Author Topic: Earning my 'doctorate' in 'my disabilities' (wry)  (Read 280 times)

Sunny Clouds

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I was wondering where much of my life has gone in recent years.  Frankly, most of the pandemic period has been a write-off for me, and before that, I had a stressful year and a half of trying to meet people, get myself fitter etc. much of which was stressfully unproductive socially but time consuming travel-wise.

But then I looked back to 2017-2018.  I thought they were quite productive and in particular active paperwork-wise, particularly two things - admin/paperwork to do with my father's death, and my DLA -> PIP migration.

Suddenly, a moment of curiosity.  When I made my application, I filled in the forms and in each additional information box, I wrote something like "See appendix".  My appendix was very, very long, but each page had headers and footers, - not lots of info but made me think of it as less than it was.  

But what was the actual word count.  I went onto my computer desktop and in a few clicks I'd opened my copy of my application and done a word count.  Approx 35,000 words. 

Search engine.  "Thesis length UK".  I clicked on a few university sites, not bothering to rummage, but those with tables showed maximum word limits, not minimum words.  Typically 100,000 for a PhD and 30,000 - 50,000 for a masters.  A bit more rummaging suggested that some universities will accept as few as 10,000 words for a masters. 

Then I glanced on a site where it gave different counts for different subjects and sorts of subjects.  In other words, there are some subjects where for a doctorate, the word count could be far, far less than 100,000 because of the data/research evidence also enclosed.

Aha, so I reckon that if we considered the pile of evidence I'd enclosed, e.g. audiogram, and the actual PIP form I'd filled in as that non-essay-like part of a doctoral thesis in a practical/research subject, then bingo, my PIP application was worth a doctorate in some subjects.

No wonder after that I sort of crumpled.  Doing the equivalent of a doctoral research and thesis on what's wrong with me?  That is traumatic and destructive. 

For me, that maps onto the horrors of dole claims as well, whether JSA or UC.  Lots of time-wasting stuff that leaves you no time or energy or self-esteem actually to apply for jobs, or more to the point, apply for relevant jobs.

But if you're a senior politician, you're used to other people doing the work for you, so you can build your career.  As a raving Leftie, I consider the Tories to be nasty, but again what bugs me more than the nastiness is the incompetence.  Logically to exploit people you want them to stop claiming social security and work for peanuts instead, not to clutter up the system as they fall apart psychologically.

An extra incentive for them to finish privatising all the potentially profitable bits of the NHS. Make profits where they can on those that cost more to fix after being treated like this and save money on abandoning others.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Fiz

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Re: Earning my 'doctorate' in 'my disabilities' (wry)
« Reply #1 on: 15 Jun 2021 04:31PM »
I have visions of the claim handler leafing through your doctorate, skim reading it and thinking of their coffee break, thinking yep she can have it. Claimant 1 DWP 0  :f_laugh:

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Earning my 'doctorate' in 'my disabilities' (wry)
« Reply #2 on: 15 Jun 2021 04:58PM »
It rebounded on me.  The claims handler called my GP, and based on the written decision on my claim and something that the GP said to me, it's pretty obvious they didn't read it, just dipped into it a bit and thought "Oh, hell!"

What, I think, caused most confusion were a couple of sections where I wrote something like "I'm satisfied I'm not entitled to points for this, but I've answered the questions because you've asked them."

That being said, so far as I can tell, my GP's attitude is that he thinks I'm genuinely entitled to disability  benefits, so he doesn't give a toss if they get awarded for the wrong reasons because the people assessing and deciding are twerps.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Fiz

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Re: Earning my 'doctorate' in 'my disabilities' (wry)
« Reply #3 on: 16 Jun 2021 06:49AM »
I like your GP! 

Reminds me of my previous GP. I had requested a mammogram when I was 40 because both my mother and maternal grandmother had died of breast cancer and the NICE guidelines say that therefore you can start being screened at 40. The hospital wrote back saying they didn't have the funds and suggested that I request screening in April at the start of a new financial year, that was 8 months away. My GP rolled his eyes and said "right, we've found a lump. It's the right breast if they ask" and sent off a new request. I was screened within two weeks! I do like a GP that wants the right outcome for their patients.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Earning my 'doctorate' in 'my disabilities' (wry)
« Reply #4 on: 16 Jun 2021 05:50PM »
Oh, I love that about finding a lump!

I remember my GP refusing to do something I wanted...

