Allison Wessels

“As a little girl, I had cochlear implant surgery. After the operation, I woke up incredibly dizzy and sick. The kind where you can’t stop throwing up, everything is a bit blurry, and your mother won’t let go of you. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to see your six year old daughter with half of her hair shaved off, yards of gauze swathed around her head, barely able to communicate, and shaky.

The doctor needed to rule out meningitis by doing a lumbar puncture, which is a huge spinal needle that goes into the middle of the patient’s back and collects fluid. The aftereffects of the procedure have given me a lifelong distaste of needles­­—just seeing medical needles in TV shows like “House” puts me in a high state of anxiety, similar to PTSD.

My mom couldn’t stop shaking as she held my hand, watching this monster of a needle get closer to my back. The doctor needed me to stay still and eventually kicked my mother out because her tension made me anxious and wiggly. I wanted my dad, anyone I loved, to be with me. Thankfully, my grandpa came in. His hand was firm and gentle in mine, a strong solid presence through that painful experience.

I’m happy he was able to be there when I needed a hand to hold, and for my mom when she was freaking out about my post-surgery complications. I’m sure my dad appreciates it as well­. He couldn’t take the time off to be there himself—someone needed to pay for my hospital bills after all.

My grandpa also taught me basic addition with M&Ms. I’m sure he’d agree with me that the math behind this campaign is pretty easy: Paid Family Leave + Hospitalized child = Being there when it's scary.”

-Allison Wessels, Online Organizer and AVODAH Corps Member