Disability Narratives

Devon has had several operations on her knees in the last couple of years, hoping each time that it would be the last. Her manager was very supportive, but Devon had to be flexible in how she approached her work.

Image representing DevonBackground

at the time of the interview – 2016

Devon is a postdoctoral research associate at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology. Ethnic Background/Nationality: White-American.

Extended biography

at the time of the interview - 2016

Devon works as a post-doc researcher at the William Dunn School of Pathology as a structural biologist and has worked at the University for over six years.

When she was doing her degree in the USA, Devon had major surgery on one knee. Three years ago she had a bad fall that injured both knees. Since then she has had many hours of physiotherapy and has undergone a series of operations the last of which was in June 2016. Before the operations Devon said that she was in a lot of pain, which made it difficult to work. However, if she took enough pain medication to ease her pain it would also mean she was not unable to focus properly on her job.

The building that Devon works in is an older building and the equipment she worked on in the labs was spread over several floors. The lab work also entailed a lot of bending down. These factors made that her lab work difficult to conduct.

Devon also specialises in a form of computational work in her field. When Devon was initially injured her line manager was able to reduce the amount of lab work Devon did and increase the computational work that she was doing. This enabled Devon to continue publishing her work.

Unfortunately, as Devon's initial physiotherapy did not resolve her problems and she required further surgery. Again her manager was able to find more computational work for her. Devon explained that she has been working in six-month blocks of time since then, each time hoping that at the end of the six months she would be able to get back to a balance between lab and computational work. Devon said her manager had been very supportive in ensuring that there was always desk-based work to do.

...be a bit more realistic about the prognosis and what you are going to be capable of, and what you're going to be able to do, over what you would like to be able to do.

Devon explained that she has also had to become more flexible in her approach to work. At various time she chose to work at home, which allowed her to keep her leg raised and iced. Because Devon is the only person in her department with expertise in the computational analysis she does, she often works even when she is officially off sick or on annual leave.

A significant problem for Devon is that access to her building is difficult. She was unable to use the lift after 5pm, as it was likely to break down and there would be nobody to help. The alternative was a steep ramp, without hand rails and a ten minute detour in and out of the building.

Devon advises those who manage disabled people to be compassionate. She says it can help to think creatively and to be flexible to help find ways to help the person engage in work in as many ways as possible.

Biography at the time of the interview - 2016