Work Capability Assessment.

Back in June,  I was released by my employer as an administrator for the NHS on medical grounds, because I had been off work for over a year. The contract termination was handled with compassion and fairness, and I remain on really good terms with my old co-workers and have regular catch-ups and coffee.

The next step was to sign on for unemployment. Now when I signed on for social security payments, the staff made me feel like something they’d scraped off the bottom of there shoes, they made me feel worthless, that it was all my fault I couldn’t work. There was absolutely no offer of help, nothing about what they would do to help me, all I got was  a contract I had to sign to get money, what it also  says, is you must do everything they say when they say, or you will be sanctioned, which means your money will be stopped, 3 sanctions and they stop your money for 3 years. Even though I am unable to work due to complex medical conditions, I  am still made to grovel for help.

Now I had been signed off work  by my doctor indefinitely, but the jobcentre tell me I will have to attend a work capability assessment, the reason for this assessment is because they don’t believe me,and they don’t believe what 7 medical specialists have said and diagnosed over the last 7 years, plus reports from several General practitioners. The stress they put me under is inhuman, they made me feel worthless,  a liar and a cheat.

Well it’s now 5 months since I signed on, and  Monday I finally had to attend my Work capability assessment. It’s just over an hours drive to get there, though any travelling over 30 mins these days is difficult and extremely painful. Luckily I had a lot of help to get me there from good friends Karen and Sue,  so I  wouldn’t have to drive.

When we arrived at the centre we found that the only disabled parking bay was about 25 yds from the main entrance of the jobcentre, and was on a slight slope, not helpful when your disabled, and because your there for a work capability assessment your can’t use it, instead you have to make your way down and around  the outside of the building, then you have to go down a driveway that has to be another 75 yds to the assessment centre entrance, only, the top of the driveway is coned off so  you can’t be driven and dropped off.

Anyway we arrived on time, in fact we were 15 mins early, unfortunately  we had to wait around for  an hour past my appointment  time. The receptionist did apologise and said it won’t be much  longer as your assessor is just reading your notes. Now I’m sure that some of you will be saying , oh well shit happens an hours not too long to wait, so let me put it from my side, in the contract I had to sign, it states that if I am late for or miss my appointment I  will be sanctioned and lose my benefits, then the week before the appointment I received several texts reminding me to attend, and reminding me that  my benefits will be affected if I don’t attend, then to top it all off I  got a phone call to remind me about attending. So by Friday night my stress levels were through the roof.

They already have the information which they will question me on, because they sent me a 20 page questionnaire  to fill out before I attended,  I  also had to take along proof of the medications I take, MRI Scan pictures of the damaged area of my spine and the spinal cord inflammatory scar. In fact proof of just about everything. About half way through the questioning the doctor tells me she hasn’t read my notes and  she doesn’t really know much about Osteoperosis. I was told the doctor had read my notes and they would have a good understanding of my conditions,  what a joke. Once the ordeal was over, Karen  asked them if we could leave through the jobcentre entrance as I was struggling, so it only took us less than a minute to get outside to the car park. So why make people take the long way, why make it harder.  It makes you think.

Now I just have to wait, to see if they think I  am fit for work, or not, by there standards not medical ones, and I  have no idea when I will find out.

I have to say that they way this Tory government, the DWP, Jobcentre +, ATOS, & MAXIMUS, treat the sick, the disabled, the homeless and the poor is disgusting and inhumane. Why are we demonised? Why are we penalised? Why can this not be carried out with compassion and fairness?

Why?

I still feel I am one of the lucky ones though, simply because I have an amazing support group of family and friends around me, but for those who don’t  have that, and end up homeless, or end up taking there own lives as so many 1000″s already have. It really makes me very angry, and it absolutely breaks my heart, nobody in the 21st century in the UK should be treated this badly . We are the Worlds 5th richest country.

Thank you Karen for accompanying  me, and supporting me during the assessment, and thank you Sue, for driving me to Brighton General for the first leg of my journey.

 

Take care all,

Gary x

 

​The Lottery

 

My homework set for week 5 was to have my story following on from the first paragraph of a short story called.

The Lottery   by   Shirley Jackson.

       The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely, and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank around ten o’clock; in some towns, there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 26th. But in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o’clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.

 

Continuation by Gary Oldmeadow

      Mac was standing in his small shack.  Now Mac, or James McKenzie to give him his full name, turned 50 last week, He looked pretty good for his age, and these days 50 was a damn good age to reach. The average age for most citizens was about 35, it’s been this way ever since the great plague had wiped out 50% of every living creature on the planet, it happened the year before Mac was born.

‘I’m sick and tired of living off bloody scraps, I’m the oldest in the village now, it’s my turn to win the chance to go to the citadel, eat good food, drink fresh water’. He shouted to nobody as he set off for the square.

On the other side of the village, Magister Jayna Kovac, the youngest and first female Magister the village had appointed, was putting on her ceremonial robes for the drawing of the yearly village lottery. She knew the lottery was rigged; she knew that certain citizens would never be allowed to win and leave the village, and anger was growing amongst those people. She also knew she would not be one of the lucky ones that got to stay in the village.  Little did people realise that the blood tests they all had to have on the 1st of each month would make the ultimate choice of who would win the lottery, nothing to do with the luck of the draw.

Mac was one of the last to arrive in the square, he spotted one of the few people he trusted and walked over to him. His name was Steve Sutton, Steve was around 4 years younger than Mac and saw him like an older brother.

‘Hey Mac, how’s thing’s? What do you think the chance is of one of us winning the lottery this year are?’

‘There’s more chance of seeing a squadron of pigs doing a flypast Steve’, Mac joked,  ‘We still buy our tickets though, just in case it isn’t a fix, after all, you gotta be in it to win it’ Mac said cynically, ‘anyway we’ve literally paid for the chance with our blood each month’

‘Are you still having the blackouts Mac? I’ve had two this month alone, the Doc says he still can’t figure out what’s causing them’.

