Early October 2017 was my last day working in corporate America.
I had been juggling a variety of hats in my last position between Director of Compliance, Quality, and their PMO. Unfortunately, between cognitive and physical issues, I simply could no longer work. I was devastated. Much of my identity was tied directly to my career. Not to mention, I was the breadwinner for my family.
In 2018, a rheumatologist at the University of Iowa Hospital diagnosed me with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a genetic disorder causing too much collagen, everywhere. This makes me extra bendy. Fun fact, most contortionists have some form of EDS.
- Party tricks(!) (example, touching my thumb to my wrist – the same wrist where my thumb extends from),
- Extra flexible, and
- A youthful appearance.
- Often dislocates joints (check)
- Prone to developing arthritis young (check)
- Typically, have co-occurring autoimmune disorders (check)
- Possible heart failure (and check)
Because it took a few years to be diagnosed (extreme fatigue, lower cognitive function, chronic pain, etc.), I was in full-blown heart failure and required a wheelchair for any distance beyond the bedroom to the couch to the bathroom inside our home. In 2019, I underwent a risky open-heart surgery at Mayo in Rochester, MN. The surgeons replaced my mitral valve with a mechanical one (I tick now. Seriously, like a clock!). After spending 9 days hospitalized at Mayo, I was transferred to a rehab facility.
Over the course of the next 2 years, I worked hard to improve my cognitive and physical abilities. I broke free of my walker after 6-9 months. Then, in Fall 2020, I was finally able to put my cane in the closet.
In December 2020, Businessolver extended me an employment offer. I was ecstatic! The company that I wanted to work for, wanted me to work for them, too! They were willing to take a chance on me.
Thankfully, the Ticket to Work program offered by Social Security Disability provided me a safety net just in case returning to the workforce full-time was not feasible.
Businessolver helped make my transition back to the full-time workforce easier in a few ways:
- Flexible work schedule
- Ability to work anywhere (most importantly for me so I can work in my home office)
- Consistent encouragement and feedback from my leaders
- Internal focus on creating an inclusive workforce (including highlighting NDEAM)
This is my 10th month here and I am still ecstatic to be part of this great company. I remain grateful that Businessolver chose me.
As you may have gleaned from my story, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is very near and dear to my heart. Quite literally.
If you would like to learn more about NDEAM, please visit, https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/initiatives/ndeam.
If you would like to learn more about EDS, please visit, https://www.ehlers-danlos.com/.