Letter from the North

Outing with the wheelchair, MA crash looms ever closer and what does LGBTQI+ mean? – 19-Oct-2019

Sorry, no photos, all this mucking around with phones means Teresa and I haven’t consolidated yet, we will, … 

Sat 19-Oct-2019 

Teresa appeared downstairs at 2am, in tears. No obvious reason, but we cannot avoid the incredible stress we are both under. It does come out, but it’s usually just us that know, to the outside world all is well. Thank goodness we can share our grief and distress with each other, I know some other families are less able to share their feelings, especially about life limiting illness, in the same way.  

I suspect the grief from Sheffield Hallam regarding the MA is the straw for both our backs at the moment. 

We went shopping in Truro, using the wheelchair – quite different from mobility scooter in terms of manoeuvrability – not perfect because shops and people don’t understand, but better. 

It was my first-time shopping since the spring (or earlier), so nice to not be a total hermit. 

One of the things I wanted to do is replace my phone – way over 5 years old and been on SIM only, long out of contract. 

We went into Carphone warehouse and I found a Samsung S40 that is only £25 contract instead of £12.50 (both figures approx.) SIM only. So, ordered one, in Coral (of course). By the time I had started the order process, Teresa decided she would too (same phone and colour – how could she not) and the assistant processed both our orders in parallel –  

Hers upgraded, old phone lost number, new phone got old number, just like it’s supposed to. 

Mine didn’t, it really didn’t, it neither changed number nor was my contract updated, this resulted in lack of sleep. Being autistic, I never handle things not going the way expected well, at the moment I am on such on edge that it only takes stupid little things to tip me over. Yes, of course it will get sorted, but I need to not have to spend the time getting it sorted! 

This is the day that I first “complained” (in a really nice way, Teresa made sure it was “nice”) about what was happening with respect to my learning agreement at SHU. 

Sun 20-Oct-2019 

Rang EE 8am sorry no contract, can’t change phone number speak to Carphone Warehouse 

Spoke to Carphone Warehouse 10am, told me they would “push through” contract change. Also told me to ring EE and as them to do a “SIM Swap”, which is the process of moving old SIM phone number to new SIM. So, I did, told them the SIM number of new SIM and that was that. What was scary is I could have told them ANY SIM number and that SIM and phone would have my number. Remember, at this stage they have no info at all about my new phone, JUST the SIM number – which was originally a PAYG SIM! 

Why the F*** couldn’t EE have done it this morning. By Monday morning it had completed. The phone responds to the new number but still thinks it has the wrong one – hey ho! 

I wrote umpteen drafts of concern about what was happening in year 2 of the autism MA, I even “slept on it”, as much as I ever sleep 

Mon 21-Oct-2019 

Final drafts of list of my concerns about the MA sent to all three tutors. 

Got replies from two talking about “investigating and thinking” 

Tue 22-Oct2019 

Decided that, from those responses I needed to be more specific and sent a much clearer Email than the first, in the hope that the course tutor would understand when they got around to reading my email. 

I was in the office today 

I was standing in reception and noticed a bruise on my right arm from below (closer to elbow) the first puncture from last week’s venesection to above (close to fingers) the last punctures on that arm – about 6” or so and covering all the outside of the arm (½ the circumference) 

I panicked! 

Eventually I realised that a blood vessel had probably re-opened, not that morning but previously and the bruise is the result.  

I rang oncology nurses just in case, probably a stupid panic but, …, they weren’t concerned but I was unsettled for the rest of the day 

A camera not really capture the effect so no photos, sorry, would have looked great 🙂  

Next week in the office, I will be doing a walkthrough (sic) of my wheel chair in the to see what problems there are. My office is a fair distance from the green room (canteen) and reception. I don’t do phones so “walk” everywhere and I am finding that by 11am I am too tired to keep going. I found in Sheffield last week that if I use the wheelchair, I have more mental energy to keep going. 

Hate it, I feel that I am “lazy” because I can walk, but … 

So, yes, any workplace should make disabled access better, but how many do – not so many based on my experiences of workplaces (e.g. Sheffield Hallam University). I am in the office some Tuesday mornings and they are looking at automatic opening doors, extra ramps by fire exits, height of facilities in the green room. 

I am not asking them too, it’s just automatic. This is the same company that has bent over backwards to be supportive of me as I deal with the consequences of the accident and the cancer. 

They really are a beacon. 

Wed 23-Oct2019 

The bruise is fading a little 

On a totally different topic, but one that is a constant source of frustration to me: 

I struggle with the whole “lets wrap all aspects of sexual and gender diversity into one term” and treat them as a homogenous collective. Often that means people talk LGBQT… but actually mean Gay/Lesbian or Trans (gender/sexual) but don’t actually understand they are two very different things!  

