Tuesday, 24 September 2013

How things change

A few years ago now, when my son started play-school, I had to come to terms with something that I had been trying to avoid with increasing difficulty for years, my disability.

On Friday, it will officially be seven years, since my son's birth. Seven years of my back's slow deterioration and it was slow.

It began the day after my 53 hours of labour and epidural had ended and it started with a strange twinge in my lower back at the site where the needle had been inserted.

I didn't think much of it at the time. It wasn't excessively painful. I was a new mum; I was happy. What was a little twinge? It was natural, surely. You'd expect some symptoms, after having a needle stuck in your back, at least for a while at any rate. It was not a big issue, at least to my mind at that point; however, the pain didn't go away. In fact, it kept happening. If I jolted my back, it happened. Sometimes, when in the car, it would happen; still, I didn't think anything of it.

In fact, I went on to ignore the pain in my back for years, despite the fact that it was getting worse and worse and happening far more frequently.

I have a phobia of doctors, hospital, needles. I am not a brave person and the thought of seeing someone about my back scared me witless; so, I did something that I have since learned is very common, I ignored it and hoped that it would go away.

Sadly, it didn't. It just got steadily worse, until the time my son was ready to start play-school, by which point I was really struggling to walk any great distance or even stand for very long.

Suddenly, needing to get my son to the school bus, I was faced with the biggest challenge of my life. Everyday was an agonising half-hour struggle to walk what would have taken a normal, able-bodied person five minutes. Every step was torture and by the time I made it back home, I would be in tears from the pain.

Yet still, I didn't want to face facts. Instead of dealing with the issues, I told myself that my son didn't need to go to pre-school or that even if I could just get him up to the bus once a week, that was enough; but the time for my son to start school was creeping ever closer.

"You need to see the doctor," my husband said to me, again and again, as I was left in agony for days, after what was a very short walk, "You can't do this everyday and I can't take him to school."

And he was right, he couldn't. He left far too early in the morning to take our son to school and returned too late to collect him.

There comes a point in life that as badly as you want to ignore something, you have to face it and mine had come; so, we headed for the doctors, explained what was wrong, how long it had been going on, and when it had started. He didn't have a solution for fixing my back, but he was confident that I needed to apply for disability.

My back was not getting better any time soon, if ever, and if I continued to put strain on it, I could lose my ability to walk, altogether.

"You need to use a wheelchair or a mobility scooter outside of the home. The disability people will help you to get one."

I was distraught. Me, never walk again? I hadn't even considered that a possibility, stupidly. Me, use a mobility scooter? That was for old people, not me. Even the thought of a wheelchair was more than I could bear, despite the fact that they are more common, among every age group.

Biting back my pride, at my husband's insistence, and for the sake of my son, we got the forms for the Disability Living Allowance and filled them in.

I don't know what my doctor told them, when they contacted him, but before I knew it, I was on the higher rate of mobility, medium rate of care, and we were starting the process to get my first mobility scooter.

I was awful to live with at that time; one minute in tears, the next mad, the very next second, afraid. This wasn't me, this wasn't my life, and accepting this scooter felt like accepting there was no hope.

Depression quickly sunk in. I scoured the internet, looking at mobility scooters, deeming them all too fuddy-duddy. My husband thankfully kept the pressure on until, at last, I settled on a Pride Colt Xl8, little knowing that this scooter would become my most prized possession; that he would be so important to me that the day he was taken from me, I would cry my eyes out, but that is exactly what happened.

That scooter gave me my freedom back; my life back. It allowed me to be a proper mum again, to be able to take my kid to school, to the park, to leave my home; something I had avoided for years, unless my husband and the car were going with me.

Suddenly, I was independent again and it felt amazing.

I christened my little scooter, Speedy McNipster.

All my fear of judgement from others, all my fears of looking stupid were quickly erased. People didn't stare, for the most part, nor judge. In fact, the children at the bus stop and the parents took to my scooter so much that the first Christmas I had it, the kids decorated Speedy with tinsel, stars, and little snowflake stickers.

 apologies for the messy garage, it's my husbands domain,
I just get a small spot for my scooter. 

I drove around with my scooter looking like this for weeks. The kids were over the moon to see that I had left it all on. 

Sadly, a few months ago, a mistake meant that my Disability Living Allowance was taken away. Forms were meant to be sent to me, in order to renew early, due to the new PIP thing, but I never received them. 

The result, my disability benefit was suddenly cancelled. I didn't even know, until nearly a month after, when my bank account was suddenly empty. 

What has followed since then has been hell. My freedom that Speedy had brought me was suddenly threatened. Motorbility had to take speedy back, because, until I got a new claim in, using the new Personal Independent Payment method, I was not entitled. 

We rushed a claim in, calling that day, filling out the paperwork and sending it off, the instant it arrived, desperate to save Speedy. 

Then we waited and waited, until Motorbility informed us that they would be taking Speedy on the 19th of September, unless I could find £650 pounds in less than a week. 

