Office Work with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis: Coworker Understanding

Mandy Crest Health Guide
  • Life at the office can get interesting when you bring MS to work.

    I spend four hours a day at my office job. I'm very fortunate that my MS is accepted as part of the package. My co-workers get it. They've seen me fairly skip down the hallway and they've seen me when I can barely put one foot in front of the other. They're not surprised when I am missing in action for days on end. They cheer me on, support me, and tease me accordingly. It's a pretty good deal.

    Last week I was really pushing it. MS has been getting the upper hand lately, but I've been fighting back hard. One day at a time, I said. Let's see if I can make the week.

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    Tuesday, it was, “Wow... can't believe you came in!”
    Wednesday, it was, “Hey, you're still lookin' good!”
    Thursday, it was, “You look like Tim Conway.”

    Those of you old enough to recall the Carol Burnett Show will immediately remember the “shuffling old man” character hilariously portrayed by Tim Conway. The old guy with the wild hair took forever to get across a room, taking almost imperceptible baby steps, while acting as though he were running like the wind. Audiences roared with laughter.

    I am Tim Conway. The similarity is uncanny. But I have prettier hair.

    At one point, I made the long trek (at least it seems that way to me) to the reception area to get something which, it turned out, I didn't need afterall. I stayed a few minutes to chat and found myself first leaning against the wall, then just letting myself slide down to the floor. The actual floor. At work. With witnesses. That's what happens when you try to “play through” your MS. It will not consider appearances.

    So, as long as I was hunkered down, I let my legs stretch out before me for a few moments. At some point, I had to get back up and Tim Conway myself back to my office. I braced my cane and started the awkward process. Two people rushed over to help me, fearful that I would fall. “I never fall” I assured them. Up I went, legs stretched apart the way they do when balance is at stake. “And that,” I said, “is why I never wear a skirt.” Chuckle, chuckle.

    Friday, I gave up shortly after I showered and found that the blow dryer was too heavy to handle. That's how my hair got to look like Tim Conway's “shuffling old man,” too. 

Published On: September 09, 2008