PIP Tribunal

TL;DR: Got enhanced daily living, enhanced mobility PIP until December 2020. We won.

Today was not the nicest day for travel, being cold and snowing. Hot water bottle and hand warmer were much needed, along with winter weather stuff. Got there 15 minutes early, which is good going for us, especially as Johan had to push me (the hardest bit being unavoidable no matter how we travelled). When we arrived they were reviewing the evidence, which Johan had read and I kinda knew the existence of (being too ill to read most of it myself). Got called in not long after.

The tribunal itself went fine. They asked that I answered the questions if possible, but Johan could take over if needed and was given time to add to my answers. They were only concentrating on a couple of descriptors as we provided so much evidence. Some questioning about my DLA history as that wasn’t provided by the DWP (and Johan didn’t know it all as some was before he knew me). Mostly questions on mobility and using my shower chair/washing. I was struggling near the end but they asked Johan to add anything he wanted and then we were asked to leave while they discussed it (though I told Johan I was boaty and then had to describe what that meant for the record – dizzy and like everything is moving). The tribunal panel were nice and understanding, which probably helped me be able to contribute so much.

During the wait I had my eye mask on while Johan was going on about how it was the hardest bit. Not long after we were called in and told the decision. Being told that they only changed the points in a few of the descriptors because they stopped at 12 was pretty awesome. I’m now on enhanced daily living and enhanced mobility, going from standard daily living and no mobility, so it’s a big change. My reassessment date is December 2020, which is fair enough as my condition has changed quite a bit in the last few years (mostly for the worse, but I’m optimistic that’ll it be better soon).

Getting home was interesting. The snow was heavier and was sticking more, which is not ideal for wheelchairs. The hardest part was the ramp going from the street up to the ramp to the front door – it’s hard on a good day because it’s so steep, and with no grip it’s horrendous. I ended up helping to push to get through the worst of it, as without the wheels were just slipping and we were making no progress. I was scared we’d have to contact someone to help (no idea who), but between us we made it until Johan could manage by himself again.

Once home, back in bed and mostly sorted, Johan read the tribunal report to me. A couple of the changed descriptors still aren’t entirely accurate, but I got enough points so don’t care. I’ll need to eat and calm down before I can rest as I’m running on adrenaline, but I’m very happy.

I know I’m going to pay for today soon (especially the wheelchair pushing) but it was definitely worth it. It would have been much harder for me mentally to not be there, so worth any payback I get. Hopefully it’ll stop the nightmares that I’ll get it all taken away at least for a bit.

We fought the DWP and we won.

Week 4 Review

Danni is lying in bed with a massive smile on their face. On their shoulder there is Poseidon, a baby emperor penguin.

This week has been pretty good overall. I’ve been on a huge high from going in the living room last week. Thursday was Johan’s 29th birthday, and though I’ve not managed to sort his presents out properly yet I think he had a good day. On Friday we got a takeaway to celebrate and I had a yorkshire pudding wrap with pulled pork in the middle. It was very nommy.

The only downside is I tried to do a food shop on Tuesday and I got so overwhelmed my brain broke. For a few days afterwards I couldn’t really make decisions without a lot of help, and felt really out of it and foggy. I think I’m getting over it now. I keep forgetting that cognitive stuff can be just as exhausting and blehness making as physical stuff. It didn’t stop me being happy but it did make me need a lot more rest and help than I otherwise might have done. I think next time it might be better for Johan to do it (as that happened despite having a shopping list – not being able to find out what we already have in makes it a lot harder, but even trying to work out what was better value was too hard).

On Monday I read Fahrenheit 451. I’m not sure I really understood it but it was good. I’d like to read it again at some point when my brain works a bit better. Since then I’ve been reading stuff on the SCP Foundation website (and on the SCP subreddit). It doesn’t matter that I can’t understand a lot of it, but it was good for when by brain was broken (even if I did keep reading the same ones over and over again because I forgot I’d already read it until I got near the end).

Sammie got hit by the Malwarebytes update problem yesterday. Unfortunately I was half asleep when trying to help her (I woke up to roll over and have a drink and noticed the chat) so didn’t get her to check the task manager which would have revealed this. I guess resetting Windows 10 isn’t the worst thing in the world. Luckily she was able to backup everything she wanted to keep, and she was glad to hear this morning that it wasn’t her fault.

