What human rights?

So I finally received response from my employer re my questions and concerns from January 31. Here is that gem:

February 22, 2018


Dear Angela,


Thank you for your email.  As HR Manager, I have been asked to respond to your email.


You have stated that you did not understand what we meant when we referred to your pattern of absence.  


What we are referring to is the fact that, over the past 2 years and 2 months (for much of that time I was on an approved modified schedule), you have shown a repeated pattern of absence from work which is inconsistent with the requirements of your job.  Specifically, your job requires your attendance at work five days per week.  However, you have been unable to achieve five days’ attendance on a regular basis for any consistent period of time.  While this is not an exact breakdown, over the past 2 years, you have essentially attended work not more than 4 days per week.  This is not sufficient to meet the requirements of your employment duties, or our program needs.


As per our meeting on January 25th, redacted does note, you have explained the reason for your absences, and you have indicated that your medical condition is the cause of your unsatisfactory attendance.  We accept this is the case, and we do not question that you have a medical condition which is preventing you from regular attendance.  The fact remains that redacted has a commitment to its program that requires us to staff the program five days per week.  That is one of our primary concerns, i.e. to meet program needs, as well as ensuring that we are doing what we can to assist and accommodate you.


As your employer, we have a right to expect regular full time attendance from you (meaning five days per week), unless you have a medical condition preventing you from such regular attendance.  As mentioned, we accept your statement that you do have a medical condition, but we are entitled to ask for medical information from you to justify your absences from work and your pattern of irregular attendance.  That is why during the meeting we asked you to provide us with medical information so that we may better understand your situation and what we may have to do to accommodate your situation. In follow up to the meeting, you advised us of your medical appointment on February 8, 2018, we requested that you provide us with medical information, so that we may better understand your situation and your needs, and any accommodations required.(NOTE I HAVE NOT ASKED FOR ANY ACCOMMODATIONS!)


I acknowledge that, on February 20, 2018, you emailed to us a medical note dated February 8, 2018 from Dr. redacted.  Based upon our review of Dr. redacted medical note, however, it would appear that Dr. redacted may not be aware of the extent and frequency of your absences (!!!!)  In particular, Dr. redacted states that “generally [you are] capable of full-time work with regular duties but from time to time will unexpectedly require time off work for a period of days to weeks at a time”. 


It’s is redacted view that Dr. redacted has not correctly characterized your current ability for full-time work.  Dr. redacted states that, generally, you are capable of full-time work with regular duties.  However, your attendance record has not demonstrated this.  Instead, over the past two years and two months, you have been capable of only irregular attendance, working an average of four days per week (again modified work schedule) Full-time work is five days per week and your attendance record demonstrates that you have not been capable of full-time work.  As mentioned above, we do understand this is due to your medical condition.  Your doctor’s opinion that you are generally capable of full-time work is not consistent with your pattern of absence. 


In any event, the medical you provided dated February 8, 2018 does not provide redacted with sufficient information for us to assess whether you will be capable of regular full time attendance in the future, and what your prognosis might be.  Therefore, we request that you return to Dr. redacted for a follow up appointment and specifically obtain the following medical information in written form from Dr. redacted and then provide it to us: (ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!)


1.       A description of any medical, physical or other restrictions which may result from your medical condition and which may impact on your ability to perform your job duties and attend work on a regular, full-time basis, meaning five days per week.  (Please note that we are not asking for any diagnosis or details of your medical condition, other than as they relate to any restrictions it may have on your ability to perform your workplace duties and ability to attend work regularly.);

2.       A prognosis from your physician as to the likelihood that your medical condition might improve (WHAT DOCTOR WOULD DO THIS??)such that any current restrictions and/or modifications might not be required in the future, or may be required to a lesser degree;

3.       A prognosis from your physician as to the likelihood of your ability to achieve regular, full-time workplace attendance (i.e. five days per week as opposed to your current average of four days per week) in the reasonably foreseeable future; 

4.       Alternatively, if your physician determines that it is unlikely that you will be able to achieve regular, full-time attendance in the reasonably foreseeable future, whether it is also likely that your attendance will tend to decline (Psychic abilities needed) in the reasonably foreseeable future; and

5.       Any suggested accommodations or recommendations your doctor may have for redacted to allow us to better accommodate your situation.


