Tag Archives: pink hard hat

What Lies Beneath

hardhatI’m becoming increasingly aware that I’m not really getting away with it at work.

And there was me thinking it would be the dead giveaways – the tripping over every single thing, the fatigue, the balance.


It’s being ‘too well’.

MS, eh?  – you’re never too ill nor too well, eh?

I’ll explain: over the last four years, I have calibrated (shackled) myself to MS – so I now obey MS like a good servant and go to bed early, wake up early (in the dark) and more often than not, fall asleep on my sofa after work. That’s how I deal with the clinical fatigue and nerve pain. And it kills me, I hate it. But …

… luckily, I work for someone, The Boss, who also starts early. Result! Or so you would think. I truck up at 7am, yawning, the first person there, and catch up on a little light University reading. The Boss arrives, we chat over coffee, day begins. I then finish at 2pm.

And that’s the problem.

Honestly, I don’t mind being called ‘Half-Shift’. I can take the jokes, the swearing, the rib-nudging.

As the lone female in amongst upwards of seven blokes, I think I can roll with the punches and to be fair, I’ve developed a thick skin, which can only help me in the dating scene, no? Every cloud.

Plus I can speak knowledgeably upon many subjects, including drainage, tracking down antique architrave and where to source the best windows this side of the M4.

But, because I can hold my own, the shouts of ‘Oyyyyyyy-oyyyy Half-Shiiiiiiiift’ when I leave at 2pm are growing ever louder. And I’m not happy.

What they don’t realise is:

a) I earn less than them

b) Having to lie on the sofa for hours on end is not, NOT, a cushy life

c) I would give anything to have a normal job. One where I didn’t have a pink hard hat

So, yes, my co-workers have a laugh at my expense. And you know, no matter how hard I try to explain, they don’t understand. I’m not saying I want a ‘softly-softly’ approach, far from it. I’m made of far tougher stuff.

But, a wee bit of understanding wouldn’t go amiss? And what they don’t see is:

  • The ridiculous nerve pain
  • The twerking/twitching in my head and arms
  • The dead feet
  • The garbled speech (I cover this well – I’m Glaswegian!)
  • The utter soul-destroying fatigue
  • The endless days I have to take off work to recover from a spike in symptoms

I just wish, for once, they would be chuffed to see a peep with MS, still working, still trucking along. Despite everything. Rock and hard place …

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The Fickle Finger Of Fate

pink hardhatOnce upon a time, my career path was set.

Then along came the dastardly Evil Bosses who cast me out into the wilderness for daring to bring MS to the boardroom table.

Step forward the Good Fairy Goblin Wizard, my best friend, who swiftly put me on his payroll and offered me a job with his construction company, giving me breathing space to find a new one.

One and a half years later, I’m still working with him. I love my job. I adore it. It’s flexible, fun and challenging. This friend held my hand all the way through the MS diagnostic process and beyond so probably knows more about MS than I do, thanks to my late-night outpourings of anguish, tears and ridiculous rage against the world.

Sure, when I’m on site (trying to look important and clued up), he sniggers when I trip over a solitary wood-shaving or kick something over for the umpteenth time. He laughs when my bacon buttie suddenly drops from my hand, and he directs me discreetly to a quiet corner when my yawning starts to spread to the labourers. I like that.

We’ve just taken on a huge project, so my job is secure for at least another year, or however long the boss can put up with me (hope he’s not reading this). We’re tying up loose ends on other jobs before we commit fully to it.

Last week, I was with him on a kitchen conversion. My main tasks were to measure up, jot down materials we needed and work out the logistics. Oh, and order a Portaloo for the big job (a very funny conversation with the lovely Emma in Bristol). We work well together, so without thinking, the boss called out, ‘there, no there, yup there, watch your step’, and ‘pick that blinking cable up before you lassoo your foot in it, you dweeb.’

My work is different every single day. And if I’m having a bad day, I make up for it another time. There’s no office politics (a huge positive after the vicious back-stabbing in my last job), no set working times and the men I work with are brilliant. They’re old enough to be my sons (eeeeeeeek), so I am a surrogate Agony Aunt/Mother. The Teenager has unwittingly given me plenty of experience.

So, yes, my career has certainly not panned out the way I envisaged. Not even close. That fickle finger of fate. But my job has given me the space to also do what I love most, writing, which is why I signed up for a Masters in creative writing. The best of both worlds. What more could I wish for?

p.s. I really do have a pink hardhat….

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