I bought a new electric throw/blanket as the one I wanted was finally available on Amazon. I have one I got a few years ago but the material felt horrible and even putting a duvet cover on it didn’t help much. This one is fleecy and though it’s an ugly brown it works and is small and light enough for me to use by myself. I just need to figure out how to stop knocking the buttons on the controller in my sleep as they’re very sensitive. I also got new penguin towels which are cute. I’m hoping they don’t go missing as much as the other towels we have.

  • Overall mood – Awesome
  • Average daily sleep – 7 hours 56 minutes (of 9 hours 48 minutes)
  • Longest sleep – 10 hours from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday morning (of 13 hours 47 minutes)
  • Clothes changed – 1 (Zen penguins guide to hoppiness, due to accident as was too ill really)
  • Wipe wash – 0 (only had underarms done when changing top – too ill for anything else)
  • Water wash – 0
  • Hair wash – 1, with shampoo cap.
  • Books read – 1 (Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury)
  • TV watched – 0
  • YouTube videos watched – 2 – Corgi in an elevator and Newsthump card game.
  • Music listened to – Steven Universe songs, Moonlight Shadow.
  • Blog posts written (including this) – 1
  • Penguins cuddled – plenty 🐧🐧🐧
  • Johan hand holds – tons
  • Johan hugs – 1 on his birthday 🙂
  • Time on Twitter – 3 hours 56 minutes (average 34 minutes a day)
  • Time on Reddit – 25 hours 54 minutes (average 3 hours 48 minutes a day)
  • Time on Facebook – 51 minutes (average 7 minutes a day)
  • Other –
    • Johan is now 29!
    • Johan ran to Scotland this morning. It was 10 kilometres from Carlisle to Gretna Green.
    • We only needed 1 extra care call for Johan going to Scotland. Knowing the care agency will respond in an emergency makes a massive difference.
    • Electric blanket is awesome! It doesn’t completely replace heaty penguins and hot water bottle, but it does mean I don’t need them heating as often.

Game stuff

  • Games played – 5
    • Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
    • Cross Stitch
    • Neko Atsume
    • Godville
    • DragonVale
  • AC: Pocket Camp Level – 67
  • Godville Heroine Level – 48 (5% done)
  • Godville wood for ark – 4.1%
  • Godville savings – 220 thousand
  • Cross stitch completed – 3
  • Most played game – Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (16 hours 6 minutes, average 2 hours 21 minutes a day)
  • Other –
    • Managed to finish the second half of the butterfly event in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp with about an hour left to go. I was incredibly lucky and had some very generous friends in game.
    • Much preferring the Winter Sports Event. I got one of everything within two days, including getting the Snow Park amenity to level 2. I’ve just finished building my eighth mini skate rink and any extra snowflakes from now on will go on more tiaras.
    • DragonVale released an update with extra levels an islands to get. Break postponed until I get them all.

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a good Christmas/holiday period, and that this year is better than the last.

I’m still not doing amazingly. Caught another cold before I’d recovered from the last one, so haven’t got out of bed since the Great North Run in September. Despite this, I had a lovely Christmas, and was thoroughly spoilt.

Johan bought me this amazing purple glittery crystal thing, that is sparkly. I’m hoping to find somewhere to put it that has a light shining on it so I can see it properly. He also got me some sheets which is very practical when bed bound 😛

Sammie came over on Christmas Eve, which was the best present from her, especially the hug. She also brought me gifts, a wall sticker of some penguins swimming through a port hole, and this huge penguin cushion that’s also a hand warmer. She got Johan (now also called Dad2) a t-shirt saying “I am currently unsupervised. I know, it scares me too, but the possibilities are endless!”. Both of us were extremely happy. Sammie’s grandparents gave me a chocolate penguin and chocolate smashable igloo, and Johan some running socks. That was awesome of them 😊

My mum gave us a pod coffee machine. As Johan has now started drinking coffee, this is very much appreciated. If also does hot chocolate so I’ll be able to use it too. Other gifts included a hot chocolate mix and some star decorations from friends (and I think there were others I can’t recall right now). I’m grateful for all of them, and along with the many cards I received feel very loved.

Christmas day I spent time video chatting Sammie, which is always good. Johan made Christmas dinner, which was roast duck, his amazing roast potatoes (even better this year!) and the trimmings. I managed to stay awake to eat it, and also watched the Doctor Who Christmas special with Johan. Loved the episode, and it makes me want to catch up with the last series (I’d only got up to the 2016 Christmas special before). I may not have been able to get out of bed, but it was awesome.

