Vocational Rehabilitation or Bust

I strongly believe finding resources limited the number of dark days this condition presents. The HMO medical community and my employer had given up on me but I had sense enough not to give up on myself. I figured there had to be a way for me to actively participant in the workforce in some capacity. I have a capable mind and an unyielding spirit.  These qualities allowed me the ability to get out and explore my options. Maybe there was a person or organization that would be willing to give me some guidance? In comes Vocational Rehabilitation…

I would suggest regardless of your condition contact the DOR’s Vocational Rehabilitation services program.  There are 85 field offices in California alone. I would check your states website for similar rehabilitation services.

All I knew was that I wanted to be an active participant within the workforce. I had worked for close to 10 years before this condition and I have been determined to continue to contribute in some way. I wonder where this determination is coming from? I assume it would be attractive to some to receive a disability check and not have to return to work. They would find a way to manage on the measly monthly income by renting a room or moving in with family and getting by. For some reason this idea haunts me. I want to believe despite this condition I can achieve more. I can find a way to use the skills that are still embedded within me to sustain myself and not be limited to a certain form of existence.

Vocational rehabilitation is helping me find a way back into the workforce. My vocational counselor has been instrumental in guiding me toward a future. Since my condition is somewhat rare in that my mind is able but my body is at times disabled we are trying to find a place where I fit. Here are some of  my limitations and advantages :

Limitations:

*The condition (dizziness) is chronic, 24 hours a day. (The best way I could describe the feeling would be to shake a snow globe for a few seconds and let the snow settle. The movement of the snow flakes can be compared to how my dizziness feels. )

*Tire Easily ( I assume my body is in fight or flight mode often  times throughout the day and that can take a toll)

*Sleep is disturbed ( Visual cues are keeping me functioning , when I close my eyes the pitch black makes the movement worse. Often times I find myself awake at odds hours because I can’t physically fall asleep)

*Odd wake up times. ( I never am awake at the same time in the morning. I am at the mercy of how I slept the night before)

*Slight confusion. (I notice that I do struggle at times to recall names, places, things I ate. I often believe I am having “senior moment’s”, even though I am in my 30’s :))

*Can’t be in a dark room ( As mentioned I need visual cues to function,  to be in a dark steak house or room is not an option.)

*Loud noises are bothersome ( I assume that since one of my senses “balance” is off then some of my other senses are heightened. I often feel like I have super hearing powers. I am very sensitive to noises.)

* Busy stores are a challenge ( I  am assuming most people who suffer from dizziness dread places like Walmart and Costco. I force myself in these environments. The lights, massive amounts of products within the aisles, people and noise make frequenting this store a challenge.

*Walking great distances are a challenge( Stability is key. I walk because it has been suggested to me that it will help my vestibular function. The sensory load that comes from walking and forcing myself to balance I believe is helping correct this dysfunction. In a later blog I will post about my walking sticks that have helped me be an active walker)

*Need breaks (My vocational counselor impressed upon me that I am now the tortoise not the hare. I have to give myself frequent breaks from activity. )

Abilities:

* Computer savvy ( I am able to use the computer to access the outside world. I believe if given proper training or direction I can complete several online tasks. )

* Strong willed ( I have a very determined spirit. I love to research. If I am unable to personally get the job done I will find a resource or teach myself a new skill)

* Open to suggestion ( I believe this is important. I really am open to what my medical practitioners and counselors have suggested to me. I am open to suggestions and willing to put in the work to living a better quality of life)

*Flexible ( I have had to learn to be flexible dispute this condition. I have learned to make adjustments and accommodations to complete tasks)

*Trustworthy ( Dizziness will test the content of your character time and time  again . I have been upfront and have built trust between myself my medical practitioners. They know that they can trust me to carry out the health plans and protocols they suggest. )

*Customer service ( I love people. I know how to relate to people and how to treat them. I have even gathered more empathy and insight into the human spirit after enduring this condition)

*Can work unsupervised ( My vocational counselor has set me up to take some online courses. I am asked to check in and make sure that I diligent to my classes. I am proud to say that I am doing very well in my online classes. I do not need to be hand-held or supervised to complete my tasks. )

*Effective communicator ( I have spoken with several individuals via Skype and phone and have been able to listen, resolve conflict and communicate. )

*Leadership ( The classes I have taken online at times have called for group leaders. I have done well leading groups to complete major assignments not allowing my condition to affect the outcome of the group.)

