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I have defiantly spent to much time with medical professionals

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Jemma Brown | 16:59 UK time, Friday, 23 May 2008

Ouchers I have not been to well of late and on top of that (and exams) have been battling against the dreaded 'D' word, deterioration.

Yesterday I had to have an ECG; it was just a routine thing because of the (unusual) combination of medication I'm on. I am very pleased to report that all came back completely normal (I thought it was funny my heart appears to be the only 'normal' bit of me) the only real surprise was that I have shrunk by a whole centimetre!

The nurse was very nice and reassuring but asked me an odd question; 'how where you blinded'?

Now as you may be aware Ouchers I am fully in touch with my disabledness and have absolutely no problem talking about any of my impairments or health conditions. As far as my eyes go the more people that know the better they can understand me, well that's my opinion anyway. Hell I even let medical students take a look at my various oddities, if it is to help them learn I'm willing to help!

The thing that made me think was her assumption that I was not always the way I am, that I became disabled.

As it happens I actually had significantly less vision when I was born than I have today, its thanks to some absolutely awesome surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London that I can see at all. I'm lucky for what I have got; further more I am not blind thanks to there skill and advances in medical technology; I am partially sighted.

Now I wonder if her question was in fact shock that wow there is a visually impaired teenager out there. I am made fully aware every time I visit my local eye clinic that the majority of patents... how can I put this diplomatically... are in the later stages of life. There is a VERY definite age gap. I know that this is largely due to the fact that like many other things vision deteriorates with age. The older a person is the greater they are at risk of eye diseases such as age related macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.

So maybe she assumed that because of my age I am too young to have any on the for mentioned eye conditions thus I must have had an accident or something. When actually in fact I was born with cataracts (and MANY other things) and now have glaucoma, two conditions which are largely associated with the older generation.

I corrected her on referring to me as blind and explained that it was a congenital eye condition and outlined a few of the more interesting bits of my condition(s).

I did this despite the fact that it is plastered all over my notes that I am partially sighted and they also have the full history of my eye condition, all she had to do was read my notes.

Today I had my nose cauterized (not fun!) by a doctor who also showed great understanding of my disability, I was sitting in the waiting room, waiting to go in when I was suddenly grabbed and pulled, looking up I saw it was a doctor. She then continued (despite my desperate attempts to get her to understand that it would be easer for me to follow her) to drag me around both the surgery and the consultation room.

• Visit Diary of a Monkey


  • Comment number 1.

    That's dreadful. No one should haul you about. Complain!
    As for the nurse, it reminds me of David's post for BADD (see Growing Up With A Disability) on how it's common for people with disabilities just to become one entity, as per their perceived condition, without any differentiation being made whatsoever. Very annoying.

  • Comment number 2.

    Yep David is right there, after all we all know every other person in the world with our impairment don't we.

    I'm not going to put in a complaint against the doctor I'm going to educate her...which will probably be a lot more painful for her!

  • Comment number 3.

    "I'm going to educate her"...A far wiser response and so much more effective than just becoming enmeshed in a dead-end complaints system. You're ace you are.

  • Comment number 4.

    how do u educate someone who doesn't want to learn?
    Sometimes the only way to motivate people to look at themselves is to complain

  • Comment number 5.

    It doesn't matter what I'm seeing a health professional for, cut foot, family planning, whatever, I'm asked when I had polio. I reply '1949' (there was an epidemic that year) and the health professional always responds with, 'Why weren't you vaccinated?'.

    I don't want to be treated by health professionals that (a) Are so ignorant that they don't know that the vaccination hadn't been invented then, and (b) Think it's OK to suggest that my parents were negligent. (If it was the case that I'd got polio as a result of parental negligence, would I want it dragged up by every health professional I see?).

    The health professional then goes on, without asking me for any details of my impairment, to 'inform' me of the activities they think I can't do, most of which I've been doing since before they were born.

    How come they think that I don't know what I can't do?

  • Comment number 6.

    I was sorry to hear about your negative experiences. There was a report in the news today about how the level of compassion of NHS staff has decreased in general in recent times and I think unfortunately your experiences are typical for many service users in the NHS. My father in law, who is 82 and has dementia, recently had a short stay in hospital and was virtually assualted by one of the nursing staff who took no attempt to consider him as an actual human being with specific needs.


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