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To the Student Who Said It’s Unfair I Have a Locker When Others Don't

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Today you saw me using my locker in the lab buildings at the university — the ones we aren’t meant to have on long-term loan and are emptied out after each session. You saw me putting the key back on my lanyard, putting my lab coat, folder and some other bits into the locker, shutting the door and walking out. I heard you mention to your friends how unfair it is that I get to have that locker and nobody else can. Well, let me explain why I have that locker.

I have a couple of health problems: brittle asthma, adrenal insufficiency, diabetes, supraventricular tachycardia (in other words, my heart goes super fast sometimes), I’ve had both hips replaced and am waiting on shoulder surgery. I also have a couple of life-threatening reactions. (I’m not actually in university right now, because I’m in the hospital following a life-threatening exacerbation of my asthma.)

collection of medical supplies and medications
Vicky’s medical supplies.

So, needless to say, I have to carry a fair amount of extra medications around with me. It’s what I like to call my “get out of jail free” kit. It’s basically the stuff that, if it really came down to it, would keep me alive. It sounds dramatic, but it’s kind of true. What you see in the photo is my EpiPen — for when I react to the balloons that are currently all over the student union, or have a massive asthma attack that goes from zero to 100 in five seconds — my steroid injection kit, some nebulisers to stop my airways from closing up when I have a reaction to someone’s deodorant, and some cereal bars for when my blood sugar goes dangerously low and I start getting grumpy and confused. That little orange tin has a lot of tablets in it, too. It really does start to add up. And that’s not including the device I have to carry around for my nebules or my blood sugar testing kit.

So I have to carry a lot around in my backpack. Also, don’t forget that I’m waiting for surgery on my shoulder, so carrying a heavy bag can add to the pain I get there and in my hips, which have both been replaced.

Add into that normal university stuff, like books, notepads, a pencil case, a drink and then whatever else I have in my bag. It gets heavy. I also like to keep spare supplies in there in case I manage to forget something important, so I’m not stuck at school without a rather important medication or piece of equipment. I think that’s fair.

But I know “it’s really unfair that there’s one rule for one person, and another for everyone else,” and I would totally agree with you that they should provide us all with lockers. But there are about 3,000 people at our university.

I know you didn’t mean it in a nasty way, or at least I hope you didn’t. But I hope now you can see why I don’t like having to carry a heavy lab coat, my folders and lab stuff around with me all day after a lab, and why I do need to have a locker. It’s important.

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Originally published: January 29, 2016
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