I’m into the second week of my staycation and so far there hasn’t been one iota of holidaying going on. They say it’s a good job you can’t see into the future and they’re right because if I’d known how this week was going to pan out I would have stopped in bed with the duvet over my head. This is a long post – you might need a brew 😉
Tuesday night I’d agreed to do a 2 hour presentation to the new Beginner’s class at my Camera Club because the chap who was meant to do it is in hospital with a collapsed spine. Dave has been really good to me (he’s the one who gave me his £500 printer for nothing because he knew I couldn’t afford one) plus lost his wife to cancer just a few months ago, so even though I was technically on holiday of course I agreed to help. I spent the whole day last Thursday putting together my presentation and the whole of Tuesday this week practising my speech. I’d planned the day carefully to maximise my energy levels and it included 2 hours of complete rest from 3.30-5.30pm. I’d just gotten into bed, however, when the phone went and I could see it was the Financial Ombudsman’s Service. I’d been waiting to hear from them for 3 months, so of course I had to pick up. I then spent the next hour on the blower and came off shocked, dazed and stressed to the eyeballs – resting after that was out of the question. Finding out the Adjudicator’s recommendation in 2012 wasn’t legally binding sent me reeling, so then trying to focus on my presentation was nigh on impossible. The fact it went as well as it did was pure luck and down to all the practising I’d done earlier on in the day. Needless to say I barely slept a wink that night.
Wednesday I’d again agreed to do a presentation at Camera Club for Dave, though this time just 30 minutes. I hadn’t prepared nearly as well and had planned on spending Weds going over my talk but instead spent the entire morning putting together the paperwork needed for my new Ombudsman’s complaint. My cleaner is here on a Weds from 12noon to 3pm and while dodging the duster and hoover I had to make and eat my dinner, take the dog out and mount 3 prints for an exhibition my Camera Club are putting on in town which had to be handed in that night. Again I’d planned on resting between 3.30-5.30pm but instead had to spend those two hours going over my talk which I hadn’t practised at all. By the time I dropped the dog off at Mum’s I was dizzy from exhaustion, starting with a migraine and felt sick to my stomach. I somehow stumbled through the presentation and can’t even remember the drive home in a torrential summer storm with flash flooding and forked lightning!
Thursday, with the presentations done, I thought I’d finally be able to start my holiday but of course my migraine was in full swing by then so even though it was 25C outside I spent the day in bed with the curtains closed feeling like rats were gnawing the inside of my skull. Another day gone.
Friday morning I got up, went into the Utility room to feed Bertie and heard the ominous sound of dripping water. My toilet was leaking and there was a huge pool quickly spreading across the floor. I isolated the water and drained the toilet tank but still haven’t had the energy to fix it yet. Looking on the bright side it’s a good job I couldn’t afford to holiday abroad for a fortnight, because if I had I would have come back to a completely flooded house! An hour later I head the post plop through my letter box and spotted a dreaded brown envelope from the Department for Work & Pensions on my door mat. It was my Employment & Support Allowance renewal forms (ESA is the welfare benefit given to people who are unable to work due to illness and, although I also have my PHi insurance, I still have to claim ESA which is deducted from the money paid to me by the insurance company). The last time I claimed ESA the Government found me fit for “some kind of work” and said that in 12 months time I’d be in full employment and they’d stop my benefit. Hurrah I’m cured!!! I applied for a “mandatory reconsideration” then had to spend 6 horrendously stressful months persuading them that I don’t have a curable disease and won’t be returning to full-time work any time soon – in the end I had to get my local Member of Parliament involved which finally swung the decision. Now I have to do the whole thing over again – I can’t wait. Friday aft I had to go into town for my special bread and some food for Bertie. I called in to see my folks who were bickering and obviously stressed and I ended up on the phone for a whole hour sorting out some important stuff to do with their finances which wouldn’t wait another week for my “holiday” to finish. As I got up from the dining room chair to leave I felt something ping in my lower back and a burning, shooting pain radiate through my pelvis. The ligaments around my SI joint are well dodgy and I think I’ve torn the left one again, so am now in constant pain and couldn’t get comfy in bed last night so didn’t sleep – look on the bright side Jak, you can now barely fucking walk so at least you’ll get some rest!
I’m at the stage where I just find the whole thing hilarious – it’s either that or you might as well just put me in a straight jacket and cart me off to the nearest sanitorium. At least I’d get to chill in the nut house 😉
This week is the final one of my holidays, but as I only have 3 weeks to send back my ESA forms I will have to work endlessly on those instead. You have to be very careful what you say and have to do all sorts of reading up beforehand to tailor your answers to fit the descriptors in order to qualify for the benefit (there are some excellent guides on the Benefit & Work website though they cost you £20). Even then it’s a totally arbitrary system. My best mate and I have the same disease, had our last renewals at the same time and read each others forms – our answers were almost identical, we produced similar medical evidence from our doctors, yet she was placed straight in the Support Group and I was placed in the Work Group, despite the fact we both agree I’m actually more disabled than she is because of my Ehlers-Danlos (which she doesn’t have). I’m convinced it just depends who reads your form on the day and how jaded and sceptical they are.
Oh well, it’s only 3 months til Christmas – maybe my next bash at a holiday will be more successful.
I do have two bits of great news though. The first is that, after 3 months of trying, I finally got a full refund on my Rod Stewart tickets. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 the seats weren’t “as described” when I bought them, so I felt sure I was legally entitled to receive my money back. I initially complained to the ticket vendor, who said they’d pass it on to the Promoters. The Promoters just ignored me. I contacted my bank to try and get a charge-back on my credit card but they found a legal loophole to slip out of to make sure they weren’t liable. I contacted the ticket vendor again, who passed my complaint on to the Promoters again, who eventually offered me 2 free tickets to another concert. I explained the last gig I went to was in 1987, my Dad had Alzheimer’s and we weren’t planning on ever going to another concert. They said take it or leave it. I then contacted Consumer Direct, a free government-backed charity who offer legal consumer advice, who advised me to get in touch with STAR the ticket vendor’s trade body. They were brilliant and within a week the Promoters had got back in touch and offered me a full refund. Result 🙂 Three months of stress and chasing my tail though, when it was legally a straight-forward case that should have been sorted out at the start.
My second piece of brilliant news is that Bertie is finally back to his normal weight. He lost over half a kilo back in June, which is a lot for a little dog. He was wormed and all his blood work was fine so it was a bit of a mystery, though I personally still suspect pancreatitis to which Mini Schnauzers are prone even though his pancreatic test was ok. Having said all that, dogs with an attack of pancreatitis often vomit and are off their food, neither of which applied to Bert. We still don’t know why he’s been ill, but after months of being over-fed with no luck he’s finally gained the weight back again out of the blue in the past 2 weeks, and is now on regular food portions. Yayyyy 🙂