Finding Work-Life Balance And Still Breathing

By David Weissman
The York Dispatch, Pa.

Working numerous jobs for multiple years to help make downtown York a desirable destination, JJ Sheffer found herself in the hospital earlier this year, told she was working herself “to death.”

“Everything just fell apart because I’d been only focusing on work and running just to try to keep up with everything I had gotten my hands into, and so I lost all concept of time,” Sheffer said, thinking back to her state of mind just before her hospital trip. “The doctor started asking me how long I’d been having trouble breathing and sleeping, and I started thinking back on the landmarks and was like, ‘Oh, it’s been a couple years.'”

Sheffer’s asthma was so poorly managed that she was rarely able to draw in a full breath, she said. Ignoring the issue and continuing to work seven days a week left her in bed, unable to work on any of her many jobs for nearly a month.

Son Carter Grimm, 15, remembers it was very tough to see his mother in so much pain.

“Especially because she was working so hard, not only for the community, but for me, too,” he said. “I just felt helpless.”

With the help of the Affordable Care Act, Sheffer was able to get back to regularly administered shots of medication for her asthma, leaving her feeling better than she has in years. She’s no longer taking breathing for granted, she said.

But while that time off hurt Sheffer financially, it also taught her a valuable lesson.

“I couldn’t get out of the bed the first couple weeks, not functioning at all, and the world didn’t stop spinning,” she said. “I missed all that time, and it didn’t matter, so that was a humbling and liberating experience.”

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