Monday, 31 January 2011

Oops look what I've gone and done... :-O

Be warned, this is a political rant. I find politics very bad for my health - and oh dear, they just got worse.

I received a rather self-congratulatory email from my Tory MP this evening - about an hour after I was told the one agency in Southend that could probably help me back into work, the Shaw Trust, has had its funding pulled under the "austerity" measures. Of course, it makes perfect sense - take any number of people with disabilities, withdraw their benefits or living allowance, and tell them to go to work. Not forgetting to cut the funding to any agencies actually able to find them that work. Let the lazy buggers do their own job-hunting...

So I'm afraid I felt Moved to email my spleen. Here goes:

Hi Mr Duddridge
You may remember from previous contact that I am disabled. I have been unable to work for many years now; have restricted mobility, need to be cooked for and generally looked after, and am in receipt of highest rate mobility and care components of Disability Living Allowance.
In recent months I have been working extremely hard to come out of a severe depression made worse by the fight to receive DLA at the right level for my needs. I am working hard to try to keep what mobility I have, and have received the help and support of various different agencies in this endeavour. Unfortunately though I am not to receive the help I need to make that final step - to try to get back into work.
I know that the current government wishes it to be known that they fully support the rights of those with disabilities to lead as full and as independent lives as they possibly can. So can you please explain why I have been informed that the Shaw Trust cannot help me because they cannot take on any new cases? Apparently, funding is to be withdrawn from this rare source of help. So please can you advise me as to where I go to find someone who can help me get back into work after an 11 year absence, who has the experience and ability to give me the right advice and training? To help me find a job that fits my particular conditions, limited use of hands, I can't walk or carry, but my brain still works. One that will permit me to work for the 2 to 3 hours that I can function in a day, on those days when my conditions haven't flared, or I don't have a hospital appointment. Could you please show me what incentives employers are being given to take on hardworking, clear-thinking people with disabilities under these conditions?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Jennie Snow

I'm now going to chastise myself. Very quietly and very gently.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Joking aside...

Abba sang "What lies waiting down the line at the end of 89?" Well, for my family, it was utter heartbreak. We lost someone so precious, so beautiful, with a heart the size of an ocean and just as full of life. My 36-year-old brother Rob was killed in a near-head-on collision with a 38-ton lorry. He left behind my darling sister-in-law Margaret who truly is a sister, and two of the nicest people it's my privilege to know, Angela and Harry, then 7 and 4. And of course he left behind the rest of us, his parents, grandmother, sisters, brothers, nephews and assorted in-laws.

What can I say about him? When he laughed, as he did so much, the street laughed; he was such a good dad; he kept in touch with me and a door open when I eventually left home "under a cloud" which is rather a nonsensical way of describing the events back then; he loved and he cared. He stepped in to give me away at my wedding when it looked like my dad wasn't going to be there; and I walked up the aisle with both of them holding me up.

He could also produce the loudest and longest farts of anybody I've ever met, before or since. And you should have seen him dressed in one of mum's skirts and tops with her lipstick on and some strategically-placed balloons. I don't remember what he did to disguise his hair...

He was a proper big brother too. Pulled my hair and teased me, especially as I was 10 years his junior. One of those unreasonable regrets that was so way out of anyone's control, especially mine, was that just when I was grown up enough to fully appreciate him, he was gone. Hah I still remember - torture of tortures - when he would do his round intricate jigsaw of trains, and wouldn't let me even put one piece in. Such torture for a puzzle addict, even at 5 or 6!

He was a chess champion at work, in fact fell in love via letter with Mags as they played a long-distance chess game. She was in Malta, in fact in 1973 I was the first member of the family, apart from my grandmother, to have met her, another event etched in the glass of memory. No computers, and the cost of long-distance phone calls - ouch!

They got married in June 1976, and I was one of their bridesmaids. Only I chose that year to have a growth spurt, and between being measured for the dresses in March and the event my dress had to be virtually remade. Awkward moo to the last, eh.

I loved him very much, was appallingly bad at showing it, but I still do, and I ache with his loss. Today, 21 years on, I'll remember the phone call at work, the policeman and woman, the hugs and the silence of the shock. I'll weep as I am now. I'll look at photos. I'll hug my loved ones just that bit tighter.

And I'll laugh to his memory.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A positive start

Well it's two weeks into the year, halfway through the first month, in fact. I have sailed past a couple of shops in the sale, acquired a handbag that I've wanted for a very long time (and that's made me quite happy, materialistic moo that I am), but am keen to grab a hold on things again.

The start to 2011 has been a quiet one. What I refer to as my winter sinus has struck, but although I've been stuck in bed for a few days here and there, not as badly as in the past overall. The worst result has been that I lost my place in my diary, and with Galloping Christmas, another winter affliction, it's taken me a while to get a grip again. I don't mean the holiday itself, that's lovely; I mean the torturing myself for a fortnight that I haven't done any activities/baking/ enough tidying/dusting/entertaining - nor have I flown to the moon this week, but so what. Alas such logic is driven out by Galloping Christmas, aka Raving Madwoman Syndrome. It does pass.

