Me? I’ve fallen off it and will probably always struggle to get back on the first rung (dodgy grip certainly doesn’t help).
It also didn’t help that my previous employer’s definition of making ‘reasonable adjustments’ to my MS included sitting me near a window, alone, in a faraway room – the staff kitchen no less (to combat heat intolerance, natch), taking all my duties off me and launching a bitter ‘get her out by any means’ campaign.
My job now is brilliant – who wouldn’t want to work with their best friend? And as the Project Manager/Chief Nagger/Design Bod of a construction company, I’m in my element. I roll out of bed (literally), chuck some work gear on, hide unwashed hair under a hat and I’m good to go, bacon buttie in hand. Bliss, and perfect for those unpredictable MS days.
Which brings me to my next point. I now choose my working hours – they fit round appointments, fatigue, and general meh-days. Me and my friend have worked out a flexible system and it works for us, plus it helps that I am of course totally excellent at my job.
But a little part of me hankers after a ‘real’ job, with a proper career path, dress-down Fridays, babies trundled into work during maternity leave, gossip in breaks and water-cooler moments. I’ve just caught up with Poldark on telly and have no one to share my, ahem, thoughts with (anyone outside the UK, please google Aidan Turner, you’ll understand my dilemma) .
Could I ever go back to a normal job? Could I work 9 – 5? Well, no. MS demands a certain flexibility plus a pretty decent employer. Besides, even getting past the initial interview would be a trial:
Scary Interviewer: And which skills could you bring to the table?
Me: Um, I speak Norwegian? And I’m super-organised *cough*.
Scary Interviewer: That’s nice. Anything else?
Me: I’m a team-member, I have blue-sky thinking and I can think outside the box.
Scary Interviewer: And any health problems we should be aware of?
Me: Um, well, kinda, p’raps.
(stumbly exit, drown sorrows in nearest Starbucks)
So, ok, the glittering career is gone, but when you know that 80% of people with MS give up work within 15 years of diagnosis, it spurs you on, no matter what the job. For me, my job is more than a job. It may not have a distinct career path, but what could be nicer than making people’s lives better and helping them to create their dream spaces? My job satisfaction is immense.
Should it matter the career ladder has disappeared or is quality of life more important?