“If you can’t fly, then run,
If you can’t run, then walk,
If you can’t walk, then crawl,
But whatever you do,
You have to keep moving forward”
Martin Luther King Jr
Last September I decided to apply for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) from the Department for Work and Pensions as 2014 was pretty tough for me.
Here’s a bit of background information. I work full time as a writer, clocking in around 40 hours a week. It’s hard, but I want more than anything to stay employed and keep my independence. But, I learned that working all those hours doesn’t necessarily mean I can support myself because MS rears its hideous head on occasion and throws a big fat spanner in the works.
Last year wasn’t great for me in terms of my health and I needed a lot of time off work, which ate up my sick pay. For around three months in a row, I was paid just over half of my salary and had to rely heavily on my parents and partner to get by. Someone suggested that PIP could help me with this, giving me a little something every week to make sure I wouldn’t have to borrow off family.
It took me around a month to fill in the form and collect all the evidence I needed to support my application. I got a letter late last year to confirm my assessment had been booked on January 28th and I started to get a little nervous, after hearing so many horror stories, but I kept telling myself it’d be fine.
The actual appointment took less than 30 minutes and I really thought the nurse carrying it out understood the ins and outs of MS and how it was impacting – or some days flat out destroying – my life.
It took them less than a week to tell me they had rejected my claim on the grounds that I’d said I can use the loo myself and have a wash, which is true on days when I’m not relapsing.
This news was more than a slap in the face, more painful than a punt to the crotch and a damn sight more upsetting than a kick in the teeth. A man in a suit has decided that I am not disabled enough. Not disabled enough, really?
Funnily enough, when I went temporarily blind I felt pretty disabled. When I lost the ability to use my right hand side and my mum had to dress me, cut up my food and help me in to the bath I actually felt pretty disabled. In fact, when I wake up in the morning and can’t feel anything from the neck down, I feel quite disabled then as well.
How can a person that has supposedly spoken to the medical professionals who take care of me not believe that I deserve a measly £25 a week!
I had a bit of an angry cry and imagined giving the guy who made the decision to reject my claim Stone Cold’s Stunner (which can be seen here) and then I told myself that I didn’t have to accept it.
I’m not just going to sit here and feel sorry for myself.
That is not who I am and getting a disease dumped on me hasn’t changed that.