There are probably now more things I can't write about on my blog than things I can at the moment.
But yesterday, one of the Things I Cannot Share went official, and it's GOOD NEWS!!
Out of the blue, after 19 MONTHS of trying to claim disability living allowance (DLA), a nice lady suddenly phoned up. Out of the blue. I knew something was afoot because she was a nice lady. From the DWP.
I was not planning on picking up the phone at all. I was so low and depressed, I could barely make myself have a bath or brush my teeth. It had been a Bad Week. When I say a "bad week" that's a bit like saying Hitler was "a bit mean" or the Titanic "hit a bit of a hiccup"
But most of the badnesses were Things I Cannot Share and there are only so many times you can tweet "I'm so depreeeesssssed" so I just sort of mooched around feeling dreadful.
Yet suddenly, there I was, my answer machine chirping away with the nice lady from the DWP and I hovered by the handset, suspicious and to be honest scared to even talk to another human - especially one from the DWP.
"I'm phoning from the DLA department. I have some good news for Susan Marsh.....
I shook my head in bewilderment...
"We've come to a positive decision on Susan's DLA appeal.....
I snatched up the phone and tried to sound like I speak to real humans
After a few security questions, the nice lady told me that following a letter I'd written two weeks ago, refuting a piece of evidence they had added to my file, that they had reviewed my case with a Proper Doctor. A doctor who knew about bowel disease.
Goodness only knows what this doctor had said, but the nice lady then apologised!!!!
Yes, she apologised for disregarding the evidence on my form. She said they understood that crohn's can be very Fatiguing and Painful, but most cases were remitting - the patient went through periods where they were often well. She said they now realised my crohn's wasn't that type at all and she was sorry. (Again.)
She said they had awarded me a "lifetime award" of DLA at "very favourable rates" so that I "wouldn't have to go through this again" (I let it go that "lifetime" awards haven't existed for some time and that the introduction of PIP next year would negate all unlimited awards and stayed schtum.)
I asked her if she could tell me what the award was, but she just repeated "No, but it's very favourable." She would phone the tribunal that day and let them know and I could expect to get DLA and full back pay very soon.
I wibbled a bit incoherently and all I wanted to do was get off the phone. In the middle of a Bad Week involving quite a lot of medication, it was entirely possible I was hallucinating.
So we were cautiously, bemusedly, optimistic, Dave and I.
But we waited for the letter. Not the brown envelope of Doom this time, but the brown envelope of Hope. (Remember those? I do.)
And yesterday it came. From rejecting my claim altogether, they had awarded me the higher rates of both care and mobility.
Considering I've barely left the house since January, unable to get the kids to school or do the most basic of chores, this is probably reasonable. But in DLA terms it is.... well, the difference it will make to my life and my family is unimaginable.
We will go from no help to all-the-help.
It's such a turnaround, I am faaaar from accepting it.
Now the cynic might say that the DWP seem to be rejecting most claims in this way now, forcing the claimant to go through a lengthy and incredibly stressful appeals process. Then, two weeks before their tribunal date, they review the case and anyone still standing at the end gets a read through of the file with a doctor. This is certainly the experience of Citizen's Advice, and anecdotally, it is what we hear as campaigners
I went bankrupt in the time they refused my claim.
But you all know how bad I am at cynicism. The letter I'd written was very strong, a last ditch appeal to their better natures and their sanity. I like to think it actually worked - that there were better natures and sanity. That somewhere, within this tortuous, infuriating process of course there have to be good people too.
I like to think there's cause for hope, even when we think all hope is gone - well clearly I do, I fought the welfare bill. But last week, in lots of ways, I thought life was hopeless.
But today, I woke up remembering my family don't have to be poor any more. For a while at least. And that is a good enough thought for me, for now.