Sunday, 24 October 2010

Penny's Story

I am 54 years old and disabled but my life hasn't always been about disabilities.

I am married with 3 children. When those children went to school I returned to work in the caring profession. I already had Psoriasis at this time but it was manageable. Firstly I worked with elderly in a residential home and then in the community. I then developed Psoriatic arthritis and over a few months my left knee became fixed at an angle causing me to limp.

It became obvious I was not going to be able to continue with the type of physical hands on work I was doing and so aged 40 I returned to education ( whilst still working part time) I studied counselling to diploma level and then Psychology to Doctorate level achieving all the qualifications along the way over a 7 year period. I was by then working with homeless people although my health was deteriorating.

My GP got me a disabled parking bay outside my home and I asked for and received ( on appeal) DLA motorbility which enabled me to get an automatic car that in turn enabled me to continue working. Unfortunately the Psoriasis and the Psoriatic arthritis were progressing and had now been joined by osteo arthritis. My spine was affected as were many of my other joints, my hands and feet were covered in Psoriasis and would split and bleed.

I was now working with domestic violence part time. I was made redundant from there and realised getting work suitable for my health condition was nigh on impossible so I started up in private practice from home. I make these points because all this time I was working ( whilst disabled) I was paying tax and NI I believed for help from the state were it to be needed. 2 years ago my consultant ( I have 2) insisted I stop working as I was stressing about my lack of reliability ( seeing clients as a counselling Psychologist) my mobility by now was severely restricted, I am in constant pain from damaged joints and sore often swollen skin.

I have had a range of medications that make me sick, send me into space or give me a multitude of other delightful side effects, there is no cure for my medical condition and it is progressive.

I approached the benefits just as incapacity ceased to be and the great ESA took over so first hurdle was the ATOS WCA. My husband drove me the 25 miles to the building, we did see a doctor who was quite understanding of my condition and wrote a fair report ending... This illness is progressive and it is unlikely this woman will ever be able to return to work. It was then explained to me I would still be placed in the 'work activities group' as to be put in the 'support group' you had to have less than 6 months to live!

This meant I had to attend my local job centre for 6 interviews over 6 months. My job centre has no disabled parking and the offices were upstairs although there was a lift at the staff entrance.

Here are the 3 options my interviewer could offer me

1) years subscription to a Gym ( I could barely move!)
2) college basic skills course ( I'm a Dr)
3) jobsearch 6 week course on writing CVs etc ( I'm a Dr)

The girl who interviewed me agreed she could do nothing for me and stated I should never have been put through this but they were being forced to hassle people like me by the new rules!

This was a year ago, I now only have the use of 1 hand as the condition continues to progress and I am to lose my ESA and my DLA is under threat too.

Caring for our societies disabled/vulnerable? Don't make me laugh.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have psoriasis arthitis like your self i an 50 yrs old i have not worked for four years. was finished from my job as a teaching asistant due to ill health, it first started in my knee about 8yrs ago but only been diagnoised for the last 4yrs ihave psoriasis on my feet which i have had for appox 15 yrs but i did not know what it was thought it was hard skin untill my rumy told me it was psoriasis, it allways cracks and bleeds and makes it very difficult to walk, very quickly after being diagnoised the arthritis has spreed now to my hip,hand, fingers, ankle, neck and shoulders .at the moment i am having a lot of pain in my shoulders and head.i have been put on embrel once a week , this seems to help a litle with the stiffness and pain but still have lots of pain on walking my I B is due for renewal in march this year and i am very frighten i will lose my benifit i did get dla indef but this will have to be looked at a gain now with the new rules. this is a very worrying time for the disabled,and worry dose not help my conditsion only makes it worse