Boxing day the payback from the last few days hit, so I spent most of the day asleep or resting. I did manage to message Sammie to wish her a happy birthday (she’s 14 now, which is kinda scary) and I think she liked the presents we got her. That’s pretty much how I spent the rest of the week, though on the Saturday Johan went to South Shields to run his 50th Parkrun, which also took him to 1000 miles ran in 2017. An awesome achievement, which I slept through so he went for breakfast and cake with his running friends.

New Years Eve I woke up in the evening, and just before midnight put the telly on to watch the London fireworks and spoke to Sammie through messenger. The fireworks were awesome to watch, even though I’m torn on whether it’s a good thing or not. Once they finished the telly went back off as it was a bit much for me, but I’m glad I got to see the pretties and virtually celebrate with Sammie.

Payback is hard to deal with, as it makes all my normal symptoms much worse and adds in new ones which isn’t great, especially when I’m already in relapse from the successive colds. It’s a lot easier to deal with though when it’s due to doing something nice. I know that with rest and patience it will pass, and hopefully I’ll be able to get out of bed and do stuff again.

Since my last blog post I bought a new Android tablet, as my old Galaxy Tab S was freezing, randomly rebooting and generally being less reliable. It had lasted 3 years including many drops and falls, so I’m happy with that. I replaced it with a Google Pixel C, which is much faster. I also bought a chunky case for it immediately, to protect it from the inevitable drops and to make it much easier to hold.

As my new tablet went on sale the day I bought it, I used some of the money I saved to buy a Google Home Mini. Within a couple of hours of playing with it, Johan wanted one so we now have two. I already had wifi plug sockets that I could control, then on Black Friday the Philips Hue starter set I’ve been eying up for years was reduced to its lowest ever price, so I grabbed that. I have one bulb in my bedroom (currently in the lamp clipped on the back of my bed) and Johan put the other two in the living room and his room. Though it doesn’t always understand what we’re saying, being able to control the lights with our voices (including my text to speech if I’m nonverbal) is amazing, and I’ve set up custom phrases to set my light to purple, make my light change colours and such. It’s also good for reminders and simple searches when I’m not wanting to leave the app I’m using on my tablet.

Our Christmas tree from last year ended up being broken, so it’s been replaced with a black fibre optic one. Johan is very happy that he didn’t need to set up lights, and I’m happy because they’re twinkling slowly enough to not make me worse and aren’t too bright. We plugged it into one of the the WiFi plugs so I can turn them on and off by myself (including using the Home Mini) and this year it was fully decorated for an entire 10 minutes! Then the penguin on the top fell off. For next year we’ll either need to get a better penguin topper or a way to secure the penguin on there, but even without it’s very pretty.

Below is my game stuff which I know is more boring 😛

I still miss World of Warcraft, but I’ve only been able to go on my computer a couple of times in the last couple of months, and on the surface not much more than that. I’m hoping once I get out of my relapse I’ll be able to resubscribe and play again.

For now I’m sticking with my tablet games. The main one I’m playing right now is Animal Crossing Pocket Camp. It’s perfect for me, as I couldn’t use the controls to play the full version on the DS, and it’s simplified so it works even when I’m very foggy. At the moment I’m level 56 (of 64), have invited all the animals to my camp, have 2 of 5 top tier amenities (which let me level up the corresponding animals to 20), and have one of every is of flower in the garden. There’s still plenty for me to do, but I can spend only a few minutes or an hour depending on how I’m feeling at the time.

I’m still playing Neko Atsume, Godville and DragonVale. Neko Atsume I’m only missing the memento from Hermyown. In Godville my heroine has just completed my temple and is now saving for retirement and collecting wood to build an ark. In DragonVale I have one of every dragon, two of all but the most recent event dragons, and am working on rift traits for the dragons that can have them.

I occasionally play Gardenscapes and Fishdom when I fancy a match 3 game. I’m also occasionally playing sudoku, but I’m much slower and it’s very frustrating now my brain is so foggy. Puzzle games are normally my favourite but I need to be able to think to complete them.

