A Glimpse of an Employed Epileptic

When I started my new job[1] back in August, I was excited—I was getting health insurance! Yay! The insurance company couldn’t deny me based on my epilepsy! Yay! Then I started to fill out the paperwork, and read all the information packets. And guess what I saw? That any pre-existing condition-related doctor’s visits, medication, etc wouldn’t be covered for a year. A year.

When I informed my manager about my epilepsy, and told them that if I had a seizure, I’d have to sleep it off, therefore possibly missing a day of work, and asked what I needed to do—they told me I needed to bring a doctor’s note[2] (with that doctor I can’t see about my epilepsy with my insurance for a year), or call in and take a point. A point is supposed to be a penalty for not coming to work just for funsies. No mention of making up that work once I recovered.

When I told my supervisor that if I had a seizure at work, I do not want an ambulance called unless I was bleeding from somewhere I shouldn’t be, and to instead call my emergency contact to take me home, I was told they’d call one anyway because “if you have a seizure I’ll probably freak out.”

Oh, the equality is overbearing. The sensitivity to the neurologically atypical is gut-wrenching.

Welcome to America.

Now, before I get any lectures on How The Real (American) World Works, let me say: I know. I’m saying it’s wrong. I’m saying that the hoops one has to jump through, if neurologically atypical as I am, just to ensure you’re not fired because of being neurologically atypical, is ridiculous. That I should first have to reveal my medical history (which is private) to my managers, then explain to them what epilepsy is, THEN explain how it affects me, to finally say that it might prevent me from coming into work someday in the future, maybe, is ridiculous. That my supervisor grills me on what it’s like, out of curiosity, with several co-workers in earshot, is insensitive and, well, ridiculous. That I’m grilled on what medications I’m taking, and gosh, why don’t I have a medical bracelet? Is ridiculous.

In short, I’m saying the insensitivity, the ignorance, and the spectacle made out of my disease is appalling, and that it should not be so.

[1] An office job

[2] An epileptic doesn’t need to see a doctor every time zie has a seizure.

About Brittany-Ann
Brittany-Ann is a proud, self-identified feminist with fictional tendencies. She currently writes for LouisvilleKY.com and moderates at My Fault I'm Female. She smokes camels, reads Dumas, and navigates a conservative state as "one of them darn liberals."

6 Responses to A Glimpse of an Employed Epileptic

  1. eli says:

    Oh wow, that is just a ridiculous extra stressor that you don’t need – worrying about how you’re going to pay for an ambulance/medical care, if you happen to have a seizure at work.

    • Brittany-Ann says:

      Indeed. Ironically enough, stress is one of my triggers for seizures! I’m actually in debt for the same, at the moment–in college, there wasn’t much I could do to prevent ambulances from being called when I had seizures while out and about on campus.

      After the second time, I refused treatment, sometimes I was lucky enough to wake before the ambulance took me away. Sometimes I wasn’t. The reactions I got from the medical personnel were, well, that’s another post for another day. But needless to say, that was a lot of money I didn’t have that didn’t need to be spent.

  2. Kassiane says:

    YES. YES. 10000 times YES.

    It shouldn’t be like that. It sucks that it is. I mean, who has seizures and postictal crap for the fun of it? Oh right, no one. It’s not going to hurt them to be a bit understanding.

    • Brittany-Ann says:

      Agreed. I’ve heard enough lectures about liability and being fair about applying policies “equally,” and frankly, I don’t care. It sucks for me, and everyone else who has to deal with it, and in an understanding and ideal world, we wouldn’t have to deal with it. And I seriously doubt that a single co-worker would put up a fuss.

  3. brilliantmindbrokenbody says:

    Ooh yeah, the way your workplace is respondint is ridiculous.

    My neurological atypicality is different from yours – I have POTS, which occasionally makes me faint. I’ve been very lucky so far and not fainted at work, though there have been a few close brushes. So far, the 2 places I’ve worked since it’s hit that level of problem have seemed to be very understanding of how to deal with it. I told them if I faint, wait 5 minutes before you call for an ambulance. If I’m out longer than 5 minutes, I probably have a bigger problem. If you just leave me horizontal, being horizontal will usually fix the problem and while I may need a cab to go home and continue being horizontal, I won’t need any medical treatment. It hasn’t been tested, and they were obviously nervous, but so far they haven’t told me they wouldn’t respect my wishes. The worst that has happened is me abruptly sitting or lying down on the floor, and they ask if I’m okay and/or need help, and tend to be pretty respectful when I tell them that I just need to not be standing for a bit so I won’t faint.

    I wish you had similar experiences with your workplace. I understand about the whole need of a doctor’s note to make sure you’re not cheating (which I think is silly) but I find the lack of respect for your wishes with regards to healthcare even worse, personally.


  4. Pingback: Tales of Epilepsy: Internalized Ableism « A Bookish Beemer

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