Three steps forward, two steps back...I feel terrible!

I went to my one-to-one with my support group leader and in hindsight I wished I'd never left my previous job.

Well, for a quite a while I'd come into work completely exhausted, even on a Monday morning. My joints would ache, my moods changed like the British weather and I wouldn't know why. My previous GP kept prescribing me anti-depressants but I didn't want to take them as I knew I didn't have depression and they were big tablets.

When I was diagnosed in 2012 with what the doctors had said was "a high TSH" and nothing more, I thought it was just one of those conditions I have to put up with at work. I had a nice, steady admin job but the only downside to it was that my boss was not very understanding when my muscles ached or I was depressed or tired. I would come into work every day and dose myself up on caffeine to wake me up. That was how bad I felt.

It wasn't until August 2012 that my problems got worse. My left leg got really painful one morning when I came in and sat at my desk. I had cramp from my foot all the way up to my groin. It hurt to move it and even hurt when I wasn't using it, necessitating me to use a hot water bottle to ease the cramps. At the time I thought it was nothing more than a muscle sprain, but this pain continued for 3 days. I was told by my boss to "use the lift" and not the stairs if the pain was that bad. Painkillers did nothing for it either, so I spoke to someone at a walk-in centre who diagnosed me with hypothyroidism without even needing to test my blood. She said I had a small goitre, looked tired and pale and the pain I described was thyroid-related.

I worked with another hypothyroid sufferer, and although everyone kept their distance with her due to her mood swings and strange temperament I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I thought she was an OK person regardless of whether other people thought she was rude or moody. I liked her.

When she told me she was hypothyroid, I immediately empathised with her as her illness was markedly worse than mine - her hair was thin and sparse, she had brain fog and forgot things, she sometimes moved very slowly, she looked more tired than me and she looked very pale. Not only that, but my boss didn't even know (and probably still doesn't to this day as she still works there) about her illness.

One day we were due to have a daily meeting and the other lady (who was hypothyroid) had to quickly go and do something. My boss asked her if she would be back in time for the meeting and she replied, "I doubt it." The strange thing about it was my boss took the way in which she replied very personally. The lady in question has speech problems also, as her voice can get quite hoarse, but because of the speech problems it made her answer sound, for want of a better word, sarcastic. And she wasn't trying to sound sarcastic at all. My boss took her off straight after the meeting as she came over extremely offended.

It was then that I thought, should I have exactly the same illness as her or should it develop into what she has, would my boss understand? Would she even make any special adjustments for me?

I figured that if she couldn't suggest I see a GP for my leg pain as it was that painful and her only recommendation was for me to "use the lift and not the stairs", then the best option would have been for me to leave the company. Well, my thoughts were either she left or I left. So when the next lot of redundancies came through and she said she was staying put I applied for voluntary redundancy.

Only that I didn't need to take redundancy, but I could have gone through my company's HR and explained my condition. Had it have been properly diagnosed as Hashi's, apparently I could have had:

* later morning starts as I find it hard to start work so early at 8am

* more sick leave for thyroid-related symptoms and not get penalised for it

* workplace adjustments.

Had I have known about it much sooner I would never have left, so now it feels like even more of a struggle to look for work. I always knew I never really wanted to leave my job because of one person failing to understand, and I'm really kicking myself for it. So now I'm looking for night work as I work more productively during later hours.

If only I'd known, but it doesn't make me feel good looking back at it now. :(

2 Replies

  • Have you thought of study Jo.. or some new direction whilst you are in early stages of treatment.

    Considering night work is admirable and I can identify with your decision but ultimately it can mess up your health more.

    Or contact HR at your former Employer and explain..what can you lose? Could be an interesting exercise.

    You sound like a conscientious person and perhaps you need to direct that into something new that you are very interested in with like minded people.

    In my opinion it is almost impossible for a non sufferer to recognise how hard some of us push ourselves through pain discomfort and wandering brain cells to appear functioning. You are your own Boss.


  • Hi Woolywyn, thanks for your reply.

    I'd love to study but my boyfriend isn't keen on me studying when I'm out of work as only one of us is earning. We're not in any financial difficulties but he doesn't really approve of that.

    I could contact HR at my former Employer as I have nothing to lose, but I took the redundancy voluntarily and I was under the impression that once you're out, you're out.



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