Thankful for Recovery.

As an occupational therapist working within a mental health NHS trust,  using occupations as a means to aid recovery,  is my bread and butter,  but often when it comes to yourself,  firstly recognising your not managing and then being able to admit to both yourself and others around you is even harder.  

Over December I aim to use the occupations of blog writing, and photography to both aid and document my recovery journey. 

As it’s the run up to  Christmas I thought I would focus on the things I’m thankful for.   I will try and update the blog on a daily basis as well as tweet and use Instagram to show my progress. 

I’m currently off sick from work,  and have been since mid October,  with stress and depression, I don’t want to go in to details about what happened to get me here,  but it resulted in an almost constant tearful state,  with thoughts of low self worth,  not being good at my job,  feeling I was letting everyone down,  feeling uncomfortable in public places which resulted in some panic attacks and a reluctance to leave the house especially on my own.  

 I have been in regular contact with my GP,  and recently started on a course of anti- depressants for the second time in my life, and have had two sessions with talking therapy’s.  

I’m getting there,  within the last month I have done a few things that in October seemed impossible.  

But I need to do more,  and I’m hoping that writing about it,  will give me the motivation I’m currently lacking.  

So if your interested you can follow the progress,  by reading this blog and look out for the hashtag #ThankfulForRecovery

1st Dec – Thankful for Friends.  

I’m lucky to have many friends,  some who I see often and others not so often. Some who I have talked to over the past few months and some I have not,  maybe even avoided, because of thoughts that include;  I’m not in the mood for talking, they will think I’m attention seeking,  I don’t want to cry in front of people,  I’m weak and I have let them down,  I’m not my usual organising self, they are only friends with me because, of some bizarre reason. 

Within talking therapy I set my self two goals. 

  1. To spend time with my niece. 
  2. To make an effort to go out and see people.  

Today’s plan was to pop to MIMA (art gallery in town) with my sister in law, niece and meet my friends and their little girl.  Then this afternoon attended the birthday party of my goddaughter. 

I woke at 5 am this morning and took some time to get back to sleep.  We were meant to meet at 11,  but I just could seem to muster the motivation this morning. I engaged in some of my delay tactics,  playing a game on my phone,  thinking  about all the things I should be doing in the house, the washing, tidying up, feeding the cat’s, washing my hair; (not washed my hair since Tuesday) 

but instead I just sat on the edge of the bed until about 11.20,  before talking myself in to putting some clothes on and leave the house. 

 MIMA had some market stalls on today and we stopped for a drink in the cafe,  seeing my niece and my friends little girl together was a pleasure,  they are 3 months apart in age,  and at the stage where they have become aware of each other.  

I then went home, telling myself I must doing some washing,  managed to pop some in, before heading out again.  My goddaughters birthday party next.  If I hadn’t been given the job of getting the balloons for her party. I’m not sure I would have got out the car as I arrived,  the thought of lots of kids, noise and parents I did not know,  and might have to talk to,  was a little overwhelming,  but Janine, my goddaughters mum is a great friend,  and someone that has shown constant support,  texting me regularly and popping in to see me while I have been off.  A few weeks ago when I was not really getting out the house she encouraged me to meet her for lunch,  when I got stuck on the uncomfortable low chair,  and couldn’t get up from the table,  without making a fuss just assisted me to my feet.  

Remembering this gave me the boost I needed to get out of the car. The party was ok,  I kept myself busy,  helping sort party bags or spending time with my goddaughter,  who to my great delighted had asked for her face to be painted like Batman. 

As the party ended I thought I should pop to the supermarket,  to get some food in as usual there was little in the house.  

Shopping for food is never my favourite thing,  but when I not feeling great,  it’s my worst nightmare.  I found myself sat in the car out side for some time, before getting the courage to go in,  but once in there,  felt overwhelmed with the choice and amount of people,  I found myself wondering around,  putting things in the baskets without really thinking,  or planning out meals,  still not really sure what I brought.  

As I arrived home,  Anthony was just in from work,  and helped me unpack,  I felt exhausted, and in some pain from being on my feet most of the day,  we spend the rest of the evening on the sofa,  watching telly,  and I began to feel relaxed. 