Angela, please note that we require the above information from your physician so that we may assess your workplace restrictions, needs and any requirements for accommodation (NOTE I HAVE NOT ASKED FOR ANY ACCOMMODATIONS), as well as our ability to ensure that we meet program needs, which are five days per week.


Your email mentions that you provided a booklet for employers to redacted about employees with MS, and how best to support them.  In our review of that information, we believe we have met the needs outlined repeatedly over the course of the past two plus years.  Moreover, the booklet supports our position that it is appropriate to have medical information from your physician, as described above, which is specific to your needs, and which advises us what your specific workplace restrictions and needs are, as well as any accommodation measures which we can provide to you specifically. 


You also mentioned that you felt the climate of redacted has shifted “dramatically”.  We do not believe that to be the case.  If there is any particular workplace issue you feel has changed dramatically (Uh you and all of this since we became unionized?), please let us know so that we may take proactive measures to ensure there is nothing happening in the workplace that is negatively affecting your medical condition and/or your ability to work (again all of this is causing me anxiety).  If you are referring to issues that are not related to your own medical situation, please also advise us what you mean, since we want to be proactive in correcting any problems or issues in our workplace.


I also wanted to address your comment that you felt you were attacked in our conversation during our meeting on January 25th.  I can assure you this was not our goal or intention.  Our purpose in meeting with you was to discuss your attendance issue and your ability to perform your workplace duties.  It was also to advise you of the impact your irregular attendance is having on redacted ability and requirement to meet its program goals.  We also want to understand how we might be able to accommodate your needs.  It is our hope that you do not think there was any intention to attack you personally, as that is not the case.


You also mentioned we used the word “honest” in our discussions.  We did not mean to suggest you are not being “honest” or forthright with us.  What we meant by using the word honest is that we require medical information from your doctor so that we can make an honest assessment of your needs and requirements, and so that you can make an honest assessment as to whether you will be able to achieve regular, full-time attendance in the foreseeable future. (Yeah that’s what ‘honest’ means) We are not questioning your personal honesty or integrity.


As you probably know, an employer has a duty to accommodate an employee with a medical disability.  As well, an employee also has a duty to participate with the employer in the efforts to accommodate the employee, and provide the medical information from your physician as requested so that we may do our best to ensure you have regular attendance at work, perform your employment duties in a satisfactory manner, meet redacted program goals, and at the same time ensure we are meeting your needs for accommodation.


In addition to requesting your doctor specifically answer in writing the five questions outlined above, I have provided a further form for your doctor to complete.  Please arrange to see him and return the form, along with the answers to the five questions set out above, by Friday, March 2, 2018 (a fucking week!) If you feel you are not able to meet this deadline for submission of the medical information, please let me know when it is likely that you will be able to provide it to us.


You mentioned you will seek union assistance.  While you are, of course, free to talk to your union representative should you wish to do so, I would merely mention that, at this point in time, we do not have a Collective Agreement with the union and, as such, our obligation is to deal with you directly.  Having said that, we will, of course, talk to your union representatives should you instruct them to do so.


I look forward to receiving the medical information from you by the above-referenced deadline.  In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me or redacted


Kind Regards,



Human Resources Manager’

6 years of my time. I cannot help but think of it as a fucking waste.


You should hire me because:

◦ I take a lot of sick time

◦ I max out the benefits provided and still need more

◦ I have an incurable disease

◦ I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression my entire adult life

◦ I’m unreliable (see previous two reasons)

◦ I’m really good at my job, when I show up of course

◦ I can engage even the most hardened youth, when I’m not taking a sick leave

◦ Kids love talking to me, when I’m not on a reduced work week

◦ I have no idea if round 2 of Lemtrada will leave me unable to work for a longer period while I recoup

◦ I don’t even know what MS has in store for me

You should hire me…

Has anyone ever told you that you were lucky to have found me?

No I didn’t think so

I can’t even count how many times I’ve been told how lucky I am to have you

Through my mental health issues and through my MS

Does it make me feel bad?

