Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The Story So Far

I've just "celebrated" the first anniversary of my ME. I'd had a couple of bouts of illness during early 2008, culminating in an illness that lasted for a week in June, during which I was running a high temperature, experiencing soaking night sweats, and feeling deathly. I was given antibiotics by my GP which seemed to clear things up, but slowly and surely the signs of the chronic problem began to show. I tried to return to work but simply couldn't get through a day. My GP was very efficient - he quickly had blood tests organised. All came back negative, so we were left with the differential diagnosis of ME. I've been blundering about in the fog ever since.

Until I was about 40, I hardly had ever set foot in a doctor's office, and the concept of being unwell had seldom occurred to me. However, when I was 41 I had a year during which I felt increasingly unwell before I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. I had surgery, and a subsequent scare with a pulmonary embolism, and recovered well. Perhaps I was a little more prone to "tummy bugs" than some, but I was perfectly able to cope with life at work and at home as a parent of 3 children.

The next glitch began about 3 years ago, when I began to feel fatigued, unable to cope, irritable and all the rest. Tests soon revealed that I had developed Type 2 Diabetes, along with a side order of depression (diabetes and depression frequently co-occur). I gradually improved and returned to work after a six month lay off. Metformin and Fluoxetine became part of my daily routine, and remain so. I'm fairly confident I'm managing the diabetes, and I'm so scared of a return to the depression that I work hard to prevent it (this blog is a part of the therapy, I guess). Within a few months of my return to work, however, the niggly illnesses had begun that culminated in the ME.

So now I sit at home. My job went on grounds of my incapacity in April, although there was no suggestion that I might be entitled to claim some or all of my pension, and I remain in correspondence about this matter. I have been introduced to the wonders of Jobcentre Plus, Pathways to Work and other Government initiatives. None of these bodies seems able to comprehend that I am unwell, but I live in hope of convincing them. The DSS are so unimpressed that they have suspended my Employment Support Allowance. However, I can't claim Jobseekers as I am not certified fit for work. I am appealing the decision about my benefits - and await an acknowledgement of that from the DSS. Meanwhile, the bank make polite but firm requests about my plans for the mortgage I can't pay. Adopting a state of Zen-like calm becomes increasingly difficult. I grimace when I think of all the times I might have said I was happy to live in a welfare state where every citizen could expect to have their needs met - but illusions should be shattered, I guess, so that the truth is revealed.

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