Sunday, 3 October 2010

I only blog when I'm angry!

My regular friends know that I'm not a regular blogger by any means. I used to be what now seems a lifetime ago, when my body was more or less still working and not flashing the warning lights at me constantly. So, what exactly is it that has got me to take an extra morphine pill, prop up a few extra pillows behind me and take my keyboard in my hand? Well, it is topical and certainly not something that has not already had people blogging away for a few days. See, this is another problem with living with my body, I am always running late it seems with everything, but I won't let that stand between me and another blog, oh no, not when I have downed drugs!

This blog is dedicated to the mutterings of a little known backbench Conservative MP who hails by the name of Nadine Dorries. Frankly, until a few days ago I had never heard of her, and I could happily have gone through the rest of my life without that little bit of information becoming known to me. Sadly, life never is happy to leave me in ignorance, not when I can be upset, offended and angered in one fell swoop. 

So what exactly has Nadine done to upset me do much? Well, in order to understand that question, I need to digress a little and fill in some blanks about myself. Honestly, I am not simply seeking to have a moan about how fortune has visited more often than I deserve and left me with pitfalls in my way, but to explain why her comments got to the core of who I am today and frankly, made me detest and pity somewhat a woman I have never met, nor if I am honest, want to. 

I am a recently turned forty something dad of 3, divorced man, non of these is really that important, however, I am also disabled, and that is the salient point. In 2003 after working for 20 years, starting and running 2 successful businesses, creating jobs, training kids and long term unemployed, paying lots and lots of taxes, I had a massive breakdown which meant I lost everything I had worked so hard to build. I don't blame anyone for that, life is a roller coaster after all, sometimes you win, sometimes you loose. What made this situation hard to deal with was that despite paying taxes and contributing to society over the preceding years, when I needed help the government made me feel like a complete scrounger. It wasn't that it was going to give me huge amounts of money, oh no, just a meagre amount of incapacity benefit, hardly enough to keep a family going for a month, but despite that, somehow we managed. The breakdown left me with devastating agoraphobia and anxiety problems such that leaving the house was impossible for a long time, and even now, some 7 years after the fact, those problems are still very much here and something I need to deal with daily. These problems are not what made me write this blog. 

In 2007 I suffered from agonising back pain, 6 months of being rushed to hospital in ambulances, once I had to be rescued from my home by firemen as I collapsed in my bedroom and passed out and the stairs are so narrow, the ambulance staff could not get me down in my passed out state, and then sent home after a cursory visual check up and being told I had a sciatica. All it needed was an MI scan, but I was too large for the local scanner, and it was too much trouble for them to tell me or my GP that, and too much trouble to book me in anywhere else. In March 2008 after another collapse at home, I was back in hospital, being told the same things, refused a scan. I ended up hacking the bedside internet to search for a place that could do a scan and arranging everything myself in order to get one. That done, the incompetant doctors at my hospital told me to go home, loose weight and keep mobile, all I had was a slipped disc and I would be fine. Given that I could barely move, was in constant agony and taking more morphine than it would take to knock out an African elephant, I asked for a second opinion from another hospital, where upon it suddenly transpired I was in imminent danger of paralysis from the chest down and needed a major 10 hour operation on my spine to simply keep me walking. The operation worked thankfully, well, it worked to the extent that I can use my legs to walk, not far though, 10 feet is about the max really, and it has left me in constant pain, I can't sit or stand or walk, 5 minutes sitting up and the pain is beyond anything I would wish on my enemy, not even on Ms Dorries. This also is not the reason for this blog. 

