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Thursday, 10 December 2015

The Waiting Game

This post isn't wheelchair related but I think it might help others who are playing the waiting game.

Over the last few months, I've submitted various applications for disability related things.

 1. My driving licence - Having come back from living in Finland, where we changed to a Finnish licence, we had three years to switch back to a UK one. We sent them off in August. Neil got his back almost straight away but I had to declare my health conditions and although I've had a holding letter, I'm still waiting. Waiting is always difficult. I don't like waiting. During a waiting time, my mind does strange things, sometimes to protect me in case of disappointment and sometimes just imagining all the what-ifs. My biggest fear is losing my driving licence. I know the chance is slim but it could happen. Or DVLA might restrict me to hand controls or an automatic. Any restrictions wouldn't be the end of the world. I'd just have to change car. The thing is, you can't just change car the day that letter drops on the mat. These things take time and until I know what the situation is, I can't plan for it. I just know that there's a possibility that one day a letter will appear and I might have to ring my boss and tell her I can't drive for a week or two, whilst we change car. Driving is an essential part of my job.

 2. PIP - Personal Independence Payment - You can't apply for this if you haven't been resident in the UK for the last two years. That meant I was eligible to apply at the end of August. I've read horror stories about PIP and the assessment process, so my expectations weren't very high. There are two components to PIP. There's the daily living component and the mobility component. I expected to get the standard rate for daily living and nothing for mobility. Well, I filled in the forms... several forms, all wanting the same information. Then I had a face-to-face assessment. The assessor was lovely. She was nothing like the ones talked about in the press. She said I should hear something by mid-January. Then, last week, I got a letter to confirm that I'm getting standard rate for both components. That will mean such a lot to us. At the moment, Neil does almost everything in the home. He's a full-time carer. The extra money will pay for a cleaner and some respite care for when he goes away. I'm glad that we weren't kept waiting for months and months, like some of the stories on the news.

 3. Canine Partners - Last June I applied for an assistance dog through Canine Partners. They requested a medical report but unknown to me, my GPs refused, saying that they charge for it. The charity obviously don't pay for medical reports but our GP didn't give me the option. So months later, I got a letter from Canine Partners, explaining this. I went into the surgery and asked about it. I ended up paying £25 for the report, which still took them ages. If I'm honest, I'd given up waiting... but... today I got a letter inviting me to an assessment day in February. I'm so excited! Again, it is partly about giving Neil a break. Assistance dogs can be trained to do all kinds of tasks to help a disabled person. Just this evening, as I was leaving work, I dropped my car keys on the floor. My heart just sinks when that happens. Bending to pick them up is painful and such an effort. A dog could have done that for me, as well as helping me load the car, opening the door for me and helping with the washing at home. If I'm successful, the next stage is to go on the waiting list. It could be 18 months or more.

Working Dog by Lisa Norwood

So today, I'm thinking about waiting. Is waiting a bad thing? It's certainly not an easy thing! I was never a very patient person. I always wanted everything now. Over the years though, I've become more patient. Waiting makes us learn patience. That can be hard, painful, frustrating... but long term it helps us grow and become better people. In the last couple of weeks, some of my waiting has ended positively. That makes it easier. But I know that sooner or later a disappointment will come. I use the waiting time to work through how I'll deal with that. Today though, I'm incredibly happy and grateful for PIP and the chance to get an assistance dog. Oh, and I also got a parking fine reimbursed, which was a real blessing!

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