Today, despite feeling like I shouldn’t or couldn’t,  I did,  I’m thankful for the strong friendships I have and how they motivated me to engage in social situations. 

Scores out of ten. (At highest point) 

Anxiety level – 7                                   

Pain level – 6

Avoidance level – 4                               

Times I cried today – 2 

2nd of December-  Thankful for Sunday’s 

Sunday’s is my favourite day as it’s always mine and Anthonys day together, with work commitments Sunday is the only day we both have off together.  

Today’s plan was to go to a farmers market with my mum, followed by picking up a Christmas tree.  

We started our Sunday morning in it’s usual style with a bit of Andrew Marr, (you know to catch up the disaster that is Brexit) 

With some gentle encouragement I showered and washed my hair.  Then the delay tactics started, playing on my phone, cuddling in, asking can we just stay in today.  

Thoughts included – I don’t want to go out; what if I see people from work? or people that know me? and I have to make conversation.  (I find it easier when I plan to see someone I can practice the conversation in my head,  but I’m rubbish at on the spot small talk. )

But again with encouragement, we went out, met mum and walked round the farmers market,  in parts it was busy and at one point I reached out for Anthony’s hand, a sudden flurry of doubt filled my head.  

Later we got a tree, brought it home  and began to put it up,  there was a few setbacks as the tree stub was not fitting in the stands and it fell over a few times,  but Anthony sorted it, and we laughed about it.  I started to add some decorations,  but was in some pain,  so didn’t finish,  that’s a job for tomorrow. 

I got a little tearful then,  as the house was a bit messy and I didn’t know where to start to get things sorted.  Yet again with gentle encouragement and dividing the jobs we got them done.  

Just planning on eating and resting now for the rest of the night. 

Today we achieved things together, I’m thankful for our day of the week,  which we try and fill with a nice activity and work together to get things done. 

Score out of ten (at there highest point) 

Anxiety- 7

Pain – 7

Times I’ve cried today – 2 

3rd December- Thankful for my cleaner.  

That’s right I have a cleaner,  I’m not going to apologise for it,  in all seriousness,  my cleaner is a godsend, with pain, cleaning the house is not the easiest of tasks,  and coming home to a house thats clean and tidy always lifts my mood.  

But to be honest,  over the last two months, I have not wanted to be in the house when the cleaner has been here,  (that fear of small talk again).  In my lowest mood finding something to do to get out the house to fill that time was difficult. I would just leave the house park round the corner and sit in the car for a few hours until she had gone.  

Today however, I didn’t avoid her.  Last night I wrote a list of jobs. 

  • Catch up on the dreaded washing 
  • Take a bag of stuff to a charity shop
  • Do some Christmas shopping 
  • Meet two friends for coffee 
  • Finish decorating the tree 

 I was busy sorting the washing when the cleaner arrived,  made some small talk,  and popped out to the local charity shop.  

Later headed off to do a little bit of shopping before I met my friends. My usual sitting,  talking myself out of the car happened,  but I’ve noticed the time I’m spending in the car is lessening.  

I found a few gifts, and Coffee with friends was good. 

Getting home to a house that was tidy and clean is a blessing.  I haven’t managed to finish the tree,  but I’m ok with that.  

Today was a good day,  I made a list, and achieved most of it. 

Score out of ten (at there highest point) 

Anxiety- 5

Pain – 2

Times I’ve cried today – 0

4th December-  Thankful for local amenities.  

At the end of my road is the village shops,  it has almost everything you would need, within walking distance.  Restaurants, cafes, a supermarket, hairdressers, pharmacy, greengrocers, DIY shop, florist, a number of charity shops and a few takeaways.   

This morning,  I arranged for a friend to come round and we walked down to the village for a catch-up,  had a drink and something to eat in one of the cafes.  It was good to get some fresh air,  cold but a bright day.  This friend as had similar mental health challenges recently,  it was nice to talk to someone, share experiences and hear that your not the only one that constantly feels guilty.  

