Being Broken Doesn’t Always Suck

Being Broken Doesn’t Always Suck

It can be difficult to see the bright side of all the health problems I’ve had in the past year. Hard to see what’s so great at trekking up to London to talk to specialists who can only tell me that I have to get strong to stop myself from falling apart and don’t, actually, have a magic cure for everything. Hard to see the positive part of being exiled from my musical instruments and the ensembles that were my entire social life, or having to leave archery. Hard to appreciate not being able to write without severe pain for about six months, and the impact that had on my schoolwork and my mental health.

But sometimes, just sometimes, it’s possible.

Before I was given proper wrist splints, I used bandages -- which made me look a bit like a street fighter.
Before I was given proper wrist splints, I used bandages — which made me look a bit like a street fighter.

Despite the apparently acute nature of my wrist trouble, it’s actually a chronic condition that happened to flare up and then … not go away. Many would refer to it as a disability, even though on a day-to-day basis I don’t think of myself as disabled unless it happens to be particularly bad at that moment (it can very from day to day, or even hour to hour). It’s bad enough that I’m eligible for financial support known as Disabled Students Allowance.

Thanks to this, I’ve been provided with equipment — completely free of charge — to help me complete my studies at university, costs that I have which a completely able-bodied student wouldn’t have had to pay. After applying and providing medical evidence, I had to have an assessment, where I answered questions about what I’m able to do, what causes difficulty or pain, etc. The assessor worked out what I needed, and once it had been approved, it was provided.

It arrived this morning, and I’ve been gleefully playing with my new toys ever since.

I know, I won’t be going to uni for another two and a half months. And, scarily, if I don’t get in anywhere I’ll have to pay the full amount of the equipment. Eek! But hopefully even if I miss my grades, a university will take pity on me and let me in, and it will all be okay.

Introducing Pepper, who manages to make JARVIS look like a giant.
Introducing Pepper, who manages to make JARVIS look like a giant.

It includes a Microsoft Surface 2 tablet — something I’d never have bought myself. Not only are they expensive, but my general suspicion of tablets would probably have continued unabated if it weren’t for the fact that in the autumn term of last year, I wasn’t able to type or handwrite for any length of time, and couldn’t take notes in class. I was able to borrow a tablet from the school’s special needs department that I used to take notes in class (and, possibly, for procrastination when not in class…).

When I had to return it after my exams had finished, I felt kind of bereft, though I haven’t needed it when I haven’t been in school. Okay, it would be nice to be able to work on my novel in a more portable manner, since handwriting and later transcribing is twice as much work and therefore too much for my hands, but that’s not a necessity.

Now, I’ve got a tablet. And I feel incredibly blessed. If I hadn’t developed my wrist problems, I would have been faced with three years of lugging my laptop around uni if I wanted to type notes, and three years of taking handwritten notes and typing them up if I didn’t, which would have meant deciphering my appalling handwriting, and that’s just too much effort. Now, my neck and back will be spared the effort of carrying JARVIS, and I’ll be able to work wherever I am … no matter how tiny the tables.

Okay, so typing on a tablet isn’t perfect. There are still days when that’s painful for me. There may even be days when I want to take notes by hand and then dictate them to my computer later because that happens to be easier, especially for a dead language where the alphabet may not entirely match up with the symbols the tablet has available. But I have the option.

It’s one of the few occasions where I’ll be benefiting from the current student finance situation, which is changing after my year, so that DSAs will be less generous. If I were a year younger, I might not have been able to get the tablet at all. I’m sure, had they considered it a necessity, my parents would have found the money to buy me one, but this way, they can save that money for something else.

(And I’ve got a printer. Although I don’t think I’ll be able to use it wirelessly when I’m at uni, or I’ll have everybody in the building printing five hundred pictures of bananas at 3am just to annoy me because they’ve found out I have a WiFi printer — the disadvantages of being on a network. Unless I can somehow lock it down to me.)

Wrist splints get in the way of holding a pen. Although admittedly that's my left hand. I'm right-handed.
Wrist splints get in the way of holding a pen. Although admittedly that’s my left hand. I’m right-handed.

(And a voice recorder that I will totally not be using to record demos of the folk songs I’ve been learning, in addition to its primary purpose as being to record lectures in case my note-taking skills fail me.)

So yes, maybe it sucks having hypermobility syndrome. And I’m still pretty sure I’d trade in the last year’s pain for a tablet-less lifestyle any day, because it probably isn’t worth going through all that just to be given technology. But it’s possible to see the bright side, and see the things that it’s done for me that are positive.

Now excuse me — I’ve got to figure out how on earth Windows 8 even works, because it’s the world’s least intuitive operating system, and I am incompetent.

18 thoughts on “Being Broken Doesn’t Always Suck

  1. You can, in fact, lock your WiFi printer down! I’m not sure of the specifics, but I’m dead next to certain that you can lock who can print from your printer – as in they have to be logged on to certain machines that are allowed to have access to the printer or somesuch.

