Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Care for your cord!

This week is my last week of work as a PA for people with spinal cord injury, and similar disabilities. I am certainly glad to be at the end of the contract, but have also learn much about the plight of severing your spinal cord, getting on with life, and some about how the disability system works over here in the UK.

Have seen some amazing disability equipment over here, that I would love to ship back to some of my old clients in Australia!! Among lifting and moving equipment, there have been other amazing things - like yesterday I set up a robotic lawn mower to do the lawn! The weird and wonderful things you can find on the internet!!

The tetraplegia's, as they are now called - formally quadrapelgia, but really it is so much more than just the loss of the movement or control of the 4 four limbs, have been both hard work, interesting, and some even inspiring.

This last client is my 9th in the 6 months. 7 have been spinal cord injury clients. 2 of these have been non-traumatic injuries, which means that the injury has been the result of an illness. 2 clients have had Muscular Dystrophy.

Of the traumatic injury clients, 2 have been injured at work. 1 was the result of a road accident, and 2 damaged their spine irreversibly by diving - one drunkly hitting the stairs of a pool, one hitting a log in a murky river. The horror of some of these stories - and yet we could all realistically do this. Statistics actually show at the moment that this sort of injury is most likely to happen in your very own home, in a fall.

Serious damage to your spinal cord, either completely severing or surviving an incomplete injury, means loss of controlled movement from the point of injury down. The higher up on your spine the injury, the more severe the loss of independence. Some of these clients have the use of one arm, which means they can still use a computer, or a device set up to do things like turning off lights with a sequence of button presses. Most of these clients have horrendeously sensitive skin, and the slightest knock or crease in their clothes will result in a dangerous pressure sore. All depend on someone else to get through the everyday things the rest of us take for granted.

One of the strongest lessons learned through this job is that no matter what life throws at you, there is always a way of getting on with it, and making the best of your situation. Many of these clients have defied death really, and are now living their second chance.

This job has let me see a bit of English countryside, too. At the moment I am placed in a tiny village, population of 300 people, with one local shop, a church, and one pub! There are cows at the paddock at the back fence! Here I am 3 hours north of London, I have also been up west of here, twice placed in London itself, and a few times about 2 hours south of London. Have been through lush green countryside most of the time, through the tiny narrow streets of small villages, and regional towns. Was down at the beach for one, and up at the birthplace of industry at another!

I will be elated to finish this work, but it has set me up over here in the UK as I wanted it too. And it has been flexible enough for me not to worry about whether I had annual leave to do the things I wanted - that will be an interesting adjustment. I am sure the pay adjustment will compensate, though! Hee, hee!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great experience and glad you're out there doing something worthwhile for the community (unlike me!) It is quite scary to think that anyone of us could be in their situation as life is the big unknown. But I guess it's up to us to make the most out of life no matter what we're dealt with.

    Hehe, my hotel that I'm staying at this week down south has a paddock out the back with horses. The country villages are quite cool for exploring :)

    Yaay, you'll be in London fulltime soon!!


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