Acknowledging the diagnosis at work

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.

About wendy7713

On the 31st July 2014 I was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia. I may not have much of a short term memory anymore but that date is one I’ll never forget. I’m 58 years young, live happily alone in Yorkshire, have 2 daughters and I’m currently still in full time employment in the NHS. However, I’m now in the process of taking early retirement to give me a chance of enjoying life while I’m still me. I've started this blog to allow me, in the first instance, to write all my thoughts before they’re lost. If anyone chooses to follow my ramblings it will serve as a way of raising awareness on the lack of research into Alzheimer's. It will hopefully convey the helplessness of those diagnosed with dementia, as there is no cure – the end is inevitable. However, I’m also hoping I can convey that, although we've been diagnosed, people like me still have a substantial contribution to make; we still have a sense of humour; we sill have feelings. I’m hoping to show the reality of trying to cope on a day to day basis with the ever-changing environment that dementia throws at those diagnosed with the condition. What I want is not sympathy. What I want is simply to raise awareness.

3 thoughts on “Acknowledging the diagnosis at work

  1. It’s so good to read your blogs. They help me to normalise things. Lol.
    I have spent the last two years knowing I have a dementia but have been consistently having to prove I do not have depression as I get tearful when talking to specialists. One specialist told me I had dementia and would not be working at 60, another said mild cognitive problems not dementia no wonder the years flow. Two years on I find myself having to have another full assessment, having mental decline and problems with planning, organisation and word finding. Having before been a Senior Manager in local government who was proud of the fact that I was great at detail this is getting very rough. I am strategies out and tired. I feel I could have been given medication to help at an early stage. What is upsetting is that the current climate talks about understanding dementia at an early stage, but getting people to understand that something is wrong is the biggest step! I now have to wait for an assessment date and that is back to the first consultant that I saw with a therapist I have been visiting sending a letter to my go saying I am not depressed. I feel a diagnosis would be a positive step forward as I could then make real plans. I still live a very fullfilling life but it is getting increasingly complicated at keeping all the balls in the air. Wish I had found your blog earlier. Warm wishes Val

    Liked by 1 person

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