This morning I got a phone call from my mum. In a wonderful piece of timing with me being on holiday (so I don't have my file) AND it being a Saturday (so all helplines etc are closed), a letter has turned up from the Department of Work and Pensions.
I have been turned down for Disability Living Allowance.
Not reduced, but turned down flat.
Option 1: I have magically been cured. I'll go out and get a 40-hour-a-week job now, and start living my social life to the max too. I have to go shopping now, to get some new trainers for the marathons I'll be running this summer.
Option 2: The effects the illness has on my life are the same as ever, but the discrepancies between what I wrote on my forms about my condition and day-to-day life, and what the woman standing in for "my GP" wrote on her forms, has led them to think that one or the other of us is telling porkies. Obviously people with medical degrees don't ever make mistakes or get things wrong, therefore my statements are the ones which are wrong, and I need no help whatsoever with my care or mobility needs.
I have just under a month (28 days starting from the date their letter was written) to try and sort this mess out. Steve was going to be taking me home next week anyway, but now it will be nearer the beginning of the week than the end.
1. Draft some letters to the DWP. I may be able to find some templates online to help with this once I've got my head together.
2. Contact the ME/CFS clinic at the hospital who gave me the definite diagnosis of "yes, you have classic ME" and ask if they can reassess me.
3. Contact DIAL and see if they can help me.
3(b). If DIAL can't help, call Pip and arrange for him to help me lay siege to the Citizen's Advice Bureau (unfortunately the local CAB have broken email and don't answer the phone due to terminal understaffing, so you have to go in person and a wait of four hours or more should be prepared for).
4. Go through all my accounts and carefully plan my expenditure for the next year, eg exactly how much will be needed for rent, bills, etc.
5. Learn how to knit socks.
At least I've already done this once. When I lost my job, and the lovely income that went with it, I managed to trim things down until my outgoings were essential bills (rent, council tax, electric, water, landline phone line rental) plus £15 a week for everything else - from food to transport to phone calls/internet to toothpaste to Christmas presents. It wasn't much of a lifestyle, granted, and involved a lot of Lidl's pasta, but I definitely survived and I damn well will again.
Plus, I have the long-term incapacity benefit award (as supported by Dr W...) so at least there is a fixed income I can rely on, rather than trying to live out of savings.
Forecast: Sunny spells, but with intermittent tears and mood swings for a while. Warning! Warning! Flooding may occur.