Today, my life is a very limited and simple one. Because of the pain, I can't really do very much at all. I spend a lot of time on my back, either on the bed or the sofa. I walk very little, even trips to the kitchen are kept to the bare minimum. outside activities are limited to school trips in the car, the walk to the car being the hardest, and getting out after the drive means being a bit braver each time as I know what the pain is going to be like afterwards. Even shopping is planned so as to do as few trips as possible, it is not only the physical issues, but being outside and around other people still gives me panic attacks. I can only manage any of this with a cocktail of medication. Anyone who has taken strong opioid pain killers such as Tramadol or Morphine will know just how many side effects there are. On top of that I also have anti-anxiety pills, muscle spasm pills, neuropathic pain killers. To stop the side effects I need other pills to stop my stomach being eaten through my acids the other medications cause, pills for diabetes which was triggered by the high doses of steroids I needed after my surgery, blood pressure drugs to stop the neuropathic pain killers making it too high, Quinine pills to stop cramps... I could keep on going, but I figure you are getting bored about now at my drugs regimen and want to know how this all is relevant to Nadine Dorries. 

The answer is simply this, I don't have much of a life really. Other my home and my kids, I can go for long periods where I don't see any other human being, not even my mother who only lives 10 doors away from me. She is 76, and is still more mobile even with her dodgy knees and worn out hips than I am. I keep in touch with the world and attempt to feel part of society by spending time online. Yes, I tweet and I blog. It has become my social circle, my friends are online, the ones who would miss me and give a damn if I disappeared are online. When I need support, they give it freely, if I need advice, they offer up pearls of wisdom I value, when I am reduced to tears, they make me feel valued. I don't tweet for the love of tweeting, I tweet because my life has become so closed off that it is my tiny window on the world. This is why Nadine Dorries has upset and offended me. 

I don't demand to be kept in luxury by the state, a roof over my head, a shirt on my back and food on the table is all I ask for. I don't have much in life, no flat screen TV's or games consoles for the kids or wads of cash in my wallet, the burgler who broke in to my house a few weeks ago found that out all too quickly, althouh he still stole my wallet! 

I don't want to be a burden, I worked from the day I left school until I became disabled. I still live in the vain hope that I might be able to do something, be helpful to my community and society in some way. For the last 3 years I begged the DWP to let me study from home, gain some new skills that in the future if my physical condition can be improved with new medications or techniques I could put to good use. They ran me and my support worked round and round in circles and then offered me a Introduction to ICT course. The fact that I was an I.T. consultant had simply not registered in their minds, obviously, making me learn how to open word, move a mouse and print a letter was going to suddenly make me a viable person for a job, forgetting for a second that I can't walk, I can't sit, and I am hopeless if there are other people in the room with me. 

So Nadine Dorries, I won't ask you to forgive me for tweeting, yes, I tweet a lot, usually flat on my back, on my sofa. Report me to the DWP if you wish, I mean, I get such a huge amount of benefits that by taking mine away will reduce the countries deficit completely in one fell swoop. I honestly hope that you never have to spend a day with the pain that I have to, it is debilitating and soul destroying, but please, don't have the front to stand on your pedestal and look down on me and those like me. Don't label us as scroungers and idle and lazy workshy people, because we are not here by choice, but because of circumstance, a circumstance neither of our wanting or our choosing. We the disabled are NOT the ones who brought this country to its knees and have caused a huge deficit, it was the bankers, and those who were greedy and thought that betting huge sums on a bubble was the way to go. 

Society is richer, and my life certainly is because of the love and caring of the disabled people who each day not only cope with their own problems, but take time out to support and care for their fellow disabled people. Society is richer because even though they have little, they would give of the little they have to help people who they feel are worse off than themselves, give of their time, their love, their patience, their caring and even of the little money they have. 

They say society is only as civilised as the way they treat their weak, needy and poor, what does it say for our society that elected people such as you, feel that it is the disabled that should be the target of your attack and not the tax evaders who leave our country £48billion short of tax revenue each and every year? What of the bankers? What of the members of parliament who fiddled expenses on already substantial salaries? We may be ill, we may be poor, but we are not going to remain silent while you defame and slander us.


  1. Do you honestly believe (a) that ND had disabled people such as you who are clearly deserving of support from the state (which really means taxpayers like me) in mind when she made her comments, and (b) that all benefit claimants are as deserving as you are? If so, you are sadly mistaken.