I was home by lunch time,  and have to admitted I didn’t do much else with my day,  I fell asleep on the sofa,  and watched a bit of telly.  

Still not finished the tree tho!! 

Today was a quiet restful day,  but I still got out the house and felt ok.  

Score out of ten (at there highest point) 

Anxiety- 3

Pain – 1

Times I’ve cried today – 0

5th December- Thankful for my two beautiful cats.  

Sorry to say today has not been great,  I’ve been physically ill,  was up most of the night, feeling sweaty and was sick about 4am,  this has unfortunately continued all day,  so I have stayed in bed, with a sick bucket to my side and the cats on my lap.  

Cats have this sixth sense when your not well and have keep me company all day.  I did also receive some beautiful flowers from my Anthony,  that cheered me up. 

Let’s hope tomorrow is better. 

Score out of ten (at there highest point) 

Anxiety- 3

Pain – 0 (apart from stomach pain) 

Times I’ve cried today – 2

6th December-  Thankful for my niece. 

Woke up feeling much better this morning,  but a little weak,  during the night managed to hold down water,  and an apple this morning.  

I just had a lazy morning in bed but got up and showered ready for lunch time as my niece was getting dropped off for a few hours.  

Lyra,  is the most amazing, happy child,  she lights up whenever you walk in the room.  We spent the afternoon in the living room,  eating lunch, playing with some flash cards I recently brought,  and we both had a nap on the sofa.  

I’ve been spending as much time as I can with this little one whilst I have been off,  she is exhausting but an absolute pleasure.  She gets excited at the oddest of things,  and loves to drive my cats crazy by shouting ‘cat’ at them.  

She as warn me out,  so I’m off to bed,  setting myself the challenge of getting out of the house tomorrow on my own.  

Score out of ten (at there highest point) 

Anxiety- 2

Pain – 1

Times I’ve cried today – 1 (but only because of a lovely message about this blog) 

7th December-  Thankful for the motivation obligation gave me to get out of the house today. 

I’m really struggling for a Thankful for today it’s not been my best, and this has been a difficult post to write.  I just could not sleep at all last night think I finally went off about 3.30am in the morning.  

Ended up watching a series I had recorded,  to try and distract the racing thoughts.  

The day was mostly a write off,  I had a nail appointment at 4.15pm and kept putting off getting up and dress until just before I needed to set off. 

Getting my nails done is my little treat to my self on a monthly basis,  I’d moved the appointment around a few times so knew I had to get there today. 

The plan was to go for an early birthday meal with my family for my sister in-laws birthday,  I felt minging,  hadn’t even brushed my hair,  and a busy restaurant is not my favourite thing.   However when we arrived the restaurant was quite and Lyra kept us all entertained.  

Unfortunately it wasn’t the best meal or service and we were there for over 2 hours, Lyra was getting  restless and as the restaurant filled up I began to feel my anxiety rise. 

I love spending time with my family and I know they will not find the word obligation offensive,  at times we all have to do things we find hard,  today tested me, but we survived. 

Score out of ten (at there highest point) 

Anxiety- 8

Pain – 2

Times I’ve cried today – 1

8th December-  Thankful for faith 

After yesterday, I was determined to make today better.  Set my self a plan,  to get up, finish the tree, wrapping what Christmas presents I have,  tidy up a little, do some washing and get out to Durham market,  then church with Anthony and his mum. 

I slept poorly again,  achieved all on my list apart from getting to Durham,  the day just got away with me.  

However, made it in time for church. 

Some of those that know me well might be surprised by this post.  Faith is something that has always been in my life,  as a child we regularly attended church,  I remember enjoying it learning lots and the things that stuck with me were forgiveness and  love thy neighbour.   However as I a grew up a few things happened. My peer group where not that religious ,  my parents separated, I began to questions the acts of those that used their faith to justify things,.   some of which I interpreted as hate.  One large influence was being in a bomb scare, when visiting a London museum, we were evacuated from the museum as a call had been received from someone claiming to be the IRA.  

As a teenager I stopped attending church,  but as the years passed,  I thought about starting to attend again. Whenever I visited a church I felt welcome and Comforted.  

