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My Employer is noticing my cognitive problems and thinks I may need to ...
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My Employer is noticing my cognitive problems and thinks I may need to consider disability

Today, I had my evaluation at work.  I am a customer service rep for an insurance company.  Being a customer service rep has to be one of the easiest jobs a person can have however; knowledge of my job is a big must.  

In the last several months, my cognitive skills have declined.  As a result, I am having problems in my job and that was brought up in my evaluation.  My Manager, Supervisor, and Technical Analyst are all so very nice and supportive of my illness and are very kind.  During my evaluation we discussed the need for me to make sure my Dr. is very aware of my cognitive problem and that it may be necessary for me to go on disability.  

This is very depressing for me.  As they said, "It's not my fault that I'm having problems" however; I have always taken great pride in the jobs I have ever done.  I have always strived to be the best at whatever I do.  In the past several months, I've noticed that I don't care as much.  I easily get angry when someone is argumentative on the phones.  I'm not the same person I was in August, 2008.  I'm feeling embarrassed and sad that this disease is affecting the way I interact with people.  

If anyone has any encouragement, I could sure use something right now.  I think it would be wonderful to get to stay home and do what I want when I want but this isn't the way I want it to happen.  

I believe that God will make something wonderful out of this but right now, I'm in the initial stage of sorrow and grief over the loss of my cognitive skills.  I feel like I wake up stupid and as the saying goes, "You just can't fix stupid".  

I know many of you have faced this and have gone through this.  I know I'm not the only one who faces this situation.  I'm so grateful that God has placed you all in my life so that I can be aware that this isn't all about me and that I can look to you for encouragement.  

Thank you, ALL!!!!
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9 Comments Post a Comment
847433 tn?1243013252
Hi deborah,

My name is missy we dont know each other but I read your post and it touched me and I wanted to respond in some way.  I dont have ms so I dont know what you are going thru in regards to your disease.  I do however have experience with being out of work due to injuries that for the last 7 months have rendered me unable to do my job and have been in a great deal of pain and going thru horrendous experiences with the medical system, insurance etc.  I have experienced some congnitive difficulties as well.

Just remember regardless of what happens whether you continue to work or you stay home, you are not defined as a person by what you do for a living.  You are certainly NOT stupid, and since you obviously believe in God, believe that God has another plan for you, I suspect one that maybe much greater than that of a customer service rep. no matter how well you do your job.

So many of us are feel defined by what we do, how much we have, what we look like, but we know these are not the things that are truly admirable and unique about each of us.  Its who you are as a person inside, how you treat others, your family, neighbors, your friends, strangers, and of course yourself. And as the saying goes I think, not how much you have loved but by how much you are loved and cared for by others.  You will be fine no matter what happens.

I wish you well.

Avatar f tn
Thank you, for your heartfelt message.  What you said is so true.  I'm glad I'll be able to look back on those words when I need them most.  

I do know that God will do His will in this situation and I definitely will try to remember that He is in control and try to not worry!

Thanks again.  It's so nice to meet you!!!!!
335728 tn?1331418012
My situation was a lot different than yours in that I had only been at my job about 6 months (actually 1 day short of the 6 month probation) so they asked for my resignation as soon as I presented a note from my neuro stating I needed time off.  I did give my resignation but I rescinded it until I found out I was 1 day short of 6 months so the company insurance wouldnt cover me for disability.  It was all very cruel and ugly and did not end on a happy note

I don't know how things work in the U.S. as I am from Canada but it seems to me that you would be qualified for any disability plan from your company if there is one.  

I went to my gp and asked her if she thought that I was able to work and at that time I was in bad shape and could hardly even talk!  She filled out the forms for the canadian pension plan disability and I was accepted.  Considering I was making $18.75/hour at the time of my leaving my last employer and now I am only getting $563.00/MONTH  has certainly meant a huge change to our lifestyle!

I DO miss working but there are days that I know I wouldn't be able to function and I can't control when these days are going to happen.  So I am at home and trying to make the best of it.  Camping season is starting and soon we will be fishing and enjoying the great outdoors but the last two winters have been long and hard and incredibly boring and I am glad to see them go.

I think if you have the support of family and friends and you yourself have accepted that this disease causes us to have limitations we can't control you will be fine honey!  I think that the depression that comes with a life change such as this is probably inevitable but there are ways to beat that as well.  I am on a light dose of an anti-depressant and I am doing alright that way.  I am currently working on losing some weight and I have built a routine that my hubby can also get involved in and it sure helps to have someone along for the ride!  Of course there are times (usually when hubby works a lot of night shifts) that I am incredibly lonesome and this can be dangerous to my state of well being but it helps to find new challenges or go back and try old ones that I couldn't do when I was feeling really bad.

To be honest with you my dear...none of us want life to happen to us this way but it has and we have to move on.  I would imagine that you would rather have to face this dilemma when you still have the respect and the caring of your employers than wait until things become more difficult for both of you in "letting go".  Talk this over with your dr. first before you make any decisions regarding your employment and see if the dr. agrees that perhaps its time to make a change.  You will need his/her backup 100% in the long run if you do decide to stop working.

Please let us know how you are making out with this decision and know that we are behind you 100% and will try to help you out with this HUGE life change.