Of course

I would love to hear people say how lucky you are to have me in your life

Because that signifies the very opposite of a ‘burden

Which is what I feel far too often

All this makes me wonder

About how our life together could have been different

Thats a lie

I actually spend much more time than I’d care to admit wondering about how your life could have turned out differently had you not fallen into this

With me

That’s another lie

I don’t ponder how different it could be

I actually wonder how much better your life would have been if not for me

I have day-mares where I can see you with someone else

They manifest as day dreams that feel like nightmares

Where I’m relieved to see you looking so happy

But I’m scared and angry to see that it’s with someone who’s not me

This figment of my imagination

She’s a happy-go-lucky kinda woman

She enjoys the simple things in life

You two laugh together

A lot

She doesn’t have the baggage that weighs me down

The baggage that then in turn has weighed you down

She’s free

And with her

So are you

You guys own a small condo downtown

You take the dogs out for long walks to the park

Maybe to the lake in the summer

Those same summers that I stay inside air conditioned prisons because I can’t handle the heat

In the evenings

You go to the movies

Like we used to before MS stole so much from me

You watch blockbusters, indie flicks, documentaries

Then you go to coffee shops

She orders coffee with sugar and milk

Something simple

Not like my high maintenance needs

You sit there for hours and you talk and dream of all the places you’ll travel to

And you know since she doesn’t have anxiety

She won’t be terrified of getting on that long plane ride to Amsterdam

She doesn’t have MS obviously

No treatment coming up

No fears of getting sick

No limitations really

And she doesn’t take sick leaves

So money isn’t a worry

The world is her oyster

So in turn, it is yours too

She’s not chained with anxiety and depression like I am

Broken in thought and in spirit

She doesn’t yell and scream at you when the anxiety is so bad

She doesn’t mope and cry when the depression hits hard

She’s a youth worker like me

Unlike me, she goes to work every day

The kids love her of course

Who wouldn’t?

Her employer raves about her dedication to her job

You are so proud of her

Because you’re the same

You’re dedicated to your job

You share this motivation with her

You check off goals as easily as I write blogs about being discriminated against at work

Your family adores her

Because they see how happy she makes you

You can’t help but exude this contagious happiness when she’s near you

Your family feels it too

They spend long weekends with you both

At the cottage

Playing with the nieces and nephews

Laughing and playing cards

You go back to your cozy little condo

With the dogs

And she is just content

To sit there with you on the balcony and watch the sky

You see, that’s enough for someone like her

Simple and carefree

And for someone like you

Wonderful and deserving of the very best in life

And the day-mare fades to black

And I’m sitting there quietly in my room


And you call my name from downstairs

And I close my eyes

And I take a deep breath

And I get up out of bed convinced that this time I can do it

And force a smile on my face, the same one I think she would wear

And I make my way downstairs

I’m scared that when I meet your eyes, the spark they held in my day-mare, will be gone

It’s my own smile that slips before my foot even hits the last step


I’m just me again

The one who is so lucky to have you

The one who’s never given you reason to feel lucky to have her

The one who knows that it was her breath that extinguished your spark

The one who will always be sorry

‘Having been damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order.’

Our fate isn’t written in the stars

It’s written into our genes

Embedded into the very essence of what makes us ‘us’

It’s stamped onto us before we are even born

And you go your whole life

Not even knowing that you carry this…this defect

Until it hits you

Boarding a plane to Cuba

When you can’t breathe and your mind starts spinning and your whole body feels clammy

Until it hits you

After the anxiety goes away

And you’re left with a big gaping hole where your full heart used to be and you can’t remember a time when happiness was real, not just a distant memory

Today I listened as Joey spoke to my family doctor on the phone

My father has the same doctor

Joey was filling him in on my possible flare and all the emotional toll work is having on me

And then the doctor said:

Look I get it, she feels judged by work. And then she goes over to her parents house and sees her father laying on the couch and she worries that will become her eventually. And it will, if she lets it’

I put a pillow over my head to drown out his voice

What they don’t understand

The medical professionals

The people around you

The ones who aren’t defected like you

Is that there is no perfect cocktail of medications

That will fix whatever is wrong

Because once you’ve lived with it for so long

What was once only written on your genes

With possibilities of never manifesting itself

It has now changed how you see yourself and the world around you

You have changed

You are not the same person you used to be

Picture a beautiful vase

It’s pristine and it sparkles


And then it breaks


The pieces can be glued back together

To look like a vase from the outside

But when you look closely

You see all the broken pieces

Held together by glue

I’m not saying that the vase is no longer beautiful

It still has the same pieces

It can still hold flowers

But we all know it is never the same again

It will always be the vase that is broken

And this is my fear

What happens when it breaks the second time?