For me there church and Christian faith still has a lot to answer for,  religion is man made, and there for bond to have its faults. For the moment,  I’m happy with the idea that some being is their,  one of its greatest gifts to us is free will,  to learn, think, feel and interpret the world.  Faith and those basic ideas of forgiveness and loving thy neighbour,  stay with me.   

Score out of ten (at there highest point) 

Anxiety- 2

Pain – 0

Times I’ve cried today – 1

9th December-  Thankful for my Anthony. 

I have talked about him a bit during this blogging process and no doubt will continue,  he has done nothing, but support, conformed encourage and were needed challenge to me.  

Today, we met with the priest in Anthony’s family’s local church.  To discuss our marriage in 2020.  

It was scary but I’m excited to make plans for the future,  with the one person I love most in this world.  

Love you.  

Score out of ten (at there highest point) 

Anxiety- 4

Pain – 1

Times I’ve cried today – 1

10th December-  Thankful for sleep. 

Today was another day of helping my mum out with my niece,  I went round to hers and looked after Lyra for a few hours whilst mum when out.  

We did the usual, eating, playing and napping on the sofa together.  

Once home I needed any early night.  My sleep pattern has been all over,  but thankful I slept like a log.  

Score out of ten (at there highest point) 

Anxiety- 2

Pain – 1

Times I’ve cried today – 1

11th December –  Thankful to live on the edge of North Yorkshire.  

Today was another day with mum and Lyra,  we ventured out in to North Yorkshire,  and visited one of my favourite little villages Helmsley.  We walked round the shops had lunch and visited the church which have a exhibition of Christmas trees,  each one decorated by a business or an association with connections to the village,  it was beautiful.  

There is so much beauty in the world,  and North Yorkshire has some of the most stunning views.  I’m thankful that within a 20min drive I can enjoy these. 

Score out of ten (at there highest point) 

Anxiety- 1

Pain – 6

Times I’ve cried today – 0

12th December-  Thankful for catch-up television.  

Because of the pain I was in yesterday, today was a rest day. Felt I just needed to curl up on the sofa and watch a series from start to finish. I choice Informer a bbc drama – well worth a watch. 

Also did a bit of tidying, and washing.  We got takeout and watch the news to see if Teressa was still in a job.  

Score out of ten (at there highest point) 

Anxiety- 1

Pain – 1

Times I’ve cried today – 0

When you know you know –  So we made rings.

fullsizeoutput_47c3Regular readers will know that in the last couple of years,  this blog has focused less on

Occupational
Therapy a more on my recovery journey after breaking my hemi leg.

This experience has change me in so many ways,  One of which was to begin to concentrate on me a little more and in my last blog post, I talked about how I had met someone, that I now planned to spend the rest of my life with.

I honestly never thought I would meet someone (sick buckets at the ready), that understands me, challenges me,  loves me faults and all, with such honesty, passion and  consideration.

Being in a committed relationship takes work and compromise.   (I’m still learning)  Marriage has never felt important and if I’m honest, I always saw it as a way to control women,  marriage is still full of traditions and expectations of which as a feminist make me feel very uncomfortable.

The idea that the man asks the woman’s father for permission,  then is expected to propose buying an expensive ring that the woman then wears as if she is now owned,  than thats the mans job over and the woman is expected to take over,  plan the day and look amazing in a white dress, feels so very odd.   But for Anthony as a Catholic and from a loving family where marriage is respected and worked on.  Showing the world that you are committed to this person is an act of love and respect.

It’s the social pressures and expectations that are the things about marriage on reflection I have an issue with, and when Anthony says I’ve been googling how to have a feminist  wedding,  you know you have landed with a good one.

We have talked at length about our hopes, wishes and desires,  we both want the same things,  and I’m now in a position,  where I feel comfortable with the idea of marriage,  as long as it’s done our way, and for us.

So I would like to say that today was an exciting day.   We recently made a joint decision to get engaged and eventually get married.  Today we attended a workshop and made each other rings to mark this joint decision, and a celebration of our future plans together.

We could not be happier.

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Broken Leg Part 4- Two Years on All Change. 

