Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans…

I wish I’d written that but I must give credit to John Winston Lennon AKA Dr Winston O’Boogie.

Yesterday I went to my Job Centre Plus for an interview on Pathways to Work. I must admit I was very apprehensive about it and went armed with a raft of documents about my health. You hear such horror stories about unnecessary bullying at these places that you are on the defensive before you start.

I am on Employment Support Allowance that is designed to return you to the workplace at a pace you can cope with or not as the case may be. I have serious health issues some of which may eventually be resolved but not immediately and common sense needs to prevail. I am also now less than a year from retirement and soon to undergo major surgery that will leave me unable to work for six months or so.

I was pleasantly surprised by the sympathetic and pragmatic approach of the advisor I met. She can’t decide whether I’m put into the Support Group that exempts me from some of the more onerous elements but said she’d be surprised if I wasn’t put in it. I’ve filled in a massively complicated medical questionnaire and may or may not be asked to undertake a medical. I don’t fear that as my problems are easily identified to confirm existing diagnosis.

I see her again in early March after my examination at the Sussex Nuffield who should by then have given me an operation date. This meeting could well be cancelled once my case file is formally reviewed. Common sense dictates that no employer is going to take on a new employee awaiting major surgery and I need time to recover. I intend to convert “Diary of A Biscuit Making Transsexual” into a book during my recovery phase. I’ll try hard to get it printed but if I can’t I’ll give it away on the Internet as the story needs to be told even though it’s of course fiction (for legal reasons).

After this meeting I got back to find an email to say that the Sussex Nuffield anaesthetist wants to see me as well as the surgeon. I’m pleased as this vindicates my point that whilst I am a higher risk case for surgery this can be reduced by professional personalised care rather than the NHS conveyor belt approach.

I’m off to North Manchester Hospital tomorrow to start the process of assessment and possible treatment of my shoulders. If it’s the case that the reactivation of my Ankylosing Spondylitis (from the stress caused by my former employer) is the root cause then there are very few options other than to wait for it to go into remission accepting the damage. Surgery on calcified ligaments from Ankylosing Spondylitis can cause more problems than it solves. I hope I get a top consultant on this though I doubt anyone can accurately diagnose this problem with a complex unstable joint without a scan.

Next week I start my dental treatment and I’ve got appointments throughout February. It needs doing but I’m not looking forward to it. I’m also going to get a sight test as I think I need my prescription changed and I’ve not been to an optician for six years! (I don’t think I need to explain why.)

Once I’ve got all this medical stuff behind me then it will be time to return to work and I want to do something to repay the city of Manchester for taking me in when I was at the point of total collapse and removing the wall of prejudice that was engulfing me and destroying me. Manchester saved my life and as I recover from my ordeals I can start to contribute again.

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