Hi peeps this is a post about Access to work inspired by Kaliya Franklin’s blog post

The ‘Scrounging Scum’ to ‘hard working, tax credit claiming, socially acceptable scrounging’ journey 

But it’s also a way for me to get some stuff out there so it’s not only in here anymore… *Warning* it will be long…

As most of you know I have Fibromyalgia among other things…

In 2009/10 I first realised something was going to happen to my Incapacity benefit… that I would at some point in 2010 be reassessed for something called ESA… Having a fluctuating condition, I quickly came to realise, having listened to accounts of the process my friends had gone through that it was unlikely  I would get through as I had been working on higher permitted work for three years so I started to look for alternatives.

I came up with the idea of starting my own business as a designer maker and keeping the teaching job I was doing… So I signed up for work choice that was a rocky road to say the least they where just not set up for self employment… My business has yet to make any money… sigh…

During this time I made my first application to Access to Work… to find they couldn’t help with my job because I had found it myself and hadn’t used Job Center Plus to get it so I fell at the first hurdle.

Next came the application for help with my business… I phoned Access to Work to start the ball rolling but because I was with Work Choice they wouldn’t accept my application and re directed me back to Work Choice. Work Choice said they didn’t deal with Access to Work and knew nothing about it… Fell again at the second hurdle…

In October 2011 I went P/T self employed, I had no funding and no stock so spent the winter months making work as and when I could afford materials and doing small local craft shows.

Towards the end of my first year in which I had made lots of work and had managed to go to several craft shows I decided I really needed support from Access to Work so contacted them again. This time they passed me to an adviser who asked to have details of the travel I expected to do in mileage and cost as well as time I might need a support worker and approximate cost along side any equipment needs I might have, I came off the phone thinking how am I going to work all that out… I was at a bit of a loss…

During this year my partner  J had developed a painful knee and had been in and out of hospital for tests and scans, some of them in Oxford, we live in Cornwall.

Then J was diagnosed with bone cancer (2012) a very rare one and he had to have a serious operation to remove his knee and a big chunk of his upper thigh bone and some of his shin bone and have them replaced with prosthetic metal implants the upper rod almost reaching his hip and the lower rod going half way down his shin bone… (*try to remember this description for later)

Access to Work and pretty much every thing else was forgotten at this point, though I kept my job going as I realised my two and a half hr job and my P/T business would soon be the only income we would have.

Just before his op I contacted Access to Work as I realised I was going to need help because not only would I need to keep my job but my Partner would no longer be able to care for me or my son I was going to have to do it all…

When I phoned my adviser there was a message saying he no longer worked for Access to Work and I should contact the main office… I had to start all over again… I phoned and was told an adviser would phone me back…

They never did…

After the op J came home it had been hard coping on my own with a little help from social services, while he was away but having him home was hard to as he could hardly walk and was on a lot of pain medication…We settled in to a routine when two weeks later he developed symptoms of a tummy bug… I had to fight the GP to get him to come out… My partner was rushed to hospital with pneumonia and two blood clots on his lung, he was in hospital for another week…

Christmas was just round the corner so I had to do some craft fairs as this is one of the busiest times of year and I needed to try to make some money…. Once again I considered contacting Access to work but I just didn’t have the time. J was still on Statutory Sick Pay so we where doing ok…

January  2013 came and J started to feel cold all the time we thought it was just the weather, then he lost his appetite after a few days I said you need to see the Dr, so we booked an appointment… The morning of the appointment J collapsed in the kitchen his leg had gone very red, I rushed him to the surgery and the Dr saw him straight away… she called an ambulance which we had to wait an hr for they where all busy… in that hr J went from sick to very sick and in extreme pain… when we got to the hospital they kept him in A&E for several hrs, then suddenly started rushing about giving him meds they thought he had an infection… over the space of the next ten days we nearly lost him a couple of times he was delirious with the pain because they couldn’t get it under control even with very strong meds and their was little to nothing I could do to help except be there as much as I could trying to share his pain… he had two wash outs to try to get the infection under control… they basically opened up his scar and jet washed the tissue and prosthetics to get the muck out… it didn’t work and he got sicker again… at this point they transferred him to Oxford, I knew how sick he was and how close it had come to losing him so this was really hard as I couldn’t go with him… I had to try to keep things as normal as possible for our son and try to keep my job going… He was in Oxford for a further twenty odd days and had another wash out… The bone infection specialists devised a treatment of combination antibiotics administered via pick line, which started to work and he started to recover, we managed one visit while he was there but it was very hard on us all being so far apart…

J was in hospital for just over a month, leaving me to manage on my own… just as I need to be doing my tax returns lol… it doesn’t rain less it pours…

When J came home he still had the pick line in and had nurse visits every day to administer his meds… they sent a large box of meds with him id never seen so may boxes of injections and tablets, our kitchen trolley looked like a chemist shop… he was very weak and it took a lot of time for him to recover but the med combination worked and he eventually started to pick up and they removed the pick line and put him on meds by mouth…  a combination of two antibiotics twice a day specialised ones to combat the bone infection that likes to live on prosthetic implants… He’s still taking them now a year later…