20th December 2015 will be a date I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Two years on I’m now at the stage, where I can reflect objectively on the experiences.  Those of you that are regular readers on my blog will know this is my 5th post on the subject.

https://otrach.com/2016/01/05/from-the-other-side-what-i-have-learnt-part-1-the-break-and-wait/

https://otrach.com/2016/03/31/the-broken-leg-part-2-what-does-independent-really-mean-do-prescriptions-differ/

https://otrach.com/2016/07/02/the-broken-leg-part-3-six-months-on-and-getting-back-to-work/

https://otrach.com/2017/06/29/loving-the-dead-leg-again/

My thoughts and feelings about the experiences have fluctuated, often due to the treatment I received when I initially broke the leg,  and the on going pain I have been in, but I’m also thankful for the experience.  It has made me re evaluate, what I want from life.  Two years on I’m in a better place than I was even before I fell down those pesky stairs.

Following on from the last blog — loving the dead leg again,  where I talked a lot about the pain I was in on a daily basis, I have had a further operation which removed scar tissue from my ankle.   This has made a difference,  I still have pain,  but there are some days where I’m pain free, and I can walk a little longer and tolerate standing up in the morning meeting at work.  Pain will always be a part of my life, I’m struggling to remember what my pain was like before, so I can’t really compare it.  But my weekends are no longer waisted resting in bed,  I have enough energy to do something.  Those that know me well will know during the worst times I would just say I want the leg chopping off,  and joked about chain saws, and what sort of blade I wanted to replace my leg.

I have a lot of people to thank, my family, friends readers of this blog who have often sent messages of support, and of course the OTalk* girls who have all been a consistent support.  I know I have not always been easy to get on with, at times shutting people out.

In my revaluation I looked at want I wanted from life,  and what I had already achieved and had.  The career I love, a home, close friends and family,  but no one to share this with.  With the support of The Otalk girls I ventured into the world of online dating,  something I would advocate, if you have ever thought about it,  it’s an odd world and you need to be careful.  I had some weird conversations and dates,  which created much amusement within the Otalk WhatsApp group.

Five months again I found someone very special,  who shares my hopes and dreams. He is caring, supportive and has quickly become a firm fixture in my life.

So without falling down the stairs I don’t think I would be in the place I am right now.  I hope to draw a line under this experience and move on to a new chapter.  I have recently become an Auntie for the first time and although I have fears about how my physical health impacts on my ability to help care for her, I’m learning every day.

If I have learnt anything its that Life is good – live it, you can always work around the barriers life throws at you.

Thank you for reading, Merry Christmas and Happy new year.

*OTalk is a weekly twitter chat planned and organised by myself and 6 other occupational therapist across the UK and Ireland. https://otalk.co.uk/about-2/

Loving the ‘dead leg’ again

I was recently listening to a woman’s hour podcast, in which the photographer and author Laura Dodsworth was being interviewed along with some of the models from her most recent book. Manhood the bare reality.  The book focused on one to one interviews with men and how they felt about their body along side a photo of their penis.  This is the second book in the series, in 2015 Laura published Bare Reality 100 woman — their breast theirs stories.

When I got home I ordered both books, as I flicked though them both (I have to confess I have not read them cover to cover.) There was plenty of interviews from cancer survivors or how changing the function like having a child and needing to breast feed changed the persons view of their bodies.  I came across one interview with a man who as spina bifida, he stated his impairment disables him when he interacts with society and states sexuality is more complex when you are disabled.  I began to reflect on how I feel about my ‘disabled’ body and in particular that leg, the right one the one that causes me all that pain.

Over the years I have explored how I feel about my leg, within poetry and a few years ago for an art exhibition at work.  I took a series of photos of my feet in various situations to reflect how different they looked and how I managed different occupations.  For this blog I have decided to revisit this idea.  As a child I used to refer to it as the ‘dead leg,’  but do I need to readdress my relationship with my leg and embrace it?

Its swollen, bruised, scarred, I don’t have an ankle,  it looks and feels odd,  its on my mind all the time as every movement I make is a painful reminder its still there.

