NHS Cuts, Disability Benefits & Me

 

A drastic change in my health around ten years ago sent me spiralling along a path of limited mobility and chronic pain. Raw and reeling, my mental health plummeted and subsequently I plunged into clinical depression. It was a dark time which left me feeling unable to care for myself, or my three children.

My local hospital didn’t know how best to help me and so came a frustrating and emotionally draining year of researching treatments that might help me (I found one) and then trying to get my local authority to fund it as it was outside of my local town (eventually they did).

For around the past eight years, every now and then,  I’ve undergone this quick, simple but life-changing procedure and I am so thankful for the NHS for the time and care I have been privileged enough to receive so far. Alongside this I have paid for my own physio (I didn’t get long on the NHS lists) and I’ve done everything I can possibly do to take responsibility for, and improve my health. Today, I can potter around the house, drive, nip into shops, go for short walks, my pain levels have drastically reduced and my quality of life has greatly improved. I feel like a real hands-on mum again. I no longer need to take daily medication which had been causing me horrendous side effects. Although I still use crutches sometimes and my wheelchair for days out, when I think back to ten years ago when I was unable to stand unaided or get myself in and out of the bath, my life is unrecognisable. For that I am very grateful.

Returning to the hospital last Thursday I was shocked and dismayed to be told, through no fault of the team, that due to NHS funding cuts the hospital would no longer be offering this treatment.

This post isn’t a self-pitying one – government cuts have affected most of us in one shape or form- but rather a way to unpick the tangle of emotions I am feeling right now.

Today, thanks to the improvements to my health I can work full-time. I don’t claim disability benefits, there isn’t enough to go around and there are people worse off than me, that I know. I am in the fortunate position where I work from home, make my own hours. I can change positions if my pain gets overwhelming, I can go for a lie-down when I’m feeling exhausted, I can even skip the odd day and stay in bed during bad flare ups. This I could not do in an office but I worry now, that without this relatively simple treatment, my mobility will likely decline again, my pain increase, my mental health suffer and the thought of losing my financial independence if I am no longer capable of working is a frightening thought indeed.

Slashing funding and impacting upon people’s health will surely cost more in long run; potentially driving people out of work, onto benefits, increasing the need for medication, pain killers, anti-depressants, the already flooded waiting lists for counselling will creak under the strain, and then of course there is the need to treat the often horrific side-effects these drugs can cause.

And this is what I am struggling to make sense of. The logic behind it all.

I really don’t know what the answer is. I don’t feel I am more entitled than anyone else. All I do know is at the moment, my world, the world, seems a scary and uncertain place.

Flash Fiction – Buttercups

Image courtesy of Jennifer Pendergast

 

You loved playing dress up, twirling in my far-too-large wedding dress until your heel caught in the lace and you tumbled onto the dried grass.

‘Mummy.’ Your lip trembled and I plucked a buttercup, shining gold in the sun, telling you it was a magic flower. All was well in your small world once more.

I blink. Somehow time has slipped passed. Weeks, months, years.

You rush towards me. This time it’s a gown and mortar board that swamps your still-small frame.

‘Mum!’ You’re nervous. I push a buttercup into your hand.

‘Collect your degree, darling.’

Your world is larger now, but I’m still here. Always.

 

‘Buttercups’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word story challenge inspired by a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle

 

My first school visit – 250 kids – what could possibly go wrong?

img_9455

Last week I was writing when my phone flashed with an incoming call – my son’s primary school – and my heart stuttered as I thought of all the things that might be wrong.

‘Will you come into school on World Book Day and talk to the kids about writing? Just Years 5 & 6. Only around 250 children.’

Only?!? 250!?! I’ve never given a talk before and instantly I felt sick, dizzy, afraid. Options pin-balled around my mind. I could hang up, pretend they had the wrong number, put on an accent and say I can’t speak English. So many words formed on my tongue, but I thought about the amazing assemblies I’ve seen there over the years. How brave the children are to stand up in front of the school and act and sing, and of all of the words that formed on my tongue, the one that came out was yes. The children can’t all enjoy performing and yet they do it anyway. What sort of example would I set to my son if I didn’t at least try?

