Thursday, 29 April 2010

Because I don't have enough to contend with...

I want to write something here, but I don't have words for how shit things currently are.

Not only do I have to fight endless pain, I now have to fight my boss, who is trying to drive me out, and is using my disability as an excuse. Her response to me going to Personnel about it - having exhausted the nicey-nicey options of speaking to her quietly, friendly meetings and prompting emails - is to now nitpick at every tiny word, to try and prove how much better than me she is. Except the things she's picking at - they aren't things I've done wrong. They're opposing opinions, different viewpoints; no less valid than hers, and no less well-informed, just different. Or they're things where she's changed the brief, without telling me (or she's purposely never quite got round to providing the brief, so she can constantly change the rules!). Or they're little details in the debate that are so insignificant to the actual question that I haven't bothered to mention them - I haven't felt the need to demonstrate I understand the minutiae of the situation, because I'm secure enough in my abilities to think that others will know I know them.

Yet she feels the need to point them out, to try and make me feel small. If only she knew that I grew up under a master of that kind of manipulation and manoeuvring, and that she's a rank amateur compared to him! Or that the very accident that put me in this situation also finally allowed me to break free of the legacy of that kind of treatment, and see it for what it is - the desperate attempt by a weak-minded person to make themselves feel powerful.

In reality, all she's really doing is showing off her own insecurities, making herself look unprofessional and insignificant. I mean, what kind of person picks on the disabled employee who's known for her determination to keep working despite the pain and the limitations? What kind of person thinks that sort of behaviour is acceptable? She's so desperate to prove how indespensible she is, that she's actually becoming a liability. She knows damn well that not only can I do my job, I could do hers too. And if she's not careful, her little campaign against me will get the whole lot of them sued.

Turns out I was wrong - there are words for how shit things currently are.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Did you really just ask me that?

What is it about wearing a sling that makes people think it's OK to ask intrusive, personal and potentially upsetting questions?

'What have you been up to?'
'So, what's actually wrong with it then?'
'How did you do it?'
'Can't they do anything about it?'
and, my personal favourite, a new low reached today:
'Was it your fault?'

They'd never do it to someone in a wheelchair - they wouldn't dare. But wear a sling, and they're off. It doesn't matter how vague an answer you give, how much you try to change the subject. It's like you're not really wearing a sling, you're wearing a sign on your forehead that says:

'Of course, Random Stranger, I would like nothing more than to be grilled by you about my problems. No, no, please do go on - your inane curiousity is of far more importance than my privacy, or desire not to be reminded about what happened.

Oh wait, you want to tell me all about YOUR car accident? Why yes, you're right, that's even MORE fun!'

Good God!

I think it's all linked in to what I call Disabled Access Syndrome; the assumption that disability=wheelchair. Maybe it's because the wheelchair is used as the sign for disabled parking, access etc, but there seems to be an assumption that:
a) if you're disabled, you are therefore in a wheelchair
b) if you're not in a wheelchair, you're not really disabled (and your condition is, presumably, somehow temporary).

Think about it: disabled toilets are all set up for wheelchair users, but not for the rest of us - no mirrors, sinks or hand dryers at standing height. As a tall person with difficulty bending, this causes me huge problems. Disabled changing rooms in clothes shops are the same - there's lots of space and somewhere to sit, but no full length mirror. I need that changing room so I can sit and rest, but what if I'm trying on a top - am I supposed to guess how it looks? Or squat down? Companies think 'put in a ramp and we're sorted', but getting up a ramp is harder for me than steps are - I need low-rise steps, with handrails ON BOTH SIDES. I could go on.

So, since you're not in a wheelchair, you can't really be disabled - just a bit inconvenienced maybe? - you can use the ordinary toilets / changing rooms, right? And since your - ahem - problem, is only a minor inconvenience, there's no reason why I shouldn't give in to my natural curiousity and ask you all about it, is there? I mean, it's not like it's anything serious, or permanent, after all.

I bet if I were missing my arm, they wouldn't be so damned quick with their questions. Yet if I was missing an arm, I'd be a whole lot less disabled; like I've said before, I could heal, rehabilitate and move on. Look at people like Heather Mills (leg not arm, but you get the gist) - I can't even go to an ice-rink to watch people skate, never mind get out there myself, yet she can.

God, this whole disability thing would be a lot easier if people weren't so fucking ignorant.

Monday, 5 April 2010

One question answered

So, the mystery of the neck pressure and screwdriver headaches appears to have been resolved, by a throw-away question from an optician in estate agent's shoes... trigeminal neuralgia.