I tried colouring apps but was getting anxious as I couldn’t decide what colour to use. Then I discovered cross stitch apps and they work much better for me. They work like colour by number, so I just follow the code and it tells me if I make a mistake. Once I’ve put the right colour in it won’t overwrite it with a wrong one, which is great as my hands can be quite shaky, and I can zoom in really far if needed so the boxes are big and easy to hit. I’m really happy to have found something I can do that’s relatively low energy and helps when I’m anxious. It helps that I can add my own pictures as the one I’m currently using doesn’t have any penguins by default. Penguins make everything better.

November? How did we get here?

The short version: I’m not doing very well. The long version:

  • Care home didn’t improve much. We put in an official complaint before I left and heard nothing. When we’ve got the energy, we’ll have to complain to social services and possibly the CQC. Coming home was horrible as I wasn’t well enough to travel, but I survived and was glad to be home.
  • On the 10th of September I managed to get out to watch the Great North Run! The care worker who took me discovered just how hilly where I live actually is. I saw Johan (for a few seconds – he is fast!) and lots of Running Ninjas and it was awesome! I probably shouldn’t have gone out but it was worth it.
  • Just as I was starting to get over the payback from going out for the Great North Run, I caught a cold. Unfortunately I’ve not recovered from it and in some ways I’m getting worse.
  • I’m no longer well enough to go on my desktop computer. Because of this, I’ve not renewed my WoW subscription. Since I’d had it active for at least 9 years, it feels weird not being able to even log into the mobile app. It’s hard to justify though when I was lucky to manage a couple of hours a month of game time. I’ll resubscribe when I’m well enough to play again.
  • I’m very grateful for the Surface right now. It’s easier for me to use than my desktop computer, especially as it has a touchscreen. I also don’t have to stay in a certain position to use it like I do my desktop. I can’t use it as my main tablet but I’m using it now to type this and it lets me video chat to Sammie on the rare occasions I’m able to use it while she’s online.
  • Sleep is still an issue. Mostly hypersomnia, but occasionally insomnia due to anxiety. Even when awake I’m spending most of my time feeling incredibly dopey and out of it. Today I’ve cheated and am drinking caffeinated drinks to be productive, but I have to be careful as it can cause really bad payback.
  • I’ve not been out of bed at all since the Great North Run. Even moving for pad changes and stuff is very painful and exhausting. I’ve also not been able to have a proper wash so I’m a bit smelly (though I’ve had wipe downs a few times and change my top every week or two). I’m hoping to have a bed bath soon, though a shower seems far away right now.
  • After lots of letters back and forth confirming stuff, we now know where the PIP tribunal will be (the local law courts as I’m only mostly bedbound, not completely and it’s pushing distance) but we’re still waiting on a date. I’m hoping they’ll let Johan speak on my behalf as my ability to think drastically decreases when I’m sat up (even when my chair is fully tilted and reclined).
  • We have new upstairs neighbours. One of them is a toddler who sounds adorable! Our main “issue” is dragging furniture being loud which compared to what we’ve previously had is barely anything. Baba cries sometimes but other than wanting to help them it’s not a problem (though my boobs do occasionally hurt like they used to- I’ve not breastfed for over 13 years so no idea what that’s about).
  • Not able to do any loom knitting as my hands won’t let me, but I’ve got lots of light up stuff and glow sticks that I’m enjoying. Some have been presents from awesome friends, including colour changing penguin lights from Vivacia Dreams which are amazing.
  • I’m sad I had to spend Halloween and Bonfire night in bed, but I did have Halloween snacks and wore my penguin mask which scared the evening care workers. I slept through Bonfire night so missed all the noise.
  • Worked out that I can put a fleece top on myself if I have it cut open through the back, like a backwards cardigan. It feels better than wearing a cardi or hoodie backwards as I was before. Got two so one can be in the wash. I did look for back opening tops but they’re both expensive and very institutional/old ladyish.
  • Also bought an electric hot water bottle. Too heavy and difficult for me to manage myself, but it stays warmer than the penguins and will be useful for when I go out again (especially as plug sockets are easier to find than microwaves). It’s so hot I had to buy a cover for it.
  • Finally saw the GP. Trying prochlorperazine again (as cyclizine is causing tachycardia), and have been prescribed peppermint capsules to hopefully help with digestive issues. They’re also going to ask Professor Newton about maybe having meds to help with the POTS, and we told them about the tribunal and me not being female and stuff. I’ve also asked to be checked for any nutritional deficiencies as my eating still isn’t amazing and we never checked they were gone after the last lot of supplements ran out. I hate blood tests but if this relapse is being caused or made worse by something treatable then it’s better to know and fix it.
  • Johan is still running. He completed an official marathon last Sunday, which he’s very happy about. He’s also pretty fast, coming 5th out of over 40 runners. He’s also still working on Vostok Inc. as volunteer QA and enjoying it.
  • We’re working on getting more organised and starting today the cleaner is coming for 2 hours instead of 1 each week. I also have my storage unit built which is helping as I now have places to put things.
  • Penguins continue to be awesome.
  • WTB Greater Heal pls