When I was living in rented accommodation and on means-tested benefits, before the cuts to council tax benefit, I discovered that if I wanted, I could cancel my claim for council tax benefit and claim a class U exemption from council tax on the  basis of mental impairment, which I did.

Then I thought "Oh, hell, I don't want it on record that I'm mentally impaired" and looked to change my mind, but I found that if I stopped claiming the exemption, I could only get the benefit again if I got a doctor's note to say I wasn't severely mentally impaired.

My GP said no.  He wanted me to keep my exemption.  Belatedly I realised that once I'd claimed, my mental impairment was on a database somewhere anyway.

It's like when I asked for notes for things and commented one day on how my GP was doing for free what other GPs charge for.  His response was "If a GP doesn't look after his patients, who will?"

He's not perfect, but he cares a hell of a lot.  Sadly, he's past retirement age so I don't know how much longer he'll be my GP for.  If I'm lucky, others currently working for him will take over the practice.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Fiz

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Re: Earning my 'doctorate' in 'my disabilities' (wry)
« Reply #5 on: 16 Jun 2021 06:09PM »
I love having a good GP. It really helps.

ditchdwellers

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Re: Earning my 'doctorate' in 'my disabilities' (wry)
« Reply #6 on: 17 Jun 2021 10:29AM »
Sunny Clouds,  your doctor sounds like an absolute treasure.  A GP who takes the time to get to know you and actually listen to what you're saying, as well as what you're not, is worth all their weight in gold. 

Fiz, is your GP good too?

Since moving, I'm on my second GP practice. The first was so awful I put in a complaint to the local Healthwatch. The second so far has been very good with the GP really seeming to care. I haven't seen the doctor face to face yet, just phone calls, however my regular blood screen nurses are so lovely and the receptionists so helpful that I have high hopes that I have found the right practice for me.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Earning my 'doctorate' in 'my disabilities' (wry)
« Reply #7 on: 17 Jun 2021 12:48PM »
Fingers crossed you've hit the jackpot with this practice, DD.

I made a bad mistake years ago.  I was with this practice and moved just outside their catchment area.  The doctor I usually saw said to see the senior doctor and ask if I could stay with the practice, but I chickened out, thinking it was 'cheating'. 

I moved to another practice and they were absolutely awful.  I asked the old practice if I could come back and they said yes with no problem at all.

That being said, I've increasingly realised I've got various communication problems with doctors, including at this practice.

The first is that I was brought up not to challenge authority like doctors on a personal level (as opposed to in general feedback/consultation contexts) and that has led to my feeling unable to seek clarification.  This was particularly a problem with psychiatrists.  I'm trying to get stronger about that.  But it has impacted on my relationship with my current GP and his team.

The second is that I'm longwinded (well that's no surprise when you see the length of  my posts) and that can lead to busy health professionals switching off.  However, when I write things, given time, I can also whittle things down, and with one GP in the practice, where I had loads of info to give him and he didn't know the background to what I needed help with, I was able to draw up a chart of the info in time sequence and whittle it down and down and down so he could skim in maybe a minute, two at most, what could have taken me as much as ten minutes to say.  I haven't tried that with my usual GP, but may do in future.

The third is my poor hearing which can also sometimes be addressed by writing things down, although in a hospital context, a neurologist given key info in writing this way kept asking questions the answers to which were in what I'd given.  It was only later I realised the so-and-so was just asking so the students present could listen.  My usual GP is great in terms of clear speech and putting words in context, but I gave up on one registrar with very poor enunciation and indistinct lip movements.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

ditchdwellers

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Re: Earning my 'doctorate' in 'my disabilities' (wry)
« Reply #8 on: 17 Jun 2021 01:40PM »
My mother in law has no hearing in one ear and is functionally deaf in the other unless she is wearing her hearing aid. This helps a lot and it wasn't until everyone started wearing masks that we realised how much she relies on lip reading. She's in her 90s and has advanced  mixed dementia. She's still recovering from a a hip replacement following a fall and has a live in carer at home as she's adamant she doesn't want to go into a home. 

Her hearing aid broke down a few weeks ago however the care agency we use (chosen and arranged by me!) are excellent and had a replacement sent by taxi at their own expense from the hospital within a couple of hours. The hospital also told them she was very overdue a hearing test so they put her on the list for a home visit. I don't mind paying for a service like this! 