‘Same here’ Mac uttered back.

Suddenly the atmosphere changed, and a hush fell over the gathering, the town Cryer was announcing the Magister and the beginning of the 45th undertaking of the Citadel Lottery. As he finished his announcement, the large ornate black metal box came into view, carried at shoulder height by 6 Box Bearers.

Waiting in her office on the square, Jayna was feeling nervous about delivering her first lottery, she dashed to the bathroom whilst having a fit of coughing, she spat in the sink, more blood she thought, she washed her face and placed the ceremonial black cap on her head.

As the box was placed onto the stone table, the Magister stepped onto the square and made her way toward the podium to carry out her duties. Almost everybody clapped and cheered, even Steve, only Mac stood stony face hands in pockets. Then the speech was over, time for the Lottery to begin.

‘Citizens, as is our custom, I will draw the first ticket blindfolded, then as each of your names is called by our village Cryer, you will make your way to the box and draw your ticket, remember there will be no looking at your ticket until all have been drawn.

A little over 2 hours later and the lottery draw was complete, once again a hush falls over the crowd. The Magister speaks again.

‘As you, all know the one who has the ticket marked with a ‘C’ will have won the prize of going to live in the Citadel, so without further delay please look at your ticket, then hold it aloft for all to see’.

There was a loud gasp, then everyone began to cheer and clap, ‘it’s the magister, she’s won’. Jayna feigned shock and embarrassment then thanked the crowd for their good wishes. Steve turned to Mac to ask what they should do about it, but Mac wasn’t there. Where the hell’s he gone? Oh God, I hope he isn’t doing anything stupid.

As Mac came too, he wondered where he was, he didn’t recognise the room, he’d never seen anywhere this fancy, then he heard the Magisters voice. He turned, his face red with anger, Jayna asked him to listen to what she had to say. He nodded.

‘Mac, I’ve decided to name you as my successor. In 3 days, I will be leaving for the Citadel’, she started to cough, Mac saw the blood in her handkerchief. ‘I’ve got the plague’ she a tear in her eye, ‘the citadel is really a hospital, the monthly blood tests are to find those who are immune, we take blood from those of you who have the unsolved blackouts and use it to try and find a cure, this happens in every village, town and city around the world. This is why you and anybody over 40 has never been picked’ another coughing fit more blood.

‘As Magister you will need to keep the pretence going, if we don’t find a cure then you and those like you will be the last of the human race’ Mac slumped back, struggling to take it all in.

‘You will need to choose an advisor, someone you can trust, someone to share the heavy burden. I chose you to succeed me as I think you have what it takes to make a good, kind leader for our village, I think you have the strength to conduct the lottery in the way it needs to be. So tomorrow I will announce your appointment. This is how it must be; I am sorry Mac but now we must go and prepare for the future’.

 

Warnham Nature Reserve

For this story, we were asked to write a piece on our favourite place and describe it in a way that the reader can see it without being there.

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Warnham Nature Reserve

14 years ago, I started studying for my City & Guilds photography diploma, as I loved photographing nature and wildlife, I just wanted to learn more and get better.  Around this time, I was told about a local place called Warnham Nature Reserve by a friend.

On my first visit, I fell in love with the place and have been visiting the reserve whenever I get the chance. So, what I thought I would do is let you in on a typical visit to a place I love to spend time.

I am a creature of habit; I have a specific ritual for when I visit that hasn’t changed from my first day. It’s a Wednesday morning and I have just parked up in the car park. First thing I do is get my camera bag out, and head to the café, which is also the entrance, I get myself a black coffee and a packet of crisps, I sit outside at one of the tables. I’m there for about half an hour checking that I have the right lenses on the cameras, and check all the batteries are charged, so cameras work ok, coffee is drunk, and crisps are eaten, so off I go through the café.

I like to visit on a weekday, as it’s a little bit quieter so I can get around easier in my chair or using my crutch.

As you enter the reserve you are assaulted by the smells of the heather and lavender, in the small rock garden Bee’s and Hover Flies lazily fly between the grey, purple, yellow and green of the plants, and the sound of the Seagulls above the pond. To the right of this area is a small viewing point called “Tern Hide’, it overlooks the right-hand end of the pond and weir. A great spot for viewing the swans.

After passing through the rock garden you have a choice of paths, left takes you along the boundary of the golf course, but straight ahead is the path I take, through the gate and across the wild meadow, were you are again bombarded by the sights sounds and smells, of the butterflies, Crickets, Bees and flowers. I always stop at the small bridge in the middle to drink it all in.

Once through the next gate I cross the long wooden bridge that spans the smaller pond whilst watching and listening to the colourful Butterflies, Demoiselle flies and the Dragonflies.

Now I follow the path into the musty old woodland, full of Oaks, Maple and Firs, I can hear a distant woodpecker, and then coming out of the thicket is a deer, a young female, she stops in the middle of the path about 20 feet away looks me in the eyes the slowly moves off, my day just keeps getting better.

A few more steps off to the right and I finally arrive at the ‘Heron Hide’, which is a good size and is wheelchair accessible. I sit on the bench at the far end of the hide put down my bag and get my camera ready, at this point I took the picture you see above. I can see three Herons on the other side of the pond and a swan chasing a Moorhen, at that moment I see the recognisable electric blue streak shooting across in front of the hide, one of the Kingfishers heading back to their nest, a little blurry but I manage to get a picture.

I turn my attention back to the Herons just in time to see two of them fly off, there is a bird calling to my left and as I slowly turn I see the Iridescent blue and orange of a female Kingfisher perched on the post in the pond. I’m too slow with my camera as it dives for a fish, it flies back up to the post but no fish. Then to my astonishment it just sits there and allows me to take my pictures, then it’s gone again, an electric blue streak racing across the pond.

I put my camera down and just sit watching and listening to nature doing its thing, I find these times to be so relaxing and it’s the main reason I go, the photography is just a bonus when I remember I’ve actually got my camera with me that is.

