How Disabled is Disabled?

When I first was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I couldn’t properly use my cutlery, and my strength, particularly on my right side, was about as weak as a little kitten. I was constantly tripping, and sometimes falling, and I wasn’t really able to safely drive my (manual) car.

I applied for and was given the Disability Support Payment (DSP), and certainly felt it was deserved. Then after a year or so on a treatment that was working, I could drive my manual car is a safer way and got some of my strength back, particularly on my left side. I was still noticeably weak on my right side though, and still felt quite disabled.

Time goes on, and my body kept on healing, hand in hand with my medications. I was able to give up one medication (the one to help with muscle spasms). I kept on with my MS medication, and was glad to be getting better and better. I was more able, and was happy to be getting back into my life, attending writing workshops, helping more at home with various things, and so on.

Now, five years later, I’ve changed medications and am enjoying taking a tablet every morning instead of having to inject myself in the leg once a week. With medication, a positive attitude to life, and with a healthy diet, and some physical activity, I am enjoying my life with MS. Am I cured? Do I still deserve the DSP?

It’s a question I ask myself sometimes, when I see other people living with disabilities, who seem to be far worse off than I am. I wonder, do I still deserve this payment? Don’t others deserve it more than me? I don’t know the details exactly of these other people, nor of other ‘normal’ looking people around the place. How many people are there out there wondering if they are disabled enough for the DSP?

But then I think of the bad things I’m dealing with too, and I remember the things my carer/husband does for me, so I am able to do the things that help to keep my attitude positive and happy. If I had to do all of my housework I would be unable to do much else. Certainly getting out and about in summer time wouldn’t be possible, I would be totally disabled by fatigue.

My cognitive impairments are increasing, with many more memory failures, and tripping over nothing at all is still something I have to take care about, otherwise I’ll hit the floor again, a painful reminder of my disability. I am able to keep on doing things, because I work hard at remembering the good things in my life, when incontinence issues almost make me want to crawl into a hole and hide.

When I remember these things, this is when I realise that yes, I do deserve this payment, my husband certainly deserves his Carers Payment, and yes, I am indeed disabled …

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5 thoughts on “How Disabled is Disabled?

  1. Declan Groeger

    Think of the scroungers who take payments they are not entitled to and remember that a flare-up may knock you back at any time and never forget that you are entitled

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  2. carolyncordon Post author

    Thank you both, I do have a fine man sharing my life – we’re approaching thirty years of married life, and I wouldn’t have another man if you paid me … We love each other, back each other up, work together well, and ignore each other in a loving way – each having enough space and enough support to do what we want to/need to do.

    I know dong well right now, is no guarantee I’ll always be doing well, and I’m also aware summer is on the way, and things may well go way off track when the heat hits …

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  3. lastingquiet

    For quite a long time, everyone who gets the DSP has been rigorously assessed. It’s quite a process so if you’ve got it, you deserve it!

    MS and other illnesses that have remissions are sometimes challenging for existing bureaucratic criteria. This has become more of an issue lately for budgetary reasons but most people are genuinely deserving.

    On a political level, we have to ensure that the DSP remains accessible to those who need it. Australia actually spends less on disability issues than many other countries in the OEDD because families have been assigned the burden of care over the years.

    You are fortunate in your support networks, and your optimism and determination will carry you through, no matter what.

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    1. carolyncordon Post author

      Thank you Kate. I know there are other people who have MS who are having a tougher life than I am, but I also know that I’ve thought carefully about my life, what is important to me, and how I can best do the things I feel add value and other positive things to me.

      Writing is what I love to do, connecting with others also, and helping others to find joy in writing is another good thing I can do. It’s been a great time in my life, now that I can finally do what is truly fulfilling for me, and still be here at home with family, as well as out there with friends. Living a good life is made up of many different elements. I’m happy to be sliding those elements into their best slots!

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