From Early Retirement to a Job You Love

Marcia Denardin
Written by
Marcia Denardin

After the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, in my case, early retirement was an inevitability. Because I worked in the military police, a decree (actually, a law) required that my condition come with mandatory retirement. Having to leave the workforce and my profession so quickly after my diagnosis was scary. Although my case is dramatic, it may not be as isolated as you think. Research shows that about 75 percent of people with MS have had their professional lives impacted by the disease .

At first, I felt useless, as if because of two words (multiple + sclerosis), I was now unable to accomplish anything professionally. But no one can make us feel useless, except ourselves. Our first reaction to early retirement may be negative, but over time we come to terms with it, and make the changes we need to keep ourselves productive. While we may never have the job we had before diagnosis (I could not, for example, run chasing criminals with a vest and gun), we can always find a new path.

I started my new path when I accepted the invitation to work in social communication for a multiple sclerosis patient association. Despite having worked for the police, I studied communications, and loved this type of work. It was not so hard to start over, as it was important to me to get back to work, even as a volunteer. And from that moment I stopped feeling useless and realized I had a lot to offer, to do and to produce.

Moving on from my career in the police was not easy, but it was not as big of a deal as I had initially thought. Also be sure that you have an open dialogue with your employer to ensure your new career has the leeway and benefits you need, such as:

• Flexible working hours, including the possibility of breaks during the day

• A variety of tasks on the job

• Freedom to take vacation, or leave when you are unwell

• Career development opportunities

• A guarantee of confidentiality of sensitive and private information

Today, I am responsible for broadcasting a two-hour radio program called “Reality” every day. I have wondered many times what would happen if I experience symptoms, like intense fatigue, and couldn’t work on my show. But I’ve learned that negative thoughts only serve to make me suffer in advance. Instead, I have chosen to sit back and let life take its course.

I can say that in my case, I was both unlucky and lucky. Unlucky because I worked in a place where I was not given the chance to adapt myself to my new reality, or given any flexibility to adapt to my duties in that environment. However, I am lucky to have received an invitation to do something I love, taking back my productivity while also helping share information about MS not only to other people, but also to myself.

I do not know if you had (or will have) good or bad luck in your career after your MS diagnosis, but I do know that whatever happens to you, you should not give up. The way we react, strive, seek and grasp the opportunities in life is what truly makes the difference.

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