My name is Rachel Tait and I am soon to enter my fabulous thirties. I am happily married to my best friend and most amazing bloke in the world, Dave. We have a 2 year old rescue dog called Blue, who gave me a reason to get out of bed again but also tests my sanity daily. I am fortunate to have the most wonderful, supportive family and friends who have stuck by me throughout this journey I walk with Chronic Illness.
My journey with Chronic Illness began in October 2013. Shortly before my 25th birthday I visited my doctor complaining of wrist pain. Wrist pain turned into all over joint pain, then fatigue and a host of other symptoms soon followed. It felt like overnight life as I knew it had changed.
Getting a diagnosis was a nightmare, I saw too many doctors to remember and all but one refused to believe me, or even investigate my symptoms. In November 2014 I was finally referred to my Rheumatology Consultant and by January 2015 he had diagnosed me with Seronegative Rheumatoid/Inflammatory Arthritis.
I thought getting a diagnosis would help, however I soon learnt that the name, diagnosis or label really doesn’t matter all that much. It is learning to manage the disease and control the symptoms that counts.
I have always been very sure of who I was and what I was about. However my Chronic Illness diagnosis, and all that came with it meant I lost sight of who I was and struggled to find my identity during such a period of huge change and challenges.
I have always been passionate about writing and helping people. Prior to my diagnosis I was working towards qualifying as a Forensic Psychologist, having completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in Forensic Psychology. I worked in various jobs and aimed at supporting and rehabilitating offenders, supporting vulnerable people within the community such as the homeless or women experiencing domestic abuse and supporting people in recovery from addiction. I loved all of that work, I am still deeply passionate about it, however I was unable to continue to work in Police Custody or Prison when my mobility deteriorated.
I went through an extremely traumatic experience with a previous employer where I experienced Disability Discrimination and it is something I am still not fully recovered from mentally or physically. I chose to challenge it in court, and the case was settled out of court which is why I cannot disclose any specific details relating to that employer or my experience. It was only settled out of court as my insurer (who covered most of my legal costs) stepped in and made the decision for me once they believed it was at a more than fair settlement, to save them any further costs and me any further trauma.
However, the main purpose of sharing this with you is because during the year I spent fighting this battle I learnt a lot about disability discrimination and employment Law. It gave me a passion again, and I decided to head back to University and train to be a solicitor, with a hope to specialise in employment law and disability discrimination. Whilst researching during my own case I came across lots of people who had similar experiences but didn’t feel able to challenge it. I also found it was very difficult to find solid information which was clear and relatable to someone not qualified in Law. I would like to change that. I would like to change the way employers view disability and enable those who wish to challenge unfair treatment the support to do so.
Some of my blog will be related to this. My blog will also follow my journey as I learn to live, and rediscover my identity, with Chronic illness to live the best life possible, challenge stereotypes and hopefully make a difference.
Feel free to get in touch with any questions, blog ideas etc. I will also be starting to Vlog, if I overcome my fear of speaking on camera!
FYI I am not qualified to give legal advice…yet. Watch this space.