When Multiple Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses Force you to Change Your Plans

I haven’t posted much lately, and that’s because I’ve been going through a lot. This post is about what’s been going on and how my health and disabilities have forced me to make some big changes.

If you’ve red the About Lanie Molinar page here on my blog, you know I’m studying for a Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering at Brigham Young University-Idaho online. This major is one thing that will be changing.

This semester, I attempted to take 3 classes, one religion class, one science course, and a course on the Python programming language with the Cisco Academy for the Vision Impaired, which offers technology courses for blind and low-vision people. I knew this was a lot, but the Python course was free for one semester only and I wanted to take advantage of that.

Right away I had difficulty. My science course had essays to complete every other week or so and post to a peer-review discussion board. I get extended time on many assignments as an accommodation, but since these essays had to be posted on a discussion board, and discussion boards are time sensitive, I couldn’t get an extension. On top of this, my professor wasn’t as willing to work with me and accept late work as other professors have been. When I studied for the programming course, I found that I had a lot of trouble understanding basic programming concepts. I have studied programming before and didn’t find this as difficult then, so I believe it has a lot to do with the brain fog I experience from my chronic illnesses. Finally, my ability to focus and think clearly for all 3 courses was almost nonexistent.

Because of this, I started to fall behind. At last count I was close to 2 weeks behind in the science and religion courses and 3 weeks behind in the programming course. I started feeling very overwhelmed and depressed. I also began to doubt my ability to learn to program, and whether a degree in programming is right for me. I got to a point where I was crying almost every day and quickly approaching a nervous breakdown, so even though it was already halfway through the semester, and I probably won’t get my tuition of around $300 refunded, , I decided I needed to take a step back and figure out whether it was time for a major change, and generally where I should go from here.

Since I dropped my classes almost a week ago, I’ve been feeling calmer, if a little sad. I’ve been praying and thinking a lot about where to go from here and already made some decisions. I’m not prepared to completely give up on programming, but I’ve realized that maybe learning in a formal school setting isn’t for me, and that I might do better trying to learn at my own pace. This of course made me wonder what I should change my major to instead of Software Engineering. So far, I’m thinking of Business Administration for several reasons.

Here’s where things got a little weird. Some of you may know that I want to turn this blog and the online support groups into a nonprofit organization run by and for people with multiple disabilities, focusing on support and advocacy. A couple days ago, I was sitting in my bedroom checking my email when I saw an email from NORD, the National Organization on Rare Diseases. Some of my chronic illnesses are rare, so I follow them. The subject of this email was, “Starting a Not-for-Profit Organization: You Can Do it, We Can Help!” I think they had sent this email or a similar one a few days before, but I was so swamped with schoolwork that I deleted it. This was an invitation to a webinar on starting a nonprofit organization, just what I needed. I think this email was help sent from my Heavenly Father.

I watched the webinar yesterday, and it was very informative. I learned a few things. First, creating a nonprofit organization isn’t ridiculously expensive like I feared it would be. The whole process takes a lot of time and patience, but it costs about $500 to $1000 in total. Also, a nonprofit organization needs at least 3 board members to start, so I need to find a couple people who would be willing to work with me. Finally, a nonprofit organization is a business, so I’ll need a business plan and other things before I can create one. This is one of the reasons I’m thinking of changing my major to Business Administration.

In addition to starting this organization, I want to run an accessibility consulting and testing business, where I would test software for accessibility for the blind and people with other disabilities. A degree in Business Administration would help me with this as well.

This isn’t the first time my disabilities and health have forced me to change everything. Before I got fibromyalgia, I had a totally different career path in mind. I had planned to attend the University of Texas in Austin and major in Biomedical Engineering. This didn’t work out for several reasons, all relating to my chronic illnesses, autism, and anxiety.

It can be very frustrating and saddening when changes are forced on you like this, but I’m just trying to do the best I can to stay hopeful and go where God wants me to go here. I think having things taken away repeatedly by disabilities and health issues can be one of the hardest things in life, but for me, I’m trying to trust that there’s a reason it’s happening and not let it make me give up.

If you want to help with creating this organization, authoring posts on this blog, or anything else, please contact me. Also, if you’ve ever had your disabilities or health issues force you to change everything, or if you have any advice for me, I would love to hear from you. Please comment below.

Published by Lanie Molinar

The most important thing about me is that I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My religion is my life and I'm always striving to grow in faith and become more Christlike. I also have several disabilities, but my faith gets me through each day. I'm completely blind, autistic, have both generalized and social anxiety, and struggle with several chronic illnesses. I'm a college student taking courses at Brigham Young University-Idaho Online for a Bachelor of Science in software engineering. I have a dog named Squeaker, because of the funny little noises he makes, and I'm so attached! My hobbies include going to church activities, doing genealogy, reading, studying my scriptures, playing with Squeaker, spending time with family and friends, learning everything I can, listening to music, taking surveys for extra money, working with technology, browsing for cool websites and Android apps, using social media, making crafts, swimming, watching TV, and making ramps and mazes out of Legos for marbles to roll through.

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