So I've spent the last two weeks in a kind of hazy panic that I'm missing an important appointment or forgetting to do something vital that will stop the world's head falling off, which is alleviated by a frantic consultation of all the diaries / scraps of paper / phone date manager thing / dustbin. The realization that all these sources of reassurance are actually all complete AND in sync with each other lasts for all of 5 minutes before my short-term-memory-of-a-goldfish strikes and hey presto half an hour later I'm in the same hazy franticity. Again, I know that not only I but both males of the house know where all the diaries are and that they are to be updated all at the same time, so I have to learn to trust myself more.

But there have been two outstanding positives to report, if only outstanding from my particular viewpoint. I managed to go swimming all by myself, something that wouldn't have been possible without the support of HTS and my swim-buddy, and am actually now looking forward to more solo swims; something I've never ever wanted or felt confident enough to do in the past. Not even when I was a confident worker.

And after struggling to lose a pound a week at the start of my diet, when I was weighing and worrying over every mouthful, I've managed to lose a stone over about a 6 week period which included the holiday fortnight. So far that makes 22 lbs / 10 kilos. I don't look or feel it, particularly as it's been a while since the gym exercises wore off and everything started heading south again; but that will be rectified after tomorrow's induction at the gym, I sincerely hope.

And I've had my last counselling session. It was quite funny - having had the morning and early part of the afternoon chasing around a half-demolished and utterly unrecognizable hospital for a chronic eye problem, by the time I got to therapy I was a complete gibbering wreck, quite literally. I couldn't stop laughing because I couldn't actually see anything - the eye drops converted everything into the kind of soft focus you get when the cameraman has overdone the vaseline on the lens. And I made approximately no sense at all because fibro-mouth kicked in - that's where your mouth flaps open and utters vague, incongruous, and incomprehensible non-sequitors, while your brain, equally flappy, dances the congo in and out your ears. Hysterically funny when (a) you know what's happening and that you haven't actually got Alzheimers and (b) you're doing it at someone who's never experienced it before. I think I'm rather thankful that I couldn't see his face, poor lamb.

I can laugh about my fear of Alzheimers now. I don't need to write about what a dreadful awful thing it is, and how it felt to suspect that I had it. To say that I couldn't remember what a "cat" was when someone referred to one in a phone conversation. To think that I was slowly losing my mind because I couldn't remember so much, even forgetting what word is actually in my mouth when I'm trying to talk. Thankfully I have such a good and wonderful family and set of friends who take the pee out of me mercilessly, so I know I'm ok. Heaven help me when they start being nice to me :-DDD. The rheumatology consult asked me why I was crying when he finally gave me a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. "I tell people they are dying of cancer" he said "and they don't cry." My answer to him is, I hope it never happens to you because you have forgotten, if you ever knew, what it is like to be a human being.

Oooo that got all serious there. Where was I? Ah yes. Today Great White Chief, on spying me trying to trap myself in the washing machine with sundry undies, reports that my bottom appears considerably smaller than usual. Good-ho.

Monday, 3 January 2011

In with the old, in with the new.

Nothing profound to say about new year, new start... not sure I believe in all that. New year, new opportunities to build on mistakes made, lessons learned, fun fedoodled. Ok so the alliteration flunked! I feel more sanguine about the year just passed, and more resolute about the year just beginning, true; but that's largely down to acceptance that Life will be do its own thing regardless of what I plan or intend to do. 2010 wasn't a great year; I made some BIG mistakes and nearly lost my mum (thankfully not because of aforementioned mistakes); but I also sought - and got - some very much needed help; learned to open my eyes just a little bit wider, and think just a little bit longer; got back on course with my studies, saw Young Master settled into a new school, and reclaimed a little of the way I used to be. Not "the person" I used to be, as I once would have said, because that's not possible whether you're fit or not, life changes you regardless of how big or little the events that come your way; but I grew a bit more comfortable with the person I am, and started laughing again. Noticeably - I'm having to curb it in public or the neighbours will get restraining orders.

Anyway, my first project of the New Year is complete, started it just a couple of weeks ago and actually finished it without stopping to do Other Things in the meantime. The scans aren't quite right but it's too late and I cannot be arrissed to dig out my camera at this time of night; but it's a very pretty swirly sock pattern that I've knocked up in some Aricaunia (sp?) yarn I got very very cheap at the craft fair at Olympia 2 in March. That was one of 2 or 3 firsts for me in 2010 that I enjoyed very very much - the other noteable one being Supertramp at the O2 in October. The colours aren't particularly true, but maybe better photos will correct that.

I am rambling! Anyway, the yarn went so far that not only did I get both socks out of one skein, I have almost enough for a third sock left over! so am deliberating what I do with the second skein. Possibly a pair of legwarmers - very 70s I know, but the windchill on a scooter travelling at 4mph is NOT to be underestimated! They need to be quite fine to sit comfortably under jeans, but measuring width could be a challenge if I want them to stay up! Trial and error I suppose - and I will probably put my knitting-in elastic to good use :)

Oh well, off to scour the net for some decent patterns...