Monday, 7 July 2008

Jane 's comments and questions to Barry Blackburn

Glad you enjoyed writing this so much - it's great to read it and I hope you'll think of more.

* I was very interested to hear that
you and your friend had gone to a school for Disabled Children. What kind of disability were you left with? I ask because I went to an ordinary primary school, in my spika – a sort of leather corset with steel reinforcements, which started under my arms, went down to my right thigh, and all the way down my left leg to the knee. I could walk around fine, but running was difficult, and if I fell over, which I remember doing from time to time, I couldn’t pick myself up and had to wait for someone to come and help me. Some of the other kids would stand over me and laugh, which was a bit miserable.

Once the spika was removed, I was always left with the feeling that I sat somewhere between being able-bodied and disabled. I could look like a fully able-bodied person, but because of my spinal fusion (lower back) I couldn’t bend so easily, found it difficult to sit cross-legged on the floor and get up quickly, couldn’t jump very well. Swimming turned out to be the answer to my prayers – something you could do with no danger of falling over, that still makes me feel wonderfully free

*Are there things you - or anyone else have found difficult?

* Are there also things you’ve got specially good at as a result of your patient experience? You mentioned your sense of being really lucky and of valuing the things you can do. For instance, I learned to read very early, and have always read a lot and lived in my imagination quite a good deal. So I’ went for a sedentary, bookish sort of career. At the same time, I love to travel, and have taken some quite adventurous journeys on my own in the course of my work – still do. I get a real kick out of the independence – though I also love to come back home.

*It’s very interesting, too, that you can remember so many names – one of the things that seems to be coming out of the blog is that most people can remember only a few. Could that be because you were older when you were a patient – some of us went in as quite small children (one was two, one was three, I was four…) and we were still quite small when we came out.

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