Will it break into so many more pieces?

Will it just shatter?

So many pieces that it cannot be held together by even the strongest glue?

The beautiful vase that once was

We all know what happens next

The second time it breaks

You throw it out

Because now you know

That fucking vase is just too broken to be put back together

It’s only MS who cares anyway?

I’m sitting here seriously flabbergasted that this is still happening

Since my last update

The union had a phone conversation with HR whom he described as being ‘defensive’

He stated that she referenced my attendance over the last two years as a ‘concern’

He told her firmly and clearly that what she was doing was against the law and that I would NOT be submitting any doctors note and if I wanted accommodations, I would ask for it

HR made some weak comment about us not being unionized yet

Which is untrue, we are unionized but have been unable to sign a collective agreement due to difficulty with our employer

He said the call ended without HR committing to anything and said something about them consulting their lawyer

In the meantime, what do you think yours truly began to experience?

Ding ding

You guessed it

A flare up (for all you non MSers, new symptoms or a worsening of symptoms lasting longer than 48 hrs)

Eye pain

Eye pain so bad that I have to keep the lights very dimly lit

And the Scandal series we’d so happily been watching has been suspended


A flare up that your beloved author has not had the displeasure of having in approximately one year

A fucking year, people

Does this mean anything dear readers??


It means that stress is a motherfucker


Stress may have been a huge contributor to this woman’s flare up

So with tense muscles and clenched jaw, I sent an email to work including HR

I stated that I may be experiencing a flare and while I await the MS clinics call to determine next steps, I would need some time off of work

And what should I get in response?

Some pithy platitudes to get better and a request for the doctors note I was supposed to get for them on February 8th

A request for a doctors note

After being reprimanded by my union

And reminded of my human rights

Obviously I did not respond and forwarded the message to the union

But I’m seething

I want to hit something hard

I want something to break and shatter

Remember that blog I wrote only yesterday?

What if the term ‘MS’ was replaced with ‘Cancer’?

Imagine this then:

Dear work,

The cancer that you have been aware I’ve been fighting since 2013. It is possible my cancer has returned. I need some time off to deal with this.’

And your employer of over 6 years replies with some bullshit sentiments and a fucking request for a doctors note to discuss your capabilities at work.

How completely and utterly insensitive

And very unlikely

Not impossible of course

But unlikely nonetheless

Common fucking sense right?

Back to regularly scheduled MS



That desire to degrade, downplay and harass a human being?

You know the feelings they can suppress for people who have the dreaded ‘C’ word

Well that shit is right back on the table

Because, despite that MS is Canada’s fucking disease

It is, after all still

Only Multiple Sclerosis

And that apparently doesn’t warrant compassion and you know following the fucking law

A very wise friend said to me today ‘If the term ‘MS’ was replaced with ‘Cancer’ would the reaction be the same?’

It’s baffling how in a country with the highest rates of MS in the world

Approximately 100, 000 people living with it

I know it doesn’t seem like that many people in the grand scheme of things

And maybe that’s why

So few people understand the depth of its disease

And the suffering and difficulties that people with MS encounter daily

Family doctors don’t often have a lot of knowledge around MS and are often little help as nice as their intentions can be

So we are often left to educate them

Can you even fathom that?

How scary and lonely a road it is when you’re the one who has to educate your doctor?

