I am employed by a small nonprofit organization, Consumer Directed Choices (CDChoices). I have written about my wonderful co-workers and once again I owe them an expression of gratitude for all they have done this year to help me survive. My year would have been more stressful without their generosity and assistance.
In my role as the Communications and Outreach Specialist at CDChoices, I am often called upon to explain our company’s function and purpose. We are what is known as a Fiscal Intermediary for Consumers – seniors and people with disabilities – who self-direct their home care using Consumer Directed Personal Assistance. We administer wages and benefits for the more than 1,600 Personal Assistants (PAs) employed by our Consumers. This allows our Consumers (people like me) to recruit, train, supervise, manage and terminate the PAs they employ.
I call Consumer Directed Personal Assistance the program which lets me “be the CEO of me.” I get to handle personnel – the staff I hire who assist me at home. And CDChoices is my fiscal partner, making sure my staff get paid. That is a simplistic way to explain what we actually do in the office.
Because we have a small office (less than 25 employees), we have the opportunity to develop close relationships and friendships with each other. Sure, I am closer to some colleagues than others, but I am friendly with them all. And there is not a single person I do not like or dread seeing. I am blessed to enjoy and find purpose in my paid employment.
The fall which caused my femur fracture happened in the middle of the afternoon. My boss, Elizabeth, was expecting me to log on from home to complete my work day after I used the toilet. Instead, my former PA disregarded my instructions and I ended up on the floor waiting for an ambulance to arrive to take me to the hospital.
Elizabeth is one of the most understanding supervisors I have had in my professional life, and has received several emails from me over the years with updates like, ‘My PA is late so I’ll be late today,’ or ‘My wheelchair batteries aren’t holding a charge so I need to get them repaired before I can come into work.’ I do my best to keep her aware of what is preventing me from doing my job because I know she expects me to complete the tasks for which I am responsible.
I never expected Elizabeth to come to the hospital to check on me, but that is what she did the day after I fell. She was just the first of many colleagues to come visit me in the hospital. Carol and Melissa stopped in before my surgery. Thabie brought chocolate and potato chips when she came because she heard I was craving junk food. MJ brought crossword books. I think it was Anne and Archana who brought the plant and tea, but that was during my “doped up on pain medication” days, so my memory is a little fuzzy. The point is – my work friends made life in the hospital more bearable.
My colleagues sent me flowers and cards throughout my hospital stay. When I went home, some of them brought me casseroles, soups and bagels. They stopped by for visits which helped to keep me involved with what was happening at work, allowing my mind to focus on something other than pain and rehabilitation.
My work friends also gave me the incredible gift of paid time off. Several donated their own sick time to me so I could receive my salary during the three months I was out on medical leave. This act allowed me to focus on my recovery without the stress of how I would pay my rent, car loan and other living expenses.
So, again this year I stop to give thanks to the people who I interact with each day at work. I am blessed to have caring and compassionate colleagues. As a team, we support each other through difficult days, and celebrate our joys. Your generosity this year made it possible for me to recover from a life-changing injury with less stress and anxiety. I am grateful to all of you.