As I sit there relaxing in the moment, the door behind me opens and in come three teenagers with Cerebral Palsy, all in their electric wheelchairs followed by there three female carers, who unsuccessfully try to get there wards to quit down, which was funny to watch, then I helped with identifying the birds and where they are, it must of sounded like a party was going on with all the laughter, and for an hour we have a great time, one of the carers turns and thanks me for being so helpful, she says they will definitely come back as it is such a beautiful site and the kids had so much fun, we all say goodbye , and except for the odd cry from a gull quietness descends once again.

These are the days that are so important to me, not the photography but the experience and the enjoyment, and this is why I love the nature reserve so much. The best medicine I have found.

 

Cinderella

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This is the story I wrote last week for creative writing. We had to choose from a collection of pictures, then write a description of the character, and finally, write a story using both.

It’s a cool summer night at the Barcelona School for performing arts. Tonight 5 of us pupils will be auditioning for the lead role in the schools Christmas production which will be Disney’s version of Cinderella.

As I’m preparing myself for going on stage. The girl before me is just finishing, I know the girl has played the lead in other productions, so I’m convinced she’ll get the part.

On my resume that the judges have, it says, Anna Sanchez, 11 years old, long black hair, brown eyes and 4 ft tall. In the notes I wrote, I have never played a lead role before, I love to sing, and I have played a few minor roles, but I didn’t mention that I use a wheelchair as I didn’t want to be pre-judged.

I’m startled as the director calls out my name. I wheel myself out to centre stage and sit nervously looking at my hands. “What if I forget the words, what if I mess up my lines, what if, what if, what if… Finally, I lift my head and look to where I know the judges will be sitting, the spotlights are on my face yet mask the faces of the judges.

The auditions are being videoed tonight, which worries me, as the judges may be able to see the huge spot on my chin on replay,

‘why today’ I think to myself, the makeup really doesn’t hide it. After a long uncomfortable pause, I faintly hear the judges muttering amongst themselves.

Then the director says,

‘I understand this is your first time auditioning for a lead role, so, deep breath, compose yourself and when you are ready to begin, I would like you to state your name, and your reason to audition for the role of Cinderella, for the camera’.

I sit up straight, focus on what I have to say and smile.

‘Hi’, I say nervously, ‘my name is Anna Sanchez. I love to sing, but my passion is for acting. Cinderella is my all-time favourite Disney film, and Cinderella is my favourite character, it’s been my dream to play her’.

‘Ok’, I think to myself so far so Good.

‘For my audition, I will sing the song called. “A dream is a wish your heart makes”, from the movie.

Just a second my mind goes blank. So, I take a breath, cough then carries on.

“My monologue is where Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, is helping Cinderella to prepare for the Prince’s ball.’

The music for the song starts up, and I begin to sing, I’m a little nervous at first, but by the end, I feel that it’s the best I have ever sung, I feel so happy I could burst.

It’s time for me to start my monologue, I make a mistake then hesitate, and by the end, It feels like I’ve been talking forever. So, I’m just relieved when it’s all over,

‘Thank you, Anna’ the director says, “can you wait with your parents and the others in the foyer’s café. We’ll be along in a while to let all of you know what our decision is’.

I take my time going to the café, replaying the audition in my head, but all I can think about is that huge spot on my face. By the time I arrive I’d convinced myself I wouldn’t be getting the role, then when I see my mama and papa sitting at the table I almost burst into tears, we hug for what seems like forever, between the sobs I tell them why I think I won’t get the role.

Three of the other girls who also auditioned are friends, they’re also in my class at school, their names are Rosa, Sienna and Lauren, they’re also sitting with their parents and they have exactly the same look on their faces as I do.

The fourth girl, the girl who auditioned right before I did, I think her name’s Jess. She’s explaining quite loudly to her parents that she is the favourite to get the role because the rest of us were boring and looked very plain, then she turns to look at me and says with a smile.

“Anyway, everyone knows that Cinderella isn’t a cripple’.

I just sit there feeling even more sorry for myself, (if that’s even possible), just wishing the judges would hurry up and put us all out of our misery, they seem to be taking forever.

Just then a staff member walked over to our table,

‘Miguel and Rosa Sanchez?” He asked.

‘That’s us’ replied my parents.

‘Would you come with me please, the director would like a word with you both, in the foyer’.

I was about to follow when another staff member cleared his throat and asked for all of the performers to come to the front of the cafe, and await the judges, my friends and I looked at each other nervously, whilst Jess stood there sneering at us.

Then in walked my mama and papa, they had tears in their eyes, I didn’t notice as the judges walked in through the other door at the same time, what happened I wanted to ask them, Then everybody started applauding and cheering, who got the part. I looked at my friends and their parents who were all smiling and clapping furiously. Mama and Papa were also madly clapping and crying.

Suddenly I realise it was for me, the cheering was for me, I’d got the role, I burst into tears as my friends rushed to congratulate me, I felt the hugs of my mama and papa.

The director came over to congratulate me, that’s when I saw his white cane and realised he was blind, he didn’t see my spot after all.

‘Well done Anna, you sang and spoke beautifully, although you may want to oil your squeaky wheel’ he said with a smile.

The picture you see is of me celebrating at the waterpark the day after my audition.

 

 

25 Years

 

The 17th September was my 25th wedding anniversary, damn I looked good back then, what the hell happened? The Mrs hasn’t changed though.

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I’m so lucky to still be with the woman I fell in love, and still love with all my heart.

As a 25th present Tracey got me a silver Claddagh ring from a store called ‘The Great Frog’, on our wedding day Tracey gave me an antique gold claddagh from Galway.

Sorry about the hairy hand , should have combed it first.15700481248549133919374187270440

Then on the 19th September as part of our anniversary, we set off for a long weekend, to the city of Edinburgh. The city where my grandmother was born, grew up in, and was Married to my grandfather.