Some days it tells be to stay in bed, other days I ignore it and carry on regardless,  but every now and again it catches me out,  with a good pain free day or a day of tears and feeling sorry for myself.

  • I hate that in makes me wear flat sensible shoes that don’t go with the outfits I would like to wear,
  • I hate that it sometimes stops me from doing the things I want to, need to or that I am required to do.
  • I hate that I have to rely on others, during this time.
  • I hate having to justify myself to health professionals as I go to yet another appointment that does not solved my problem.
  • I hate that people give me advise all the time as if you have not researched it and tried everything yourself.
  • Most of all I hate how it dominates my thoughts I feel the need to talk about it all the time —  it must be so boring for others.

But these are bad days and there not everyday.

  • I love planning out my day in detail to minimise the amount of walking,
  • I love a duvet day,
  • I love the unique insight into the world it gives me in particular how I look at each new environment, to work out how can I do this.
  • I love the comforting conversations its allowed me to have with others,
  • I love how it has brought me closer to friends and family,
  • I love how it forces me to think differently, and creatively,
  • And I confess I love the opportunities it gives me to talk about myself.

I’m not ashamed of my body the leg or any part,  it is what it is.  These series of photographs help me love the leg again.

 

My take on the Royal College of Occupational Therapists conference June 19th -20th 2017

IMG_6854What a fun, productive, motivating, challenging and tiring two days that was.

I try to draw out the positives in everything but today’s blog will start with a few negative points.

This was the first year, the now “Royal” college of occupational therapists held its conference in the IIC in Birmingham,  the venue is bright and modern, however the layout is confusing,  all areas are accessible but often using a lift rather than the stairs meant a longer walk,  which made getting to workshops within a timely manner difficult.  There was no pre booking for sessions before conference.  Many people were turned away, and often because of the distances and layout of the building,  you did not have time to get to another session. – My feed back to RCOT will highlight these two issues heavily.

This years conference sponsors also brought some controversy.  Capita, a company which carries out Personal Independence Payments assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.  Capita recently placed an advert in OT news which has upset some occupational therapists as it has used the tag line ‘This is what you trained for’.  Before and during the conference occupational therapists and those who have had experiences of PIP assessments have been using twitter and the hash tag #NotWhatITrainedFor, to express their disappointment with Capita’s association with the royal college.

Personally this relationship sits uncomfortably with me,  As a person with a disability still in receipt of DLA awaiting my letter for a PIP assessment,  but also as a occupational therapist who has worked with many people that have had poor experiences of the PIP assessment, which has caused unnecessary stress, and feelings of low self worth.  As Occupational Therapists we are best placed to assess how a persons disability/ mental health problem or learning disability impacts on the persons ability to function, and what level of support is required to live a life that is meaningful to that individual, but I don’t believe the PIP assessment system, uses evidence based occupation focused assessments to determined its out comes.  As Occupational Therapists we must advocate for those we work with,  in my experiences working with those with mental health problems this assessment has only added stress and worry and in some cases severe mental distress leading to a relapse and readmission to hospital rather them giving support.

I feel strongly as a profession and professional body we should be advocating for those we work with to ensure fairness. A slight word of warning tho,  I am concerned that some of what I have seen on social media condemning this relationship has become personal, towards those Occupational therapists that are employed by Capita.  Let’s learn from the recent general election campaigns,  and take a leaf out of Jeremy Corbyn’s book.  I encourage a constructive an open dialogue with the Royal College of occupational therapists about this issue.  But please I ask let’s not run a negative campaign that focuses on personal attacks.  This just distracts from the issue.

This year I funded myself which gave me the freedom to attend sessions and workshops that interested me and were not just purely work related.

The opening plenary – The first Keynote speaker was Paul McGee I’m guessing a professional motivational speaker, he is also known as the SUMO Guy. ‘Shut up and move on’ he told some funny stories and encouraged us to look for open doors, but in my opinion did not bring anything to the conference.   The second Plenary Speaker was Dr Winnie Dunn from the University of Kansas, she is  internationally known as an expert in the field of sensory processing in everyday life.  As a novice in sensory processing – this gave me a foundation in this theory.  She  emphasised not using sensory assessments to label clients based on their scores, and explained that every one has a sensory profile.  –  this is an area I know I need to learn more about.  – perhaps a challenge for this year.