    Anywho, best of luck with your results! Odds are they’ll come through just fine and you can bounce off to uni no problems (well, until you have to start doing all the run up to uni things at the last minute because the marking is so late that you have NO TIME TO GET EVERYTHING DSJFSDFSD)
    Sorry, momentary meltdown xP

    1. If I get into Cambridge I won’t need to go there until the 5th October — loads of time! ;)

      Yeah, I think you can lock them down, and I’d have to get the network services people to set it up anyway because of complicated things like actually connecting it to the network, but it might be easier just to stick a wire in it. Both JARVIS and Pepper have USB sockets, so it ought to work that way too. Once I *have* a cable. And assuming there’s a space within reach to put the thing on.

  2. I can’t imagine doing all that you do, as awesomely as you do it, with what you have. I hope that doesn’t sound condescending— you really amaze me.

    Also, I’m getting two post emails every time you publish something. You must have transferred my old blog subscription over to join my new blog subscription. I don’t know if you have a way to take that off, but it would be great if you could. (If not, I don’t mind reading everything twice.)

    1. So it went from no emails to two emails? I have no idea how to fix that. :/ My only suggestion would be for you to unsubscribe and then resubscribe but that’s effort and might not work, so … if it carries on, let me know, and I’ll contact WordPress support and stuff.

      I’m glad I amaze you. I amaze myself sometimes. Mostly by my own stupidity and complete lack of spatial awareness.

      1. It went from one email to two emails. I was already getting emails from this blog. But I think I’m fine with it. It’ll remind me to read your posts more often.

        Oh, come. Your posts are brilliant. My posts are dry as a bone.

        1. Well, I managed to walk into, like, four posts (not blog posts, actual proper posts that hurt if you walk into them, because I don’t know how you’d walk into a blog post) today, so yeah, I amaze myself.

          Soz! Don’t know how that happened. Double posts for you. I wonder if you’re the only one…

  3. My mum just bought a new computer with Windows 8 and oh my god…no. What even is it?? She thinks macs are complicated but THEY ARE NOT COMPARED TO WINDOWS 8. So good luck. Hehe. Aren’t I so encouraging?

    I’m glad you have Pepper and things to help. I can’t even imagine doing all the things you do with pain like that SO GO YOU.

    1. I’m a Windows girl through and through but mate, Windows 8 is soo confusing. I had to use a laptop with it once and I managed, but using a tablet? Completely different again, and totally baffling. Agh.

  4. Most of my issues with Windows 8 stem from the radical change in use assumption: unlike previous Windows it was designed to run on phones/tablets/&c. so assumes you will be doing one thing at a time and want everything to run in the background to ease loading times and push notifications.

    As much of authoring is spending hours comparing two documents or writing with a page of notes, and desperately trying not to remember you even have social media, it is almost the antithesis of an authorial OS.

    Today’s comment was definitely not an excuse to use ‘antithesis’.

    1. I hate how it keeps all the apps open in the background (apparently you can close them by right clicking… because that’s possible on a touch screen?) since even though I can’t see them, it bugs me. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, and Office 2013 (*growl*) too, but it’s a learning curve. I have an Android phone and the tablet I was using for the last six months was Android too – in my experience it’s a far more intuitive OS.

      Antithesis is a good word, and hey, I like it when people comment no matter their excuse ;)

      1. I resisted Office for many years, but so much of the publishing world uses it, and I haven’t found anything else that can handle all the oddities of .bloatx files, so I finally gave in this month.

        So far I have lost an entire working day just to getting Word 2013 to a state where I don’t have to flip between ribbons every few minutes. I am still pondering whether it is quicker to fix the remaining absurdities or export to Open Office for most things.

        1. Word 2013 is evil. 2010 makes a lot more sense and is visually clearer for me as well; I don’t know why they changed it :/ I’ve always used Word because that’s what schools have, that’s what my parents use… it’s just easier to be the same as everyone. And as I mostly use keyboard shortcuts, I rarely even use the ribbon tools.

  5. Yay! Hypermobility sucks, and hopefully using a tablet will be much easier for you. :)

    I think the best way to deal with hypermobile people would be to give us all Iron Man suits. Like a supporting metal exoskeleton that would stop joints bending too far or giving out at inconvenient moments. (I’m totally not just saying that because I desperately want an Iron Man suit… *shakes head*)

    1. I’ve been saying this for years – I mean, I’m Iron Man anyway so I might as well go all the way, right?

      I managed to kill the tablet already, or at least make it glitch on me. Sigh. I’m working on it.

  6. Congrats on finding the silver lining. I’m glad there is one and glad you’re still able to look for it. I think that’s half the challenge: being willing to look for the good stuff that comes with the bad stuff.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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