This weeks budget delivered by George Osbourne makes you wonder about humanity as a whole.
I understand the average Joe Bloggs who might be inexperienced about disability. Never suffered with one or had friends or family who have suffered. I can understand if a person is of the wealthy scale and perhaps doesn’t need that kind of financial assistance – if you have a back up plan. Good for you. The average Joe Bloggs with no experience can be forgiven for not understanding something that they’ve never come across. Therefore when I see negative comments towards the disabled on social media sites I generally just think of an unlived and uneducated person. I kind of get that. Although I must add, it looks like through social media that there are more who despise what is going on at the moment. That’s good. It’s just going to be a long four years until we get the chance to vote again.
What I can’t understand are the highly educated individuals (Politicians). People who’ve had access to the best education system and have high contacts to put them in touch with people in high up places such as Specialists, Dr’s, people who have done the research etc… I can’t understand how you can be so educated (Politicians perhaps singling out the Tory Party), privileged and informed and yet still have no understanding about struggles. People keep telling me it’s because they are so removed from life that they don’t know what goes on in the ‘real world.’
But for me it doesn’t take a genius whether you’ve got access to money or not to work out that low levels of income and low levels of disability payment – that £30 a week cuts is a lot of money to the ratio of what has previously been given. It doesn’t take a genius to work it out. I keep telling myself, perhaps you do get so removed from society that £30 to yourself is peanuts so you think it’s peanuts to somebody else. In which case you can’t do sums or you can’t work out that £30 week is a lot of money to help a disabled person to function, have dignity and be given a lifeline for something that they didn’t ask to have. Nobody asks to be disabled. I think that if you ask any disabled person if they could choose what we consider a privileged existence of having health or getting disability payment. They would be jumping at the chance to be in our shoes. I daresay those amongst us who are healthy and sane do not take health for granted, we can sit and put ourselves in the shoes of a disabled person and we probably run out of the door each day getting on with our lives, feeling very grateful and wondering what would happen if disability was pushed upon us. How dependent we would feel.
I personally don’t take health for granted. I’ve experienced the ill health and the adversity that you face when it is thrown at you. At 28, with three young children under the age of five, my disability began. As it happens I never claimed disability. It is my biggest regret as I was actually disabled.
My feet were two shoe sizes bigger, for two years I wore trainers, my hands and wrists were swollen. I would pick my young daughter up with my forearms, my knees were swollen and unbendable, I was walking like a ninety year old woman, not a sprightly 28 year old. My weight was down a stone. I had no strength to put myself in the bath, my body too weak to get out of it. Going to the toilet was a difficulty, trying to manoeuvre myself back up while wedging my forearm against the toilet sink. The pain was bad and it was constant and I would cry amongst my sodden night sweat sheets, myself to sleep at night just wanting to be healthy. I would cry for my children. Feeling a failure for not being healthy for them.
When I became a single mum I had another flair up, it was major and again it lasted for along time. I once again cried to my Specialist about how my children deserved better and how there were times they had to help me. The Specialist told me that we are a family and that’s what families do. I was also grateful that I still worked to provide, I was in agony but I still worked to provide.
Do I regret it? Sometimes, yes, I was disabled I should have claimed disability. But then I think that I’ve been lucky coming out of the other side and I do have it going for me that I faced adversity and kept going. It’s really good on my CV – which proved so today while I was at an interview.
Disability is more than just a slight inconvenience, it’s life changing and soul destroying. Without a good support network it is mentally disabling. Your troubles become so much more than just physical.
These days I’m grateful because I am in remission. I work and look after my children with ease. Yes I have to put up with one day a week being sick and that’s awful to have to go through but it’s much better than ten years ago, being in constant pain with young children. I adore the fact I can work, I love the achievements that I’ve gained, I love my independence. If somebody said to me, “Would you like to get disability, give up your job but you’ve got to be as ill as you were, would you do it?” Obvious answer is no. Life and being healthy is better.
But you will understand that if you have a health condition that you do have to take better care of yourself and that in itself costs money. I buy boxes of fruit and veg, lots of lean meat and fresh fish to take care of my diet. I want to manage my health condition as best as I can. That’s not to say that I don’t have my vices (I love wine).
Last year I did try for PIP towards helping for extra costs of healthy food – my health condition is in remission but it’s not going away. I take very heavy drugs for my health condition but I proved to be too independent for my own good. The nurse who assessed me, described me as above average intelligence and above average independence. I thought to myself, that’s because I’m a fighter and I don’t give up but that isn’t taking away my health condition and the impacts that it has had on myself and my career path. I’m certain without the health condition I would have been much further on, I’m certain if I wasn’t juggling sickness each week that again I’d be much further on.
Like I say, I can half understand those who not had a brush with disability themselves or witnessed a loved one going through it. But I can’t understand those who are high up and running the country – individuals who are highly educated, privileged and have access to the information that they need, should be clever enough to reach the conclusion and understand that the cuts are morally wrong and furthermore damaging. The fact they don’t makes me very cagey about their intelligence. They surely must understand that disability can happen to anybody. Ok, so they might not need disability payments as they’re wealthy but others in the country are not wealthy. Others have had their futures wiped out by disability from birth or as life has progressed. People with disability need more help to lead a normal life and not holding back due to lack of funds. So instead of wiping it out for all, would it not be better to means test it? Even then don’t totally agree as disability is disability, it involves extra costs… But maybe means test so the likes of David Cameron who once claimed for a disabled child does not get – he earns enough.
My biggest fear though my own brush with disability and chronic health problems is that I will flair beyond control. Not just to the point of not being able to build my future. But flair to the point of not being able to wash, shower, get dressed and have the basic rights of independence. It’s my fear and therefore I’m in support and have signed the petition to stop the cuts to disabled people. Please join me by signing, here’s the link: