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Cartoon shows Anne looking fed up and sitting under a rain cloud in a cold room as she fills out a form while outside people are enjoying themselves in the sunshine.

Life wi the Broons: Telling the DWP all the things I canny dae

Anne Brown

So I’m gonny huv a rant! Usually I go on aboot a’ the things I can dae, and try no tae look at a’ the things I canny dae.

If somebody asks me how I am, I just say “fine,” knowin full well that they dinny want to hear the truth. When somebody says “you keep really well Anne” I jist want to say “yes I’m fine on the days you see me, and on the day’s I’m no fine you’ll never know because I’m in the hoose in ma jammies,” but I dinny say anythin I just smile and nod.

This seems to work well, as you don’t get the arm rubbers so much, wi their pitying glances at the poor sick wumman.

Then came the ESA form! I spent a whole mornin wi a pal o’ mine that knows aboot this stuff, goin through the form and sortin oot what tae put on it.

Once I’d listed a’ the problems I’ve got and we’d got it doon on paper, I spent the next couple o’ weeks totally miserable. It’s one thing knowin it, but another seein it doon there on paper in black and white, a major reality check.

Listed in front o’ me were a’ the things I dinny really want tae dwell on, but the fact is that it wis me, and my life now.At first I jist felt like climbin in the wardrobe for a good greet, but that disny sort anything, so I decided tae gie maself a gud shake an’ put it behind me fur the minute an jist get on wi my life as usual, daein what I can dae and tryin no tae look at the rest.

Then I got a letter from the DWP to go to their office for a “review.” I got together a’ the stuff they asked fur and headed fur the appointment. To be fair, the wumman was lovely, but I hud to revisit that place again, the “canny dae” place. It’s no a nice place tae visit, huvin tae explain personal stuff aboot bladder, bowels and ither stuff you’d rather no talk aboot tae a stranger, even a nice stranger. Back doon in the dumps fur a wee bit, then dragged maself back up again.

Then the third reality check arrived! I’m goin tae attempt a qualifyin test at the Regional Championships at Riding for the Disabled (RDA). If I get first or second place, I’ll get tae go tae National Championships tae compete. This might well be ma only chance tae dae it so I’m gonny try. So I got graded. Gradin involves bein tested by RDA physios to see your abilities, or lack o’ them, so they can put you in the right class so you’re competin against folk of similar ability.

Here we go again, a whole list of “No, I canny dae that” or “ I could try that but I’ll fa on my backside and that’s no a good look!” They pushed at me an pulled at me, seein whit was still workin, or mair important tae them, whit wisny workin. By the time they’d finnished I felt like I’d done ten rounds wi Tyson except I still hud baith ears.

Noo, as far as gradin goes, a five is pretty good, a one is pretty bad. I’m hopin fur a four but inside I know I’m probably a three oan a good day wi’ the wind behind me. So it came back and I’m a two! No a number that I wanted to see. That wardrobe wis startin tae look awfy invitin! Tae these folk I wisny Anne, I wis jist a list o’ symptoms and “canny daes.”

Tae crown it a’ we’ve got the PIP comin next. Well I’ll tell you a’ the noo, when that comes it’ll be right in the wardrobe fur me!

Illustration by our wonderful volunteer, Elfreda Crehan.