Wednesday 14 September 2011

One wasted journey too many

Today’s post comes saturated with brain fog. (To illustrate, that sentence took 14 attempts) It's also rather long.

This afternoon I had a 2.5 hour round trip to placement in order to go to a clinic which when I arrived (and found it – having been told it was in the clinic area it moved from 3 years ago) was cancelled. No-one was expecting me (despite me being timetabled to be there), so they had no chance to warn me even if they would have thought to.

This was incredibly frustrating, and noone’s fault in particular – some kind of mix up meant that only one patient had been invited.

Obviously this was no big deal, I strolled up to my placement ward and saw a few patients.

Oh no wait.

The building that the clinics are in is a 30 minute walk from the building my placement ward is in (for me). Even if I could have managed that today, it would have meant taking a £10 taxi home, because it would have stolen my spoons* allocated for wobbling back to the bus stop. If I’d have got to the ward (after taking another 30 minutes to recover – that’s assuming I could find a free room to lie flat on the floor of) I’d have been a bit stuck. I had to leave my wheelchair at home, because I thought I was going to the clinic building and so would have no room to leave it in, and it’s too bloody heavy for me to take on the bus at evening rush hour when the driver won’t put the ramp down. Even if I had taken it, I wouldn’t have been able to get it from the clinic building to the ward, because I can barely use it outside. So, I’d have been on the ward without the wheelchair, which, while I’m aware was the situation until before the summer, is now not possible (for many reasons bouncing off each other to create one giant one).

Hence 2.5 hour round trip for no teaching.

I use this to illustrate the one point that I keep trying to raise with the medical school : the level of chaos surrounding our course - new placements every few weeks, no idea of timetable until the first day of placement (and that’s if we’re lucky), never being expected anywhere (despite ‘timetable’), rotating series of placement supervisors who are only interested in completing the paperwork – is frustrating and demoralising for everyone. Those of us who are disabled and/or living with chronic illness have far fewer reserves to allow for this. These 2.5 hours of travel time are not just a waste of 2.5 hours work – they waste more, because travelling takes a lot of energy (especially when everyone turns Atosesque and questions my right to a seat over the right of pretty much anyone else, because young=well).

When Beanie can’t plan her time, has her time wasted, isn’t properly supported on placement it causes her a lot of stress and I am not trying to deny that. When these things happen to me they make me ill by encouraging a ‘boom-bust’ cycle of work, it means that my needs are not fully met on placement because noone knows me and therefore again puts my health at risk, it eats up energy that I don’t have meaning that I can’t do other stuff like shower, or y’know stand up all evening.

This is not something that I can afford in the run up to my finals, and a lot of it would be so easy to fix, but every time I, or other disabled students, make these simple suggestions they either say yes and do nothing, or tell us that we’re wrong – that there is no problem in the first place (or in their ultimate divide and conquer tactic, tell us that ‘the other disabled students are fine with it’). It. Is. Exhausting. And I’ve had enough.

Tomorrow I plan to talk about some of those simple suggestions, and how I plan to make them listen.

*See here for the full version, in short : spoons = units of energy, everyone has a finite limit and disabled people / those living with chronic illness have a lower, and more strictly policed limit than others.

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