Session 3 Education – Teresa Rushton from Coventry University – Understanding the experiences of occupational therapy students with additional support requirements, whilst studying BSc (Hons) in occupational therapy,  this was a small study with Occupational therapy students and their experiences whilst on placement.   Although its important to research and understand the experiences of students in this manner I found myself feeling disappointed that it focused on the negative experiences. It saddens me that 11 years on from qualifying, students and educators are still finding making reasonable adjustments for someone who needs it a challenge.  When will the profession recognised that those with disabilities have so much to offer?

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Session 24 – Introducing RCOT’s new career development Framework:  – this framework has nine levels of skills covering clinical, educational, research, or managerial roles.   The aim is to cover all possible kinds of careers in occupational therapy. This is a great resource one I need to spend some time mapping myself against. If your using this tool please let RCOT know what you think on twitter using the hashtag #RCOTCareerFramework.

Professor Diane Cox gave the Casson memorial lecture this year ‘Life as an occupational being’. She gave an overview of occupational therapy its origins and meaning, reminding us of the importance of occupation  “Occupation is as old as humanity” (Reed et al, 2012) and from Brock (1934): “Occupation is not a secondary matter. It is a primary need of an individual’s life”.  So we must keep occupation central in our practice and research. I was struck with a quote she shared from Elisabeth Casson in 1941- ‘rehabilitation needs serious attention at present’, does this quote still stand today?   Diane went on to explain although occupational therapy has been voted as the least likely job to be taken over by Robot’s, on the surface it can be seen as simple, she urged us to combat this common misconception by getting work and research then  Published Published Published!! If you would like to read more about this lecture please see the Otalk blog here.

IMG_6796One of the sessions I was most looking forward to attending was session 63 – Occupational Therapy – a feminist profession? – Heather Davidson from the University of Salford, explained there is very little written on this subject.  We explored the links between occupational therapy and feminism, that it was a movement started by women, to empower people.  However is it still seen as a white middle class profession for young ladies?  Some of the debate and conversation within the workshop turn to men in the profession and how they might feel in the minority –  which as a feminist I found frustrating.

 

Something else new this year and that I was looking forward to, was the occupation stations – these were hands on workshops exploring occupations like bird watching, crochet, bead making and origami. These were very popular sessions and unfortunately I could not get in to one,  however from twitter and chatting with those that did attend, they were excellent sessions – lets not forget our roots of doing things with people.

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Dr Jennifer Creek gave the closing plenary the empire strikes back ; learning from the practise of Occupational Therapists working in the margins, she as always was thought provoking  and challenged us to think about our practise – has it became static and have we lost our focus on occupation. Jennifer took us on a journey from the origins of our profession and the rise in women’s movement from the late 19th century, to what it is in present day,  she ask us to pay more attention to practice that is happening on the margins if we want to seek answers to some of the major challenges we face currently, and want to discover places where creativity happens.

We were then treated to a hilarious presentation given by Tina Coldham a mental health campaigner – last night an OT saved my life,  reminding us that talking with and discovering what is important to the person you are working with can really make that difference.

Julia Scott chief executive of the Royal college of occupational therapists them gave her usual take home message,  this year she urged us not to abbreviate our profession to its initials, She believes by using our full title this will reduce the confusion between occupational therapy and occupational therapist and also give us more standing within the medical community –  Julia I will endeavour to do this and have try to throughout this blog (however to save characters on twitter I will at times still use OT)

I get so much from going to conference and understand it is a privilege to be able to attend, however I would urge those that were not able to go to do two things,  check out the #COT2017 on twitter for all the goings on and to read blogs that were written live at the event – all available on the Otalk blog here.   For me as an OT geek its an opportunity to learn, be challenged but also to network and socialise with those friends I have made over the years,  and a time when some of us from the Otalk team get to see each other in person.