It seemed impossible and it was. We tried everything, but with money now very tight (after losing my disability money) we were barely managing to pay our bills. There was no hope of finding an extra £650, not that fast, at any rate. 

Friends and some family jumped in desperately, trying to help, but we couldn't bring ourselves to borrow money from friends with no idea when we would be able to pay it back. 

So, on the 19th, I waved goodbye to my dear friend; my heart, breaking. 

Then a glimmer of hope. Mobility weren't collecting it from the mobility store that we had gotten it from for another week. My husband's Vespa was put up for sale. If we could just sell it within the week, maybe there was still hope. 

We did sell it. We sold it the very next day. We then just had to wait to find out how much Speedy was now going to cost, because, "There is a new company taking them now for Motorbility and they may have different prices. It could be more or less, but we'll find out for you," the lovely people from Launceston Mobility told us.

So, we waited and waited, praying that it would not be too much more; that it would at least be under a grand. 

The weekend passed with no news. We had been told, Monday, so we were still hopeful; however, Monday then passed and still no news. I was getting nervous. 

Tuesday came; still no news. We were nervous. We had a temporary arrangement with the school, in which Dan was allowed to take Kye in to school at 7:30am and afternoons the bus driver would stop at the top of our road, walk Kye across the road, and send him straight down and home. 

Everyone was going out of their way to help us. We needed a solution and soon. 

Well, later today, I got that answer. 

The phone rung. It was bad news. Speedy McNipster was gone. The company that collected him had turned up and taken him, despite promising to get back to Launceston Mobility about a price. 

When the wonderful staff at Launceston Mobility gave them a call, they were told that Speedy had already been sold. 

When they called to tell me, my heart broke all over again; however, that is not the end of the story. 
Launceston Mobility, who all the way though this have been incredibly supportive and kind, had a solution, a very generous one. They would give me a brand new scooter, at a massively reduced price, that was the same as speedy, but a little upgraded with new, snazzy, LCD screen and touch buttons. 

Not only that, but they would deliver it tomorrow night, before even receiving any form of payment. 

I would be surprised if they are making any money on this mobility scooter at all, as we cannot even find a second hand one for the price they are allowing me to have it for. 

These people have gone above and beyond for me and I am so grateful. Thanks to them and my amazing husband, who sold his beloved Vespa, I now have my freedom back and no one can take it away from me again. 

This song explains how I am feeling right now, so well. 

If I'd have known, all those years ago, just how important that scooter would become to me and just how much it would change my life I never would have fought it so hard. 

So please, if you have a disability that you are avoiding, stop it. Go see your doctor. You never know, he might just give you your life back. 

Love and hugs all,
Joss xxx

If you live in Cornwall or Devon and you need disability equipment, please consider Launceston Mobility, they are an amazing group of people and they will not let you down. I am proof of that. 


  1. I'm sorry you had to go through all that. I loved the ending, though.

    1. I don't mind so much now as I used too. It's helped me to grow as a person and a writer so some good has come from it. Thank you so much for stopping by I really appreciate it. :)

  2. You are obviously a very resilient person, Jossie! That will serve you very well in the writing business. I'm so glad you're pushing onward, and I love your scooter. :)

    1. Awwww thank you. I love my scooter too. The new one arrived today and it is brilliant. :)

  3. So sorry you have had to go through such an ordeal. I hope your new improved scooter is just as great as your old one. Well done Launceston Mobility.

    1. It arrived today and it is brilliant :) lots of new and exciting features. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  4. Wow. I'm sorry you had to go through all of that, but what a well-written story!

    Best wishes with Speedy 2.0!

    1. Thank you Carrie and thank you so much for stopping by

  5. What an ordeal and so sorry to hear you had to go through all that. But, it's heart-warming to see the kindness and support that came your way. Hopefully you'll never have to go through that again. Hugs!

    1. Yes fingers crossed. At least now my scooter is my own, no one can take it away. Well except maybe a thief. But touch wood that never happens. :)

  6. Wow, you've certainly had some ups and downs, but I'm glad the story ended on such an uplifting note. Having worked in the benefits system, I sadly know all too well how many mistakes occur and usually it is the customer who bears the brunt. Motability, on the other hand, are great. They've always looked after us and our son, who uses a wheelchair. Congrats on the new scooter!

    1. Motability have been great they held back taking my old scooter as long as possible and were really nice when I spoke with them on the phone. The real stars have been Launceston mobility who provided my scooter through the Motability scheme, they have really gone above and beyond to help me.

  7. Wow, what an ordeal. I'm glad you got a happy ending of sorts with a great new scooter. It sounds like that dealership really went out of their way to help you. Still, I'm sorry you had to deal with it at all.

    1. I just keep reminding myself that I have gotten through it and come out the other side with more security than I had before as no one can take my scooter away now. :)

  8. I applaud that little boy. While I'd rather these attacks didn't happen in the first place I'm thankful that the children survived.