On the Platform with Meg West

Meet Meg, our latest storyteller on the Platform,  who is part of a new wave of those pushing boundaries to prove that disability is not a barrier to providing quality medical care; if an open mind and creative approach to responding to individual needs in both training opportunities  and the recruitment of staff can prevail.

Tell us about yourself
My name is Meg, I am 21 years old and I live in Cairns, QLD. I spent my childhood in the regional town of Geraldton, WA.   At 19 I made the decision to pack up everything and move to Cairns. I haven’t looked back, moving across Australia was the best decision I ever made.
When I left school, I studied my Enrolled Nursing diploma through TAFE. Now, almost 4 years later, I am due to graduate from my Bachelor of Nursing Science (Registered Nurse) at James Cook University. I am excited to enter the world of nursing and make an impact on the patients and health care workers I encounter.

My goal is to become a Midwife and progress to Nurse Practitioner and specialise in women’s and children’s health. I feel empowered helping women around me become the best they can.

                 

What has been your journey of disability?
I was diagnosed with TAR (thrombocytopenia absent radius) syndrome at birth. From then I spent a few years in hospital receiving operations on my arms. From a baby I wore plastic splints to encourage my arms to be a little bit straighter. As I grew older, I was required to visit the hospital, OT’s and physio less and less. Now at 21, I am fully independent and live with partner. There has been no sport or activity that has ever got in my way except for hand stands and cartwheels.

Thrombocytopenia is a condition in which a person has low blood platelets. Platelets are a clotting factor in the blood that slow down and stop bleeding. Thrombocytopenia is something that I will always struggle with, but I have grown up with the condition so I can adjust to the decrease in platelet levels easy now.   My disability is something that will always be with me but it is a part of me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Do you feel that growing up in a country town made a difference in the experiences you had as a young person with disability?
Yes and no. Growing up in a country town meant specialists were a great distance away and we were required to travel to the closest city to access them. However, growing up in a country town meant everyone know everyone and that meant people knew of me and my disability.

                                     

Did you experience anything in particular in growing up in the country that made an impact on how you felt about yourself? (positive or negative?)
Yes, due to Geraldton being a small town, it meant the people that I grew up with went all the way from Kindy to Year 12 with me. Everyone knew me and felt comfortable asking questions about my arms at a young age, this meant by high school no one would ask anymore. However, I still encountered bullying, and due to the town being so small it meant it was hard to avoid.

Have you felt or have you been treated differently living in a bigger community?
Probably not, bullying happens everywhere. I think I would have just received a lot more questions.

What would you say is your greatest strength?
My kindness.

Are there things about you that people misunderstand because of your disability?
Yes, people believe that because I have different arms that I can’t do ANYTHING.

What was your experience like going through the education system?
Good, school was supportive of the fact that I was a slower writer than everyone else,  and allowed me to have extra time for exams and written assessments. University was the same. The support I received with going through TAFE was amazing, the nursing lecturers were very accommodating and if I struggled with a task, they helped me to figure out a way to do it that worked for me.

         

What does the use of the word Inspired mean to you?
It means a lot. I hope to inspire people to never give up as a lot of people have done for me.

Who inspires you? Where do you get inspiration from?
My parents inspire me. Their hard work and commitment to giving us kids the best life they could spurs me to take every opportunity I can and make them proud. They have given me so much support and opportunities and the only way to show them how much that meant to me is to be the best version of myself and go far in life.

Which three words would you use to describe yourself?
Kind, unique and friendly.

Were there any particular challenges in entering the field of nursing that you faced because of your disability?
My biggest challenge so far has been getting other nurses to see me as an able person. Lots of people assume I need help with everything even though I am fully independent. I haven’t struggled with any nursing tasks per say, I just take that task and make it work for me.

“My biggest challenge so far has been getting other nurses to see me as an able person.”

Do you think having a disability can be a benefit when working in a nursing environment? Why/ In what ways ?

Yes. I can connect with people who have a disability themselves.

What is one thing, experience or person you have had that completely changed your life?
My best friend. She saw me as me and not as a person with a disability. She helped me build confidence in myself. Without that confidence I would have missed out on a lot of opportunities I have been offered.

       

Who or what has been the most significant influences on who you are today?
My best friend.

What’s one thing about you that surprises people?
That I am fully abled and independent.

For what are you most grateful today?
My support system. My partner, my friends and family. They continue to encourage and love me when I struggle to do it myself. Without them I would not be where I am today.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Your situation at 18 is not everything, get rid of toxic people and take any opportunity thrown at you.

 

         

What is your greatest achievement to date?
My greatest achievement will be graduating from my Bachelor of Nursing.

Is there something that you would like people to know about you or about people with disability that they might not know?
Just that people with disabilities are just people as well. Treat them normally and they’ll tell you in they need help and assistance. You don’t have to treat us any differently.

Do you have any advice or something you know that made a difference in your life journey that you would like to share with other women with disabilities?
F… people who think you’re not good enough!!!!. You are amazing and you can do anything you put your mind to!

For what would you most like to be remembered for?
My kind personality and the impact I hope to make on nursing.

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