I was inured in a car crash at work 7 years ago (somebody hit me from behind me at speed) and the resulting neck pain / issues I experienced weeks after this event, eventually led to my MS diagnosis.
To cut a long story short my GP at the time and for many months previous, continually dismissed any health related issues I was having (Lhermittes sign, loss of bladder control, sensory issues in limbs, etc) as being anything wrong with me. In fact he pretty much said I was lying about the symptoms. It was only when I turned up at A&E the Doctor who looked at me thought I had a stroke and sent me for an emergency MRI scan. The results came back and showed lesions, etc. Then over the next 2 years I found a decent neurologist who over time and with my medical history, diagnosed me (hurrah!)
Getting back to the work issue – I had to disclose to work as I had a company car at the time and was driving as part of my job, the insurance company had to be notified. I wanted to keep my diagnosis confidential from my direct colleagues but found that the process which my company had in place at the time mean’t that multiple different people found out. The HR person told the facilities guy who then told the H&S guy, and so on, my “little secret” then got out at work.
I found myself in a position where I had a senior position in my field of expertise within the company, doing a job which “somebody with MS” shouldn’t be doing. There was a lack of awareness around MS in the workplace and people could not and DID not want to accept that I could actually continue with doing my role. It was a physical role and “work colleagues” judged for themselves that I was unable to do my job 100% (although I could)
I went to my manger in the first instance to tell him about my diagnosis and he was sympathetic but told me to “keep my mouth shut” as if HR find out the company will probably dismiss you. So I did, I never went to HR directly, I kept quiet, struggled on, got the looks of sympathy as I walked down corridors, had people laugh under their breath when I went for coffee and stumbled about, got accused of being drunk on multiple occasions, got ignored by many of my work associates and had phone calls unanswered and voice mails asking for calls back never returned.
Fast forward seven years and I now find myself in a sticky position at work, I am with the same employer in the same role, but with a new manager (my old manager retired). An unsympathetic manager and I continually find him trying to do his best to remove me from my position. He gives me additional tasks to do and is pretty much trying to move me into a completely different role at present with the hope that I quit my current job. I feel that he has been tasked by senior management to remove me.
I am currently off work at the moment and I am carefully planning my return to work. When I do go back I am going to ask my GP to put on my sick note that I would benefit from a occupational health assessment and a phased return to work. This way I am hoping that HR will have to get involved, I can then have a discussion and ask for reasonable adjustments for me to continue to carry out my existing role, (which will hopefully get my manager off my back about being forced into additional unfair work loads) which I could no problem anyway.
I will ask for as many reasonable adjustments as I can think off, sickness due to MS related relapses not being recorded or taken into account, “continue” to work from home which I have been doing on occasion, etc, etc.
At the end of the day, I guess that due to my emotional state at the time and being given the bad advice by my manager to keep my mouth shut about my diagnosis, things haven’t really panned out the way I had hoped with work. I wish that I did speak with HR about reasonable adjustments and how I could get assistance at work. (I can’t believe that nobody from our HR department has ever contacted me to be honest!!)
The thing to remember is, things are going to change at some point with your MS (hopefully not for the worst) , either you are honest and upfront from the beginning or you are going to have to go around hiding behind your diagnosis trying to keep it a secret, I have tried this and it is not that easy a thing to do.
Good luck and all the best in whatever you decide.