Anyway, there seems to be a consensus as to what the letters all mean and I found this to be quite helpful: 

L- Lesbian 

A lesbian is anyone who identifies as a woman, and is attracted to other women 

G- Gay 

Gay is relevant for anyone who identifies as a man, and is attracted to other men. Gay can also be an umbrella term for anyone who identifies as homosexual. 

B- Bisexual 

Bisexual is anyone who is attracted to both men and women, this can also encompass being Pansexual, which describes people who are attracted to people regardless of their sex or gender. While bisexuals are attracted to both men and women, pansexuals are attracted to “people” and don’t see gender or sex as a defining factor. 

T- Trans 

Trans is actually an umbrella term for those who are transsexual or transgender. Exact definitions of these terms vary, but it is generally accepted that transsexual refers to a person’s biological “sex” so is applied to those who have had, or desire gender affirmative surgery, whereas transgender is about someone’s gender, and so one can identify as either gender regardless of physicality 

Q- Queer/ Questioning 

This is also generally used in terms of gender- many people would use this term to describe themselves, including those who identify as both genders, neither gender, or parts of each. It should be noted that although the word has now been reclaimed by the queer community, “queer” used to be used as a derogatory term, and some people may still find it insensitive. 

I – Intersex 

Intersex is another umbrella term, for those who have variations in biological sex characteristics that mean they don’t fit the exact biological definition of “male” or “female”. A lot of people would argue that these terms are reductive and unnecessary anyway, and many intersex people identify as one gender or other regardless of variations. 

A- Asexual 

Asexual is when someone experiences no sexual attraction to anyone else (there are other terms for those who only feel a very small amount). Asexuality has only recently started to be discussed and understood in the mainstream press. It’s also important to understand that Asexual people can feel romantic attraction (although some don’t), the term only refers to attraction of a sexual nature. 

+ 

+ refers to any groups of people who don’t feel that they fit into any of these categories, or fit into more than one. Identity is an enormous spectrum, and everyone would really struggle to remember the acronym if it was 44536786345 letters long. 

It’s important to remember that you can’t ever really “learn” all identities and preferences, everyone is different and has their own understanding of who they are.  

Thu 24-Oct2019 

Got reply from course leader, I wasn’t happy, it was perfectly reasonable and logical and was based on their discussions with the other two members of the team and reading my emails. 

Conclusion, in broad-brush strokes, in some cases I am making a mountain out of a molehill and in others I have unreasonable expectation. 

There was no attempt to check their understanding, ask me anything, even request a face to face (the only way to truly interact with me) 

I replied and said so, so that it was clear what I “heard” even if that wasn’t what they meant (and said so, it wasn’t an accusation, it was “I don’t know if this is what you meant, but this is what I heard”) 

Fri 25-Oct2019 

Tutor doesn’t work Fridays so have to wait until Monday at the earliest, blah! 

Postscript 

The train wreck that is year 2 of the Autism MA is happenign in slow motion but it clearly happening. 

A “this is not what we meant to happen can we sit down and talk” and that should have been problem solved. But no, we can talk about autism. It’s just “talking the talk” is easy, “walking the walk”, not so much. 

I suspect I have somehow touched a raw nerve for the course tutor and the reaction is not “typical”. I’d like to believe that, but it doesn’t take much to say so, talk and move on, does it? 

I am not happy – did you guess? 

The Bean, Pendeen10Nov-2019 

2 Comments

  • Kevin Walker

    Oh David….that is a really good read, but I do feel for you. Keep up your pecker, as they say…and ditch anything that doesn’t need to be in your life.
    I am just going through the fun of book publication and editing etc. Its a collection of 15 short stories and will be simply entitled Queer Folk Tales. Exciting times. It is due for release next July during London Pride week.
    You may have heard about my troubles with FATE the story festival. A few years ago, Martyn and I attended an LBGTQ performance. It was awful so much so that Martyn walked out mid performance along with other folk. I complained but the FATE folk would not hold discussions. Apparently they had reports of how much folk had enjoyed it. I asked how many of these were from the LBGTQ community and didn’t they realise that made it worse? Jo public identified with those dreadful 1980/90 gags!
    argh. I said we would not be attending anymore, which didn’t seem to bother them. What makes it worse, there were other story tellers there who disliked the piece too but not one has written in my defence. I have withdrawn from the storytelling world in dispair, even though it means giving up something I love…and a stream of income too!Hey ho.
    When will folk starting listening to the experts, those of us who experience ‘it’ daily?
    I am sure, although you are frustrated by your problems, they will have thought about it, and maybe in the future they will act on your suggestions.
    OK..big hugs to you both and the cats.

    • Bean

      Thank you Kevin. I totally agree about people asking those who live it rather than deciding on their behalf. I felt particularly upset because I had checked out some of the tutors in question before hand to be sure they did get it. But it only seems to take one expert to know better or sometimes just someone to feel their “authority” threatened and they put up barriers (excuses they are often called :-), even if they didn’t actually disagree with you. Hugs sent in return, the cats were a bit iffy about the hugs but we tried 🙂

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