Choosing a career path
Thu 27 Sep 2012
Hi I’m Paul and I have severe haemophilia B which was diagnosed when I was five. When I was in high school I decided I wanted to be a tradesperson, but I wasn’t quite sure what one, as I enjoyed both wood and metal work in technical studies. When I left school I applied for an apprenticeship as a Shipwright. While I was waiting to see if I was successful I worked in a roadhouse as a console operator. There I was responsible for opening and closing the Roadhouse, handling money and serving customers, cleaning, stocking shelves and fridges, fuel readings, and organising the storeroom. One Sunday morning before my shift started I developed a bleed in my left ankle. I still went to work and did my shift, but by the end of it I could hardly walk. Consequently I did not do all of the things that I was meant to do. A day or so later the boss had words with me over it. I explained to him what had happened, and that I didn’t want to put him out by having to find someone to work the Sunday shift at short notice. After this he understood and apologised to me.
After about three months working at the Roadhouse I was very lucky to get the apprenticeship as a Shipwright. My doctor was concerned because the job involved lifting and carrying heavy objects, but he supported me to make my own decision. When I started the apprenticeship I was worried about informing my employer that I had haemophilia, but when I did he was really good about it. He asked for information on haemophilia and after he had read the material I gave him, we talked about it and I was able to answer his questions. He wanted to know if I needed any special items to manage my haemophilia, but the only thing I could think of was a small car fridge to take my factor with me when we went away on jobs. After this we then had a meeting with all of the staff and I briefly explained to them that I had haemophilia and what it was, and how it affected me. The first aid officers had some questions about what to do in different situations, and I answered those. I think it was best to talk about it – everyone understood.
I kept clotting factor at work so I could treat bleeds immediately which means I lost little time at work and had minimal recovery time to get over bleeds. I have treated myself in all sorts of odd places, such as the back seat of a ute, in the office, and at the table of the tow vessel while we were cruising along the river.
I was very lucky to have a good supervisor at work who understood my haemophilia and allowed some flexibility in arranging my workload. I appreciated this a great deal as some days were tough because I have arthritis in my left ankle from numerous bleeds. My workmates were understanding as well, which made things easier. I think this is because I was “up front” with them about my haemophilia.
Every workplace is different. For me, the best way to deal with haemophilia in this workplace was to be honest with my employer, and make sure he and other staff knew what was happening, so they didn’t get upset with me if I was not capable of carrying out my normal duties.
I think the best sort of work environment is one where all workers are cared about, not just me because I have haemophilia.