Earlier in the year, I fell.  Actually, I was knocked over by a stranger.  It resulted in a traumatic brain injury.  I am expected to have a full recovery.

Besides the obvious scary, “Will I heal?,”  there were so many other questions that went through my mind. How would my work take this? How would my employee? Clients? It takes four to six months on average to heal from the main symptoms. Slowly over time one can add more to one’s schedule but at first, it’s a lot of resting the brain. Limited to no screen time. Low sounds and lighting. Low to no stress. Watching plants grow and sitting in the dark were the suggested activities. How was I going to do my job?

The answer quickly became apparent: with compassion. My workplace values me. And because of this they have been compassionate about my recovery. So has my employee (even though this has increased his workload … Thank you Nate!) as well as the productions (our version of clients) that we work with. I have been transparent as a boss/employee and in return everyone has been patient with me.

Why is this showing up in the business column? Because, business is stressful. Often it feels like we don’t have enough time in the day to get the basics done in addition to trying to get ahead. And then when a wrench has been thrown into it on top of it all, it can feel overwhelming. As employers, boards, or even as the employee, we can forget that sometimes patience and compassion actually will conclude in stronger results and are what is best not only for the person going through something but for the company as a whole. This can be hard to do for most entities and requires a certain healthy compassionate culture within the workplace.

Having worked at the film commission for almost nine years, they know my work ethic and they trust me. The fact that they have not imposed extra stress on me has probably only helped my recovery. Of course, I worry about my job and getting things done. But an appropriate amount. And I am so grateful I don’t have to add on my plate extra worry brought on by others during this time as well. It would actually take up the little energy and brain power I have to dwell on the stress instead of just being able to focus my limited attention on the most important aspects of my job at this juncture.

I am happy to write that it’s been three and half months and I finally feel like I have come out from under water. Things are still hard: lights, sounds, too much stimulus. However, I last longer and recovery is shorter. The people at work have been patient with me, and they valiantly continue to be that way. Not only am I recovering more quickly because of their kindness, but I am excited to return at full throttle when I can do so. Today, I was able to work twice as long as usual and clean out over 200 emails in my inbox. Heck, I even wrote this article. Things are looking up. I couldn’t be more grateful for their compassion.

Cassandra Hesseltine is the film commissioner for Humboldt and Del Norte counties. In her spare time, she loves acting and directing for Redwood Curtain Theater as well as being on the board of directors for AJ’s Living (a transitional living center).

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