Although I learnt lots, my favourite was spending time with friends.  You know you have had a good night out when you wake up the next morning with a green balloon attached to your walking stick.

The broken leg Part 3 – Six months on and getting back to work.

For regular readers of my blog you will know I fell down the stairs and broke my right hemi leg just before christmas last year, however if your new to this blog you can read more here Part 1 and Part 2.

Since my last blog post a lot has happened, however the effects of the brake still have a an impact on carrying out daily occupations, and managing my emotions.

My biggest frustration has been foot wear,  my right foot and leg remain very swollen despite daily stretches and exercises given to me by the physio. This has limited me to one pair of shoes.  It surprises me how something as small as not being able to choose foot wear to match what your wearing or how you feel, can effect your mood.  I have not wanted to go to the pub with friends, felt I have not looked professional at work,  and just broke down in tears at the thought of needing to dress up.

One large change has been my bathroom, I have had a wet room put in.  You can read a blog I wrote about it here for Impey showers http://impeyshowers.blogspot.co.uk.  In short it has changed my life,  feeling safe in the bathroom, has given me my confidence back.  Plus it looks amazing.

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In the weeks leading up to returning to work I set myself a number of challenges to increase the amount of walking I was doing,  however the weather was rubbish so I had to be creative. Museums and art galleries were good spaces to use with plenty of places to sit for a rest.  The apple watch as come in handy again,  as you can monitor how much walking and exercised you do. I have used it to set myself targets and increase them weekly, I find it motivating.

I’ve been back at work for 6 weeks now,  the first 2 doing half days building up to full days, I’m now work 4 days a week.  I can walk around inside unaided however still feel the need to use a walking stick outside.  I’m trying to lift my foot fully off the ground to prevent tripping however I have had a few close calls and without the stick to support me I would a fallen again.

I missed work whilst I was off,  but found getting back into the routine difficult, I found myself forgetting things,  not being able to concentrate in meetings,  and overwhelmed with emails and new responsibilities.  I questioned if i could still do the job feeling inadequate most days. However my team has been very supportive, there were days I felt like not going in, but stuck with it.  By about week 5 these feelings of inadequacies began to lessen.

Last week I attended the COT conference in Harrogate,  a big challenge both physically and for my attention span.  I decided to take the wheelchair just incase I needed it,  but set myself a goal to walk as much as I could.  I felt a little stupid walking a round with an empty wheelchair, however there is no safer place to do that, than at an OT conference,  full of friends and colleagues from both real life and those I have met online.  I had lots of positive chats with people about my blogs and experiences, and as always the conference itself gave inspiration  and hope for the future of the profession.  I will return to work with fresh eyes to face to next challenge.  However physically it was difficult, determined not to complain I took pain killers, ploughed through and on the odd occasion had a quick cry to myself (but that currently is normal).

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The last six months as been one of the biggest challenges so far.  To readers I would like you to take away two messages.   Remember to work with the whole person,  assessing how whatever you’re treating them for effects them both physically and mentally.  Trauma no matter how small can have lasting effects,  the trauma might not just be the event that started off the need for your input, it can also be the process of getting through it,  don’t be part of the trauma be part of the recovery.

Rachel x

Like mother, like daughter, occupational therapy all the way

In preparation for the College of occupational therapist conference this year me and mum reflected on our past experiences

College of Occupational Therapists

Mary and Rachel Booth are mother and daughter and they are both occupational therapists.  Mary qualified in 1980 and was made a Fellow of the College of Occupational Therapists in 2014, now mainly retired but working as a specialist advisor to the CQC.   Rachel qualified in 2006. She is currently a Clinical Lead Occupational Therapist in acute and rehab mental health, and is the outgoing chair of the Northern and Yorkshire BAOT regional committee.  They share their conference highlights. Mary and Rachel Booth

What year did you first attend the College of Occupational Therapists Conference?

Mary: In 1995, in Edinburgh.  Ashamed to say I did not attend for my first 15 years as a qualified OT. (Follow Mary)

Rachel: It was  2008, I was a band 5, and coincidentally it was the last time the conference took place in Harrogate. I had been qualified for two years. (Follow Rachel)

What do…

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