I was 41 years young when, in 2002, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a progressive, degenerative, neurologic disease for which there is no cure. I had been having symptoms, off and on, for years (slight tremor, expressionless face, monotone & softer voice, fatigue, micro-handwriting, right arm not swinging when I walked), but nothing that any of my friends, doctors I saw for other issues, or even friends who were doctors noticed.
When an internal medicine doctor finally, without explaining why, said that I “might consider” making an appointment to see a neurologist, I received my diagnosis (I did ask for confirmation, but declined, for now, when I was told that it would entail an autopsy).
I was in shock and don’t, to this day, remember driving back to work. I was the top lawyer at a publicly-traded corporation. What should I say to my supervisor? What should I say to my co-workers? I have always been an open book. I did not consider whether and what advice I needed. I did not consider getting advice from an employment attorney, a financial advisor, a disability attorney or, the most important person, my care partner.
Going public is one of the most difficult decisions I had to make. Am I hiding something material to my ability to do my job by not disclosing the condition to my employer? Is there some good that I can do for people who have a chronic condition if I go public? How will this affect the way people interact with me? What role does my care partner play in making this decision? All of these questions and considerations about “going public” will be addressed.
https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6430401455789793280/ for my latest thoughts.