Checking for 'work' emails. Illustration: Stefano Goodman
Continued from Part 1 – living with strangers and shopping
I remember the moment I knew I had a serious problem with my new PA, Zvonimir.
Near the end of his third shift he asked if I wanted a game of chess. I remembered him talking about chess before and, detecting that he was a fairly accomplished player, I had already mentally prepared myself for a nonchalant defeat. I convinced myself that I really should have been working anyway, and so any loss was going to be down to a lack of concentration.
Independent living has its challenges - and they're not always physical. Photograph: Getty Images/Imagewerks Japan
Stefano Goodman uses a wheelchair and lives independently with the help of two personal assistants. Such uniquely intimate relationships with strangers take a bit of getting used to.
My disability means that I need help for almost all physical activity. So, to enable me to live an independent life in my own home, I need a live-in personal assistant. Do not call them ‘carers’ under any circumstances. If you do, disabled people will start throwing their wheelchairs at you. Or, at least, they’ll ask their PAs to do it on their behalf.
I have a couple of PAs working in three-day shifts and they usually stick around for a year. Training up and getting to know the new guys twice a year is stressful, but I have developed strategies to make these periods easier.