Independance, to be or not to be?

Yesterday my Wife and I went to the local car dealership that deals with the Motability scheme. We had visited a couple of times to look at a vehicle and then to find out about it. We also had tried me transferring in to and out of it which went well, although I did have to use my transfer board because of the spasms in my legs. Despite this though, I did manage it and we decided that it was the vehicle for us. We had `Pickle` with us at the time and so we had arranged to go in on the Monday, (yesterday), after we had dropped her off at nursery. I was weirdly quite excited as it would mean that I would be able for the first time, to drive myself around, to not have to rely on anyone else for transportation. We took the relevant paperwork that we required to go and fill in the forms and order the vehicle. The sales guy had been so helpful throughout all of the process, answering our questions and showing us all of the features that were options on the vehicle and helping us to decide on whioch would help me and which would just be toys and gimmicks.

We sat down at the desk and the guy joined us after picking up a coffee for me, we chatted for a short while and then we began the process of filling in the pages on the computer to apply for and order our new vehicle. This was not a decision that we had taken lightly, we had talked about it and weighed up the pros and cons, and for the last twelve months we have been trying to help ourselves, we bought our van and we bought the last one that got us mobile for my discharge from the unit, now though we had got to the point where it was the right thing to do. We were asked the questions on the screen which we answered, the drivers licenses were photocopied and all was going well, but then we were stopped in our tracks by the question “Do you have twelve months left on your disability award?” My award runs out in October next year and so therefore our answer was “No” and that is where our application ended.

We could not be apologetic enough as we felt that we had wasted the guys time, but he was very understanding, I said that I would call the DWP and ask if there is anything that we could do, even to extend by two months would mean I could get some independence back. He wished us well, put our paperwork on file and told us to come back and update him as to the outcome. If it was good then we would re start the ordering process. I was massively disappointed and quite upset inside. I had done everything I could to help myself by spending my own money and now that I actually needed to take the opportunity of help to which I was entitled, because I had helped myself I had left it too late to get the help. Worse than that though, I had been told that I will never walk again but the DWP would only recognise that I would not walk for twelve months. Now am I to be upset that I will have to wait another ten months before I could re apply for a vehicle for me to drive or be chuffed that the spinal specialist doctors had got it wrong and that I would in fact be walking again in October of 2013?

We arrived back at the bungalow and I immediately picked up the telephone and called the DWP office. I explained what had happened and asked what I should do. My spinal cord is damaged and as a result will not heal. To that end I asked if they could do anything to remove the requirement to wait ten months to apply for a car. The answer was that they would send me a re claim pack four months before the claim would expire and that then it would carry on if the claim was successful, from the date that this claim would run out. Bottom line, it was ten months before I could apply for a car. The click on the line told me that the woman had hung up almost immediately and so I replaced the phone in its cradle and put the kettle on. I was trying to get my head around what had been said. I appreciate that people do take the piss out of the benefit system and for that reason the Government departments are trying to cut back on the claims to ensure they go to the right people and I am all for it but I’m paralyzed, spinal cords do not heal and so to that end I was rather hoping that I could have been helped, had the award extended, but no.

I sat drinking my coffee pondering over what had been said on the phone and concluded that actually, the woman had not been massively helpful and so I would call back in the odds on hope that I would talk to someone more helpful. I dialed the number and pressed the relevant numbers on the keypad to get me through the digital answer thingy to the department I wished to talk to and after a short while I was speaking to a human female. I again explained what had happened and was very bluntly told that I would have to wait until it was re apply time and there was nothing that they could do to help. Despite my best efforts to get any more information the woman was being less than helpful and so I told her to send me a claim pack and i would just cancel my current claim for the benefits to which I was entitled and would have to fill in the new claim pack when it arrived and wait the three or four months for the claim to be assessed, even though they would already have all of the information regarding my injuries and the reason for my claim for disability allowance, but it would clearly be too easy to simply read that information and extend or re award me. “We would have to treat it as a separate new claim Mr Pas”, well thanks for the distinct lack of help I thought to myself and before I had time to say anything remotely sarcastic the phone went dead and she had gone.

I was by now absolutely livid. I could not believe that this ridiculous system was going to prevent me from being able to drive for another year, all because I had tried to help myself. I was now realising why a lot of people do nothing for themselves and take everything they can get, whether they are entitled to it or not. The rest of the day and evening passed by with nothing really to tell you about and then after a beautifully relaxing bath, I went to bed with the help from my Wife, before I could try to get myself on to my side to give a quick cuddle before sleep, `Pickle` climbed up, said “Excuse me Daddy” and snuggled down in between my Wife and I. She did smile and give me a kiss though before she snuggled right up with my Wife bless her. And so, with no hope of a cuddle and the strong likelihood I would be kicked half to death by my little Princess `Pickle`, I decided to watch a couple of recorded NCIS episodes.

