Tag Archives: DWP

Thanks For The Reminder, DWP

reminderI saw my lovely neurologist last Friday for my yearly review and to check how I was after my last Alemtuzumab treatment.

I was feeling fairly well that day, having taken the previous day off work as I had an early appointment. Just as you do, when you have MS? We learn to build in ways to … manage.

So, we chatted about the appalling time I had had from February until May, and the still-lingering symptoms. We discussed my fatigue, and sadly, the medicine that could have helped enormously has been taken off the market; so I’ll have to keep on dealing with that as best I can.

I got home (in a taxi as I can’t cope with the stress of parking at the hospital), and went back to bed. At 10am. It’s what we do? I cope best by being prepared, factoring in sleep time, down time, can’t do anything time. It feels so normal now, I hardly give it a second thought.

The next day, the DWP letter  ‘inviting’ me to apply for PIP arrived on my doorstep, and everything changed.

When you know you will have to go into excruciating – and at times highly intimate – detail about every single aspect of your illness (and your life), reality smacks you right in the face.

I gloss over many of my symptoms, maybe laugh them off. They’re part of me now and I cope as best I can, and a lot of the time not very well. But I’m still here. Writing everything down is a depressing exercise in negative thinking and now I can’t help but play a running commentary in my mind.

Take yesterday: I called in sick to work. I simply could not cope with the stress of these forms. I was in a pretty bad way and shut out all contact bar this blog (and of course The Teenager, natch). I shut down and shuffled from my bed to the sofa and back again.

This morning, the commentary kicked in as soon as I woke up. Balance, dodgy hands, balance again, dropped stuff. Tripped over the cat, the rug. Attempted and abandoned a shopping list. This is my life now. But to have to catalogue and write down every single thing is horrendous. It’s now glaringly obvious to me just how much life has changed in the last six years.

My life is very, very small now. As a former proud globetrotter, for my horizons to have shrunk to my house and the passenger seat in the Boss’s van is depressing at the best of times. My life is extremely limited but I try to appreciate the beauty in simple things.

Not now. My living room window, through which I view life going on outside of my own experiences is now a window in a jail cell. My house, my safe haven, is now unsafe and at risk.

I thought I was doing the right thing, maintaining a positive attitude after two years of deep depression, still working (albeit with someone who accepts it’s completely normal for me to nod off mid-conversation). This all feels blown to pieces. Do they want me to give up? Call in Social Services? Admit I can’t cope?

Because, it’s beginning to look a lot like that.

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Today’s Blog Is Brought To You By Letters, D, W and P

alloDWP. Brown envelopes.

Guaranteed to make any person with MS angry and anxious.

Since receiving Disability Living Allowance when I was diagnosed with MS, I now have to move to a Personal Independence Payment (which sounds enticingly exciting and intrepid?).

Well, it’s as far from independence as I can fathom.

My own personal case to one side (one I am prepared to fight, and fight hard if necessary), let me just ask, ‘Is MS Curable?’ The DWP seems to think so. For every person who has been or is still on a lifetime award with DLA (and rightly so), you now have to prove you have MS?

MS. Is. Incurable. Incurable.

Why on earth should we have to prove MS is … incurable?

Disability is great at making us invisible. We stay at home, through illness, relapses and fatigue. When we do go out, we are faced with hostility and abuse. How dare you have a blue badge? Move out the way, you’re slowing me down. You’re not working as hard as you should.

And this is the epitome of rendering us utterly out of sight (where we should be?), stuck at home, beset by social isolation and ever-increasing disability. Well done, DWP.

I live alone, now The Teenager is at University. Of course, all my child-related benefits have gone. However, as any parent with Uni-aged children know, you don’t suddenly stop paying anything at all towards their upkeep. Plus, University is 30 weeks of the year. The other 20 are invariably spent Chez Parent (in my case, the only parent, my ex-husband not being in the picture for this). The expense, in part,  remains.

And you cross that hurdle. And as the only person in the household, you trim your cloth according to your means. You adjust to a vastly reduced income, despite vaguely similar outgoings.

And then they come for you. The payments that made it possible to stay in work, to pay for help around the house. And now all that could disappear.

I’ve done the maths. My weekly disposable income with The Teenager at University is embarrassingly low. If I lose my disability payments, I will be in Minus Living.

What sticks in my gut with this whole thing is that I have worked my entire life, fought off a workplace discrimination case, started work at a new job and am still working. A job that fits around my MS, so-called ‘good-days’ and the utterly horrendous days, not forgetting the Can’t Function At All Days.

At this moment in time, I have been brought down so low, it’s hard to know how to come back up again. I could lose my house.

And I really thought I would be rewarded by trying, by dragging myself out of  bed day after day after day, all these years. By pushing myself to do things I would not have attempted previously.

There’s the nub. I should give up work. I should accept I have no other wage coming in. I won’t be able to live independently. And maybe I would Shut Up. And disappear.

D is for Diabolical Discrimination.

W is for Why are you doing this?

P is for Please, give me a break?

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