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  • montanafillingham


Buckle up and keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times, as I’m about to take you 100mph through the last 6 months.

I have been a little emotionally and creatively blocked – not to mention stupidly busy – and although there’s been a lot of good things happen, it’s been a mixed bag overall. My soul just feels heavy. It wasn’t like they didn’t warn me that I wouldn’t really come to terms with things for a while, but as I got further into my 2nd year in this chair I felt something change. Despite feeling amazed and empowered by how far I’ve come, there’s a gradual settling feeling of slight unease that piggybacks onto that seventh deadly sin… pride. As easy as some things have become, you start to wonder if this is as good as it gets, and if you’ll always need help. You set new targets and you face them with bravery and a cloak of confidence – you smashed previous targets so you can do this….right? Yet I live in constant fear of the plateau; of my progress feeling like it did way in the beginning – a snails pace.

As that snail you made it to the leaf you wanted and devoured it, but now you realise the next leaf could be twice as far, maybe further; but you’re hungry for it now! This mentality is hanging round my head like fog, and has been for a while; it’s thankfully not to the level of, “what’s the point if I can’t see myself walking again?” It’s just I wonder how far I can go. The only way I’ll know is to try, but when the finish line seems so far away you hit a wall of fatigue. It’s an apathy I try so hard to avoid, because I’ve said many times that sort of attitude wont help me reach my goals. Still it’s like I’m back 2 years ago with all those questions swimming in my brain yet we are over 2 years in and I feel I haven’t found the answers to most. I AM still fighting though: that will change only when I’m gone, (and I hope to be grey haired and wearing purple by then.)

The latest good news is after a 12 month fight I’m on the way to getting a personal assistant! *balloons release, party poppers go off, confetti is thrown* It’s a few hours a day and I’ve qualified for funding. Just got to find the right person and things will get so much easier. I hope then to finally concentrate on myself, my battles, MY BOOK, (Yes! It’s still in the plan), and my teaching/clinical career.

Teaching wise I have further good news. I am helping Cardiff faculty out as an Honorary Clinical Associate Teacher, *puts on party hat and blows party streamer* I’m doing something to try and change other patient’s experience in health care by developing content for Medical students based on my experience of having a foot in both camps. At the end of the day we are ALL potential patients. I’ve also become heavily involved in staff wellness, especially mental health; again a topic close to my heart. None of this is paid time, (yet!), but it gets a foot in the door and my name in people’s heads. I remain hopeful.

However, this brings me nicely onto the biggest thing, and honestly the most bittersweet of all developments. So one of the biggest positive things this year was finishing my training pathway. The part of my training interrupted by my accident is finally done.

I went back to work just 15months post accident, and it took me a further 12 months to do a 4 month placement… but I made it. The accident didn’t take my career. It took a lot of other things, but I clawed that one back, and while it’s hidden under a million other things I wanted to achieve by now, I AM proud of myself.

There was/is however a snag I have hit. My funding to work in the job I was in came from a pot money set aside for trainees. I completed the training, a cause for massive celebration... but unfortunately that means I’m not a trainee anymore, so my post is no longer funded.


‘Okay don’t panic. I’m an independent person, I’ve just got to figure out a plan’.

So I’ve been trying. I’m negotiating jobs, I’m joining locum lists to get ad-hoc shifts. But this is month two of being unemployed – something I haven’t been since I was 16. After fighting to finish foundation training, it feels like such an anti-climax and if I’m honest it’s like 2 steps forwards and 20 back again. Suddenly I sat and realised I’m 30 next year, and it feels like I have nothing but pieces of paper to show for all my efforts.

No children.

No mortgage.

No relationship.

No savings.

… and now no job.

I took a headlong dive into myself. Sticking my head into the sand of my own thoughts, and found most of the things I was telling myself were cruel and somewhat untrue, and yet I retreated further into myself. I let myself be paralysed with fear of the future. Simultaneously, I was telling everyone ‘I’m doing well’, ‘I’m fighting’, ‘I’m getting there’. That’s when I realised having no work commitments, (for the moment), meant maybe, (hopefully), I could do something about how I felt. I saw the Doctor, changed my meds, and started some long term counselling.

I put everything work related down for a few weeks, and pulled my head out my ass to go to Seattle for my best friends wedding as bridesmaid. It was hella busy so I didn’t really have time to problem solve, and concentrated instead on just being and enjoying. I got to see 2 of my best friends and biggest supporters. I made some new friends, some of which I’m confident will stick. I tried some new things. While my Mum and Dad were with me to help, I even managed a few days out solo; which thanks to the American Disability Act was surprisingly easy and liberating.

As I expected the wedding was THE WEDDING OF THE CENTUARY; such a beautiful day, in stunning surroundings with some of the BEST friggin’ people. Treasure and Josh, (&family), it was such a special and heart warming day and thankyou for being so accommodating.

This wonderful 2 weeks was then followed by a week of stupid jet lag, a viral tummy bug and the expected post holiday blues.

(But it was totally worth it)

The hardest thing though was coming back to face the reality – the uncertainty – of being unemployed. This is for many reasons.

1. Accepting that I am unemployed, (even though I’m still teaching and developing things academically, fundraising, gig-ing etc – so at times it doesn’t feel it).

2. The stark reality that without a formal training programme the world is simultaneously my oyster, and a completely foreign world, in which I feel I’m almost on the cusp of drowning in right now.

4. Dealing with getting a job with my disability. There is very little guidance out there. My union’s legal department tells me there is no official advice or guidance for MDs with physical disabilities and no formal support group they could even suggest). I really know very little about my ‘rights’, and feel I have to be so careful in applying that outlook right now. I’m also dealing with hospitals that don’t know me, and therefore obviously want me to undergo occupational health interviews.

Believe me I KNOW I’m the one that has to make this happen. I have to do the leg work, (so to speak), and graft to make people realise my worth and not doubt my abilities; rightly or wrongly even more now. I promise you I’m trying, but it is slow going and my mental health’s impact on my motivation right now is huge. I’m still making progress every day. I’m still going for it. I’m still f**king fighting here, but dear god I’m tired. Yet, I know this graft will pay off in the long run – because it already has. I’m further towards okay than I was a fortnight ago, a month ago, and definitely 2 years ago. I’ve come so far; there’s something in that.

I hope along the way I am helping other people who have an issue, (however big or small), who see me still smiling still, and getting out there; still fighting, to know that they can do it too. More than that; that I get what it’s like for people to see you on your good days, to see you when you are putting on a front…but understand what effort you are putting in to stay seeming okay. I see you. You’ll make it. Just like I will.

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