To be honest though, I hadn't thought how difficult it must be for people with communication issues how difficult wearing a mask makes it. One of the carers that my mother in law had to do relief cover for the regular carer, who was having her two week break, had a very strong accent. My mother in law just couldn't really get what she was saying which affected the way they interacted and there was no bonding between them. She gets on like a house on fire with her regular carer and they built up quite a bond very quickly. 

Sunny, do you find the masks have been a hindrance to communication? I don't think we have had enough publicity regarding how they can restrict people's lives. 
What about accents? Are some easier to understand than others? To give you some idea of our accents, we live in Sussex by the Sea!

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Earning my 'doctorate' in 'my disabilities' (wry)
« Reply #9 on: 17 Jun 2021 02:26PM »
Masks - yes, a problem, although I generally also rely on being able to mentally fill in gaps and on telling people I'm very deaf and that they may need to shout.

At least I got a head start both with lipreading and with mentally filling in gaps between what I hear - I was very catarrhal as a child, and for a number of years late primary school to mid secondary school I was profoundly deaf with what we'd now call glue ear.  By contrast, a high proportion of people who get deaf enough to need to learn to lipread do so as they grow older.  Not ideal.

Hearing aids - I have been wearing hearing aids for about 25 years.  I have had several pairs and they have varied massively in how well I can hear with them.  It's not about the volume, it's about the pitch balance.

It was only last year, when chatting with a musician who also has hearing aids that I learnt that you can ask an NHS audiologist to adjust them differently, e.g. specifically for speech or whatever.

I wouldn't even have found that out had I not been telling him that it had taken me until recently when seeing a pianist on a video and thinking how I'd be able to hear all the notes if they were loud enough, to wonder what happens when hearing aids are adjusted for the user to the pitches in between the ones they test.

I.e. if you picture an audiogram, which is just a few crosses on a chart, do the hearing aids just amplify those pitches or also in-between?  If the latter, is it on a slope or in a stepped fashion? 

It evidently varies.  Also, there are things they don't tell you.  It was thanks to something an Oucher wrote on a deaf site that I realised some aids I had a while back did something weird.  With high-pitched 's' sounds, they didn't just amplify, they lowered the pitch to around 'sh' and then amplified.  My brain couldn't adjust.  The harder I strained to hear 's', the more my brain registered a general 'shhhhhh'.

If you then take into account that hearing loss can be very uneven across the pitches, not even a smooth-ish curve or slope, but zigzaggy, you can end up with the situation I've got where my aids increase volume and reduce clarity.

Accents

Firstly there's general pitch stuff - different accents stress different pitches.  That's both overall pitch and rising or falling pitch at the end of phrases.  Think how some people in the South East twitch over 'modern London English' or MLE.  Cockney they could tolerate because it's traditional or whatever, but these rising pitches where the pitch is supposed to fall?  Eeek!

Think of how rising-pitch accents in the West Midlands,  Black Country, Liverpool etc. are associated by some journalists (presumably based down south) with things like low intelligence etc.  (Aargh, social stereotypes!)  Those rising pitches.  (But if, like  me, you're used to rising pitches, put on a falling pitch voice on the phone to strangers or when meeting others.)

But your leaving aside familiarity with an accent, overall pitch plus the pitch variation within a phrase or sentence can make an enormous difference to hearing and understanding, depending on how well it maps onto what pitches you hear best.

There's also which sounds are emphasised and how much of a break is left between words. 

The example I always give people of lipreading as a problem is that in what I'll call 'television presenter English'  the following words have the same lip pattern - bad, mad, pad, ban, man, pan, bat, mat, pat.  But with less clarity of lip movement, you can add in more - a can look like o, w can look like b/m/p  etc.  So context becomes really important for your brain to quickly work out which word it was.  The mat isn't on the cooker with the soup in it, is it?  That would be the pan.

But of course, if you're not profoundly deaf, you'll have the help of some sounds.

But sounds have their problems.  If there are pitches you don't hear, you're mentally filling in gaps.  And that's complicated by the fact that if you were going deaf slowly, your brain may not adapt well to hearing aids.  I was very lucky with my first pair in that my audiologist at the time was willing to adjust them to what I'll call half way between what I was used to and 'textbook hearing'.

Different accents also have different ways of emphasising, separating etc.  Here, my first thought is between French and German.  Exaggerated contrast.  German - word, space, word, space etc.  French word, uuh, word, uuh, word, uuh.  English - varies according to things like regional accent, social class etc.  but in general, I think we like our spaces in most sorts of British English, or maybe just English-English.

Gosh, that was almost as long as my PIP thesis.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)