I won’t even begin to describe how little the average person has an understanding of Multiple Sclerosis

Your spouse, your kids, your siblings, your friends

You have to be the one to explain to them all the little nuances of a disease that you yourself don’t even fully understand

Employers have zero understanding of a disease that is listed as a ‘disability’ under the Canadian Human Rights Code


It’s brutal to think of all the times people have reminded me that ‘your employer is just doing their job’

So like that wise friend of mine said

Imagine this whole ordeal of mine with work

Picture it in your mind

The HR person

The supervisor

The member of management

And you

And change all the times I’ve said ‘MS’ and replace them with ‘Cancer’

You have ‘Cancer’

The person at the centre of this whole debacle is fighting against ‘Cancer’

How much does the situation change?

Does your employer still question your ‘capabilities’?

Blame you for an undefined negative impact your attendance has had on the program?

Does your employer harass you?

Send you multiple emails on your sick day?

Constantly whip out your attendance stats over the last two years as ammunition?

Two years that you’ve been battling ‘Cancer’?

You’re in a fight for your life with a disease that is taking over your body

You want to go to work

And do the job you love doing

And now you have to fight against the people that sign your paycheque

The very people that question your capabilities

Can you imagine this?

But wait

You just have Multiple Sclerosis

And now

No one cares anymore

After all

You don’t ‘look’ sick

The saga continues…

So I guess I should start with where I had previously left off

I was really depressed after all that stuff at the meeting. Half of me wanted to quit and half of me wanted to just cry.

I received an email from my employer asking if to confirm the details of the meeting and the deadline to provide the doctors letter. You know so we can all work together 😒

I thought on it.

And then I got angry.

I emailed back on January 31

I asked for clarity on some thing I did not fully understand.

I asked for ‘clarity around the issue of a pattern of my absences. I asked what exactly does that mean? I feel like anyone with a chronic and incurable illness would indeed have a pattern of absences?’

I asked if an email was circulated when my coworkers called in absent or if it was just in my case. I asked them if the book I gave them in 2013 for employees on how to support employees with MS was reviewed in their attempts to make me feel ‘supported’?

I explained that felt unsupported and attacked at the meeting ‘when I was repeatedly questioned about my honesty and my capability, of which I have never shied away from answering.’ I explained that I felt I was being asked to reduce my work hours or face the consequences of calling in sick.

I let them know I would be speaking to my union to ensure that my rights continue to be protected.

And after all that???


Since January 31

With the February 15 deadline looming for providing the doctors note

Since then, I’ve spoken to a lawyer from the Volunteer Legal Advocacy Program, through the MS Society.

This is a summary of that conversation:

•My employer is aware of my diagnosis of MS, which is listed as a disability under the Human Right’s Code.

•My employer asking me to commit to a five day work schedule without taking sick days is impossible from an MS standpoint and therefore ‘unfair’.

•My employer has a duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship. They have shown that in the past they were able to do so by me taking unpaid sick days, working from home and putting a relief roster in place.

•He stated that his suggestion was that I do NOT provide a doctor’s note, however, if I wanted to, it should say something along the lines of: I do have a diagnosis of MS, and am capable of working 5 days a week, however due to the unpredictable nature of the disease, I may need to take sick days. I do not require a modified work schedule, as there will be times when I can work a full schedule, and also periods of time where I cannot.

•He also stated that if there is any recourse/reprisal any of this I can file a human right’s complaint based ion discrimination.

•He also said that what they are doing is unreasonable due to the circumstances of my disability, of which they have been aware since 2013.

You’d think one would feel relieved after that information…

I didn’t

I felt even more upset

That an employer would be so underhanded and clearly willing to skirt the law in an attempt to what? Get rid of me?

Sitting here even know

I’m shaking my head in bewilderment

The union is involved now although still somewhat minimally

I went to see my family doctor, for which my employer had to arrange coverage for my position and have me take a sick day and pay someone else for said coverage. 🙄

Like I said…bewilderment

My doctor wrote the note as he too felt that he could not be expected to write a note like what my employer was hoping for. His note is essentially what the lawyer has advised me on getting.

I’m home now

I still haven’t received an email

The union and lawyer have both said I should not submit the note

The union said if I haven’t received clarity by early next week, they would contact my employer

The lawyer asked what would happen if the deadline passed and a note was not provided?

I still don’t know

The union said there SHOULDN’T be any repercussions

That does little to assuage this anxious brain

Still I rise,