For some reason whenever I contact a center for independent living or work with a case manager the main thrust is to push me into Voc Rehab. Voc Rehab is where you go to get training in a new job so you get off disability and into the work force. No wonder we are pressured to go there! Canaries have traditionally had a terrible time with Voc Rehab. Most trainings are to be bank tellers or cashiers. MCS is far beyond their comprehension. I can do some of what I could do pre-MCS – IF, and this is the big IF, if the place and people where I work expose me to no petrochemicals.

Working from home is not a safe place if we are seeking any consistency. I have no control over a neighbor hosting a BBQ that knocks me out for two days or another tenant using perfume on the other side of the shared wall. I also have no control over what I was exposed to at the doctor’s or through the mail. At any given time I could be disoriented, crying in pain, passed out, blinded by a migraine, sitting on the toilet for hours, and/or unable to comprehend words.

And it is not just a problem for people with MCS, it is a problem for anyone with a chronic illness that has unpredictable flare ups, from bipolar disorder to fibromyalgia. Many differently abled friends have said they’d love to volunteer but most places want “reliable” help. The shame that comes when you are considered unreliable for medical circumstances out of your control is awful. That’s one reason people stop trying. Voc Rehab needs to update itself to meet the current wave of disability: chronic illness. Right now it operates as if everyone lost an arm or went blind.

That said, a few Canaries have received things like computers or some paid online classes from Voc Rehab. You usually need a business plan to receive this level of assistance. They will not give you things that will make life easier, only items that might make you use less government services later. Voc Rehab is investing in you, so if your plan sounds feasible for making money and you are well received and have the right person working with you, you may get something.

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