We stayed at a fantastic hotel called Motel One just down from the castle.  The city was more beautiful than I imagined it would be.

We visited the Castle and the Royal Mile,

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thankfully there are lots of coffee shops to rest along the route,  Tracey got to look around the shops, not my thing though, so I sat in a coffee shop and people watched.

We also took a bus tour, and stopped  to see the botanical gardens which were beautiful, lots of places to rest.

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Next stop was the Ocean terminal, where the royal yacht Britannia is berthed, so we did the tour , the yacht is fantastic and there is so much history, plus they have a working cafe on board, where you can get afternoon tea, being your typical Englishman I had a black coffee, whereas the wife who is a little more sophisticated had the afternoon tea option, which consisted of a small pot of English breakfast tea, a scone with a small pot of clotted cream and a small pot of jam, then to top it off , it comes with an Edinburgh pink gin. She will kill me for posting this picture.

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My God how many chins have I got now? Don’t answer that.

Once we arrived back at the hotel it was time for some refreshments, only the one though🍺 , the tartan pattern is very close to that of our family tartan.

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This spot was also the perfect place for a pint of cider and some people watching . Continue reading “25 Years”

Moving forward

So last week was extremely busy, and extremely lucky. I got to meet up with lots of my favourite people, and drank lots of my favourite beverage, Coffee!

This week looks like it maybe heading the same way,  Monday started off with a visit to the doctor’s for my mo thly blood tests. Then the rest of the day was spent preparing,  then checking, double checking and triple checking that everything was ready for me to attend my first creative writing course, it was great fun. The tutor gave us a plot for writing our first short story, and gave us 20 minutes to write it, homework was to expand on what we had already written and she added an extra twist that we would have to weave into our stories.

I’ve decided I will publish the piece on here next week on e it has been critiqued by the tutor and class.

Tuesday was spent helping  my brother-in-law to get the wi-fi working correctly in my writing den(shed).  I helped, by sitting in the shed with my laptop on, shouting out whether or not the signal was stable, whilst he did all the work in the house. Then the evening was spent finishing my story, and tomorrow  I will do a final edit before submitting it.

Today I will be mainly firing arrows at targets.

Tomorrow will be spent resting whilst my car is repaired and resprayed.

Friday I  will be collecting my monthly sack of meds for the month from the chemist’s.

Busy, busy, busy,

Take care

Gary x

 

 

Good & Bad

So over the last couple of weeks there have been a lot of changes going on, some good some bad,  but mainly good.

Got to meet up for coffee and a chat with my old boss Karen which is always a plus. Also got to meet up with one of my fellow volunteers, Ian, it was great to catch up, have a bit of a laugh and drink coffee, and also managed to to have a coffee and a catch up, with Sue, I used to share the office with her, and we talked about my possible return to volunteering again in the new year.

Thats three pluses.

The wheelchair archery I  started last month is going really well, I’m so glad I decided to  do it,  there also a great bunch of people, at last a bit of a sociaal life.

That’s two more pluses

As for bad news, well I’m dealing with the jobcentre, even though I cannot work, I’m  being hounded by the DWP for a current fit for work doctors note, even though the one I  sent them says I have been signed off work indefinitely, and today a 20 page capability for work questionnaire dropped through the letter box, oh joy. Though I  will now be getting Employment and Support Allowance for a year.

So that’s two big negatives.

The car got damaged, a foot long gouge along the top of the rear wheel arch, courtesy of one of the neighbours kids on his bike. More costs.

 

Another big negative.

Got more hospital tests happening on the 16th, so this could be a plus  or a negative, will have to wait and see.

West Ham have now won there last two games.

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That’s another two pluses. The pluses win 7-3, gotta love that.

Take care,

Gary x

 

 

 

 

Archery sunday

So on Saturday  I was in an extremely good mood, West Ham United FC won 3-1 away to Watford FC, oh yeah, and I was asked if I would like to go along to watch an archery competition at the club I have joined on Sunday morning.

The type of  competition they were running  is called a “Short Western”  there were 10 archers taking part, 2 per target. The targets are  set at a distance of  50 yards, each archer then has to shoot a total of 4 dozen arrows, over 8 rounds, each round is 6 arrows.

A small sticker is also placed on the outer black ring and one on the inner red ring of the target. Once they have shot there first 48 arrows at 50 yds, they each get to soot one more arrow, and closest to the sticker wins a medal.

Then it’s time for a barbecue lunch, a chat and a laugh.

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The archey range @ Worthing Archery Club.

So with lunch  over, the archers have to shoot again at 40 yards. At the end the scores are added, handicaps are applied and the medals are handed out.

On a day when temps soared to 30 degrees, I was able to watch the competition from the relatively cool shade beneath the Oak trees that grow along the back of the range, it was so peaceful and calm whilst the shooting was going on, so I  was able make notes, study techniques and just be amazed at how good all the archers were.

At the end when everybody was packing up and leaving, Dan one of the coaches came across and asked me if I’d brought my bow with me, luckily I had, and ended up getting an hour of coaching on my shooting technique, how to set up the bow correctly, and also how to set up and adjust my sight when needed.

What a relaxing, enjoyable weekend, and did I forget to mention that West Ham United FC won 3-1 away to Watford FC.

Take care

Gary x

Struggling

In the last couple of months I have written a lot of stuff down, unfortunately I haven’t been able to finish more than a few of the different pieces.

It all starts off fine:

  • Theme – ok
  • Title – ok
  • Lots of ideas – ok
  • Start writing – ok

Then:

  • Not happy with what I’m writing
  • Questioning the subject
  • Questioning  why I’m even writing

I know there are a lot of things going on in my life right now, and there are many changes happening some are really big ones to me and  some are extremely stressful.

My moods are also up and down at the moment, not extreme swings but enough for me to notice. Being able to concentration for any length of time has gone out the window, and my depression my physical health, are also not playing fair.

One big issue I’m  having, is that my coping and distraction techniques are not working too well at the moment, such as reading, writing, photography and music. My archery does help whilst I am shooting but once I’ve finished shooting, the worries and stresses return.

