Locating a mental health professional to help you cope What I've learned about living from my chronic illness - Working with a Disability
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Blog Title: What I Learn About Living From My Chronic Illness by Shelley Peterman Schwarz
Chronic illness changes every aspect of your life. In my blog, I reflect on my 30+ year journey living with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). I share thoughts, insights, and lessons learned that hopefully will help you or someone you know. - Shelley
By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Thursday, October 04, 2012

Shelley at her deskTwo years ago, I applied to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), a state & federal partnership that helps people with disabilities get in or stay in the workforce. As part of my Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), I requested:  a.) computer training to upgrade my technical skills so I am able to independently make changes to my Website and 2.) individualized instruction to help me use social media to network with clients and people living with chronic illness and disability.


My personal goal was to use what I’ve learned on my 31 year journey living with a chronic progressive illness to help and support families as they work to...

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I try hard to learn new things, especially computer technology, because it gives me an easy outlet to the world, a world beyond my disability. However, I have cognitive (thinking) problems as a result of MS so learning new material is not easy. Yet, I'm willing to do what it takes to master new computer skills because of the freedom I feel.  I especially enjoy connecting with people and learning how they are surviving and thriving with their chronic illness.

The only problem is that I've always been hard on myself - even ...

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Wednesday, August 08, 2012

A few months ago, we relaunched www.MakingLifeEasier.com, a completely redesigned and content-rich Website. It was a labor of love and I send sincere thanks to Deborah, my able assistant, and Robyn and Stan Kitson of Kitson Marketing and IntimeTools. This project could never have been done without their help and guidance.


Personally, I’m extremely happy about the redesign because I am now able to post new content myself.  I’m EMPOWERED!  Rather than waiting until someone else has time to post my blog entries and other Website content, I CAN DO IT MYSELF!  Being severely limited physically...

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I have multiple sclerosis (MS) and have been on Social Security Disability Insurance, (SSDI) since I was 35 (32 years).  At first, I felt guilty for applying for benefits because my MS wasn't "that bad." However, I had worked ever since I was 15 and during that time I had been paying into the "insurance fund" so with increasing disability I finally applied for SSDI.  If you have a work history, and are unable to work because of your disability, you may qualify for disability benefits.  Here's a quick list for applying for disability benefits:


  •  Get doctors' reports and documentation - make and keep copies of EVERYTHING


  • Keep a log of who told you what...
By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Friday, May 25, 2012

Self-adhesive note pads (like Post-it®) make perfect little gifts for someone who has a broken arm or has limited use of one hand. The sticky notes stay in place and won’t slide around as the person writes lists for errands or groceries, or takes telephone messages.



By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Thursday, February 02, 2012


Deb, my right hand and cohort in crime, left last week and will be gone for 2 months.  Deb's multiple chemical sensitivities become a serious problem in winter because, living in the Mid West, we have to close up our houses and turn on our furnaces. Deb's going to try living in Mexico and see how she feels. We both hope the sunshine and warm temperatures will improve health.

I think I'm being very mature about Deb being gone, especially because it will be quite a change for me...
By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I'm horizontal again and am spending my time in bed trying to learn more about “pressure ulcers.” I tried to make an appointment with my dermatologist but she’s on an indefinite medical leave, so I decided to wait to until next week when I see my internist for my annual physical. Hopefully, he’ll be able to identify whether or not I have a “pressure ulcer” or something else.


My assistant, Deborah was supposed to be here this morning but she was up until 2 AM proofreading, Home Accessibility: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier book. So when she called me this morning – exhausted - I told her...

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Friday, July 01, 2011
I just submitted my book manuscript for Home Accessibility: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier, affordable solutions for making your home safer and more accessible, and I'm ECSTATIC! Deborah, my assistant, did an amazing job the project and her laser beam focus and planning made it possible for us to meet our deadline. Thank you Deborah!...
By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Saturday, June 18, 2011

I’m still thinking about the feedback that I received from my keynote presentation to the vocational services professionals. I know that I'm very lucky to have had all the opportunities that I’ve had over the 30+ years living with my diagnosis of primary progressive multiple sclerosis. Had it not been for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) in Wisconsin, I would never have been able to...

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Friday, June 17, 2011

In May, I gave the closing keynote at a conference of Wisconsin vocational rehabilitation counselors and other professionals who help people with disabilities reach their employment goals. Today, I received the feedback summary from the meeting planner.  I loved reading the attendees words.


Of course, I read, with special interest, the ...

By Shelley Peterman Schwarz on Saturday, January 22, 2011

So much of who we are is tied up in what we do. When I became disabled due to the efffects of multiple sclerosis, I had to retire as a teacher of the Deaf. It was one of the saddest days of my life for two reasons. 1) I loved my job and, 2) along with losing my job, I lost a part of me. After all, who was I now that I wasn't employed?


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