By this time it was April 2013 and J’s SSP ran out and he applied for ESA, he was very quickly sent an ESA50 (within a couple of weeks) we went through the process of gathering his info and sending it off (exhausting)… the new crafting season was beginning… I had been trying to make new work all this time but it was difficult to get as much done as I would have liked… the notion of Access to work crossed my mind again but to be honest it seemed like more work than I could handle having to do all the leg work myself just wasn’t possible…

I had also started the Stats Campaign with Jayne Linney during the last couple of months as I needed a way to channel my anger and frustration at our misfortune and the treatment of the disabled…

In July J Drs decided his knee wasn’t bending as well as it should , as he could only bend it 35 degrees… So they decided to do a Manipulation Under Anesthetic (MUA). This was done in Oxford again and was supposed to take three days… unfortunately the op went badly and his scar was torn open and his quads tendon was damaged this is the one that keep your thigh muscles in place with out it your muscles would be like a rubber band rolled up round the top of your leg… our physio is good at graphic descriptions…lol  they had to open his scar up and repair the damage… he was in hospital for another week…

When he came home he wasn’t allowed to bend it for a few weeks and had it in a full leg splint… at the end of August a year after diagnosis he was allowed to start physio and began to bend it in a bending full length splint…

In Sept 2013 over two yrs since his first problems J went back to work, still on two crutches with a full leg splint…having never heard any more from ESA, he hadn’t been placed in either group and hadn’t had a WCA… J’s work offered a sit down day job, as part of his reasonable adjustments because his job involved standing for eight hours (*remember the description of his prosthetics) and walking about but they assured him they would find him a sit down job and on days as he could no longer ride his bike to work to get to work on the evening shift. He would be allowed a graded return all of which sounded possible… The works Drs assessment stated this was how it should be done…

We contacted Access to work about his transport and mentioned he’d need a in work assessment…

J started work and was put straight back in to his old job…

On his feet for the half a shift he was doing and they supplied a chair on wheels that J found dangerous to maneuver with one leg as it was like paddling with one paddle he kept going in circles… this continued… J complained that he couldn’t do the job… his work just said your not using the chair enough and that he was his own worse enemy… all this was done on evening shift… Slowly his hr increased to full time over a month, so did his pain and swelling, preventing his knee from bending at all… In September J applied for Personal Independent Payments… here at the tail end of February we still have heard nothing from the DWP about his PIP application…

Access to work sorted paying his transport but failed to do an in work assessment…

We phoned… they said we needed to re apply… Aaagghhh… We reapplied weeks went by nothing… We where told they couldn’t contact the company to do the assessment, J told them not to bother… he had lost hope, hope that they could help and hope that the company he had worked for over ten years would let them help because they clearly didn’t care about the pain and damage they had caused him… he got really low… so did I but I couldn’t show it…

In November we went to London to visit Parliament… 🙂

January 2014 came and we learned that we had been massively over paid by Housing Benefit despite offering to give them everything they needed and giving them everything they asked for , the same week J was told he was up for redundancy, just five months after getting back to work and being tortured by his boss who happily told him one day ‘I had a bit of knee trouble once it got better”…

During this last year our son has been assessed for sensory issues and is now being assessed for Autism… his OT thinks we have to work a lot harder as parents than someone with kids that don’t have his problems. As parents of an only child we thought all kids where this difficult… bless him we are still fighting to get him the help he needs at school…three years and counting…

and then my computer died… 😦

So we have had no assessment for ESA, limited help from Access to work and no news from PIP… and plunged in to huge debt by HB…

The support system for helping the sick and disabled work… doesn’t work!

Now it’s close to a new crafting season… Do I apply for Access to Work?

I know this was long I make no apologies, some things just have to be said out loud, I never want to forget what theses past two years have been like because it drives me to fight for others.

I want to say thank you to the staff of Tralisk Hospital Truro a hospital that often gets bad press but saved my J more than once and me and our son in the past, and The staff of the Nuffield Tumor team and the Bone infection Unit for saving J from the cancer and the bone infection… with out the NHS J would not be here…

I want to thank J family and my family for all their support and help this would have been a lot tougher with out them…

To his boss and his company I want to say Agghhh you ass holes… but I doubt ill get the chance… 🙂 And just so there are no doubt about the pain they caused him ive just found this lovely pic of his prosthetics… its not the full leg which is a shame but you get the picture…

J's Prosthetics

J’s Prosthetics

There are new things a foot… the stats campaign is ongoing… I’ve started a new Fibro campaign with fibrogirl called for the moment FibroMe ForAction, and I’m working on something I think might have been over looked, I need to work on that…

Thank you for staying with me I need to go wipe away my tears there hasn’t been much time for them in the last two years and I needed to acknowledge in some way how crappy its been so I can move forward… J continues the meds and is slowly getting stronger… I’ve been in a massive flair since Christmas and quite low but I’m beginning to come back so watch out IDS I’m not done with you yet… Dxxx

PS i believe the National Service Bill gets its second reading tomorrow lets hope it dies…

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