by Jessica Lipson, Associate Professional, Employee Comms & Engagement, Global Marketing & Comms | Posted on Fri Sep 06 2019
Request for Travel Authorization (RTA) manager for UKIIMEA, DXC UK (London)
How did you feel when DXC won the disability inclusion award?
I was absolutely over the moon. I had previously tried to get DXC recognized here in the UK, but it is really hard to get a company recognized for disability inclusion. I wanted to be able to say, “I work for a great company that supported me, and I think it should be recognized,” so I was absolutely thrilled when I saw DXC had won.
Lorna Clason on working through adversity.
In the winter of 2014, Lorna Clason was making a sandwich in the office kitchen when her arm shot up unexpectedly, sending her lunch flying across the floor. It was quite a shock for Lorna who, until that point in her life, was an active, sociable professional with rarely a moment of downtime. She enjoyed taking the train every morning to her office in London, cooking for friends and family, and grabbing a bite to eat after work with her coworkers. Then these strange occurrences began.
At first, Lorna would momentarily lose vision in her left eye. Then she developed a slight tremor in her arm. Lorna brushed these things off, until one day she found that she couldn’t close her fingers around a pen or hold it steady on the paper to write. The kitchen incident was the final straw, spurring Lorna to visit numerous doctors and hospitals to find an answer to these puzzling health symptoms.
Lorna’s initial diagnosis was chorea, a neurological disorder that causes involuntary body movements. However, her symptoms continued and eventually worsened — when she experienced a series of seizures, Lorna was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy, forever changing her life as she knew it.
What were some of the struggles you faced after your diagnosis?
At the time of the diagnosis, I was still trying to trek into the office. But when I had a seizure on the train and asked the girl next to me to get my water bottle so I could take my medication, she wouldn’t help me. Thankfully, a man reached over her and pulled me out of the seat to steady me while helping with the medication. That kind of experience made me think, “I’m frightened to be on my own; what if I need help and people refuse to help me?” After that, I had this fear of getting on the train without someone I knew, so I would hang back waiting for a later train until I saw someone I knew and then get on with them.
Unfortunately, the company that I was working for at the time didn’t understand why I was sometimes coming in late. Also, I was having memory lapses where I was struggling to remember certain words. Management said to me, “You’re obviously ill; we think you should go.” Now, I was not only fighting an illness that was taking over my body, but I was also fighting to keep a job that I loved.
How has DXC supported you through your disability?
I had this amazing manager, once I started working for DXC. She took time to learn about my disability and helped my teammates understand that when I’m not feeling well, I’ll catch up with my work later in the day so I’m never behind. The mornings are my worst time, as I’m a bit wobbly and sometimes stammer due to my condition. My colleagues work around this — if we are having a team call or they need to speak with me, they arrange it later in the day, by which time my stammering has decreased.
I am also able to work from home and have a working set up that helps support my condition. I currently sit on my sofa with support behind me. I prefer to sit on a soft area in case I have a seizure and fall over; the couch cushioning prevents me from getting hurt. DXC was very cooperative when my health consultant sent a letter that said, “Lorna needs to have special accommodations to be as safe as possible.” Stress can trigger a seizure, so not having to worry about all these things and not having to battle for my special needs is fabulous. DXC has been so helpful and caring, I cannot speak highly enough of my experience.
Working keeps people like me going. It makes me feel like part of the world and that I am still of use, providing capabilities that people need; I still have a place in society.
What are some good things that have come out of your ordeal?
I realized how much love and support I have from my fiancée and my Mum in particular. Not only have they looked after me physically, they have helped me mentally, too. I’ve also gained new friends — people who have had to deal with health changes in their lives. It’s amazing how adversity can bring people together.
With new and closer relationships in my life, I enjoy holidays even more because they are more meaningful. When we’re together, we laugh more and take life less seriously because we realize that nobody knows what is around the corner, and life is for living!
I also wanted to give back in some way, so I volunteer as an administrator for the non-profit organization, Take a Knife, Save a Life. It’s another example of how I’m not being defined by what I am but by who I am. If I leave one thing on this earth for people to remember me by, I hope it’s that I helped somebody in some way.