I’m sure that once things settle down and I get some structure and normality back into my life things will start returning to normal.

Take care

Gary x

Changing, it’s not so easy, sometimes,

Change affects everybody differently, some people thrive on change, and some actually crave it, there are those who are ok with it, as long as it doesn’t happen too quickly, but there are some who will fight change tooth and nail.

For me, well, I’m pretty sure I have been all of these types at various stages in my life, but now I am going through all of these changes at the same time.

Some are happening too quickly as with my physical and mental health so I am finding that to be challenging.

Some things are going too slowly, like mastering the wheelchair and not being too embarrassed to ask for help or to accept it when it’s offered. This will change.

Finally, and this is a very difficult change for me, as I don’t want to be dealing with the department of work & pensions, because of how worthless they make me feel each time I deal with them. I need to find a new coping mechanism for this one

Today I’m in a lot of pain, and that’s my fault, It’s because I overdid things yesterday, I tried to do everything myself, I forget that I’m still getting used to using a wheelchair, and I guess asking for help in getting around is all part of learning to use one.

I know I need more help, a lot more help, and the last two months have shown that to me, only I haven’t been listening, to myself or to anyone else. I’ve been burying my head in the sand convincing myself that I need to find all of my physical limits, all at once.

With all my physical health changes and challenges I’ve been going through, I completely ignored the build-up of stress that these changes were causing, and on top of that, the stress and anxiety being caused by having to stop working, as well as having to deal with the welfare system on top of everything.

I need to calm down and sit down and do some planning. I need to think through what my next steps are going to be and think about how my priorities have changed. I will have to consider want I want to happen for the future, and how I’m going to get there.

One of the biggest things I’ll need to focus on is my finances if I don’t get help from the social, and that is a strong possibility. and if that happens I will need to have planned for how I will get an income. My Motability car will have to go, as without a job I can”t afford to run it, and driving is really painful for me at the moment, so that is something I need to look into as well, see if there is something out there that could help, maybe a medical aid or something similar

I guess I know what I have to be doing over the next few weeks. I just need to get my arse into gear and start doing it.

No more

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Take care

Gary x

 

What is the point of paying into a welfare system.

Warning this article may contain a swear word or two, Well that’s 3 hours of my life I’ll never get back.

I knew today was going to be bloody awful.

Firstly there is no nearby disabled parking for those attending the Horsham jobcentre, actually there is no nearby parking at all that I know of.

So for those of you that live locally, I had to park in the Swan Walk multi storey car park, not ideal, as it took me 30 minutes to propel myself in my wheelchair to said jobcentre.

I still managed to arrive 20 mins early.

On arrival I was faced with two bloody great sets of fire doors, and after watching me struggle with my chair and the door, a security guard walked over and held the door open.

Here’s a little twist though, the pavement slopes down slightly towards the first door, which when opened revealed a low step, I found  this ot when I was almost tipped out of my chair, watched by the security guard, no offer of assistance and no warning of the step. Happy days.

I was left to get through the second door myself. I was then checked in for my appointment and told to got to the waiting area. I was an absolute wreck, I was exhausted, and in so much pain I just wanted to swear and ask for a ketamine injection, well it worked for me the last time I was in hospital.

After waiting for around 10 minutes, I was called over to the interviewer, I handed over all of the forms I’d been told to bring, they were then scanned I to the system and handed back.

Next I was told I would have to sign a contract, to basically do what they tell me to do.

This is how the contract goes.

If I am late in attending a meeting with my soon to be appointed work coach, I will be sanctioned. If I miss an appointment, I will be sanctioned plus fined £10.40 per day until I attend the rescheduled appointment. If I phone them to say I cannot make an appointment for whatever reason, even a hospital visit, they can choose to sanction me. Finally if I get a total of 3 sanctions all benefits will be stopped.

So the first 15 minutes were all about what they would do to me. What they could do for me was not even discussed, for the last five minutes of the meeting, he told me it would take around 10 days for a decision to be made, by somebody I’ve never met, on whether I get any money or not.

I will also have to go through a work capability assessment, but he couldn’t tell me when that would happen either.

So today comprised of travelling to and from Horsham by car 1hr 20mins.

Wheeling myself to and from the jobcentre in my wheel chair 50mins.

A 20min interview, not the 1hr to 1hr 20 mins I  was told

30mins of waiting and resting.

So if as they say, a country is judged on how it looks after it’s most vulnerable citizens, the UK has failed on an epic scale. These are sad times that we live in.

Below is a picture of my daily journal entry from yesterday, what I wrote pretty much sums up how I feel after what happened today.

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Take care

Gary x

The Joy’s of S & A

This wasn’t  what I  wanted to right about ,but it is what I need to right about.

STRESS & ANXIETY

Today  I will have to sit in front of a non medically trained person who works for the government, at the jobcentre. The thing is, they will decide if I am going to be entitled to employment support allowance.

WHY?

Well recently I  was released from my role as an administrator for our wonderful NHS, a job I loved, but a job I was no longer able to carry  on with my duties, due to y prolonged ill health.

So what happened was, that in June last year my health took a bit of a nosedive, initially caused by an adverse reaction to one of my medications, as a consequence of this I was signed off work by my doctor.  Now although the new medication seems to be working with no side effects, my health has not improved to to point it was, and so after a yearof being signed off work. I have had to leave my job.

I live with several long term health conditions that I live with (Fibromyalgia, type 2 diabetes, asthma, Osteoperosis, Oesophagial spasms, an egg allergy, and an auto immune disorder) I also have mobility issues and I’m  classed as disabled.

These conditions have been diagnosed and confirmed by doctors, consultants, and specialists  in there fields.  I have nowbeen signed off from working indefinitely.

For me this is history repeating itself, as this scenario happened to me 7 years ago, only then the doctors told me it was unlikely I would ever work again. For 4 years I didn’t work and I didn’t receive a penny in benefits, and didnt receive any assistance or help from our welfare services.

