I work in health care. I hear the mixed cacophony of cheers and hisses from here.
Specifically, I work in radiology. All day long, I take pictures of people's innards. (That's how I simplify it for my children anyway.) I look at guts and bones and brains alike and pass judgment on tissues, not persons. I work with doctors, nurses, technologists, and just about every other kind of medical professional. It allowed me a special insight during the process of diagnosing this enigmatic disease, and gives me a special, "Don't try to bullshit this person!," disclaimer card to carry to my own doctor visits. But the advantages end there in my opinion.
Yes, I knew when my leg first went numb that the most likely causes were a brain tumor or MS. Yes, I saw the plaques in my brain on my MRI films and knew what they were 20 minutes after the scan, sitting in my own office; rather than waiting a week and having my neurologist deliver the news in his office. I knew that a lumbar puncture, evoked potentials, and disability were becoming a part of my future. I knew how disappointed my family would be and that I would not be OKAY. Not the way I used to be anyway. What I didn't know was that if you work in health care, you aren't allowed to get sick. They won't say it to your face, but they are watching and waiting for you to slip up. They won't tolerate your complaining any better than they tolerate a colleague who is just plain lazy. They'll sympathize in a superficial way, but they will be expecting you to fail. I'm determined to be a pain in their asses for as long as possible, and the end is no where in sight!
Here's what I know now: I know I'm too lazy to keep secrets and everyone knows I love to drink Newcastle. I came out with my diagnosis at work because I stumble just enough for someone to think I could be drunk. I know that my coworkers think of me as a hard worker and an intelligent person despite the disease. I know that lay-offs are in the air, and we're all smelling them, not just me. I know that paranoia is destructive. I know that other MS patients at my hospital are frequently getting the short end of the stick. I know that while MS is a mystery, even to other medical professionals, I am not crazy and this is really happening. For real, for REAL. I know that it sucks to have to explain what's wrong with you (as a patient) to every new nurse, doctor, or stranger who walks into your hospital room. But I also know that everyone else's ignorance is sometimes my advantage. I know these things now, and knowing is half the battle! GI Joe!