Back in 2008, the then Minister for Disabilities, Jonathan Shaw, came to our humble CLP to give a talk about the new Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
After he spoke for over 30 minutes I was appalled and frightened. Not once, in that speech did he mention - or even seem to be aware of the fact - that many people like me were unable to work because of long term health conditions.
He spoke about "modifying the workplace" to accommodate disability. He spoke about the blind and the deaf and those in wheelchairs. He referred constantly to the new soundbite that "Virtually everyone should be on an active pathway into work."
Absolutely nothing he said acknowledged the fact that there are hundreds of conditions that may exclude one from the workplace indefinitely whether they result from a disability or an illness.
At the end of his rather shocking presentation, questions were invited from the sparsely populated Labour Hall and I sat with my hand eagerly stretching skywards like a child in primary school desperate for the loo.
Finally, I was called, the last question of the evening and I asked him "What about those that are ill? What if the workplace can't be "modified" for us? What if we have no chance of recovery and, in fact, will only become more ill?"
He blinked at me. Then he stumbled a bit. Then he blinked again. It was clear that either the thought had never crossed his mind, or it was a question he didn't wish to answer. That was the day I became a "Welfare Warrior"
I lobbied Mr Shaw for months. He never replied.
At Labour Conference that year, I lobbied endlessly and in the end, successfully, to sit with Mr Shaw for half an hour and discuss the issue more fully. He was distracted, uncomfortable and evasive. He had absolutely no answers to my questions and made it clear that he did not want to be there.
Despite following up, he never replied to my correspondence.
Over the months, and then years that followed, not one person in the Labour Party replied to my questions or engaged with my fears. ESA was rolled out and the disaster I predicted unfolded before my eyes.
Now, three and a half years later, it is the coalition ignoring me and they have taken a failing and distressing system and turned it into a living nightmare.
Just as I could see from Mr Shaw's little speech, under ESA, it was those with variable, lifelong condition who were no longer considered "sustainable" and today, we reach a point, where literally millions of us are about to be abandoned entirely within our welfare system.
I have never written an article that doesn't refer to the "sick or disabled." Never, have I allowed those politicians to forget that there are millions of people like me who's lives have been ravaged, destroyed and torn apart by terrible ill health. Every single day, I have bored, annoyed, flustered and irritated those determined to ignore me.
It is a little difficult to maintain. It's an awkward phrase, it ruins my flow! "Sick and disabled" "sick and disabled" "sick or disabled" over and over I play Pavlov's dogs with our psyche to make it clear that one can be rendered less able in a million different ways.
Some disabled people don't like the implications of the phrase. Many disabled people are perfectly well apart from their disabilities, just as many people are horribly unwell but don't think of themselves as "disabled".
In order to bring us together, I never differentiate. In a physical sense, our problems and experiences are very different, but in the fight I want to win, they are one and the same. I want a society that treats us with dignity and respects our abilities. I want the welfare system to reflect that whether you are disabled physically or rendered disabled by ill heatlh.
Before I started to blog, I felt entirely excluded from the discussion. There was no official voice speaking for people like me - not that I'd discovered. I was ill, and our welfare system had never even hinted that that illness was not clearly a barrier to traditional work. Suddenly it was not just questioned, but rejected. Suddenly, a life threatening condition leading to endless surgery was no protection against poverty and relying totally on the goodwill of others for survival.
Well, today something interesting happened.
It wasn't a great day. Politicians were unusually depressing and an article I wrote for Left Foot Forward attracted some pretty disappointing and personal feedback in the comments thread.
A Tory friend on Twitter told me to "man up" which actually gave me the most comfort, because he was right. If I choose to oppose this, I will attract the very people I need to convince, and that is a good thing.
But as I read back through the comments, trying to find common ground or a way to break through the animosity, I realised something amazing.
Nearly every single comment referred to "the sick and disabled".
I quickly checked a few media articles and news stories and with a thrill the size of Alaska, realised that every single one now refers to "the sick and/or disabled". Peeking through my fingers, I made one last check. Yep, the politicians themselves now refer to the sick and /or disabled more often than not.
Millions of people who were previously never considered have now crept into the language of the debate and will now colour the opinions of those deciding their fates.
I'm just one voice and many others have been telling the same story and fighting the same fight - many for much longer than me. But I think this is a milestone. An enormously important step away from an often one dimensional discussion about welfare provision and "ability".
Every time you read the words "sick and disabled" I hope you'll smile. It means our numbers doubled, our movement grew and we found our similarities to unite against the real dangers we all face.
Maybe, just maybe it was one step towards making politicians think differently without even realising they had.
A small triumph perhaps, but I hope, in time, a powerful one.