I’m in my 20th year of working in the NHS and I’ve loved every minute – well almost! Whatever I do I have to do well and hopefully my work colleagues will endorse that – although I won’t ask them just in case…………..
Confession time (to those that don’t know me) – I have been something of a workaholic. I’ll happily catch up with emails on a Sunday night ready for the week ahead. When workload exceeded the number of hours in a day, I’d simply log on in the evening when I got home and continue whatever needed doing. It was just part and parcel of the work I always enjoyed.
In September, once I’d come to terms with the diagnosis, I decided it was time to come clean with my team. They were use to me having a bad memory but had always put it down to the stroke I’d had 18 months ago, so that was nothing new to them. I knew I was getting slower, could no longer multi task and struggled to follow conversations in meetings. I felt it wouldn’t be long before they recognised all these extra shortcomings too, so I decided to deliver a talk on ‘Dementia Awareness’ before telling them of my diagnosis.
They have been wonderfully supportive. It must have been a difficult and embarrassing talk to sit through but I did try and bring humour into the situation to reduce the seriousness. I can forget where I am sometimes so I described this by saying I sometimes need a sign to hang around my neck which says ‘Back in 5 minutes’. A sense of humour is something you must never loose………
Working in the NHS and having a wonderful team made me feel confident that I would receive the support I needed once I did ‘come clean’ about the dementia. It was a momentous decision to say it out loud. Obviously you always get those who suddenly think you have 2 heads and use the diagnosis to accuse you of all sorts but, after my experience, I would always recommend honesty and openness to anyone at work so you can get the support you’ll need.Those that know you well will treat you well. Today’s ‘me’ is a totally different person. A diagnosis of any illness will focus the mind. A diagnosis with no cure and an inevitable end will suddenly wake up every self preservation cell in your body.
It took me several months to accept that it’s ok just to work at work and make the most of the time at home to enjoy being at home.