Anonymous Northwest Resident

Have you heard of MRSA, the antibiotic resistant staph infection that scares the hell out of public health experts? Right after graduating from college, I moved into DC and began working for the federal government. Just a few months into my new job, I came down with a MRSA infection. I was out of work for five weeks, including a full week that I spent in the hospital. I finally returned to work, and I was in the office for just a few hours before I had to leave. Now that my infection was fading, I was able to see that I was also allergic to the medicine I'd been taking for over a month. It was so bad that I was out of work for another two weeks. When I returned to work, my sick leave balance had gone into the negative by several hundred hours. Some employers have a sick leave bank where employees can donate some of their accrued sick leave hours into a pool that their needy colleagues can draw from, but my agency didn't have that. My co-workers could individually transfer their hours to me, but I had to go around and individually ask people. Since I had only been there a few months, I didn't know many people. It was so awkward to ask people I barely knew for their charity. I never got my sick leave balance out from below zero, and when I left that job I had to pay back my employer for all my negative sick leave hours. Nobody should have to face this kind of challenge when he gets sick. My job counted on me, but I couldn't count on my job.