This morning I awoke feeling quite tired, perhaps I left it too late before going to sleep in the small hours, but the episodes were good ones. My Wife put my wash stuff and shorts on my bed for me to get ready for Maralyn while she took the kids to school and also the telephones in case anyone called. I got myself sorted but the whole car thing was really playing on my mind. I had to try to talk to someone higher up, this was my independence, my chance to have some freedom to collect the kids from school, to take some pressure off of my Wife who has to run around like a blue ass fly doing the things I should be able to help her with. I received a text from Maralyn to let me know that she was running a bit late which didn’t matter, our timings are quite relaxed. Occasionally she may be delayed as may I if I have been out or if my personal admin runs late, so neither of us get too excited about it. We spoke about her excellent news and about my disappointing news and then ventured on to other topics of conversation. After my treatment had finished we arranged the timing for Friday and she said goodbye. I stayed on my bed waiting for my Wife to get my clothes for me to get changed in to and  as I waited for a short time eventually the little fire inside had been lit under the powder keg and I could not wait any longer. It was playing on my mind and so I redialed the number for the DWP and went through the keypad bingo until I could speak to a human, hoping it would not be one of the women I had previously spoken with.

The relief I felt when it was a male voice on the phone I can not describe, knowing that it definitely would not be one of the people I had already spoken to was great. Now it remained to see what would be said. The guy was so helpful, a complete contrast by comparison to the women the day before. He went through everything with me and after my questions and his advice he informed me that a pack would be coming to me, that I was to write a letter containing a few pieces of information that I must make sure were written and that it would be a change in circumstances. That being that after nearly eighteen months I still had no movement and that I wished to apply for a longer time period on my award, this then would allow me to re apply for transportation. If I did regain the movement in my legs then this would be another change in circumstances which I would have to declare and then my claim would be again reassessed. If I would then no longer be entitled to the mobility allowance then the car would be removed from me as I would no longer be eligible. The conversation ended and I felt much better, calmer and suddenly there was a light again at the end of the tunnel, this time looking less likely to be a train coming towards me than a good outcome to something.

The rest of the day we were joined by my Mother in Law who helped my Wife blitz the bungalow ready for Christmas. It will be at our place this year because we actually have the space! We had visitors this afternoon also, a couple from the road where we used to live came to see us and our new home. They lived across the road and we always spoke so it was nice for them to pop over for a coffee while dropping in the Christmas card and a little something for the kids. The afternoon saw the blitzing continue until it was time to collect the kids from school, this little task was undertaken by the Mother in Law, she wanted to go and collect them for a nice surprise and so we continued at home.

Mother in Law had prepared a beautiful tea, chicken in a honey sauce, potatoes and veg which we sat down to eat at around five this evening. It is no exaggeration to say it was amazing, so tasty it just was not true and it was enjoyed by us all. Unfortunately after tea it was clear up and finish up the blitzing. It would have taken so long for my Wife to do it, and the little bits I could help with. I think in the new year I am going to seriously have to look in to employing someone to help out for a few hours a week to give my Wife a bit of a break and allow us to spend some proper quality time with our kids. She is missing out because of the amount she has to do and so I need to try to find a way to reduce the amount she has to do. The kids were brilliant tonight in so much as they helped tidy up the war zone that was `Pickle’s` bedroom AGAIN, and then went off to bed with very little fuss. Even `Pickle` herself went to her own bed, I don’t however envisage her staying there long, but it has meant that my Wife has been able to spend nearly an hour relaxing in the bath without `Pickle` throwing things in and shouting and screaming, a well deserved chill out session.

Almost forgot to share some news with you, I can not believe that I nearly forgot, it is only the fact that I caught it in the corner of my eye that I was reminded that I had not mentioned it. But what is it?? MY STANDING FRAME ARRIVED TODAY!!!!!!!!!! I can not wait until Thursday when my Physio comes. I have said that I will not be using it until she gets here so that we devise a programme together of how long and how often I go in it so she knows exactly how things are going with it. I am proper excited about it, it means I will be able to stand on a daily basis in time, and then maybe a few times a day, brilliant!!!!

So that’s the last couple of days, now though, it’s off to bed to either sleep or watch some more NCIS, I won’t know which though until I get there.

Goodnight all.

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