Lots of Hugs,
Avatar f tn
I'm very sorry this has happened to you. It sounds awful.

I can't think right now because I'm not feeling well, but I just wanted to note that several of our members have been helped by meds for cognition, and have improved in their job performance. Jensequitur is one. I hope she sees this, but if not, you could PM her.

It may be that you do have to go on disability, but maybe also a med would work for you. I hope so.

562511 tn?1285907760
Hello Deborah.  "You just can't fix stupid" is very very far from the truth.  While you might be feeling and believing this right now nothing could be farther from the truth.  You write well and certainly are not stupid.  Give yourself a break and talk nice to yourself, okay?

And despite your claim that being a customer service rep is one of the 'easiest jobs" is not correct.  To be a customer service rep, you have to have the ability to multi-task. Not everyone can do this - even those without neurological issues.  I've always had the ability to multi-task at great speed until MS struck.  Now if I try to multitask, I get overwhelmed immediately and simply walk out of the situation.  

Later, cognitive testing showed that I am able to focus on one task to a great degree.  This ability comes in handy and is a great asset.  My guess is that the same can be said of you.

By nature, I am a practical person.  So as nice and wonderful as your employer is, they are NOT the ones to decide that you need to go on disability.  Are you sure they aren't looking at you under a microscope because they are aware of your MS?  It is for that reason that I tell few people I have MS.  That knowledge tends to taint their view for various reasons.  Your employer can either find you a more suitable position or they can lay you off because you can no longer do your job as they want.  If they fire or lay you off, you can collect unemployment.  Then you and your doctor can decide if you are no longer employable or maybe pursue a different line of work.  Ask them to lay you off.

I was sad too when I could no longer work in the same fashion that I had before. I soon discovered strengths (through cognitive testing) that I wasn't even aware of.   My initial embarrassment was replaced with confidence in my new found skills.  You will too and will adapt nicely.

Take good care of yourself.    

338416 tn?1420049302
Hey, Deborah - it might be time to ask for a neuro-psych evaluation.  With MS, you sometimes lose cognitive function in a few select areas, but other areas remain unaffected.  The neuro-psych exam will help you find out where you are right now, and give you a baseline for future progression.  It's also good to know that some places in your brain are just as smart as they always were!

I pushed for a neuro-psych last year, after I began noticing problems with myself.  I found that I do have moderate cognitive impairment in a few areas - attention, multi-tasking, concentration, short term memory.  I have been playing cognitive games to help my brain retrain itself, and I'm taking Aricept.  I don't talk a lot about it, but Aricept has helped me continue working full time.  I'm able to do my job better.  Without Aricept, my work performance falters - in fact, I wasn't able to afford it for a few weeks, so went without - and boy, my work went downhill!

In some ways it's reassuring to know that there's a drug I can take to help my impairment.  In other ways, I feel a little trapped - without the drug I'd basically be disabled.  
572651 tn?1333939396
hi Deborah,
You have lots of good advice above - please don't give up your job quite yet until you explore the options and possibilities listed.  

In addition, it may be possible that some of the cognition problems will quiet down if you can great a grip on your situation and not let it be so consuming.  I did that after my heart attack- I was a mess I couldn't complete sentences, recall names, and all sorts of other difficuties.  I was pushing myself so hard to function cognitively that is backfired and I declined in skills instead.  Once I let go, I saw an almost immediate improvement.

This may or may not be contributing to your problems.  Do request the neuropsych exam before you make another work related move.

as always,
Avatar f tn
Thank you all for your comments.  Before reading the last two posts, I had decided to call my Dr. to get the neuropsych exam done.  I am making that call in the morning.  I hope to get it done very soon.  Both, my physician and psychiatrist had suggested it some time ago.  I didn't think my insurance would cover it but; I think I found something that said they would but it will need to be preauthorized.  I know my mental health case manager real well and will talk with her in the morning.  I am blessed to be working at the same health insurance company that I am covered with.
Can any of you tell me what the neuropsych test is like?  Is it a timed test?  Is it all written?  The reason I ask is that how can they tell about some problems if you can answer a question but it just takes a while to get to the answer?  Any suggestions are much appreciated.

Thank you,
649926 tn?1297661380

  Hi! I wrote you this really long post on Friday and it's not here! I am not crazy so it must be lost in cyberspace, lol.

I just wanted to let you know that I have been where you are and encourage you like the others have to have the neuro-psych exam. I asked if you see a therapist which I see you do so that is great! I was also wondering if you take anti-depressants. I do and they seem to help with cognition by improving the emotional state.

The neuro-psych exam is timed. There are approx. 27 different tests that they can do but your doctors will choose which ones would be best for your symptoms and also that would correspond with any known lesions etc. and use those to evaluate you.

I had my first series 2 years ago and at the recommendation of my doctors am having them repeated this summer.

Someone mentioned aricept and there are also other meds that can help with cognitive function. I recommend the testing because my therapist has been able to use the results to explain things better for me. My brain works totally different from a "healthy" person and she gives me tools to change the way I do things etc.

I think you will be pleased with the things they can do to help you function better once they have the test results.

Good luck & keep us posted

Erin :)

P.S. Don't get bummed when they give you the "bad" news on where you have declined. I was at first but then found out I still have a higher math IQ then my doctor. We just have to use or strengths and work on our weakness.
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