Then out of the blue I was given a second chance and returned to part time employment, I worked at this company for a year, it was fantastic, they were very supportive and understanding about my needs, but towards the end of that year, my health started affecting the physical side of working again.

But as they say when one door closes another door opens, and that’s what happened, I was offered the job with the NHS.

Fast forward to today. The appointment

I have filled out the 20 page questionnaire, I have my 3 forms of identification, I have an up to sick note, I have my final payslip, my P60, my P45, proof of the statutary sick pay I  received  whilst in work, and proof of my company pension. I have stress & anxiety levels that are through the roof  and are making me feel shittier than I normally do.

What don’t I have?

I don’t have confidence in this government department treating me fairly, I don’t have confidence that the person interviewing me will carry out his duties without bias and prejudice. I have no faith or trust in the system that is in place as a safety net for those who need it.

The reason  why I feel this way,  well in all my dealings with this government department over the last seven years I have been treated badly, they made me feel like a scrounger & a fraud. Even though the doctor’s  and I know I’m not. I have been made to feel like I am begging for what I am entitled to, after all I have paid into the system through my national insurance contributions over the last 41 years.

I hope I  am wrong, I shouldn’t be getting  stressed or anxious about what may or may not happen, I know that I shouldn’t allow what ifs to affect me so badly. I should be positive and confident, but I  can’t and until this appointment is over I know these thoughts and feelings of dread will not change.

Take care,

Gary x

Rant over.

 

Finding my MoJo

So, for a while now I have been having a bit out of sorts and having a weird feeling that something was missing, that something was not quite right, it also meant I couldn’t ask anyone for help as I didn’t know what sort of help to ask for.

 

So today I decided I needed to get out of the house and blow the cobwebs away.

I went to my nearest town centre and visited one of my favourite coffee shops The Panino Café, the sun was shining, and a cool breeze was blowing, and the flowers smelled amazing.

So, sitting in my wheelchair outside at one of the tables, I started one of my favourite pastimes, people watching. After a short while, I started getting the urge to write, and so I did.

 

As it is Sunday today, the town was not too busy which was good because I was in my wheelchair, which makes it a little easier to manoeuvre. The main problem is Horsham Town centre has a very uneven paved surface and many areas of cobblestones, which means it’s pretty tough going. Looking on the bright side of things, it hopefully means ill end up with biceps like Thor (I can dream).

Next visit though I should probably go with someone, as I’m finding that I’m not really fit enough to be allowed out on my own yet. A bonus in going or meeting someone would be to just have someone to chat with, and also to push me for short periods, when my poor old arms get tired (lol), and also it would mean that I don’t overdo things like I did today, but you live and learn I guess, and as far as wheelchairs are concerned I’ve still got a lot to learn.

 

But now I’m using the chair a lot more and with me starting archery soon, I’m hoping that ill develop his pecs as well and lose the “Moobs” or man boobs, I can live in Naïve hope.

Well, its good to know that I’m still feeling pretty positive and that my slightly weird sense of humour seems to be hanging on in there, just. And that is probably a good thing as I have just bought a “F*ck Boris” t-shirt. which I will wear with pride.

 

Whilst sitting here, watching, writing and drinking delicious coffee, I’ve had a Eureka moment, I’ve figured out what it was that’s missing, me enjoying my writing was missing.

So, what that tells me is that sitting in the sun, writing in my journal which has the words “My F**king plans to take over the world” with my pen that has “f*ck this sh*t” written on the side, two brilliant Christmas presents I got last year, and watching the world go by and not feeling guilty about it, is some of the best medicine you can get.

 

I’m sure if there are any people sitting here watching me writing with a bloody great stupid looking smile on my face, frantically writing away, probably imagine I’ve lost the plot.

 

Remember, Live, love, laugh.

                 

                                            Take care,

                                                       

                                                           Gary x

Thinking

So I’ve  been thinking a bit about where my life is headed. I’m really excited and looking forward to starting archery, as a new hobby. I’m also enjoying my writing and blogging  as well. But I can’t stop feeling that something is missing, that something is not quite right. I just can’t put my finger on what it is, and it’s driving me mad not knowing.

All in all I really had a good day today. Went out for lunch to a place called Wagamamas, met up with friends, great food, great restaurant, had a laugh and a chat. Celebrated a birthday. Getting more comfortable and confident in using my wheelchair.

Hot weather is not helping, pain levels are driving me up the wall, especially my back and neck,  not sleeping great, feeling a little down, a little depressed, a bit flat, a bit confused, which takes me full circle back to feeling like something is missing.

This requires further investigation,  just not tonight

Take care

Gary x

Always Forward, Forward Always.

The title is a line from one of my favourite television series “Luke Cage”. Now I’m definitely not Luke Cage, but the line has stuck in my head since the first time I  heard it, and is meaning is something I  want to live by.

I  have decided to stop letting the past have control over me, my boots of crippling worrying about things I am no longer able to do, my fear of using my wheelchair in public, because of some of the abuse and discrimination I have received in public, when using my crutch or parking in a disabled space, or even out with my camera has brought sneers and stares.

I have decided to get past these negative things and get over my self doubt. My first step has been to start writing, just getting everything I think and feel down on paper. Seeing everything written down in front of me, helps me get some perspective on the changes going on in my life, it also helps me with decisions I  need to make.

Another thing I have started doing again, has been to get out with my camera again it’s something I love, and even though my first solo trip to the nature reserve in a long time ment having the first hide door shut in my face, with 3 people shushing me and telling me to be quiet, amazingly I managed not to be rude to them(a minor miracle), so I  moved onto the second hide, it was empty so I picked a good spot to sit, and withing 10 minutes I was visited by a Kingfisher and it remained for around 5 minutes.