Yesterday, it was a different story. Riddled with doubt I spoke my lovely friend Victoria who told me to imagine I was speaking to one little girl. The little girl who loved to read. Loved to write. Who wanted nothing more than to be an author. The little girl I once was who had her dreams crushed when the career advisor said writing was neither a ‘proper or viable career choice.’ And a quiet determination grew inside. If in some small way I could inspire one child to follow their dreams it would be worth any amount of anxiety I might feel.

img_9444This morning I stood in front of a sea of expectant faces. I locked eyes with my son. He’d been so excited I was visiting and I wanted to make him proud, not faint/vomit/cry and so I ignored the notes I’d made and I spoke from the heart. I spoke of my passion for writing, my love for my characters, how I can’t imagine ever doing anything else. I spoke of my belief that we can all be who we want to be, if only we dare to dream and never stop trying.

I asked the children questions. They asked me questions. Some had written them down, complete with illustrations. Most loved to read, to write, to fabricate stories and many of them dream of being authors and seeing that raw hope, that ambition, that certainty, I am sure they can do anything they set their minds to.

img_9457

It was a real privilege meeting these children and I came away hopeful, and inspired, and itching to write. It was such an enriching experience. I learned a lot about them, but I also learned a lot about me. 

How? A Mother’s Tale.

socsbadge2016-17

How can I love you more?

I gazed in wonder at your ten tiny fingers, your ten tiny toes and I knew that I was hopelessly, irrevocably lost.

How can I love you more?

Your first smile made my heart swell, your first illness sliced me to the core.

How can I love you more?

The memory of your first day at school etched forever on my mind as your tiny hand slipped from mine and you took the first faltering steps towards independence.

How can I love you more?

Standing tall, and proud on your first day at work, no longer a boy but a man.

How can I love you more?

It is incomprehensible that I could and yet with every second, every minute, every hour, I do.

 

This post was written for the Saturday Streams of Consciousness challenge hosted by Linda G. Hill. Write the first thing that comes to mind following a prompt and post. No editing allowed. This week’s prompt was ‘begin your post with how.’

Flash Fiction – Letting Go

broken-face-liz-2

Image courtesy of Liz Young

 

I paint on the smile that won’t reach my eyes and smooth my dress as though that will suddenly make me lose 10lbs. Today I want to be sparkling. Beautiful. Brilliant.

The church is full. The bride is young, thin, radiant. As full of hope as I once was. I bite back tears. I won’t cry. I won’t.

You’re so handsome as you walk down the aisle. I try to catch your eye but I’m invisible to you now. But I’m still your mum and I cling to that thought as tightly as you once clung to my hand.

Be happy, my love.

 

‘Letting Go’ was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word story challenge, inspired by a photo prompt. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting – you can check out the other entries, or join in, here.

 

Falling in love with writing

3317075099_44542c3b4a

 

It’s the school summer holidays. Often a struggle with my limited mobility. I love spending time with my children but days out leave me exhausted with increased pain.  Yesterday I asked my eight year old son whether he would like to go to the park for a while, I do like him to be out in the fresh air and sunshine whenever possible. ‘Do you mind if we stay in today and write a book,’ he replied.  Ummm ok. No pressure then!

Finley had been totally gripped for weeks by the Chronicles of Avantia series by Adam Blade. So much so that when he finished Book Four he had tears in his eyes. I offered to take him to the book shop to see what we could find to read next, but no, he started to reread Book One. ‘I love the series so much I never want it to end,’ he told me. But, he decided there was a chunk Adam missed out, alluding to an event rather than describing it. Finley explained that he could see it so clearly in his mind he wanted to write it down.

So write we did. It was so refreshing to look at life through the eyes of a child. He decided he wanted to write a book so sat down to do just that. There was no could I or should I’s, no doubt that it was achievable. He sat and described the scene in his head so beautifully I could really envisage being there. He had such a joy watching his story come to life with no worries he was switching from past to present tense, using too many adjectives and creating sentences that were far too long. He wrote because he loved it. Because he wanted to. It was a privilege to be part of that and a timely reminder for me of why I started this journey.

 

biiig_3722fouii68zr.jpg