Days 25 and 26

Tuesday

Tuesday wasn’t a great day. Many frustrations and not enough ‘good bits’. That said, it was the only day that i haven’t enjoyed in my time here so i can’t really complain. I arrived at the Centre to find we had another powercut. This meant no dancing to start our day (I think I get as much benefit from dancing first thing in the morning as the young adults do). We also had to rethink our next activity as while the activity didn’t require electricity to complete, we had not photocopied the sheets of pictures of daily occupations needed. So, the group spent some time playing outside and then drawing. Not the most imaginative of mornings. The power returned before lunch and the manager, my translator and I spent another frustrating hour trying to get the daily occupations task ready and contending with a photocopier that would only produce the faintest images from the print we provided.

I left work after lunch for my Romanian lesson, and the frustration continued. I then travelled back to my accommodation on a trolleybus that firstly disconnected from the overhead cables, then broke down (in a lovely spot right in the direct sunlight, though the driver did at least leave the doors open, not that it provided much relief from the intense heat), once moving again got stuck in traffic, and finally got wedged behind another trolleybus that had disconnected from its cables. When I arrived home after 6pm I was hot, tired and a little bit fed up! Thankfully some food, a shower and a trip to the gym cheered me up.

Wednesday

What a difference a day makes! I appear to have caught a cold. So that, combined with a slight ‘hangover’ of the frustrations from yesterday, meant that I felt a bit under par when I started my day. I then got the news that my flight home had been changed by the airline and instead of arriving at 7pm on Friday it will now be landing at 11.30pm. At this point I did wonder if the frustration theme was set to continue but somehow, mindfully, I got on with my day.

I spent my whole day working individually with the 5 young adults in attendance today. One by one we talked through their daily routine and made a poster of the times they engage in all of their important occupations. The aim was to create a focus on independent personal hygiene with the hope that an individual poster might be used as a prompt sheet at home. It gave me a great insight into their lives and also, due to having a translator, I got to hear a lot more of their conversation that when I’m working with my supervisor who only has time to briefly summarise the content – having a translator is definitely a ‘pros and cons’ type experience.

I was struck by how similar each person’s day was. The times varied due to the person’s proximity to the Centre, but the nature of occupations participated in was so similar. Part of this is cultural. People in Chișinău do lead lives that are full of domestic activities; daily trips to the market for food, food preparation, eating as a family and watching television together. But, I imagine that most young people here would have a bit more variety and independence in the occupations they participate in and I suspect people with learning disabilities experience significant inequality in the opportunities they have to choose how they spend their time. Their daily routines seemed more akin to those of a young child who is entirely reliant on their parents and there was an absence of time spent with friends or in participating in any leisure activities other than television. I’m not sure why this surprised me, it certainly fits with my observations of the expectation for people with learning disabilities to be hidden from society, but I suppose just seeing it in black and white really confirmed this for me. I certainly feel very glad that they attend the Centre and experience the social interactions and range of activities available to them there.

Despite feeling a little sad about the above I valued working with each person today. It was an absolute privilege to get that time with them as normally we are trying to run group activities. I can’t believe tomorrow is my last day on placement. Working with everyone out here has been the absolute highlight of my trip. I also feel so lucky that I can get so much personal benefit from ‘doing OT’, I’ve had many days on placements where I have felt tired, sad or grumpy at 8am and then found my mood has lifted the minute I start working with people. I feel very hopeful about, and lucky to have, a career full of ‘doing OT’ ahead of me.

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