Thanks to everyone for being so supportive. While I'm waiting for the neuro office to call me back about my VER/BAER/EEG test results, I have a question on which I'd really love to read your opinions.
Quick background: My job pays well, the benefits are kind of unheard of (contributes 10% of my salary to my retirement to double-match my 5% contribution), I get lots of time off (well, I'm entitled to it, anyway...), etc. But it's also a really, really awful environment with about a 60-70% staff turnover rate within the first year, and two people just quit and several more are desperately seeking a way out. I've been there 3.5 years and I don't think my job is in danger, but one of the executives is an absolute terror (think Devil Wears Prada, but a lot more screaming and overt insults).
So. I just went on a job interview. The people seemed to be--get this--happy! I have no idea if they liked me or not, but the job is almost guaranteed to pay less and it has significantly lesser benefits. It does over Blue Cross/Shield PPO insurance, though, which would be a big upgrade from my current health insurance...which could be good in the long run...
That was more than brief. Sorry. Here's the question: What do you think about leaving what's probably a secure, albeit dreadful, job while in "limbo land"? This would be a lot easier without the health issues, but I'm concerned that if I am offered a job and start it and then spring a "by the way, I have 42 doctor's appointments this month," I'll go down in flames. My current boss knows about my health issues and is very accommodating--although the exec described above actually told me a few days ago that she has been doing me favors (which make my job ten times harder) "because I know you're having health issues." It looks good in writing, but the intonation was completely patronizing. Sidebar: she has lupus.
So what do you think of the pros and cons of this situation? A lot of people keep telling me stress is causing a lot of my problems. My job is the only real stress in my life. It seems like a simple solution, but it also seems like it's anything but simple. Advice?
The phrase that comes to mind is: "Do something you like to do and you will never 'work' a day in your life."
My job can be stressful and that is mainly clients who outsourced their work thinking they know how to do it better. If they knew how to do it better, tey would not have outsourced it.
Anyhow, the question you need to answer is which job will you enjoy getting out of bed to go do every day? The compensation equation says that lost income and lost stress may be a wash in the long run.
I've been putting a lot of thought into this lately with wanting to leave my job. So a couple of things I'd consider:
Look at the total insurance package. Is long term disability included or do you have to apply for it? If you do have MS that'd be a really good thing to have. And with all of the testing you've had done, I'd be surprised if an insurance company would accept you unless you came as part of a package.
Stability is also an issue. Is this a startup company that's potentially on the verge of bankruptcy? Or even a big company that's on the verge of bankruptcy. I'd probably skip on a job at BoA, for instance (maybe not, it's just fun to kick them when they're down). In this economy I wouldn't want to be out of work. My roommate has been out of work for over a year, and it seems to be a self-reinforcing cycle.
I'm with you on the worry about starting a new job and then announcing that you have a bunch of doctor appointments. If there's a probationary period or something you'd definitely want to wait til that's over. I honestly don't know if being FMLA certified makes you harder to fire or not but that's an avenue to go also (though I think it could just as easily make you a target).
Bob's right though, enjoying a job is a big deal. I've never had it so I can't say for sure, but I can imagine. But you know your financial situation better than we do. If you're talking about a huge pay cut that you can't sustain your current lifestyle on, then that's probably not a good switch, unless you were wanting to downgrade/downsize anyway.
If the economy were good and you said you had lots of money socked away, I'd say definitely make the jump. It's not so easy to say that now. I have been laid off repeatedly. I had found a great job that paid less, but when the business dropped by 30% overnight back in 2009, I was laid off without notice. I am in school now since I can't find a job in the fun industry and the not fun thing I used to do was taken over by technology.
Urrg. How does the insurance thing work, anyway? If the did require a physical, so far all of my tests have shown that I'm perfectly healthy, so would that work in my favor? Or would they just look at my recent doctor visits and lab work and determine that I'm expensive and therefore ready for the junk heap?
HIPAA protects you when you go from one employer health insurance plan to another IF the employers meet a certain size and IF neither one self-insures. I have a good friend with diabetes who had to wait a year for pre-existing conditions to be covered when he went from his employer's health plan to his wife's self-insured plan. But in transferring from one insurance plan to another, they can't decide not to cover you, and they can't make you wait for pre-existing conditions, as long as you were in the prior plan for at least a year and as long as there isn't a gap (more than 3 months?) between the two. It's been a long time since I had to worry about such things, but google the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act for the scoop.
One thing I heard about FMLA is -- you cannot get FMLA benefits (e.g., days off) for the first year at a new job. So you might want to check that out and verify that. That is what is keeping my at my current job, which I would love to leave. I'm concerned as others are that if I tell them I have lots of doctor's visits then they won't be happy that I have to take so much time off of work.
At my company you have to be employed for at least one year and work a certain number of hours (2000 for the year) to qualify for FMLA.
I know they say you should find something you love and do that for a living, but does anyone really love what they do? To the extent that they would do it even if they weren't being paid? I certainly don't feel that way about my job but I stay because I need the money to live. I'm afraid to look for another job in these scary ecomonic times.
If you can afford to work for less though and can find another job, then go for it! I know what it's like to work for a Satan-type so I feel your pain.
P.S. It's easier to qualify for everything (health ins, life ins) before you have a diagnosis. I would suggest you wrap up any loose ends before/if a diagnosis is made.
For health insurance, see what hbananas said. Many employers provide group short-term disability insurance, which if you become disabled will pay a certain percentage of your salary for whatever they define as short term--generally in the 6 month range. After that, if you're still disabled, you're own your own unless you have long term disability. If you do then they will pay a (usually lower I think) percentage of your salary for whatever their term is. The percentages and how long they will pay for vary.
