The continuing story of my unsupportive legs and the company that took their place
By Tom Wilde
I started my career in recruitment after finishing a masters in neurodevelopmental sciences. I had made my parents very proud and equally as shocked when I decided to do a complete 180° in my professional career (they’ll forgive me for that one day).
Its been a year of leaing and I have officially spent more of the last year unable to walk than walking – a thought that still gives me a lump in my throat.
As some of you may know, in early September I was hospitalised due to paralysis and diagnosed with a Functional Neurological Disorder (the irony, right?). It’s a condition which effects the connection between the brain and body, in my case, legs, and means you must re-lea every movement that once came automatically.
It’s very hard to lea to move a leg or foot you can’t even tell is attached to you.
After discharge I was wheelchair bound and threw myself straight into working from home. I cannot thank this career or DMJ enough for the flexibility afforded to me and the difference it has made to my health, recovery and stability. I still work from home and have been transitioning into being in the office when it makes sense.
Since progressing (slowly) from wheelchair to zimmer-frame and then (slowly) to crutches, I’m beginning to find my reality again. It’s a different reality to the one I thought I would be in a year ago.
The legs, they still don’t feel like my own, and I have doubts they ever will. I can feel them and touch them, I can stand on them and they hold my weight. They ‘move’ and they look like my own, but there is no longer and emotional connection, and I don’t really like them.
It’s a sensation I can’t explain, and one I wish upon nobody.
The difference this makes is visible, I stand painfully still, no rocking or weight shifting while waiting for a bus, and they seem to move a little slower than the rest of me, making me look awkward and perpetually uncomfortable. Shout out to my friends for prescribing me with faster feet or trainers with flames on.
My jouey can’t be summed up by the destination, it’s been everything in the jouey that has changed and edited the rest of my future along the way. I’m no longer the person I was, but in a positive and eye-opening way.
I’ve lost a lot but gained in equal amounts. The family, friends and partner I had by my side through this ordeal didn’t always get the thanks they deserved. You don’t expect to lose those close to you when things start to get better, but sometimes the jouey takes so much out of you that you’re no longer interested in the destination. Although some of our relationships are strained while some never recovered, I hope they now understand how much their support meant and continues to mean to me.
My main fighting principle has been the goodness I have seen in my life, the stranger who tied my shoelaces (without asking or mentioning it) at the bus stop and the colleagues who constantly fetch me coffees.
DMJ have offered me everything. They have been in a new and scary situation with an employee who forgot how to walk. They have offered me everything I need to succeed in my work at home and assisted me in getting back to the office.
My line managers and peers have helped me and made me feel supported at work. I haven’t taken a day off for ‘illness’ since retuing from the hospital and its down to the feeling of enjoyment I get at our office and knowing I can “stand up” and say it’s too much at any point.
Beyond that, there never feels like an elephant in the room. I’m invited to everything, treated and talked to like I always have been whether it’s the weekly meetings, client visits or Friday evening pub trip. I’m never made to feel like an outcast.
There is no current moral to my story, it isn’t over yet. Trauma affects everyone differently and there is no right way to handle it. There is however, a right way to handle employees when they develop life altering disabilities, and DMJ are a testament of how to do it right.