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Faith Garcia

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For years, multiple sclerosis (MS) was called a “prime of life” disease. This was back when the majority of people with MS were diagnosed between 35 and 50 years. “Prime” referred to our best earning years, as well as the child-rearing years. (Personally, I’ve found most of my years to fall into the category of “prime,” not just middle adulthood.)

Now, of course, MS is being diagnosed earlier and in a younger cohort.

I was diagnosed in those prime earning years. I had to leave a career I loved, and that brought many personal and financial challenges as I learned to live my new life with multiple sclerosis.

I Would Be a Financial Liability to Any Employer Out There

I know I can no longer do the jobs I used to do and love. I know it, and the powers that be have deemed me permanently disabled. The amount of assistance required to simply get my thoughts onto a computer screen, let alone to the screen you are reading, confirm that I would be a financial liability to any employer in the world.

I know that … but every now and then I see an employment advertisement and I think, “It’s like they’re looking for me!”

The “me” they are advertising for is, of course, the former me — the chef who flew around the world putting out fires, training staffs, and coordinating multinational deals, whose opinions were sought (and well compensated for) by industry leaders.

I may have most of the qualifications for these high-powered jobs I see, but the one I don’t have is the ability to actually perform the duties for which I am qualified. It’s like having a filing cabinet containing the winning lotto numbers, but the cabinet is locked, and I no longer possess the key.

RELATED: I Want to Plan and Do, but MS Keeps Getting in the Way

Fatigue and Slowed Cognitive Abilities Disqualify Me

It’s not just jobs in the culinary or hospitality world I see. Now and again something in the MS patient advocacy realm will come across my screen and I’ll think, “There’s the job for me!”

Then I look around and see that I’m propped up with cushions, my walker is parked next to the bed, it’s half-past two in the afternoon, and I’ve been unable to get to the loo without help.

Also, the fact that I’ve likely had to reread the ad several times (and probably had to nap after the effort) disqualifies me for most of the positions about which I read.

That’s not my plight every day, but enough of them that I know I wouldn’t hire me.

RELATED: The Secondary-Progressive MS War of Attrition

The Realization I’m Unemployable Is One of the Saddest of My Life

I’ve heard it said that there comes a day in a man’s life when he realizes that he’s not going to play major-league baseball, and it’s one of the saddest days of his life. That day came early for me; I was about 13 and had just seen my first curveball.

Reading ads for positions for which I was once highly qualified is like reliving that experience.

From a crumpled position in the batter’s box, I looked up to see the umpire call the ball that had been heading straight for me (before it curved over the plate). Strike three!

So, just as I did on that day, I pick myself up, I dust myself off, and I nod in respect to the pitcher who has one up on me. And I go back to the dugout, knowing that any further participation in the sport will be from the stands.

I’ve had this diagnosis for 18 years, and I’m finally coming to understand that I’m qualified, but unemployable.

Wishing you and your family the best of health.

Cheers,

Trevis

My book, Chef Interrupted, is available on Amazon. Follow me on the Life With MS Facebook page and on Twitter, and read more on Life With Multiple Sclerosis.

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