Saturday, May 30, 2009

To tell or not to tell

I have often been faced with the question - to tell or not to tell people I interact with about my kidney disease.

In my previous job, I started out with people I already knew directly or indirectly. So they all knew. And since they knew, the new people who joined also got to know. So, in my old company, pretty much everyone knew about my kidney disease.

In my new company, after I was told I was hired, I sent an honest email to my prospective employers about my kidney disease, what it entailed and also about how I was confident that it would not interfere with my normal work. I am not sure, six months down the line, if that turned out to be entirely true. My health has affected my normal work. But not my kidney disease per se. Totally unrelated health issues. Which anyone could have had.

The rest of my co-workers however were not aware. So, they would often wonder what the ugly bulge in my left upper arm was! I would catch their eye moving to it during a conversation and then quickly move back to my eyes as I caught them doing it! I totally understand their curiosity. My fistula is quite big!

Eventually, the question did come however.

"Did you have some accident? What happened to your arm?"

I usually decide to tell the truth. My kidney disease is not something I am ashamed of. However, I won't tell unless I am asked. If I am asked, I will tell the truth.

4 comments:

John Daley said...

Hello Kamal

regarding the fistula - if a student asks me and I judge that they are sincere, I tell them the truth (albeit in simplified terms). If they seem to be looking for a nexcuse for wasting time, I instead tell them that I fell off a motorbike whilst running away from robbing a bank - that shuts them up!

Regarding the kidney disease broadly - I find that I don't mention it unless I have to (including if I am sick in the mornings from the anti-trejection medications). Interestingly, I level with my morning students about being sick and sometimes being late (plus I SMS them en masse if I *am* late) and so far all have been 100% OK with this.

(By way of explanation, I teach at an adult learning college - teaching trades and general education).

In Australia it is technically illegal to discriminate against disability if the disability does not affect a person's ability to do a particular job (hence teaching if fine for me but being a commando would not!).

But I am not foolish enough to realise that people might discriminate anyway.

Hope this helps!

Cheers

John

Nobody said...

Perfect. Tell the truth only if you are asked. I don't know if it would be better of covering it in full sleeves to escape their pity looks.

John Daley said...

Hello Nobody

Could you explain this, please? I don't quite get your point.

Ar you suggesting that I should bound up to people and explain my arm whether they ask or not?

Cheers

John

Kamal Shah said...

No John, 'Nobody' agrees with your approach of tell if asked sincerely. He suggests I wear full sleeves to cover the fistula to avoid people staring at it.