  2. It's not ready yet, but I'm in the middle of drafting a blog post you might empathise with.

    for a heads up.

    I plan on twittering this URL and adding you to my Blog roll.

    I'm not actually getting any money at all because the DWP think I'm "fit to work". My GP, my Consultant and the nurses who recently came to my house every day for 2 weeks to make sure I was still alive disagree. But that means SFA to the DWP.

  3. Oh, and Too Scared To Identify Yourself, I've been paying National Insurance and Income Tax since I was 16. Which was 14 years ago.

  4. Dear BRAVE anonymous poster. You're not the only person who pays taxes, nor do you speak for all tax payers. Not everyone who pays tax is begrudging of those who are less fortunate than themselves who, for whatever reason, find themselves out of work. Anyone who thinks people who claim benefits are living the dream are deeply DEEPLY mistaken. And as for what Nadine Dorries meant, well she must have knowm what buttons she was pressing when she was making those comments otherwise why would she adopt such a snarky tone?

  5. An excellent post Hermit.

    Anonymous, we know that she was targeting one particular constituent of hers, but what she said applied to all disabled people.

    If you read both her blog posts you can see she makes wild sweeping statements about what disabled people on benefits should not be doing if they are genuinely disabled. This encompasses spending too much time on twitter and going to the pub to being politically active and engaging in legal sex related activities.

    As an MP in the governing party her words carry authority, and she has a responsibility to think about the implications of what she says.
    Asking people to report disabled benefits claimants to the DWP is really quite unpleasant.

    When you consider the general feeling of being under attack that disabled people have at the moment, due to benefits cuts, and campaigns such as the one by the Sun (endorsed by David Cameron) to encourage neighbours to report each other to the DWP, you might be able to understand why Hermit, and many other disabled people, feel so passionately about this issue.

    We are being actively campaigned against in the media, portrayed as scroungers and fraudsters. And Nadine is just adding to this false image of us.

    Additionally her campaign against her constituent, merely because she is an active Labour Party member who happened to get on the wrong side of her, is vile and childish.

  6. Consider yourself followed. :)

  7. Slippery Jim DiGriz3 October 2010 at 03:17

    Well, anonymous at 2:13, she made no distinctions. If you are on benefits, she thinks you should be reported to the DWP if you use Twitter. That's it.

    It is quite clear from their scattershot rhetoric that the Coalition is not terribly concerned about the genuineness of individual claimants suffering. For example, government's own figures estimate fraudulent DLA claims to be around 0.5% of total claims, yet the reduction they are aiming for is way above that. Logically, that means they fully intend to take DLA from genuine claimants that need it.

    In addition, some of the methods for assessing fitness for work, for relevant benefits, are deeply suspect (i.e fiddled):

    We can thank the Labour government for that one, but the Coalition doesn't appear to be clamouring to set that injustice right.

    Oh, by the way. Although I receive reduced-rate state ill-health benefits I also receive a modest medical pension which tips me over my basic allowance for income tax. (Doesn't quite fit the picture, does it?) In other words, I am a taxpayer, just like you. Unlike you, apparently, I am fine with that since I know there are others unluckier than me that that money may go to help.

  8. Well said that Hermit. I count myself lucky every day that when I was ill I was supported by my work, but there were a few times I thought I might end up at the mercy of the DWP, and it was a terrifying thought. Ms Dorries can shut her cake hole. She is not speaking for all tax payers, especially not for me.

    Lola x

  9. Hermit

    Your words show you to be a man of much ability.

    I too had a go at Nadine Norries in my blog. Here's the headline: "Nadine Norries and the perils of saying too much". And here's the link.

  10. I could say many things, but the others have already done so much more eloquently than me, so just know that this was excellently put, and I hope the old bag will get to read it.

    Big hugs

    P x

  11. If only everyone had the morals of you and your commenters, who I admire.