Tag Archives: Hallowe’en

Stuff The Turkey …

grinchChristmas is most definitely on hold for now.

These Personal Independent Payment (PIP) forms are the ever present Grinch, creeping around my house sucking the very life out of everything that is positive and festive.

However, you guys are angels in disguise – thanks to all your incredible advice, I have now come up with a plan:

I ‘borrowed’ a pad of A3 paper from The Boss and I’ve got one sheet per question. First, I wrote down every MS symptom I experience, relating to each question, then went back over it and jotted down every single example of difficulty I could think of, relating to each symptom, for each question. It’s mind-bendingly complex and it’s taken me hours and hours. Whole days, interspersed with sleep and despair.

Finally (and I haven’t managed it yet), I will take each question in turn and write out a full answer using all my bullet points. After that, I will find a kindly peep (hello, Boss!) who will transfer my scribbled, unintelligible answers on to the form.

I met up with a friend last week who simplified the whole process by saying, ‘imagine a friend, who’s the same age as you. What can she do that you can’t?’ Well, that floored me. As I left, he also said, ‘no one should go through this process alone’ and it was all I could do not to dissolve into tears there and then.

He pointed out just how important it is that – especially as MS can fluctuate for some of us – the words from the DWP to keep in mind are that you will be assessed on what you can do;

  • safely
  • reliably
  • repeatedly
  • to an acceptable standard
  • in a reasonable time period

So as your symptoms fluctuate, so does the time/pain/stress it takes you to complete certain daily tasks. Perhaps one day you just about get by with a lot of give and take and the next day you’re on the sofa. Like me.

You’ll find you repeat yourself over and over in each question and that’s ok. Your MS has given you a set of symptoms and they give you a set of problems and very often these are the same symptoms and the same problems.

What these forms don’t prepare you for is the absolute horror of trawling through the years, realising how much you have ‘adapted’ to MS and incorporated it into your life. Because you have to. When I think about it – and the friend I can compare myself to – it’s just not normal to fall asleep in work, be too tired to cook six days out of seven, to not leave the house unless I’m with someone.

I am living a twilight existence and thanks to the PIP forms, this has been exposed in all it’s grotesque glory.

The Grinch has stolen Christmas and replaced it with Hallowe’en.

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The Teenager Discovers Make-Up

halloweenThere has been much school-based concentration in our little house recently.

Not study notes or researching universities for next year. Nothing that simple.

Nope. There’s a school Hallowe-en party tonight and The Teenager has been fretting endlessly about his outfit:

‘Mum, mum, muuuum. I’m sooooo stressed.’

‘I know dear, this is one of those monumental years of your life.’

‘Like, durrrrr. Not that stuff, my costume for the party. What do I, like, go as?’

‘How about a conscientious student? I have books?’



‘Did that last year. Too much fake blood. Didn’t work.’

‘Ghost? I’ve got an old sheet. You only have to cut out two eye-holes.’

‘Then no-one gets to see my muscles, durrrr.’ Much eye-rolling.

‘I don’t know? You could go as a telly? I could make you a costume out of an old box?’

‘Muuuuum, it’s not like the old days. We have, you know, flat-screens now. I give up.’

And by that point, so had I, as I cast my mind back to when he was two years old, dressed up in the cutest pumpkin costume, complete with a little pumpkin-stalk hat.

This afternoon, after a tiring day at work, The Teenager pounced on me as soon as my key was in the lock.

‘I fed the cat, honest, and look‘ – he shoves his laptop towards me and a strange person is on the screen.

‘I’m going as an effel player. Genius!’

‘Let me just put my bag down. And, um, get in the door? Ta.’ Erm, effel? A new gaming character? Some Japanese warrior?

‘N. F. L. American football.’

I’m completely confused. Don’t they wear cage-like things over their heads and shoulders? I questioned him about this.

‘I’ll be kind of off-duty.’

‘Right. Jeans and a t-shirt then?’

Mum, I’ll wear my NFL t-shirt, black shorts, like, casual like, and carry an American football. But, I need you to do my make-up.’

I sit down with my bags.

‘Ok, show me.’

‘Two big stripes, see?’

‘So you’d have them when you’re off-duty?’

‘Muuuuuuuum. Honestly. One question, can you do them on my face? Without wibbly hands? Pleeeeaaase?’

‘Eye pencil. I’ve got loads I don’t use any more.’

‘Too right – those flicks you tried were, like, wonky.’

‘Don’t push your luck.’

He rummaged through my old make-up pencils, finally finding The One. This! Is perfect.’ He tried it on the back of his hand. ‘And a nice soft colour. I like it. Sorted. Have you got make-up remover for later?’

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Hallowe’en Is Coming

I know it’s a bit early but I adore Hallowe’en. I used to love cutting witch shapes out of black card and making ghosts from scrunched-up toilet roll with The Teenager when he was younger. But I especially loved carving a pumpkin, cutting out a lopsided evil grin and having it lit all evening until it started to smoulder.

We didn’t really ‘do’ Hallowe’en as kids. I used to have a Canadian penfriend and I was puzzled when she sent me a Hallowe’en card, so much so that I took it into school the next day where it was handed round with reverence and wonder.

Now The Teenager is way beyond Hallowe’en crafts, laughs at my Happy Hallowe’en wreath and would be seriously worried if he caught me making those ghosts and witches, just for old times sake.

I am determined to keep up my pumpkin tradition no matter what The Teenager says, so yesterday I bought one, lugged it home and looked up pumpkin pie recipes. I do this every year and every year I look at the pile of gunk I’ve just scooped from the pumpkin then sweep it all into the food recycling bin, vowing to do it next year. Promise. A few years ago a yummy-mummy friend of mine separated and dried out all the pumpkin seeds in the oven, then sat down and made a necklace out of them with her daughter during their ‘mummy and me’ time. We are no longer friends, the pressure was too much.

Anyway, the pumpkin is finished. It’s not artistic, more deliberately naiive for that authentic, child-in-the-house look. Can’t be seen to be taking it too seriously. And The Teenager has just told me he is going out trick or treating. I tried to tell him he might come across as quite threatening, being  six feet tall, but I was just talking to the hand…

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