While visiting her daughter, Jerri Schlachter lifted a heavy suitcase resulting in an injury that led to the discovery of her condition of osteopenia: bone density that is lower than normal. As her pain quickly escalated, she found herself in situations unable to move. This is the story of how Jerri rediscovered passion for life again - through her work.
Jerri - My name is Jerri Schlachter. For about the past eight years now I have degeneration, or, osteopenia. The hardest part about my disability is accepting it.
I felt totally rejected by the workforce – totally rejected – you know, just because I couldn’t do some things. I finally contacted Department of Rehabilitation and the counselor I spoke to said, “Yes, there is a lot of work you can do but you have a disability and we need to find the parameters of that work.” That’s when I actually started having hope about working again. They gave me all the pathways and gave me resources – a huge amount of resources that I never knew was out there. And bless my bosses heart, he said, “Hey, you know, I think we can work something out if you want to telework.” They put me on a project and laying there in that bed, just being able to work, just meant the world. Other than that, I spent so much time crying – I can’t tell you how many hours of crying – oh woe is me kind of thing. Barely being able to make it to the restroom or make it down a stair, you know, was killing me. Just seeing outside and not being able to get there.
As soon as I got that laptop and I was able to work, I worked eight hours a day – loved it! Just being able to work helped me survive. I love my job. My friends; I go to their houses and they always say, “Jerri, how’s your job?” “I love my job!” you know, I do, and everyday just makes me want to work harder. Being disabled is not bad. It’s limiting, but it’s not bad.