Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sick, sick, sick

I have a cold. It's a really nasty cold. I blame the woman at work who insisted on coming in all week, despite being ill, because she thought she'd be letting the team down by staying at home. I'd have much preferred having to cover her work than the current 'wasted weekend' situation that is emerging. I'm trying to work out how to put into words that this might actually be a good thing, but I can't quite explain. Something about how I don't think of myself as 'sick' as much as I used to, and how I'm adjusting fairly well to my impairment and how to live and work around it, so that I notice the difference. That sort of thing. OK, never mind. I'm miserable, all right? Stupid idiots who think that just because they can work through illness, it's fine to infect everyone else, including those who can't physically stay upright through a cold because it turns life into a mega sucky pain-fest. They are bad people.

In unrelated news, why are pubs so sodding inaccessible? Today the new PA and I went off looking for a venue for something (long story, don't ask) that has to be in a new location because the weather isn't likely to hold for much longer. I had to get out of my wheelchair about six times just to get over teeny tiny steps that could be ramped with the smallest quantity of concrete and some imagination. Won't be so much of a problem in the new manual, at least. Which I have chosen. It's going to be nice. Now we start the major battle with Access to Work over whether or not they're going to pay for it. They'd better agree soon, as it's going to be a four-week wait once it's ordered, and poor Ethel isn't really working out. This week was long and very tiring.

I shall now cease complaining and return you to your regularly scheduled programming of upbeat yet cuttingly sardonic observational wit. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Progress Report

This will not be a particularly witty or inspired post, as I'm in ever-increasing shedloads of pain. This is because I fell out of my wheelchair going up the ramp to the number 46 bus (oh yes, I plan to shout VERY LOUDLY at the relevant bus company about their shoddy ramps), landed on my head, got concussion and now have whiplash (which is so much fun on top of a chronic muscle pain condition). The weekend was a complete wash-out because they gave me diazepam to relax my neck, but mostly all it did was make me sleep all day. And now I'm just bitter. So, instead of a thought-provoking piece of writing on the evils of PAIN, have a 'five things'.

1. Work. This is going fine. I am getting around the building fairly well in my rented wheelchair - I'm calling her Ethel, as she's slow and slightly arthritic but perfectly pleasant in her own way. The job itself is a little dull while we're waiting for students to join the new study skills centre, and mostly involves administering fairly boring tests and collating the results. For hours at a time. It will get good soon, though, I'm sure. Had to miss yesterday due to needing my whiplash treated. I think people understood.

2. Wheelchair services. I am a bit irritated with them. While I understand that they have limited funding and therefore have to work by certain rules, those rules don't take into account many real-life situations, as far as I can see. They'll only give me a chair that no one with chronic pain could even think of self-propelling in. I now have to hold out and hope that Access to Work make up the shortfall towards a decent wheelchair. In the meantime, I went to get fitted for a better one: a lovely, *green* (hee! hope I don't regret that decision in a year's time - but it was that or rather dull blue or red or black) Kuschall Compact, with various adjustments being made so I can push it well without tipping out. I'm very excited. Now I just hope the ubiquitous and ever-irritating government organizations will let me have it.

3. Fun things. The gate got sorted out - did I mention? Threatening to sue Camden Council actually worked, and now I have access to my flat. This is very good. We are having a party in a week and a half (not specifically to celebrate the gate, although there should definitely be a 'happy access' cake). Hmm. Party. I should probably plan it.

4. Medical stuff is making me very unhappy. I'm arguing with doctors again. I think I'm making the right decisions, but my desire for a second opinion (sort of) about something is turning into a bigger battle than I expected. I'm going to plough on, though. I am nothing if not determined.

5. I have to get up and get dressed now, so I can meet my new PA (marvellous woman) at the supermarket and go shopping. Ethel and Marvin say 'bye'.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Work and Stuff OR Why People Insist on Pushing: a rather long-overdue update

I started this in Word and attached it to an e-mail for copying into the blog later. This is because not only is my new workplace’s computer use policy 'no personal internet use between 8 and 6', but they also *block* everything from livejournal to gmail between those times. Cruel isn't the word. I remember my first teaching job, when I was the only person in the English department who understood computers enough to know what the word 'internet' meant. How things have moved on. Gripe moan whinge, etc.

On Monday I finished day three of New Job. I was in on Thursday for the ubiquitous staff training day, then I did Friday and yesterday, so the 'off' day today was very much appreciated. I’m only supposed to do 18 hours a week, but of course I can already see myself regularly doing three full days (at least). The job title involves something rather vague about learning, and I’m still slightly mystified as to what it actually involves, but it seems to be somewhere between a literacy teacher and one-to-one learning support. This should be quite good. Yesterday I was staffing four highly irritating sessions of literacy and numeracy testing, which mostly involved thirty students at once shouting "Miss! My computer won’t work!" Loudly and repeatedly. For an hour at a time. Ah, education, how I’ve missed you.

Everything else is stress stress stress, from the joy of waiting for wheelchair services to the joy of waiting to see if the Council are actually going to force us to take them to court (I'm almost hoping they do, as it would be immensely interesting and might involve financial compensation. Although I'd prefer to be able to access my own home. Obviously). It's all getting there, though. Today we went off to collect my new, if temporary, lightweight wheelchair. It's self-propelling, as it's mainly for indoor use at work, but I tried it out on the high street today. I don't know if my hands will ever 'do' self-propelling, mostly thanks to very-bendy fingers that just don't work properly, but using it at work might 'train' them to do the right thing. It will certainly be more use than Marvin. (Sorry, Marvin. You're great at open-air festivals and going up hills, but you're not made for small doors. It's not that I don't love you, it's just that we want different things. In particular, your habit of losing footplates in the middle of the street is just annoying.)

And talking of the new wheelchair, how's this for ridiculous? I'm crossing the road this afternoon - a little more slowly than I would in Marvin, but not struggling too much - when a well-meaning bloke says "Do you want help?" Then, in response to my clear "No thank you, I'm fine," he grabs hold of my handles and starts pushing me. Again I ask him to stop, and he ignores me. Finally I bark "OI! DON'T DO THAT!" and then lecture him about how, unless specifically asked, he should not be offering help to disabled people who are getting along fine on their own, because it's patronising and insulting. He rushes off, embarassed. Why does this keep happening to me?? It's particularly funny when I'm in my powerchair, which clearly pushes itself, and am still getting offered 'help'. I must look intrinsically helpless. (Admittedly, not long after this I did ask The Girl to come and give me a push. That's different. I know her, I rang her to ask, and even she doesn't grab me and shove me into roads without making sure I actually want a push. Although I'm sure she occasionally feels like doing that.)

Side-note: Shall I name the new wheelchair? I may only have her for a couple of weeks. It would be nice to be friendly, though. Suggestions welcome. Hope everyone's having a good week! Enjoy being useful members of society, economically or otherwise.