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I’ve had an interesting week. I was at London Vet Show and enjoyed two good days of CPD, including the start of a fine nursing stream. The Association of Veterinary Anaesthetists talks were also really good.

However, due to my back problems I had to hire a wheelchair, as the prolonged standing and walking of a conference was too much. I’m also getting migraines from using morphine, so am trying to cut down its usage… I promise.

Being in a wheelchair is not something new to me, but the world’s ability to cope with such a minor difference is always a harsh reminder of how we are set up for the able-bodied, not the lack of able-bodied.

I missed out on getting the main goodie bag as I was wheeled in through a rear entrance (oo-er). The doors to the area where the bags were was too heavy to move on my own and no one offered to help. The floors were also not that level – if I stopped in the wrong place I rolled backwards and the brake didn’t work. Other times, I free wheeled away – luckily missing the catering stand. The lifts were tiny, but I did manage to execute a three-point turn in it to save reversing out. I missed one lecture as it was upstairs and I had to re-route to get to a lift, but that took quite a while.

People who knew me were fine – they know about my problems. However, it does put up a barrier to people if you are in a chair. The stands aren’t set up to accommodate you; there is not always a sloping floor to get you on to a stand. I also think the veterinary profession is so able-bodied we aren’t used to seeing colleagues still working with severe mobility issues. I’m sure it made some people wonder if it was worth discussing their product with me.

Still, I had a great two days, saw friends, made good contacts for teaching and attended brilliant lectures. I was almost pain free by the end when usually I would have been in agony. Chair, or no chair, I’ll be back next year.

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