Tuesday 23 April 2013

Decision Letter

Hi everyone,

I've been a bad blogger again but I've been waiting to have a decent amount to talk about that wasn't just a 'woe is me' post. I think I annoy enough people on social networks with that as it is!

I somehow did my hip in yesterday! It was a similar pain to when I kneel down and my knees sort of 'dislocate'. It's not as bad today but I was hobbling about so much yesterday. No idea how I did it. All I did was walk a few feet to the kitchen and it just went. With the kinds of pains I have and the 'grinding' feeling I get with my knee joints etc, I'm extremely surprised I don't have arthritis. My dad has osteoarthritis which is spreading at an alarming rate and I can actually relate to the kinds of pains he describes. Mine are much more ongoing and widespread (alongside the other symptoms) though. I can definitely see why people say Fibromyalgia is similar to Arthritis.

Ok so I sent my ESA application off (with sick note) and received my decision letter yesterday (Monday). I had been accepted! Big big relief as I thought it'd be much tougher than that. If I'm not well enough for work though then what can be done. I'm being honest, transparent and doing everything required of me in the time required.

So today came with a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is that my first ESA payment has gone through. Contrary to popular politician belief, this does not mean I can laze around, go on holiday and buy fancy cars haha. It means I can afford to pay my bills without getting seriously panicky beforehand. I think I have done really well so far to avoid more than one bank charge.

The bad thing (well nerve racking thing) was that with my payment came the ESA50 form from ATOS that I have about a month to fill in and get back to them. I should probably get a letter or fit note from my doctor again to back it all up too. At least my payment allows me to pay for a doctor's letter if I need to so no real worries there.

I guess I'm just nervous about how the assessment will be. I don't know of anyone who's had an assessment where they felt respected and dignified. I just have to make sure I'm prepared for it. I really hope I get a morning appointment because my dad works afternoons and he'll have to take me. There's no way I could make it on my own as I seem to have lost all my confidence with travelling out of the house alone. All my symptoms get worse especially if where I'm going is crowded.

I think I'll get started on this form tomorrow. I've had a read through today and know I'd at least score 15 points on it. Some of the questions seem very irrelevant to an actual job though. For example:

  • Going up or down two steps: Why the word 'or'? Surely if, in a small office, you need to go up two steps, at some point during the day you'll have to go down two steps. So shouldn't this be 'and'? Also, I don't know of any workplaces that only have two steps at the most. The smallest office I worked in had a flight of stairs and no lift. If you could be situated in the ground floor office that was fine but meeting rooms were upstairs and there would be quarterly meetings (if I remember rightly). 
  • Can you lift at least one of your arms high enough to put something in the top pocket of a coat/jacket while you are wearing it?: I guess you have to check just how bad the disability is but again, being able to do this doesn't necessarily mean you're fit to work. 
  • The Picking up and moving things section: These questions involve carrying small cartons of liquid and a large empty box. In most (if not all) jobs, you would be expected to at least carry a couple of folders of work at some point in your day so these questions seem to underestimate the requirements in the workplace. I understand workplaces have to be accessible and accommodating for people with disabilities but I don't think an employer would be happy to carry things for you if it is part of your role. I think a more relevant question would be "Can you pick up and move a packet of printer paper?"
One thing I'm glad of though is the fact that there is an "it varies" tick box. This, at least slightly, includes the possibility of a variable chronic illness or disability (such as what I have). Also there are boxes to give more information. I only hope that these extra information boxes are read by the assessors/whatever you call them as I intend to fill these to explain the limitations of my illness as much as possible.

Anyway, I need to get some lunch so I should go. I'll keep you updated!

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