Last week I did a talk on disability and the criminal justice system at the University of Brighton. I was delighted to be asked as these 2 subjects combine the last 10 years of my life beautifully!
I saw it as a challenge and eagerly researched policies and procedures and started thinking about my own experience as a practitioner with a disability as well as the service users I’ve worked with over the years. I prepared a power point presentation to go with my ramblings and practiced it a few times to make sure it took the allocated 20 minutes.
Then “The Fear” set in about a week before the event. All MSers will be familiar with “The Fear”. What if I’m fatigued on the day? What if I fall over and can’t get back up again? What if I can’t get to the loo in time? What if my scooter malfunctions? What if there are stairs?
What if ……………………?
Unfortunately for the average MSer these fears aren’t all that irrational. Most of these things have happened to me or at least nearly but never all at once! I also start imagining things that have happened to other MSers like losing control of my bowels or losing the ability to speak or see and these fears conspire to stop us pushing ourselves out of the MS comfort zone.
On the morning of the event I said to The Husband, “Why am I doing this to myself?” as I tried to get myself into the car, legs all jelly on top of the usual MS symptoms.
“You’ll be fine” he said as he closed the door.
When I got there the disabled parking was on a slope, meaning my scooter kept trying to slide down the hill into oncoming traffic as I tried to get on. Not a good start but I enlisted the help of some students and made my way safely across the road.
The senior lecturer then came to meet me and we set off towards the disabled entrance to the lecture hall. Once inside I looked up at the students (about 100 in total) and gulped. I’d forgotten to have a tactical wee! I didn’t actually need one at that point but any MSer will know that doesn’t mean anything! Rather than disrupt everything I decided to wait till after the lecture, a risky strategy and the anxiety of this decision took my mind off my talk at least!
It was fine! The talk went well and the senior lecturer escorted me to the toilet afterwards and helped me with my scooter back into the car. She offered me more work at the University which I can fit in around my other job and I’m so glad I pushed myself as the sense of achievement was enormous!
I’d love to hear similar stories of triumph from MSers. Have you ever pushed through “The Fear” and surprised yourself?