Back to Work
A year after being laid off at the start of the pandemic, I start a new job on Monday.
It’s not my first rodeo. I’ve been working in the IT industry since 1996 and have moved jobs a few times. Some moves have been a success, others less so but I’ve always learned something at each stop.
This time feels different. I’ve never been laid off before. Obviously, I’ve never experienced a global pandemic before. Combine the two and it’s been a year of searching, applications, interviews, rejections before landing this job about a month ago.
New Job Nerves
I’m actually quite nervous about the whole thing. It’s partly the thought of cranking my brain back into gear after a year out. Whilst I’ve been writing, volunteering and helping out at local businesses, it’s a bit different starting a job with colleagues, deliverables and so on.
It’s also the first time I’ve started a job since my MS diagnosis. In 2018, I was a couple of weeks away from starting a new job when I found myself in hospital with what was eventually diagnosed as MS. Fortunately that company kept the position open for me and I was able to start in October rather than the originally planned July.
Unfortunately a little less than two years later and the same company laid me off at the start of the pandemic. It was also the day I returned after time off for my second Lemtrada treatment. Both the timing and being laid off really knocked my confidence. With the economy tanking due to COVID-19, I wasn’t sure if and when I would find new work.
To Tell or Not?
A year later and I have a new position. This presented a dilemma. With my MS symptoms seemingly stable, I debated whether or not I should tell me new employers about my condition. According to the MS Society in most circumstances you don’t have to tell them. My job is office based, and I’ll mostly be working from home for the foreseeable future so in theory it wasn’t something I had to disclose.
I wrestled with this for a few days. Eventually I decided to tell them. I will need regular time out for the monthly post-Lemtrada checks. There will be neurologist and MS nurse appointments, MRI scans. Hopefully, there won’t be days when I can’t work for some MS related reason. Given all of that, I felt it was my moral and ethical responsibility to tell my new employer.
So I told them. After all, if the requirements of an MSer were incompatible with the job, it would be better to know before starting.
As is often the way, the anticipation of giving such significant use was far worse than the reality. We can build it up in our mind that the reaction will be negative. The job offer will be rescinded. “We’re sorry, but due do you condition we can no longer offer you this position.”
Instead, the response was “that is fine and it won’t be a problem. Do what is right for you.”
Onwards and Upwards
That is an encouraging start. It was a weight off my mind. I could rest easy having been open and honest about my condition. I think they appreciated it. Would I want to work for a company that treated people badly if they have a chronic medical condition? Of course not. One that understands and is willing to work with me to handle it is far more appealing. At the end of the day, they hired me because of what I can bring, not because of my MS.
With that particular elephant in the room dealt with, I can look forward to starting. There will be new people to meet, new ways to work, new challenges to overcome. I’m sure there will be new frustrations and new things to go wrong. There will be good days and bad days but after a year out, I can’t wait to put my skills and experience to good use and stretch myself once again.
It’s time to go to work.