It's been more than a week now since I started work. It's going well. I am getting very sore and tired, true, but the work gets easier to do as I get more used to it. I've learned the job pretty well and am hardly getting brainflustered at all any more. Co-workers continue to be lovely, and I'm now 'officially' an employee rather than the casual see-how-it-goes thing we started out with.
Things at home are settling out nicely as well. The Roomba (or 'Bloop' as he is coming to be affectionately known) is doing well - not only does he clean the carpets, but I think he also makes us a bit more inclined to keep the place tidy, as roombas aren't really compatible with floors full of trailing wires, shoelaces, knitting, paperwork and whatnot. The shopping delivery from Sainsburys the other day was great, everything well in-date and only a couple of substitutions which I was perfectly happy with (eg "we didn't have the pack of two pain au chocolat that you ordered. So we're substituting a pack of four," OH NOES). Steve has been making more of an effort to do stuff around the house, especially the washing up, which has been an enormous help. Of course when he goes back to work, I'm going to have to pick up a bit more of that, but I'm not panicked about it. The only bit that worries me is the kicking him out of bed in the mornings, which is not a task for the easily discouraged. Steve is reading this, but I honestly think he would have to be among the first to admit that first thing in the morning he Does Not Want To Know about the world outside the duvet.
Knitting is seriously slowed at the moment. I did manage to go to knitting group on Tuesday for about an hour after work, but found myself regretting it a bit. I think it might be better to do what Steve suggested - finish work at 5.30, come home, have a nap, and then go out again to knitting at maybe 7.30 if I'm up to it. I turned down this suggestion last week on the basis that it seemed a bit silly for Steve to have to drive into town and back three times in an evening (1 pick up from work, 2 drop off at knitting, 3 pick up from knitting) but it might be the only realistic way to do it.
As you will have noticed, we're still talking about Steve taking me to and from work. On Friday (the 16th) we went to the council offices and got my ID and Blue Badge and whatnot photocopied, and the plan then was that the council would refer me to Community Transport, and then Community Transport would send me a form to apply to them, and once they had that form back, we could see about transport. However, I haven't had the form yet.
Today, I got through to Access to Work on the phone. Someone answered, took my name and number and a brief run-down of what I wanted, and said he'd arrange for an advisor to call me back.
A few minutes later, Yay, points for speedy actualisation of promises, T, the advisor called me back to tell me that he was going to go through a form with me and it would take 15 or 20 minutes. OK, so far so good, it was mostly stuff like name, address, NINo, do you claim this, do you claim that, what help do you want... great.
An interesting question was "do you claim Incapacity Benefit?" to which my answer, which should have been yes or no, was "not since I've started the job. However, when I first tried to call you, between getting offered the job and starting, then yes, I did get Incapacity Benefit. But your phones were down." Surprisingly enough there wasn't a box for that. T couldn't backdate my AtW claim, so he had to put "no" because at the time of our conversation, I was no longer on benefit. But he did ask what number I had been trying, and apparently "that number" was down for about six weeks. Which implies that they have a second number, which the DEA didn't give me, with which I might have got hold of them sooner. Do we think I should make a complaint about this DEA yet?
Fifteen minutes later, the questions were all answered, so now what? Well, T will post the form to me today. If it isn't with me by Monday, I should call them back. When I get the form, I must check it, sign it, date it, and send it back to them. Once they have the signed form back, then another advisor, a notch up from T, will look at the form and phone me to discuss things in more detail.
In the mean time, the DWP and the council and everyone else official are happy for me to be attempting to get by on £20 a week because of the cost of transport to and from work soaking up most of my earnings - it really is just exceptional luck for me that I have someone who can give me financial support and transport for the short-term immediate future. Dear Peter Hain, THIS is why disabled people who are technically capable of doing some jobs get stuck on Incapacity Benefit...