On paper, I am an appealing candidate. University degrees. An array of relevant work experience — in the corporate world, then a social worker, and now writing.
If we met in person, sitting around the office table, you would be impressed by my communication skills. The conversation is engaging and flows freely. Examples provide more insight into how I could perform in the advertised role. You even wonder whether I am over-qualified for the position.
But them, something unexpected happens. You hadn’t seen me walk into the office. But as I stand to say goodbye, you are surprised when a walking stick appears from under the table. Immediately there is a seed of doubt. Unanswered questions are racing through your mind.”Why a walking stick?” “She looks healthy, maybe it’s an injury?” “But she seems a bit wobbly on her legs; maybe something more serious is wrong?” “Am I allowed to ask?”
In this moment I, too, am faced with a dilemma. Do I disclose the reason for the stick? The reality that for nearly 20 years I have been living with multiple sclerosis(MS)? That early on the relapses were both frequent and aggressive? Do I tell you that hospital and rehab had become a revolving door. That I have spent more time than I care to remember lying in a hospital bed unable to move, sitting in wheelchairs and then learning how to walk again (and again and again)?