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Narcolepsy And Teaching


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#1 Mrs Nightminds

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 03:03 AM

I'm in the process of re-applying to return to work as a K-6 Teacher (in Australia). I taught for several years before I had my eldest son but it's been longer than 5 years since I taught, hence the need to re-apply.

Within the application you have to declare whether or not you have a medical condition that may impact on your teaching. I felt it was the right thing to declare that part way through this year I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy. My doctor suspects that I've had it since I was a teenager and therefore the years that I did teach would have been during a time that I had Narcolepsy as well. Despite that (ie that I CAN teach full time successfully whilst having N.) I felt it was the right thing (and in the potential students' best interests) to declare it.

My application is being processed and the Department of Education has asked for a detailed medical certificate from my treating specialist . I provided them with a detailed outline of the condition and my treatment and how it would impact my teaching but they have told me it is their policy to get further clarification from the treating doctor. The woman at the Department of Education that I spoke to said they need the doctor's information so that they can determine in what capacity they can employ me (full time or limited only to casual/part time) and what, if any, workplace modifications need to be made. On one hand I feel relieved that they seem to be accommodating but on the other I'm very worried that they may restrict my teaching.

My question for any teachers here is have you ever been through this yourself (not specifically Narcolepsy, and please don't feel like you need to divulge what medical condition!) or know of another teacher who has declared a medical condition and been restricted? The woman on the phone wasn't able to tell me how severe a condition needs to be before they restrict and I can understand that since Narcolepsy is not common and may not be something they're familiar with they may not understand the condition itself.

I emailed my doctor's offices and explained the situation in an attempt to give him ample time ("he IS a very a busy man, you know!" is what I get told when I ring) to formulate the certificate. He called me back tonight and said "Mrs R I think you have a very simplistic view of how this is going to pan out" and then proceeded to tell me that whilst I'm not on any medication to promote wakefulness and he hasn't got any evidence of my wakefulness (he told me of a test similar to an MSLT but in reverse - i.e. you have to be kept awake) he's not prepared to "put his reputation on the line" and declare me fit for employment. I reminded him that Dexamphetamine LITERALLY nearly got me committed and that he admitted that Modavigil may well have the same affect. I also reminded him that my psychiatrist (who he insisted I see as support for being put on stimulants) has me on Valdoxan and it's REALLY REALLY helping me and 5 out of 7 days I don't NEED to nap, AT ALL. He wouldn't listen to it and just kept saying "until you are medicated and I have evidence of your wakefulness I won't vouch for you".

So...what do I do? I feel incredibly stuck and angry that it's in someone else's hands and that MY account of how I'm "doing" isn't being taken into consideration. I fear there's nothing I CAN do. Surely someone can't be FORCED on to a medication they fear to take? I honestly don't want to try Modavigil and to be honest I don't feel the need for it. Valdoxan is working really well and I am STILL recovering from the psychiatric effects of Dexamphetamine (never fear, this is being very well dealt with and won't be an issue by the time the Australian school year restarts in February 2013). It's taken me years to even entertain the idea of returning to work. This year I've lost 35kg, no longer have sleep apnoea and feel the benefits of that. All of my other medical conditions have gone (diabetes, high blood pressure etc) and I am in a much better place than I was PRE-diagnosis. My husband has suggested I go to see our much loved and respected (by us) GP (family doctor) and ask her advice. I honestly don't know if this is the expected state of affairs now that I have an official diagnosis or if I'm being faced with a butt covering specialist with a god complex.

I appreciate the importance of my health and wellbeing where duty of care is an issue. I'm most definitely not downplaying that. I would just really appreciate some advice!


#2 kyethra

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 05:07 AM

Honestly, I would do the maintence of wakefullness test. This should be able to determine if you are awake and alert enough during the day and put the issue to rest.