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To the People at Work Who Ask Why I Can’t Just Reschedule That Doctor’s Appointment

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It starts the same way every time. You tell your boss that you will have to come in a little late on Monday. They ask you why. You say you have a doctor’s appointment. They say that the meeting you will miss is very important, and ask why you can’t just reschedule it.

First things first. The fact that any employer thinks that whatever first world crisis they have created for themselves by not planning ahead, not following through on deliverables, or frankly just not doing their job should trump any health-related situation is ludicrous. Since when is taking care of yourself or your family members in any way less important than getting a product shipped 24 hours sooner?

Second, when did they become medical professionals who can tell whether or not your appointment is important?

Third, I thought it was an HR violation to ask about your medical status in any shape or form.

It is really none of your boss’ or your co-workers’ business what you need to do to maintain your health. Here is why I personally need to attend my doctor’s appointment.

I have narcolepsy. I have to jump through a million hoops to even get the medication I need in the first place. If I do not attend regularly-scheduled appointments, I do not get my medications. Why is that important? I have an illness that affects my ability to have restful sleep and my ability to regulate my metabolism. If I don’t sleep, I am a zombie. I am not effective at work. I start to lose my short-term and long-term memory. My ability to drive safely continues to be compromised the longer I am not on medication. I am so tired that I go to my car at lunch and take a nap. I am so tired that I physically throw up from lack of restful sleep. I start to have auditory hallucinations and vivid and scary dreams.  I start to become irritable and angry at everyone around me.

It is really in all of our best interests that I continue to maintain the regulation of my illness. I am more productive at work if I am effectively medicated. I am not a danger on the roads if I am effectively medicated. I am a productive member of the workforce and my home if I am effectively medicated.

I don’t ask you about your high blood pressure. I don’t ask you about your weight. I don’t ask you if you have sick kids or if you are eating your vegetables or taking your vitamins. You may not care about your health, and may assume I don’t care about mine. However, I do care. I care about being around to take care of my four children. I care about being able to drive a car and not injuring someone from falling asleep at the wheel. I care about not throwing up every few hours from exhaustion. Call me selfish if you want, but I think I’m being very reasonable.

At the end of the day, I just need you to recognize that I make a significant contribution to the workforce and my family. I do not abuse the privilege of having to take an hour off twice a year to extend the usefulness I can provide to the workforce and my family. So, please don’t ask me to chose between providing for my family and staying alive and productive for my family. You don’t have that right.

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Originally published: October 18, 2016
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