In the thousands of patients who have contacted the Interstitial Cystitis Network in the past twenty years, there are several who have created indelible memories. I met Bard more than a decade ago when he called for help with his disability discrimination claims against his employer, Verizon. Bard faced outrageous discrimination at his job, often by female superiors. One went so far as to re-label the men’s restroom as a women’s restroom to force Bard to walk a longer distance to use the restroom. His battle for disability accommodation and all of the stress associated with a hostile workplace occupied years of his life.
In our many conversations over the years, I could hear the stress and strain in Alan’s voice. The frustration that his employers refused to take IC seriously, the exasperation that something as simple as restroom access was a source of conflict, the anger that they could treat any disabled employee so poorly and, in our last conversation, the peace that he had finally found when he was reassigned to a small office, near his home. He fought the good fight.
My last email from Bard came in June when he shared the newspaper story about a school in San Diego that told students that they could only have two restroom passes a year. At least one young girl felt so terrorized that she feared using the restroom at all and eventually developed a severe illness. Bard was outraged. A few weeks before, he disagreed with a blog I wrote about the use of antibiotics to treat IC flares. He said that he used an antibiotic if a flare lasted longer than 3 days to help fight the inflammation that occurred. I loved the fact that he calmly and rationally spoke his mind. We respected each other tremendously.
Thus, it is with great sadness that I share that Bard died suddenly Monday, ironically, at work. He died doing the job that he fought long and hard for. He proved that someone with IC can be and was a good employee. I’m sure that he intended to work until he retired because he wanted to provide for his wife and three sons. The world has lost a very good and decent man.
Fare thee well Bard-Alan Finlan. You will be greatly missed.