How would your life and work be altered if you or a loved one’s disability status changed?
Throughout my career, PSE&G has taught preparation and preparedness, and the importance of going home the same way you arrived. When my daughter was born, in December of 2018, I knew my life would change, and we were prepared for those changes. We received advice from friends on what to expect and purchased everything we thought we would need.
I was not prepared for the changes that would follow a month after – when my wife had a massive stroke, which to this day leaves her mostly paralyzed on her right side and in a wheelchair. She was in the hospital for nine months following, and I was a new father with a newborn at home alone.
Simple everyday things that we took for granted were suddenly brought into a new light, with new challenges.
After months of rehab one of my wife’s first trips was to go to a nearby mall. As we entered, the perspective of a place we had been many times before was drastically altered. We had to find elevators that we had not used before – and quickly found out that there were slopes in the mall we didn’t know existed.
If anyone has been to the Menlo Park Mall, you may not realize the top floor has stairs on one side of the walkway and ramps on the other – so we sometimes found ourselves at a dead end as we were on the wrong side of the upper floor.
Inside stores, the challenges didn’t end as many displays are placed in the way of walkways, making aisles tight or inaccessible. My wife wanted to pick out some baby clothes but quickly became disappointed and frustrated that she could not browse the racks because her wheelchair could not fit in the aisles.
When she had to use the restroom, I needed to help her. I suddenly found myself having to go into the ladies room with her – a place I’d never thought I’d be in my life.
Life continued to throw changes and unexpected challenges my way – COVID hit, which changed the way everyone had to work and live. PSEG announced the sale of PSEG Fossil, which I had been in for my entire career.
But we persevered; my daughter continued to grow stronger – crawling, walking, running. My wife has continued to grow stronger and find new ways to be as independent as possible. I joined PSE&G, leaving the power plants for Outside Plant Asset Management, gaining new knowledge and bringing something new to the team.
And while things did not get easier and new challenges arrive daily, we constantly grow accustomed to the world around us and adapting to it. We grow stronger to carry the burden that felt so heavy before.
We weren’t prepared for my wife’s disability status to change or the way it would affect our lives. No one ever asked how our life may be affected if one of us had a medical issue or an accident. It was not something we even considered. My wife and daughter depend on me now more than ever, so I constantly stop and think about how my actions could affect not only me but my family.
PSEG is a proud supporter of Disability Pride Month and has been recognized by the National Organization on Disability as a leading employer.