Sunday, June 29, 2008

ATOS Calling

11.30 am, Sunday morning, and the telephone rings. The caller asks if I’m me, a disembodied voice from ATOS, the private medical arm employed by the DWP, proffering me a date to attend a medical in York. It has got to be York (not Leeds, my preferred option next to a home visit), in the most dismally oppressive claustrophobic building, where one is locked in the waiting room, outer door locked behind you and the door to reception locked in front of you. If you need the toilet, one has to get the attention of the receptionist and traverse the corridors beyond the receptionists room; an ideal setting for people who have problems with their physical and/or mental health.

The date suggested by the disembodied one is a Tuesday, to which I have to point out that I’d already explained on my form that Wednesdays are the only day when my beloved chauffeuse is available to transport me there. Of course, they had an available time on the Wednesday so they’ll be sending a confirmation letter regarding the date and time of the appointment.

In less than one year’s time, I shall be in receipt of a State Pension, as well as a couple of other policies maturing; the big question is, will I be in receipt of incapacity benefit until that time? The unpredictable nature of my condition, how I will be from one day to the next, (the only certainty being that if I overdo it I’ll be wrecked for several succeeding days), has prevented me from taking on any voluntary work or having what I used to consider a normal social life. To be honest, if I was to declare myself as being available for paid employment, I would be lying to myself as well as any potential employer. I’m sure they’d all rush for the opportunity to give employment on the basis that I would only attend when I was fit or alert enough to attend, at the whim of my erratic achingly exhausted body.

The only viable option, should they (under their remit to attack the most vulnerable members of society) deny my eligibility for IB, is to live off my savings, and make the necessary national insurance contributions, for the next eleven months.

Just something I had to get off my chest, at the same time acknowledging that there are far too many people in a worse predicament and condition than myself. I just wonder why I should be made to feel guilty about having a health condition which is not immediately obvious, except to those like my beloved who have to live with its effects.


prin said...

it's just the way of the health car profession. we have a teaching hospital here that takes care of all or most of the indigent in my town. I refuse to go. There are at least two snide, arrogant, sarcastic comments made to me every time I visit. I would rather die than be subjected to that mess. I swear they teach a class in how to be an a** and you must ace it in order to get your internship. I'm sorry you have to go through that. I wish there was something I could do to make it easier on you. Take care of yourself and I hope you feel better :)

Malcolm said...

Thanks prin.

I'm just trying to not let it get me down. The sooner the appointment's out of the way the better I'll feel, no matter what the outcome!

The Oxcliffe Fox said...

And there was I just beginning to think that you were past all this bureaucratic nonsense. Don't let the buggers grind you down, old friend. All our love and best wishes are with you.

Fran said...

Feel better Malcom, I hope you don't feel down.
Take Care of yourself ! Thinking of you.

... said...

I am just beginning to document all that my body is putting me through in preparation to apply for SSI over here. Just the thought of the application process causes my stress level to soar. This whole thing is a mess and so unkind and cruel.
I'm praying the day is productive for you and works out positively!

Malcolm said...

Thanks TOF, my friend of both real and virtual worlds, for your kind words, much appreciated. Thanks also to Fran and Mama Lavender, your kind thoughts are equally appreciated.