meant getting an electric shooter for the “pilgramages”, but other things were a rolling backpack (so I do not have to carry heavy things I cannot do right now) or a walker with a seat (that works great for carrying heavy charts and books, etc). I used to go to the cafeteria for lunch, but found that taking my lunch saved a lot of energy and time as did having water at my desk. I got better at grouping tasks (to go to the room down the hall that is the xerox/printer/mail room/supply room combination less often.
Finally, I decided to not let pride overcome smarts–that if it helped to use a cane or walker or scooter, to do it and to think about the priorities as doing the best job that I can even if I look like an limping old lady. Really and truly in the list of priorities isn’t this the more important and maybe it is a really good example to be working hard at a job with aids to help–that it might help others with limitations to find jobs that are willing to work with them if people see this “little old limping lady” happily working.
I cannot in any way say that this is the right thing to do, but I do feel good about the fact that I am trying hard to do my job, to keep a positive attitude about all aspects of life (even this stupid illness and restrictions it imposes), to believe in people, and to try to emphasize abilities, not disabilities. Since we are family, it may also be worth stating that I myself only believe this about 80% of the time and there are days of terrible fatigue and discouragement when all seems impossibly hard. But I would rather be the go-getter than than someone who focuses on limitations and this is more possible if I try to be smart about what I can do as well as what I cannot do.
WithHope for cure of these diseases
AnonymousMay 30, 2008 at 2:29 am
Honesty is always the best policy, I was completely honest with my bosses last fall when I became ill and they have told me since that if I had handled the situation any differently they would have just let me go. Since I was so up front with them one of the biggest things they did was help me keep my job during the almost 2 months I was in hospital, then when I was ready to come back to work they were wonderful in working with me through my initial limitations and as my abilities have improved they have let me make the call’s as to when I was ready to accept the more physically demanding aspects of my profession. Maybe the people I work for are the exception to the rule but I feel that if I had tried to hide the situation from them it would have haunted me not only today but long into the future as well.
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