Feeling The Benefit

What follows is a brutally honest blog post. I’m not only about to bare my soul, but also flash my hairy man bosom and wobble my buttocks at you. Metaphorically speaking. It took a lot of umming and ahhing before I decided to finally write this, so i’d be ever so appreciative if you’d take the time to read it. Thursday 9th July, 2012 – 7:30pm approx I just tried to have a shower. Note the use of the word “tried”, which in this case, must be followed by “and failed”. Let me back up a little and explain this properly. Be warned, this will not be a short post. Best grab a coffee.

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For those who don’t know, I suffer from osteoarthritis. In my case, this is a condition born of another ailment, talipes equinovarius. That’s “clubfoot”, to you normies. When I was born, my feet were turned upward and inward. I had a series of operations as a child but they were unable to fully correct my feet. The last of my childhood surgeries took place when I was 10, the surgeons removed a V wedge from the bones of my foot and stapled the two sections of bone together to pull my foot into shape. At some point between my discharge as an outpatient, aged 17 and the night when the proverbial hit the fan, back in 2010 or thereabouts, the staples snapped and to cut a long story short, I spent months, if not years, merrily wandering about with a micro fracture in my foot. I’ve since had an op to fuse the bones in my foot, which hasn’t helped, so my two options at this point are find a way to live with pain, or have the thing lopped off. Unsurprisingly, i’m still mulling this over.

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So why am I telling you all of this? For pity? No. I don’t want your pity and frankly, obstinate swine that I am, i’m liable to tell you exactly where you can shove it if it’s offered. I just want you to understand, so that you can appreciate the realities of my day to day life. An average day for me starts out like that of many parents. I awake to the sound of children arguing and shuffle about the house preparing for the day ahead. More often than not, my wife will already have left the house. My eight year old daughter and six year old son fetch their own school clothes, make their breakfast and prepare their bags for the day. They do this partly because my wife and I  are proudly raising two independent, intelligent children. They also do this partly because they know Daddy can’t do it without wincing and occasionally muttering words that they’re not allowed to repeat. I take the children to school, riding my mobility scooter for what would be a five to ten minute walk for anyone else. Then I head home and rest up, ready to pick them up late in the day.

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Sometimes, during the period between drop off and pick up, i’ll have lunch. Sometimes I won’t, it depends how much pain i’m in. Collection time arrives and I climb aboard the scooter once more, grab the kids and we head home. If i’m lucky, my wife is working a morning and she’ll cook the evening meal. If not, it’s down to me. Quick and easy meals, in the oven or microwave and leave them alone, then jammies and off to bed for the kiddies and I can sit down and that’s me for the rest of the day.

Notice I didn’t mention toilet breaks? That’s because stairs are an absolute nightmare. So I have two large bottles beside my chair. I don’t think I need explain any further. When I need to do something that, shall we say, won’t fit in the bottle, I often-have to climb the stairs on my hands and knees. Not always, sometimes I can pull myself up using the extra handrail I had fitted, but often enough that stairs have become a thing of dread.

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That affects sleeping too, of course. I can’t always get upstairs to go to bed so I end up sleeping on the couch. Not the best night’s sleep at the best of times, plus I suffer from sleep apnoea so I’ve got the choice of either finding someone to relocate my entire breathing mask setup or run the risk of snoring myself to death. Literally.

So, that’s my X-Factor back story. Thing is, it wouldn’t even get me to boot camp. There are so many people who have it so much worse that I can’t complain, really. Well, I shouldn’t complain. I do, obviously, we all complain sometimes, but realistically I know that despite feet that look like rejected Twiglets and the whole Snore Of Doom fiasco, i’m lucky. I have a wonderful wife, amazing kids, a loving family and after battling with those bastards at the DWP for two years, our welfare system provides me with enough money to get by.

Ah yes, benefits. I’m one of those god-awful scrounging bastards that you hear about on Facebook. You know, the one’s that various pages post about. “HARD WORKING FAMILIES ARE PAYING FOR PRICKS LIKE AL VIMH” and the like. I’ve got it real easy, me.

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“Must be nice to sit around playing Xbox all day?” people ask. They don’t stop to think that i’m playing the Xbox because I can’t get off the damn couch.

“That’s tax payers money you’re living off of, you know.” they cry. It is, but I never complained about my taxes going into the benefit system when I was working.

Oh, did I not mention that? I got my first job after school when I was 17 and worked right up until shortly before my feet crapped out on me completely. It never occurred to me to piss and moan about people claiming benefits because I understand the reality of things. There aren’t always enough jobs, there are people who simply cannot work, these people have a right to a roof over their heads, food on the table, warm beds, safety and security, just the same as the “HARD WORKING FAMILIES” that Facebook is so keen to remind me of.

You work really hard and you resent me for being at home all day without having to deal with Geoff fucking up the Hoskin’s account or a delivery of 20,000 printer cartridges instead of the 200 you ordered. Fair enough, but I envy your ability to get out and about in the world, to walk without wincing at every step, to shower in the morning without having to have someone to help you stand up.

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Oh right, I was going to tell you about the shower thing. I tried to take a shower tonight. Normally I wait until my wife is home and god bless her she helps me in and out of the shower and she actually helps to wash me, because otherwise i’m liable to fall as I move about in the shower. I tried on my own. I fell. I had to call my eight year old daughter to bring me a towel so I could get my feet down on something with a bit of traction. That’s not a situation that any father ever wants to be in and as I write this, the words are blurring through a film of tears. Tell me again how I’ve got it so fucking easy. There are those who are swinging the lead, so to speak, people who are claiming benefits which they don’t need and to which they are not entitled. So find them out, stop their benefits, punish where appropriate, that’s fine. Don’t make the benefits system impossible to access for those who genuinely need it. That’s the biggest dick move since Godzilla windmilled his way across Japan.

godzillahey

I don’t want your pity. To hell with pity. I don’t expect you to suddenly experience a complete change of heart and mind. I just want you to consider the fact that your pissing and moaning about people on benefits might be unfair to the thousands of people out there just like me and the many thousands who are ten times worse.

Why the hell can’t we all just get along, hey?