Wow, no blogposts for a month. Not quite sure how that happened. My apologies to anyone who got concerned. I am okay.
On with the excuses, well, I had a week or so at the beginning of August where I couldn't seem to phrase anything right. After that, I kept telling myself I would blog later, which never came.
Two things are notable for having NOT occurred. First, I still haven't heard anything more on the Remploy problems. They were going to investigate it internally, but then my MP stepped in via the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and now contact is supposed to flow via the MP and the DWP. Which it isn't. In mitigation, my MP is the "anti-fraud" minister (see "we are determined to catch those taking money that does not belong to them") which probably makes it difficult to suddenly reverse mindset to a non-claimant whose problem is that they are being offered and declining to accept money.
Second, I haven't organised that proper week away at the coast and I'm no longer convinced that I want to. There seems to be an awful lot going on at the moment and I get the strong impression that my presence would only exacerbate matters.
However, I HAVE been doing lots of things.
I've applied to Social Services for help and they have done really well - preliminary assessment over the phone same-day, a home visit from a social worker to do a full assessment the following week, a home visit for a financial assessment the week after that, then it was a home visit from somebody from the Rowan Organisation to talk me through the options for Direct Payments and whatnot, and finally a visit for assessment by an Occupational Therapist.
This level and speed of response would be pretty good even if they'd just turned around and said "no, you're not eligible for any help, care, equipment or services, and even if you were, you'd have to pay the full cost." But amazingly, and despite all the horror stories I've heard from both service users and providers, they've really come through.
The social worker has assessed me as needing 7 hours of personal care and 3 hours of social care per week. The financial assessment means this will be funded by social services. The Rowan will help me use Direct Payments to hire a PA to help me. They will help me find a suitable Personal Assistant (PA), do criminal records checks, assist me with holding interviews, and help with the paperwork (eg taxes and NI for my PA). It's all ready to go and there is just one problem - while Steve agrees with the idea of me getting the help I need, faced with the reality of it he found that he has difficulty with the idea of someone coming into his house. I don't have the balls to just go ahead with it without his consent but hopefully we'll work something out soon, as it's really quite upsetting to be struggling and going without while knowing that I don't have to.
The social worker also said we could have an emergency plan, in case Steve is hospitalised or has a family emergency or something. The "In Your Place" scheme means that if something like that happened, a temporary carer would be sent to the house to stay with me and fulfil Steve's role - not just the active personal/social care things, but also supervision, and doing the things that I can't do but am assessed as not needing help with because I live with someone who can be reasonably expected to do them, like cooking or going to the supermarket or changing the sheets on the bed (the idea is that these things aren't "care" as he would have to do them anyway if he lived alone). The temporary carer would stay with me for up to 72 hours, until either Steve was back at home, or a longer-term solution could be put in place.
The Occupational Therapist has done well for me too. A lot of the simpler bits and bobs I need, Steve or I have already purchased, but she's got me things like a swivel bath seat that helps me get into the tub safely to have my shower. She'll come back for another visit next month to see how I'm getting on and think about what else I might need. Most of the things she wanted to prescribe, I can't have, because it's a privately rented house and the landlord might object to permanent objects like grab rails and level access and a stairlift being installed. But, she's writing down officially that she thinks I should have them, which might help with the DLA appeal and will be a head-start if we ever get our own place.
On a different level, I applied for an admin job. I made it to interview entirely on merit (I made it clear that I was NOT applying under the "two ticks" scheme) and from there got onto the shortlist, but didn't get the job in the end. I'm a bit disappointed. It would have been nice, it would have suited my skills more, and I'm keen to get out from where I am at the moment. However, my current job isn't unbearable, and it's not like there'll never be another part-time admin job advertised ever again. The feedback was positive but not in a vastly useful way - apparently my application, qualifications, experience and interview was all fine, there wasn't anything that they felt I should improve upon, and I'm the second choice, so they'll call me if the first choice passes it up or can't provide references.
Of course they might have just said all that to make me feel better. Who knows. For now, it suits me to take it at face value and think yes, I was good, someone else was better, never mind.
We went to the wedding as planned, which was a total success in every sense. We caught up with a few familiar faces from the darker corners of the internet, as well as meeting a few new ones, and had an absolutely lovely time. The weather behaved itself, so the ceremony took place with gorgeous sunlight shining through the windows and making the bride look even more beautiful. It was very relaxed, and everybody was happy. Technically I caught the bouquet, but we should probably bear in mind that I was the only one trying and it was tossed directly to me from a distance of about two feet, very theatrically, for Steve's benefit. Steve, for his part, pointedly ignored the whole thing. Bah.
I got to see Pip and the Littlun, who is now The Boy as he is more than waist-high. I can't believe how much he's grown! He'll be four soon. We played with his trains and read a story, and spent a lot of time doing a sort of counting/sorting game of his own invention with little ludo pieces. Seeing Pip was good. I have missed him an awful lot since moving away. We really could have done with an hour to chat like grownups, maybe next time.
There's been other stuff too - going places, seeing people. I can't remember it all and this post already has too much variety in it. It was a good summer. Hopefully there is still a little bit more to come.