The best bit of the day came next when 3 young people living with cerebral palsy came into the small hide with their carers, it was a tight squeeze but we all fitted in, lots of talking, lots of laughter, and I think I was even able to help them by telling them what I  knew about what the could see on the pond and what the  names of the birds were, this is what nature is all about and it put a big smile on my face. This experience then lead me into my third positive act.

That encounter with those six people in the second hide, had really given my self esteem a massive boost and made me feel a lot more positive about meeting a bunch of strangers about joining an archery club, which turned out to be an amazing experience, and now I can’t wait to become a member.

So, I now have good supportive family and friends around me to help and encourage me, plus  activities and a social that will have a positive effect on my mental and physical health, I know I’m not where I  want to be yet, but at least I am steadily moving forward.

Oh, and one last thing, with some help from my brother my writing shed is finally finished and fully solar powered, so now I’m really looking forward to using it. Cheers bruv.

Take care everyone, and keep an eye out for those positive moments,

Always forward, forward always,

Gary x

 

Bows & Arrows

Not a bad weekend, my pain levels were fairly high, but I was determined that that wouldn’t stop me from trying something new.

For a while now I’ve been doing a lot of research into looking for an activity or sport that I could enjoy and get some exercise from.

So I asked myself some questions  and this is the answer I came up with.

  1. I wanted it to be something with a social aspect to kt and not something I would have to do on my own.
  2. It needed to be something I really wanted to do.
  3. I wanted it to be something I could indoors or outdoors.
  4. It had to be something that wouldn’t be cost prohibitive as I not exactly rich.
  5. It also needed to be something I would enjoy and exercise for me at the same time.
  6. And finally it needed to be something I could do whilst using my wheelchair.

The big question – Did I find something?

The equally big answer – Yes I did.

After much research I finally contacted an Archery club last Wednesday, explaining what I wanted to do, and also asked if They catered for wheelchair users, I then asked if I would I be able to go along on Saturday to see the facility and ask a few questions, and also speak to a few members if possible, thankfully the answer was yes.

So on Saturday I arrived at the archery club around 9 am. I was feeling excited yet nervous. I met with Paul the head coach, who showed me around the range, and went through the range etiquette and rules with me, before introducing me to a couple of the other members.

Firstly he introduced me to Colin, who is also a wheelchair user. Colin was a really nice guy, we had a really good chat and a laugh, the other guy was Neil  who was another coach and also a nice guy. Now because I hadn’t completed the beginners/safety course I wasn’t actually able to shoot any arrows. ThankfullyColin allowed me to sit in his wheelchair, then they showed me how to sit properly, then hold and use a bow.

As a beginner and a wheelchair user they let me practice with one of the club bows, the type of bow I practiced my technique on was called a compound bow.

martin-krypton

The reasoning behind using one of these is.

  1. They are easier to use as a beginner shooting form the seated position
  2. They are fairly light.
  3. They look damn cool
  4. And the pressure can be adjusted.

I now realise I  have muscles where I didn’t know I had muscles, so I will definitely be getting some exercise.

So everything on my needs & wants list ticked.  Result. I will be doing my initial training course on the afternoons of 10th & 17th August and I  can’t wait.

Take care

Gary x

 

 

 

 

 

Nature

I became unemployed today, so to stop myself from dwelling on that fact, I decided I needed to get out of the house, whatever the cost in pain.

So I managed to get to a local Nature reserve today and I took my camera with me, as I just needed to get out of the house, here’s a couple of pics from today.

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It was a pretty good couple of hours sitting in a nice cool hide watching wildlife, I do love photographing Kingfishers.

Dentist tomorrow, not such a good day.

Be careful out there,

Gary x

Pain

You know what pain is a bloody pain, for me, over the last week/week & a balf I have been struggling with writing my blog, due to a sudden rise in pain, in certain parts of my  body, mainly my hands/fingers, chest/left shoulder, neck/throat. Which has made it very hard for me to focus and concentrate. Worst of all is the fact that it has affected my ability to read or write for any length of time. I’ve pretty much used every technique I  know for dealing with my pain, but with little success.

Medication, doesn’t work, and the physio has told me there is very little they can do to help either. Even resting has had little to no effect.

On the bright side though I still I have my dog, my garden, my music and the sunshine to keep my spirits up. My family are looking after me as best they can, whilst  y pain has turned me into a pain which helps a lot, and tomorrow I will actually be able to get out of the house and enjoy a bit of socialising with cffee and friends. So it’s not all bad, is it?

All the best for now.

Be careful out there in the sun and heat, plenty of water and shade.

Till next time, take care

Gary x

Peaceful morning

What a great morning, the sun was shining, a cool breeze was blowing, and the birds were singing in the bushes and trees.

Im now enjoying my coffee, Dora is sleeping at my feet on the patio, after I spent about 20 minutes brushing her, the resulting pile of fur is now being carried off by the little sparrow’s to line there newly built nests.

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Perfect start to the day.

Take care,

Gary x

 

Medical

Just for as laugh.

Studies have demonstrated that rednecks have the lowest stress rate because they do not understand the seriousness of most medical terminology.

Medical Term
Redneck Definition
Artery
The study of paintings
Bacteria
Back door to cafeteria
Barium
What doctors do when patients die
Benign
What you be, after you be eight
Caesarean Section
A neighborhood in Rome
Cat scan
Searching for Kitty
Cauterize
Made eye contact with her
Colic
A sheep dog
Coma
A punctuation mark
Dilate
To live long
Enema
Not a friend
Fester
Quicker than someone else
Fibula
A small lie
Impotent
Distinguished, well known
Labor Pain
Getting hurt at work
Medical Staff
A Doctor’s cane
Morbid
A higher offer
Nitrates
Rates of Pay for Working at Night, 
Normally more money than Days
Node
I knew it
Outpatient
A person who has fainted
Pelvis
Second cousin to Elvis
Post Operative
A letter carrier
Recovery Room
Place to do upholstery
Rectum
Nearly killed him
Secretion
Hiding something
Seizure
Roman Emperor
Tablet
A small table
Terminal Illness
Getting sick at the airport
Tumor
One plus one more
Urine
Opposite of you’re out
Got this on email today, made me smile so I thought I would share it.
Take care
                Gary x

Break

Taking a little break from blogging for the next couple of days. I’m in the middle of writing a real life short story, so any feedback would be help. What I would live to do is turn this into a novel, using different names, maybe set in a different location and time, still working on those ideas at the moment, also filling the story out with a lot more detail and story.  I hope to pretty much have it ready for when I  start my night school writing course in September.

