In February 2008 I started a business with my parents. We have a small BBQ restaurant in GA. Though I had had random symptoms for years, the long hours and the heat started making my body go crazy and I started my quest for diagnosis. In February 2012, I was diagnosed as relapsing/remitting. At first I tried to keep my schedule up (50-60hrs per week), but eventually had to back down to about 40 hrs. I had to take a break due to a relapse in 2013, but was able to go back part time a few months later. I have been working part time (I also get disability) and managing since then, however last month I experienced my worst relapse yet. Now I have to use a wheelchair for distances and can only stand for about 15-20 minutes at a time. As a family we have decided that I am no longer able to do the restaurant work and that I am a hazard behind the line. I will always have a position if I am able and will always be an owner, but I can't do the work it takes to run it.
So, here I am, mentally sharp, but physically unable to do my job. I don't have a degree and most professions require one. I am debating going back to school. I contacted the local university where I had last attended and my credits are still valid so I wouldn't have to start over. Looking at program in Sociology with a focus in either Medical Sociology or Social and Organization Change. This would be a total change in career for me.
Does anyone have experience in going back to school and totally changing professions? How about going back to school on disability?
Hi, let me start with sharing some of my physical problems caused by MS. I was diagnosed last spring, which explained a lot to me. I have a slow alkward walk, balance problems,bowl-bladder and sexual issues, total lack of energy, sensitive to cold-my legs stiffen up causing a robotic walk. I can negotiate those problems, what makes College tough for me is cognitive problems-I don't retain what I read, it takes a long time for me to learn things-my short term memory is almost nonexistant-my moods seem to be stuck in a grey flatline without normal ups and downs,even my communication skills are affected, mid sentence I cant't think of the word I'm trying to say-the same thing at the keyboard, of of a sudden I can't spell a word I know how to spell, not even being able to come close enough for micrsoft to offer an option I recogonize as correct. I spend 30+ hours a week on my last class for an AA in Applied Siences-Energy Technology. The chances of getting a job in my field of study are pretty much 0 at this point, but that's not the point anymore! Successfully completing this course of study will be the greatest achievment of my life next to quiting alcohol and drugs 4 years ago after a 35 year history of being an active alcoholic drug addict. My GPA of over 100 College credits is 3.75. Havenig a quick, sharp mind is a fading memory for me. My suggestion is to go for it, education, carreer change-you can do it. Be sure to check on how much money you can make without affecting your disability, perhaps part time work? I've applied for disability but haven't heard anything yet. After graduating from college I want to find some part time work to keep my mind and body active-a reason to get up, get ready for the day and go do something. The idea of working maintenance in a power plant for 6 digits simply won't be happening in my life. You have a sharp mind, you can work out the physical disabilities. Wishing you the best, I really think you should go for it, Jon
Hi! I thought I would share this information with you in case you find it helpful. This link is from disabilitysecrets.com, which is published by Nolo - it's a resource we at the National MS Society refer to often for information about Social Security Disability benefits. It could be something to keep in mind:
You could consider contacting a WIPA (Work Incentives Planning and Assistance) counselor to discuss the possible implications of this too, if you'd like. You may already be familiar with this resource, as you've already been working while receiving disability. Here is more information just in case:
WIPA projects are community-based organizations that work to enable beneficiaries with disabilities to make informed choices about work, and to support working beneficiaries to make a successful transition to financial independence.
https://www.choosework.net/findhelp/ - search here for local contact information
I may not be able to talk about the total change in professions, but get in contact with the school that you are interested in. Most colleges have some form of disability services with a large range of services to help their students. I know the college I went to, had an entire department with testing abilities, and I met with my counselor there every semester to get letters of accomidation that allowed me to use my laptop in classes that the professor may have not allowed me to do such in. I have also found that talking to your professor can also go miles in getting help as well.
Improving yourself is never a bad idea. If school is what you want to do, and you find something that is of interest, go for it!
I can attest to an extent about the career change bit. In a nutshell my family moved to CT from MN in August 2015 as we needed a reboot/reset/restart. I have family there and they were (are) helping us while we get back on our feet. This was all pre-MS diagnosis.
Finding work sucked, and hind sight being 20/20 I see why - because of my MS diagnosis. That came March of 2016 and all of the fields I had education and/or experience in were either not MS friendly or extremely difficult fields to get into out here (my bachelor degree is in law enforcement and my master's in human services - I have 9+ years non sworn law enforcement, most as a dispatcher). Other family dynamics (of which I won't bore you with) along with my current MS limitations make it difficult to find "traditional" work. So, I find myself in life insurance sales now, specifically final expense insurance. I never in a million gazillion years would have thought this was where I would be now, but it is where I am. The position allows the flexibility I need, as I am an independent contractor. I'm not fond of the 100% commission income but since this seems to be the only thing that is even close to working out, I gotta do what I gotta do.
My recommendation is to not be afraid to think outside of the box (a.k.a. your comfort zone) as you consider other work or education. Do think about where you are regarding dealing with your MS, and what impact that will have on what you want to do. For school it shouldn't make a difference, but for employment, it just might. I know it isn't pleasant to think about, but you have to consider where you will be as your MS progresses (at whatever pace it will do so). Right now my mobility is very good and my neuro believes it will be so for some time, so the road I am on seems doable. It probably wouldn't be for you, given I have to be able to go into potential client's houses that may or may not be accessible for those with mobility issues.
Pursue whatever it is you want to pursue. You will not achieve 100% of the goals you do not even begin to attempt. Just do your best to be practical given the limitations you currently have, and those that may not be that far off in the future (if any). It sounds like you have a wonderful support group with your family, so at least from my perspective the sky is the limit for you!