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Friday, 16 September 2016

Feeling disabled

Many of you know that I've recently started my next Open University module. It's about supporting disabled students with online learning. In the first couple of weeks, we've been discussing different models of disability and that's led to discussions (based on the social model) about whether and when people feel disabled.

Asking for help

It's inevitable. At some point, we all have to ask somebody to help us with something we can't do on our own. At work, I hate doing this. It makes me feel disabled. Quite recently, a chap that works in one of my centres has become 'mine'. I am now his line manager. We always got on well but now we work more closely together and sometimes actually get to chat beyond the superficial. Also recently, there have been a couple of occasions when I've not been able to get around the centre as easily as usual because of room layouts being changed and I was having a bit of a moan about this. This chap offered an asking for help idea which works for me. He said, if something needs moving, don't ask me to move it, just mention that it needs moving.

So, on Tuesday morning, we were all in training. I'd got stuck on a phone call and arrived a bit last minute to find the room had been rearranged and the tables at the front were the wrong way round for my chair to fit under them. I said, "These tables need to be the other way round really." He was so quick off the mark. Just moved them. Within the minute, I was comfortably installed and relaxed. The training was great too.

Asking for help can make me feel disabled but with a few friends and coded messages, it doesn't have to.


For the most part, I rarely feel vulnerable as a disabled person. Most of the time, I can do what I need to do with minimal help. Like on Monday evening. I collected my new car. I used my wheelchair for the paperwork, signing and handover but the guy at the dealership was great and I didn't feel at all disabled. I was just me.

It's when things go wrong that I feel disabled and that's where society comes in. It's how things work that cause the problems, more than my actual impairments. Also on Monday, my medication and catheters order was due to arrive. I get it delivered to work because I know I'm not going to be home. If I'm at a different centre, I just collect it on my way home. It usually works. One of my medications, the doctor will only give me 30 days at a time. SIA Healthcare do my orders monthly, so I can't build up a safety buffer... and this week it's all gone wrong.

Parcel Force have delivered my stuff to the wrong place. It's taken the best part of the week to find out where and when we did, they were shut and nobody could find the package. The Parcel Force man didn't give a stuff, saying it was only a small package... as if that makes it less important. Meanwhile I've run out and started getting side effects. I also had a migraine yesterday, possibly from the stress or possibly from the chemical imbalance of suddenly withdrawing.

This has reminded me of how vulnerable I am. Yesterday I was at work but so poorly. I stayed because my colleagues are so good and I felt safe there but it was horrible and I felt disabled and weak.

Moral of the tale

This week, I'm going to be more aware of the need to empower those around me, regardless of disability or any other factor. Let's all help without needing to be asked and think about how our mistakes might affect others. And let's be the best we can be and help others to be the best they can be.

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