*Creative ( This condition has challenged me to think outside the box. I am looking for different ways to express myself via creative outlets such as photo collage and photo restoration.)

Looking forward to improving upon my abilities and finding ways to reduce the negative experiences that come from my limitations!

2 comments

  1. Hi Marissa, When I read ab0ut your limitations in your blog on dizziness, I cried because now I see I am not alone and that I too have been experiencing these symptoms. I feel frustrated because I have this condition for one year and a half (almost), and my life is horrible. I try to be positive everyday but I am finding it harder and harder to cook, clean and do tasks that I once took for granted not realising that these are simple things we do everyday without any problems. I had a part time job working on a oncall basis, but I couldn’t continue, couldn’t go out alone any where and I have been house bound now for some time. Walking is a challenge, those weird head rushes and a headache right after and nausea. Thank you for your blog and sharing about your dizziness. Take care and I hope you feel better soon. Karen

  2. Karen,

    I just want to hug you! You almost had me in tears over here. You are not alone. I want you to know I am here for you and I got your back! You mentioned having these symptoms for a 1 1/2 and I was transported back in time. I recall being scared, frustrated and confused. My life at the time felt horrible. I was falling into deep depression and my emotions were spiraling out of control. I bounced around from specialist to specialist searching for answers that never came. I lost myself and I am just starting to pull it together.

    I want you to know that the emotions you are experiencing right now are normal. As you mentioned you are loosing control of being able to complete tasks you once finished with ease. Things precious to you are slipping away. You are experiencing loss.

    Have you ever heard about the stages of grief? I found a nice breakdown at Memorial Hospital. When our normal life process is interrupted and we began to loose the ability to drive, ability to work, ability to walk, etc. we are placed into a grieving process.

    Here are the stages listed:

    1. Denial and Isolation:

    ( I was in complete denial. The denial about my condition was so strong I was having a co-worker pick me up daily just to drive me to work. Overwhelmed by dizziness at work I began falling. I continued to work under those conditions for approximately 6 months until one day I woke up in tears not being able to return.)

    2. Anger:

    ( I was so angry and I didn’t know where to place my anger. Balled up with anger one day I exploded on God. I don’t feel comfortable repeating the things I said to God in anger. I refused to walk into a church for a few years. I just couldn’t understand how he could let this happen to me. )


    3. Bargaining:

    ( Before I went to sleep I would find myself bargaining with God. The conversation went something like this.

    ” I promise I will live my life correctly. I promise if you rid this dizziness I will do missionary work in South Africa! Lord, if you are unable to fix this problem then please take me in my sleep. ”

    Sounds dramatic but I was willing to plead and beg for my life back. )

    4. Depression:

    ( There were times I was unable to muster up enough energy to take a shower. The depression felt like a heavy blanket. I would stay in my room for hours at a time. I would not leave my house for days at a time. I just could not conceal how depressed I had become. My family started suggesting that I seek help. I am glad I surrendered and started seeing a social worker. )


    5. Acceptance:

    ( One day I was in my room going through papers and I came across reservations for a hostel in Ireland. Before I got this condition I put off a trip to Ireland because I was starting a new job. I was so overwhelmed with emotion when I found those hostel reservations that I cried for hours. I have never cried like that in my life. It was as if I was releasing all of the pain and loss I had experienced. After that moment I made a decision to take my life back. )

    I am sharing with you these very personal thoughts because I want you to know that it’s normal to grieve. I also want you to know you are not alone. You are going to face obstacles and disappointments through this process but you will come out the other side! Also, I promise that I will continue to find a way to get back into the workforce with our limitations and I will share that process with you.

    Know you are in my thoughts! If you ever need me I am here.

    Much love,
    Marissa

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