Thesis dreaMS Part 1 – reflections of a slightly mature, disabled PhD Student


Over the last few months I’ve looked back at my decision to apply to do a PhD as an act of momentary insanity. As the start of school approaches, nerves have grown and preparations have been intense.

Back in the day, when I did my undergraduate degree, I really fancied a pair of dockers – Doc Martens. Of course, I couldn’t afford them. They may look like the shoes of the revolutionary, but unless that revolutionary had a fair bit of money behind them, dockers were never going to happen. And then life got in the way. What does a grown woman in a grown up job need dockers for?!? Now, it’s sensible! I’ve got to go out in cold and wet weather! And, I continue to drive my toes into all manner of things, so they’re for safety. And, they were on sale. Outfits are now being chosen on the basis of whether they’ll go with the dockers. Phew. Important stuff taken care of.

Brown sweater, orange leggings and a Doc Marten boot

Over the summer I read and read and read, and I made sure that the post-it company was kept in business. Who knows what the idea was that made me want take note of all those separate comments, but it looks impressive.

A stack of over 20 books with many small post-it’s on their pages

Other important considerations include getting to the university. Not being able to drive myself, I am reliant on others. Being the control freak that I admit to being, arriving late to school is not an option, and waiting to see if someone else has overslept has more worry attached to it than necessary. With my university fees comes a transit pass, so I decided to investigate the bus. The first time I look the bus, I decided to make a video of the experiences.

To be fair, my plan had always been to get picked up at lunchtime each time I’m at the university, because with my severe fatigue I could see me falling asleep on the bus and ending up somewhere else entirely. However, I thought I’d investigate getting home for those days that I “pop in” for a short meeting, rather than the full 3 hour class. Nope. Not happening. There’s no bus home for me for a 3 hour window right when I need one.

The second time I went on the bus was no less interesting. Not only was there no other passengers, so I was left facing an empty bus, but the door wouldn’t close. Additional AC?

And then, like many people not least those in wheelchairs, my concerns went to going to the loo. In there, I encountered one of the least accessible toilet stalls I have yet to encounter. I looked around for the Candid Cameras (damn I’m old) and not finding them I decided to make my own video. Clearly, the stall was designed for the smallest wheelchair ever or amputees who can remove their prosthetics limbs. I’m glad I was in there on my own, because I was waiting for all the stalls to collapse around me like dominoes.

I guess I need to find a better loo. #priorities

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Michelle in wheelchair with lightsaber fighting Dart Vader