Take care

Gary x

Not Good

Not the best of weekends,  on top of my ever present widespread pain and fatigue, I woke up this morning with the beginnings  of a throat/chest infection, so pain and fatigue has ratcheted up.

Also this morning, my final pay packet dropped onto the doormat reminding me that I only have 18 days to go before I  become unemployed, I’ve accepted and understand that I  am now too sick to work. There are and never will be any bad feelings, as the last 2 years have been brilliant.

There is always a good chance of not being able to work again as in being employed and that makes me sad, but I’ve been making plans and have been looking into getting set up as self employed, so I’m feeling pretty positive about that.

I will miss the daily routine of my current job that I love, and the daily contact with my amazing colleagues. I know I’ll still get to meet up with them from time to time for coffee and a chat, and I know  I can contact them anytime I want.I will also be looking forward to being able to help out by volunteering from time to time when I am feeling well enough.

Finally this afternoon I have my first meeting with the physiotherapist, I’ve really been looking forward to this meeting as its been a long wait and I’m positive I will learn something I can use that will help me in some way, just wish I wasn’t feeling so crappy.

Take care

Gary x

Forgetting

As someone who lives with several long term health condition’s, I  think I’m qualified to speak on the subject of forgetting.

I’m so lucky to have such a great network of family and friends, who look out for me and look after me. Making sure I rest enough, eat right, drive me around, phone me up, message me, text me, Facebook me, take me out for coffee and a chat, the list of things people do for me is endless. They don’t do it because they want anything in return, they do it because they want to, because they like me or they love me or maybe it’s because they are just made that way,  caring, compassionate, nice people.

One thing I know I’m guilty of at the moment, is forgetting about the needs and the health of those who give up there time for me, and that time is one of the most precious gifts someone can give.

At the moment somebody I know, someone who puts so much of her time and effort into looking out for and helping others. A person who never asks for anything in return, who wears her heart on her sleeve, and is compassionate beyond words, has been struggling  herself. Now I realise if I look back over the last few months, I can see that I missed a lot of the signs that things weren’t quite right, and did nothing because I’ve been so wrapped up with me, I’m not trying to make an excuse. What  I’m trying to say is I’m not sure when I stopped, but I really need to start looking out for those who look out for me.

The person I am referring to is one of the nicest, hard working, considerate, unselfish,  funny, amazing human beings I have ever had the pleasure to know, second only to my beautiful  wife.

I’m sure this lady knows I am writing about her, I hope you don’t find all this embarrassing, I  just wanted to write down what I’m thinking and feeling today. I know I  can be a bit dense at times, but I genuinely worry and care about those who help me.

I hope you feel better soon, make sure you take all the time you need and all the sunshine you need to get back to being you. Enjoy your time off as much as you possibly can, you’ve done so much to help me over the last few years, without me ever having to ask, I  know you have a great family and friends around you, but please let me know if there is ever anything I can do to help you.

“Work to live, don’t live to work”

Take care

Gary x

 

Pain

Sometimes I wonder how in the hell can my pain levels increase any more but they do, I never know how long these periods will last, could be hours, days or even weeks, and so far this episode is 3 days in and counting. It actually reached the point last  night,  I  was wishing that if  having your legs amputated was an option I would go take it.

I’m not making light of amputation or making a joke of it, I  have seriously thought of talking to my specialist about it, as I have heard of people having this done, though I believe it is very much a last resort. For me at the moment the doctor’s have gone as far as they can down the medication pain relief and nothing has even come close.

The pain in my legs has been pretty much 24 x 7 for the last 8 years and steadily getting worse, but at times like these I just feel like I’m going out of my mind. The pain just takes over and blocks everything else out, it makes it almost impossible for me to concentrate on anything, do anything, or even think straight. It’s taken so many tries just to write this.

It’s  also at times like this I  have to try and convince myself that maybe there will be a medical  breakthrough around the corner, it’s  a real battle to remain positive  during these times, but it still doesn’t stop the real dark thoughts creeping in at times.

Going crazy, but not quite there yet, take care,

Gary x

Father’s Day

What a great day, started off with a rare cooked breakfast, opened my cards and presents.

  • 3 x Chilli plants an Etna 5th hottest in the world apparently, Scotch Bonnet hot but fruity Jamaican chilli, and an Apache haven’t tried these before.
  • 2 x bars of Lindt dark chocolate.
  • Book, Eric Idles biography
  • A voucher to spend on Amazon.

Nice easy day relaxing. First I planted my newly acquired Chilli plants, after that I decided to stay  outside in the garden  with the dog and  carried on reading my latest ook of  choice  “Catch 22”.

Below is a picture of my selection of books, that I will be reading in no particular order.

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A varied Selection I’m pleased to say,

My Eldest daughter arrived home just after lunch, she’d been to a concert at Wembley arena last night to see The Spice Girls.

My Wife arrived home about 3:30 as she had been working in Hampton today, on the way home she picked up the fathers day family dinner of Pizza, fries, garlic bread and Dr Pepper, my pizza was called the Etna, hot’n spicy. Heaven.

My youngest daughter arrived home around 5:30 almost all my daughters back home, the middle one is at Oxford Uni and wasn’t able to get home,

So all in all a pretty good day, and I even got to see the Red Arrows display  team fly overhead in V formation to the local airshow, so low you felt like you could al ost touch them, and engines roaring as loud as thunder, bloody amazing.

What a fantastic day,

Take care out there

Gary x