When you think of November what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
While on the train going back to Chicago after a “ribbon cutting” event in Southfield, MI, I explored this question.
As expected, not everyone said the same thing when asked about the month of November. A national holiday and seasons changing are two expected themes. When you take the seasons out of it there are often some differing viewpoints, specifically from my family. Interesting.
For background, my mom’s passion and career has been in diabetes education and November is National Diabetes month with branded promotions in red. Then again, #PurplePride, I see November as Epilepsy Awareness Month. Looking over everything, I believe all ‘special abilities’ should be recognized but based on my experience I’m going to focus a bit more on one that I can currently speak about.
Often when people think of HORRIBLE medical conditions they think of different forms of cancer. I’m not speaking from the sidelines. As mentioned during one of the FB Live videos, I was originally diagnosed with a type of cancer last year. In addition, when my epilepsy started the doctors originally told me I had a brain tumor. Those types of results are crushing, but as an active member of the overcoming team, I promise they’re not the only situations difficult to live through.
Currently, there are all types of helpful information across the web on epilepsy and seizures. I have some background because we follow a lot of organizations and see some of their posts. Here are some examples:
There are loads of facts on the epilepsy and how to help people who are overcoming seizures. What is not there as much, is how epilepsy impacts people behind-the-scenes and how YOU can and should react to that. I’ll try to be as broad as possible, but this is a story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down. I’d like to take a minute just sit right there and tell you how and why I learned to appreciate the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority). A little bit different from the Fresh Prince.
Concerned that my boss’s knowledge of my condition would impact their perception of my ability to do my job, I was scared to tell my bosses that I had doctors’ appointments. I eventually did talk to my boss, and we agreed that I would give up on my global job aspirations and stick to driving into serve our local client.
Unfortunately, my auroras were picking up. One day on my way to work I noticed I was on the side of the road and had no front left tire. I didn’t recall what happened. I had one. When the tow truck driver arrived, he laughed and told me, “Haha, you’re lucky your car didn’t flip over.”
I knew from there that when I was feeling bad, I had to work from home and couldn’t go into the office. After multiple requests to my doctor and hearing my boss, I got a letter from neurologist that highlighted how we were going to switch my medicine and that would impact my ability to drive. I would need to work from home. On a separate chain I connected with my main contact in human resources and tried to explain my situation. She told me that I needed to travel out to client presentations. I told her that if I had a seizure the morning of a presentation or late the night before, I would not be able to drive to the clients’ office, but I would still be able to present my reports from home. I explained that I was being extra cautious since I had the incident while driving to work. She never replied to my email.
Around a month later I was let go on March 18th. I was told that for my sake, I could stay on and train other coworkers on my projects for the next few weeks. The benefit is that I could say I worked on April 1st and would have health insurance for the month of April. Based on the need for meds, I accepted. From my understanding, I was being graded on how I completed a couple client projects. I felt horrible for letting down my clients, so I reached out to my two main point of contacts from my personal account to apologize for my service, thank them for their patience, and promise them I’d finish the final project and train others. Both of those clients responded back and said they didn’t know what I was referring to. One even agreed to be a reference in the future. My physical condition or my work capabilities, what was the real reason I was let go? My former bosses and company will never tell me the true answer.
To my folks in Human Resources, have you ever seen someone check “Yes” to the question about being let go from a prior position, check “Yes” for having ‘special needs’ or “Yes” to other qualifying questions?
My response is please pause and take a deeper look. That “Yes” may not mean this future employee is unqualified, but rather that their prior employers may have considered outside factors over quality performance.
My viewpoint is, at least for this month, whether you’re wearing purple or red, let’s all work to make sure we’re AWARE AND CARE about what the people around us are overcoming. Everyone’s situation is unique, so it’s important to listen with an open mind rather than making judgements on past stories or experiences.