Level 31

An incomplete and out of order summary of what’s been going on the last few months.

  • I had a shower! It was awesome. It still takes way too much out of me to be able to have one regularly.
  • I went out to vote in the General Election. I like our Labour MP so I voted for him. He retained his seat (as expected as this is a very safe Labour seat).
  • I had a birthday. Turned 31. Spoke to Sammie online and played with a light up balloon. Sammie made me an awesome animation and picture 🙂 Johan got me a skirt and a penguin book. I had lots of cards and also cake a few days later. I also had other presents which were much appreciated.
  • I spent a lot of time resting. More than I’d normally do.
  • Asked the district nurse to come out. Changed Derma S to Cavilon (Derma S was causing an itchy rash, which is what it’s meant to treat) and also asked about a different mattress as pain kept waking me up and I needed to roll over, which is difficult and exhausting. Got an alternating air mattress the next day. It makes a massive difference and now I can sleep for up to two hours before waking, compared to 45-60 minutes beforehand. I also don’t need to roll over as much.
  • The reason for the resting – I went to see Sammie’s school play. Until I got the new mattress I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it, but sleeping better and all the rest paid off and I managed to see it. Sammie had no idea I was there (she knew Johan was going) and her reaction when she saw me afterwards made it all worth it. The play itself was excellent and I got to meet a couple of her teachers. It was the first school event I’ve been able to attend so it was very special.
  • Got a taxi to and from the school. Same driver both times (he stayed on shift late to bring me home). The journey went as well as it could, but when getting out near home my wheelchair went sideways off the ramp. Luckily the driver had a really good hold on my chair and it went down slowly enough that all I got was a slightly grazed hand. Johan and the driver picked me back up and I was fine. I’m not so sure about the driver though. He refused to let us pay even though it was an accident.
  • Johan has gone to Sweden again. I’m in the same care home as last year. Johan pushed me this time rather than getting the bus as I wasn’t really well enough to travel (and the movement of the bus would have been too much) but has told me he’s not pushing me back. I got pretty much straight into bed and haven’t left it. I go home next Thursday.
  • Unfortunately being in the care home hasn’t gone as well as last year. As I can’t use a buzzer (they make a horrendous noise and can make me nonverbal) I’m meant to be checked on hourly. This hasn’t always happened so I’ve ended up with a soaking bed multiple times. The worst was Tuesday night where no-one came in from about 10.30pm (when I got my medication) until after 3am when I asked someone on Twitter to phone for me. I also ended up having a meltdown on Monday as I got overwhelmed by everything. Some of the staff are really good though. I’m going to make a complaint when Johan gets back and see how they respond before deciding whether to ask to change care homes for respite.
  • I’m really struggling with asking for things I need. Being in a care home makes this worse. I wish I could do everything myself.
  • I bought a Go Pro during the Amazon Prime Day sale. Johan is planning to use it for his runs. I’ve also insisted he goes to Edinburgh Zoo on the way home from Sweden and film the penguins for me.
  • I also bought a wifi plug socket for my bedroom in the sale. Being able to control my lights  using my tablet is so awesome I ended up getting a second one (they only let you buy one in the sale for some reason). It also means Johan can control my lights if needed.
  • I’m now struggling to manage Twitter as well as Facebook, and am struggling with games I normally find easy. I think it might be because of being in the care home. Hopefully it’ll get better once I’m home.
  • I’ve had a couple of visits while here. One brought a crochet penguin his wife made for me. They’ve really helped me cope 🙂
  • I’m hoping I’ll eventually be able to write blog posts that aren’t just bullet point brain dumps. I like writing them but my brain is being silly.
  • Penguins are still awesome. The penguin cam stopped working for a bit but Johan is at the zoo on Monday so I’m hoping to see them then.