Saturday, February 01, 2014

Employment Hope for the Disabled

I'm a very happy chick this weekend. Even though the temps have dropped and it looks like winter is going to be here for the full stay (no early spring for us!), the sun in my world is starting to peek out.

A lot of my blog posts in the past couple years (maybe most of them) have referenced my disability. I like to think of it as "this damn sarc". Other than the physical damage the sarc has caused, it's also beat hell out of my esteem. I probably had the disease lurking for years before it put me in the hospital. For two and a half years, I haven't been able to function at my normal abilities. For a while, I couldn't walk without running into walls and there were times I couldn't remember my name. The time I spent not able to drive was bad but the worst thing was not being able to work.

Most people who are temporarily out of work find other ways to use their time. I couldn't do much of anything that required being able to concentrate for more than five minutes at a time. Even writing a simple blog post took hours.

A few months back, I told my doctors that I really wanted to try getting back into the workforce. If I could find work I could actually perform. If my sarc remained stable under treatment. If I wasn't terrified of relapsing or losing the ability to continue treatments. A lot of ifs, a lot of fear and anxiety.

I can't be the only person in this situation, so I want to share news that there is some hope for us. I don't want to get specific because I only know about my personal situation. Let me give some general suggestions for other disabled people to start finding hope:

  • Check with a local Vocational Rehabilitation office. See if they offer the services you need to get back to work.
  • If you are receiving the government disability benefits that you earned, check on having those benefits analyzed. A Benefits Analyst can outline your options for returning to work and maintaining insurance until you are fully recovered. 
  • If you don't know where to begin in finding a voc rehab agency or Benefits Analyst, contact your hospital for help finding a social worker or anyone else who can assist you.
  • Ask, ask, ask. If you are receiving any kind of benefits or assistance from any agency, trust me, those folks want to help get you back on your feet.
  • Be polite, be sincere when reaching out for help. People really do seem to want to help folks who truly do want help. (I have some angels in my social networks who were encouraging to me from the very beginning. You all know exactly who you are. By the way, I love you!)
  • You might get discouraged, but don't stay discouraged. If you run into a wall (not literally!) when trying to find information, just go another route.
  • Contact hospitals, clinics, local and federal assistance agencies. Even try asking your doctors. (I lucked out in getting caring physicians.)
  • Local assistance and programs vary by state, but you can easily check out help via federal programs.)
  • People out there don't always share what they know. You may have to ask around.
Like I said, I don't want to go into specifics about my situation, but I will say that I have had a lot of my fears addressed. Not only are people helping me determine what kind of employment I'm currently suitable for, they are going to help me gain employment. 

For all the griping folks do sometimes about our government, I've learned that, as a disabled person, I'm very lucky to live in America. 

So. Hopefully, before this year is over, I will be able to gripe about driving to work in crappy weather. I look forward to it.