Did you ever have a couple of days when things just went... right?
It started on Tuesday, worryingly enough with the laundry. Anyone without a tumble drier will understand where I'm coming from - I have enough space to hang up to dry all the clothes that I wash, but the things like towels and sheets cause a bit more of a problem unless you (1) don't care about your heating bill, (2) have the space and strength to wrangle with acres of heavy, damp cloth and (3) don't mind a climate inside your house that is similar in heat and humidity to a tropical rainforest.
So I decided that a graceful admission of defeat was called for, and looked into laundry services. I knew of service washes and I figured that although taxis to and from a laundrette would be expensive, it would get it done, one-off expense, and that would be that. So I made some phone calls.
Ten minutes later and an arrangement had been made for someone to come to the house after I'd got home from work, collect two black bin-liners full of laundry, and bring the contents back, clean and dry, at the same time the following day. Simplicity itself.
Off to work, where I had a busy and productive but thankfully not too awfully hectic afternoon. More and more Christmas-themed things are being ordered. At the end of the afternoon, I finished everything that wanted doing, made my way down the stairs, and reached the bottom just as my cab arrived to take me home.
At home I relaxed for half an hour, then a polite young man collected my laundry, then about ten minutes after that Steve got home, bearing fish and chips. Delicious. That consumed, it was time to go to knitting group for the rest of the evening, where I had a great time chatting with my friends and making steady progress with my current project (Christmas present, sorry). A couple of hours later Steve came to take me home and then I snuggled into bed with a heat pack and a good book. Hot chocolate was offered, but I didn't think I'd stay awake long enough to drink it.
You'd think it couldn't really get much better, and so I may have approached Wednesday with some trepidation. Wednesday, being my day off work, has a horrible tendency to become a Busy Day as I cram in all the stuff I haven't been able to do during the week (I'm home in the mornings, but I can't go out and get stuff done as I have to save my spoons to be able to go to work). This week was looking particularly harsh as it was going to entail a trip into town which is sometimes a real adventure. I braced myself and called Shopmobility to check availability of scooters (I didn't have the spoons to drive my own all the way into town and back) - no problem, a scooter will be ready and waiting. Called a taxi to take me into town, taxi was outside my front door within five minutes.
It was like falling through a door that you expect to be heavy and then someone on the other side opens it before you realise.
First task was to go to the post office to post a thank-you present to the charity which supported me with my DLA appeal. There was no queue, just straight to the desk and sorted.
Second task was to go to the building society to transfer the big lump of DLA back-pay (the money they should have paid me over the nine months leading up to the appeal) into my ISA. No problems whatsoever.
Third task was to go to Boots and fill my prescription. A fifteen minute wait was about normal, I sat and relaxed for some of it and got a bit more knitting done with the rest. The pharmacist was thoughtful enough to bring the bag over to where I was sitting rather than shouting to me, which was nice.
Finally, I had to go to a bank to set up a new account in order to use Direct Payments to hire a Personal Assistant for a few hours a week as per my Social Services assessment. It must be a new and separate bank account so that the payments are transparent.
To briefly explain: DLA is money I get in recognition of the fact that I have various additional expenses due to my disability. I get £46.75 a week for Mobility. But no one cares whether I use it all for taxis, or whether I use some of it to repay friends directly or indirectly for giving me lifts, or whether I count shopping delivery charges, or whether I blow it all on cat food. It's up to me how I spend it - or indeed if I save it. Direct Payments, however, is more like reimbursement of a Personal Assistant's wages. So I will hire my Personal Assistant and I will pay them, and Social Services will give me the money to pay them. However, all of this money must be directly accounted for. If I've been granted 10 hours of care, but I only use a PA for 5 hours, then I will only get the payments to cover 5 hours of care. So there has to be a dedicated bank account for these payments to make sure everyone involved can easily keep track of what money should be and is going in and out at any given time.
The whole thing is a bit chicken and egg, really - to get Direct Payments, I have to go into town and set up a bank account, but that's a major excursion for me, so really, I need Direct Payments to pay a PA to go into town with me to set up a bank account so I can get Direct Payments to pay a PA...
Anyway, it's a task I've been sitting on for a couple of months now, waiting for a day when I had enough spoons AND enough time AND during bank opening times, to be able to try and tackle it by myself. I admit, I was also a little anxious about whether a bank would let me open an account when I don't have a driver's licence or a passport, and I can't say how much money will be going in and out of the account, or when.
But today, ah, today I was charmed... I picked a bank on the basis of "first one I saw", mosied in, explained I wanted to open an account and was told someone would be with me shortly. Shortly enough, someone was with me, ushering me into a private room and offering me a hot drink. Opening an account? No problem! Your wages won't go into it? No problem! Chequebook, no fees, no problem! No passport or driver's licence? Well, I'm sure something in this sheaf of documentation you've brought along will suffice... WIN.
It got better. Steve came to meet me for ten minutes in his lunch break, which meant that not only did I get extra bonus hugs, but I also got to offload the enormous bag of medication which was starting to get in my way. I found a quiet restaurant with a decent lunch offer (a main course and a drink for £8.50) so I decided to treat myself. Then I started to make my way back to Shopmobility via a couple of shops and found (1) a nice top and (2) a book from a series I'm collecting which was reduced from £6.99 to 50p because the cover had got slightly torn. Dropped off the scooter and made my way to a nearby bakery where I had a cup of tea and a chocolate fudge brownie while waiting for a taxi to pick me up and take me home.
But we're not through yet! There was post waiting for me at home - I've been invited to another interview, which is nice, although I know better than to hold my breath. They want my permission to contact my current employer for a reference, which is fine, but I really should give my current boss a heads-up first.
And finally, to round it all off, the guy from the laundry brought back two big bags of nice, clean, dry, folded towels and bedclothes, and that was when I discovered that the price he'd quoted me wasn't per-bag but for the whole lot, so it only cost me half of what I was expecting! The amount of pain and hassle it saved me is phenomenal, so I expect I will be using that service a lot more in the future.
More days like this, please.