Sadly, most employers don't provide group long term disability which means you would have to apply for it. With LTD, they're going to look at all of your reasons for doctor visits within the past several years. If you're a liability (which I'd guess most of us here are) they won't accept you. It's all about the percentages, obviously, so if there's a good chance you're going to be a problem then they don't want you dragging their averages down.
So the ideal would be to find an employer who provides group long-term disability, where everyone who works there is covered since then you wouldn't have to go through that. But that's kind of cadillac level coverage and I'm not sure it's realistic.
There was a thing that Sen. Kennedy got passed before he died called the CLASS Act, which allows employers to buy into long term care coverage which would also be great to have. I'm not sure if many employers are doing it or even if it's gone into effect. Might be one of the things that got slashed recently.
@LoveMyBostons--I completely agree with you. Work is just what you do for a living! The only people I've known who love their work had really amazing jobs (airline pilot, back before all their pensions/benefits got slashed) or did something low-paying but rewarding to them, like teachers or work in the non-profit sector.
Oh and I think the year requirement before FMLA kicks in is universal. If you google enotes fmla the first result is a pretty good primer on that whole business. I'm on FMLA at my work but we use our own leave before the unpaid time so it doesn't really matter all that much since I still have accrued leave.
I'm presently on a medical LOA. I didn't qualify for FMLA protections while I'm gone from work because there is a requirement to have worked 1250 hours in the past 12 months (and to have worked there a year minimum). I'm being paid for my usual number of weekly hours from a combination of my accrued personal time off and sick days.
FMLA doesn't guarantee you will be paid while you are out ill. At least not that I know of. The pay for FMLA leave would have been handled the same way as my non-FMLA leave. I'd get paid as long as I had PTO or STD hours saved. If I use all the hours I've saved I'll get NO pay but I WOULD have to send my employer money to cover the employee portion of my benefit package (or lose the benefits).
What FMLA can do is PROTECT JOB POSITION for up to 12 weeks. Without FLMA I risk losing my position in the company even though management approved the medical LOA. In theory I could go back to work to find someone else at my desk and I'm doing something quite different than last time I was there. Luckily, not many people want my job. If I can't get back soon though my boss might decide to talk someone into wanting it.
It's a hard decision to consider Art. There's lots to research and there are unknown risks you can't really consider. Good luck with it all.
BTW, I still think you would REALLY benefit from developing a meditation practice. It could help your health concerns and your decision making mindset, would give you a portable place of escape from work tensions and is always good for a person's general sense of well-being.
I relate to the 'should I stay or should I go' employment question as I feel as if I'm in the same situation. I work in government and yes it is secure but does seem exactly like an episode of the british comedy 'Yes, Minister'.
I did think that I was doomed to stay as a result of my diagnosis because who would want to employ someone with Ms right? I did go for an interview when I was first out of hospital and we spent a reasonable period of the interview discussing my health. They didn't give me the job on the basis of not having enough experience, however, the person they gave the job to had less experience than I did. Discrimination??
Anyway, just when I was resigned to spending the rest of my life shuffling paper from one side of the desk to the other I spoke to lady at work who also has a disability. Her advice was that when you go for interviews you are not required to say anything at the time of the interview so that you give yourself a fighting chance. The time that you then disclose your situation is when they offer you the job.
It made alot of sense to me because the discrimination thing is real and allows us to be seen on a level playing field with the rest of the candidates.
So, my advice for what it's worth is don't waste what precious time you have on this earth doing something that you don't enjoy or value. Dare I say go for your dreams, even though we have health issues.
Having said all that, I am now adjusting to my new reality slowly. I am struggling with energy levels, concentration levels, and walking a straight line etc so I haven't any plans to leave just yet. I am starting to appreciate that I may be overpaid for what I actually do at work these days, which is the reverse of what I used to think.
Anyway, sorry this is about you not me. So I'd recommend seeking the advice from the big fella above on any new direction, but that just me.
Thanks, everyone. This is a lot to consider for sure. I've decided that I'm going to keep interviewing and see what happens, but in the mean time, I'm also going to stand up for myself and submit documentation of my attempts to get my job done despite a very difficult executive as a dated record for my own professional protection.
In other news, I went a couple of days with hardly any symptoms other than an extremely hearing-impaired left ear. Even my feet were almost normal. I don't recall the last time that happened. But today I have tinnitus and numbness in my left ear, my feet are stinging, and my eyes hurt. It feels as if they are bruised in the back and while the pain is pretty constant, it's most acutely felt when I move my eyes around. On a scale of one to 10, I'd only rate the pain around a 3-4, but it's sore enough to make me want to stay in bed with my eyes closed. Very light sensitive. I've read a lot of people's experiences with ON here, and it doesn't feel like most descriptions I've read (i.e., stabbing/needle pain in the eye or blindness), and my vision isn't even blurry today as it often is, so maybe it's just allergies. But I did discover something curious--a photo (on Wikipedia of all places) illustrating an approximation of how color and visual perception is affected by ON. This is interesting to me because I've noticed for years that my right eye sees color (red esp.) just a bit less vibrantly/more muted than the left eye, and my vision gets really, really bad in dusky-type light. If a room is dim, I start to see just like the right side of this photo, and it gets really hard to discern objects or even focus. Anyone else have this problem?
P.S. the darkening/evening out of tones is always intensified after I work out (which I haven't done for about six weeks now, but used to regularly)...I've especially had a hard time walking into what appears to be a very dark lockerroom afterward and hardly being able to discern the digits on my lock, which isn't helped by the extreme shaking of my hands. So weird. :)
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