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Hi Fellow HM sufferers
I would just like to share with you my own personal experience with HM & how it has destroyed my livelihood and career in the hope that it doesn't happen to you.
I'e suffered from Familial Hemiplegic Migraine Type 2, since early childhood, and during those early years it truly was a terrifying experience that no Doctor had an answer for. ( I was born in 1965).
The only insight I had, was that my Father had suffered the lifelong condition that he was told, was called 'Neurasthenia.
I suffer from all the usual stroke type symptoms, slurred speech, loss, difficulty walking, vomiting, you know the score. (current meds, Gabapentin, diazepam, paracetamol & codeine 30/500, and 600mg ibuprofen).(btw I also have a PFO which I am told many migraine suffers have)
I suffer from Basilar headaches almost every day but I can cope with those whilst on the meds, I only suffer around 2-4 HM attacks a year, so I guess I'm one of the lucky ones compared to some of you and I truly do feel for you.
Back to my story, I joined my local Police Force as a young officer in 1990 despite telling them I suffered with Migraines. Over the years all was well, I married, had two gorgeous children and my career was moving forward. In the UK this tends to be a job for life.
I suffered the occasional HM attack at work which frightened the hell out of my co workers but they soon learnt that this was just a part of my life. I always felt a little foggy for days afterwards but this never affected my work and I went on to earn several commendations for my service. I was also trained as a Tutor Constable and I would teach new recruits the job.
I treated people as I would expect to be treated myself, with courtesy and fairness, not exactly how everyone else treated people. The stress of the job was difficult at times compounded by my wife being sexually assaulted by a fellow officer who I will not name, myself being assaulted twice by other officers including one sergeant who took great pleasure in kneeing me in the face. All were swept under the carpet and no action taken against those concerned. Things went from bad to worse as my wife now hated my job and what I stood for so much that she had a breakdown along with our marriage. She filed for divorce and I lost my house and two gorgeous young Daughters. The stress continued and I broke down in tears at work not knowing why I was crying. I even tried to drive head on into a truck on the way home but the truck managed to drive round me.
The stress caused my migraines to increase in frequency to around one a month.
In 2002 I also suffered an injury to my lower back (sacro joint ) but instead of physio I was moved to a different station and placed behind a desk in the divisional control room, taking calls and sending officers to jobs via the computer system. During my time there I was often one of the highest performing officers handling more calls than most of the other 5 officers present with me but my attendance record had started to suffer due to my migraines combined with the previous times I had been off with stress.
I remained in the control room for two years and my stress management improved. However, I still recall one particular day whilst at my desk, my Vision went, my face drooped, speech became slurred and I couldn't stand. All the usual symptoms of a HM attack. I tried to tell the duty inspector and colleagues that I was ok but of course my words made no sense and I was rushed to Hospital in an Ambulance. After lumbar punctures and scans I was discharged with the dual diagnosis of HM or TIA's they couldn't really decide.
Back at the station I was called into a meeting by my Sergeant (who had the week before shouted at me and told me to pull myself together, regarding my stress / illness record), he told me that the Force was planning to retire me on ill health grounds as it was cheaper to pay a civilian to do my current job, than it was to pay me. He also told me the force was trying to rush it through before significant changes were made to the disability act, making it harder to get rid of me.
I was so shocked. I told him I didn't want to retire but he told me the decision was already made. My union the Police Federation offered no help and just a few months later I was given a small ill health pension and shown the door.
Shortly after I received a document from the Force Surgeon citing my disability as Hemiplegic Migraine. The grounds were that following an attack I could suffer temporary memory loss that could put the public at risk and that this was considered to be a permanent condition.
That was it, no career, no job, no wife, no family and just a tiny income. In fact my finances were now so bad I had to move back in with my elderly parents. But the decision was made and I was told that there was nothing that I could do about it. Life had now changed beyond belief due to my having Hemiplegic Migraines that had in the past not affected my work.
When applying for new jobs I had to say why I left my last employment but once I said I was medically pensioned no offers came my way. I then started doing gardening jobs 7 days a week just to survive and I still am to this day ten years later.
It was only during a visit to my GP a few weeks back that I asked him what he had sent to the Force Surgeon that caused my retirement, as I do recall the surgeon wanted access to my GP which I gave.
I was astounded to hear that despite my always believing otherwise, my Doctor had stated that I was fit for duty in my role as Police Officer and that my HM did not affect my work to any significant degree. In other words the Police Service did not have any recorded medical grounds to retire me.
I have also recently found out that under the Disability Discrimination act 1995,
It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a disabled person whom he employs—
(d)by dismissing him, or subjecting him to any other detriment.
I do now wonder if I have a case against my former employers but on the other hand I am so used to everything being hushed up and swept away behind closed doors that I wonder if I would even stand a chance. Yet in reality I have lost out on 25 years of wages and pension contributions had I still been working.
The disability act states it's 'Unlawful to Discriminate', but who Polices the Police, from my past experience, no one does.
I wonder if anyone else has been affected at work with HM?
Regards and thanks for reading
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