Current mood: >:'(

When we moved into our own home in February 2016, the bathroom was ok and worked fine for us. It’s nothing fancy, shower over bath, toilet, sink.

It has a lino floor that is a bit uneven and oddly cut around the toilet. The plan was eventually to replace the floor with something better.

I finished showering today and when I stepped out, Husband shouted up to me asking if I was done. I said yes, to which he replied that ‘there is a leak in the kitchen.’

I put a towel around me and went downstairs to take a look.

Our kitchen is directly below our bathroom, and there is a gap between the lino floor and the bathtub where it doesn’t cover it. I put towels down to soak up water that might go there but it now seems that isn’t sufficient as there was water dripping from the ceiling where I know the edge of the bathtub is, one floor above.

Great. Just great. I had planned to replace the flooring there eventually but not right now as Husband has not had any hours since the 28th of July and things are tight. But I guess we have to now. Can’t have water damage, it’ll void the insurance and become more expensive and hard to fix in the long run if we don’t get it sorted now.

All the same. This together with Husband being refused for PIP last week (I’ll do a more detailed post about this) is sending my mood into a familiar spiral downwards now.

Have been walking around with a lump in my throat all afternoon.

 

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Our back garden after having lived here a year and plans for next year.

Even though we are having a mild October thus far, it cannot be escaped that winter is coming.

We bought the house in February 2016 and our first summer here was spent just getting the house together and coming to terms with that my mother is terminally ill, after we received the news in May 2016 that her cancer is now too far advanced to treat.

So I didn’t do a lot in the garden. I hung washing in it on the line, and that was it.

So this summer I wanted to at least try to grow some things. I decided to try growing some herbs, and I wanted to try some nasturtiums as well. I was also gifted some plants before term ended at the college.

Safe to say, the nasturtiums did very well! But interestingly the ones that did the best were the ones we planted right into the flower bed rather than in the pot. I bought two packs of seeds for £2 and didn’t even use the other pack. I have been eating the leaves in salads and in sandwiches all summer so a very worthwhile investment.

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Nasturtiums just taking over the garden now.
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Look at it! Even the savage sage plant is a dwarf in comparison to the nasturtiums.
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Our bounty; a lone tomato. Gave it to Husband so he could have it in his salad, he said it was lovely and sweet.

Although tomato plants are not perennial, I have decided to try and winter them. I’ll take them to the top floor of our house and cover a section of the floor with newspapers – because they did grow tomatoes eventually and I want to give them a chance.

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Looking a bit forlorn now, I wonder if I can winter them?

For next year I think I will do the following:

  • I have managed to grow nasturtiums (probably through sheer dumb luck); I will try lettuce next year, and sow them as soon as it’s warm enough outside to do it. If my niece can inadvertently grow some by sprinkling some seeds in an unused sink in the garden, then I can do it too!
  • If wintering the tomato plants and pepper plant doesn’t work out I will buy some plants from the garden centre as soon as it’s warm enough. I may also try some cucumber plants next year.
  • Maybe get a fire pit or brazier? We have two deck chairs we have been gifted and it would be nice to sit outside with it in the back yard in the evening.
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The acer in the back yard is starting to turn, looking lovely ^_^

 

A Sundry September.

September has been an interesting month.

Good points about September were:

  • We finally had the PIP assessment and grievance meeting for Husband.
  • Husband has become more confident in cooking and is thinking about more and more recipes he wants to try.
  • We got some lovely bargains reduced at the shop.
  • We were under budget on the old grocery shop. No large part due to the meat and food my sister and her family send with us when we were home in August.
  • We sold some things on eBay, everything helps for the Japan/Good-to-Have Fund!

Things that could be improved about September were:

  • Husband still has not been given any hours at the job where the grievance is. And we’ve had two letters from them which are the most unprofessional ‘professional’ letters we have ever seen, so with support of the union we will appeal their decision. This impacts on Husband’s mental health a great deal.
  • PIP still drags on. We rang them on the 10th of May to get this started so it seems to take a long time. DWP sent us their decision letter on the 28th of September. Their decision is to not award Husband PIP, and in each category, they have scored Husband 0 out of 8 or 12 points, meaning they don’t feel he needs support in these areas. I am changing between feeling tearful and incandescent about this. We are having the mandatory reconsideration and then going to tribunal about this. It does make me wonder what happens to people who don’t have anyone to advocate for them.

 

 

 

Current situation: We’re still waiting.

So.

We had the grievance meeting concerning the experience Husband has had at his workplace in the beginning of the month. It was attended by our union rep, Husband and myself. From the employer’s side came the treasurer, who had been tasked with investigating our grievance.

I can’t deny, I felt a bit bad for her. After Husband’s boss left in July, the treasurer had been thrown in and has had to sort everything out from staff rotas etc. while training the new manager. So she hasn’t been able to get any information from her regarding our claims. But she did use the fact that Husband’s boss isn’t there anymore as a shield for a lot of the stuff we were concerned about – when it is in fact the whole organization who is at fault. Everyone is responsible for ensuring they are compliant with Equality and Diversity in the workplace. It’s as though there’s a culture there of that this kind of behaviour is acceptable. Nobody seems to challenge it, anyway, and that means accepting it, in my book.

Husband still has not had any hours since the end of July. The union rep queried this and what the treasurer said is that while Husband did put his holidays in the calendar, as he had not put his availability in the calendar, he was not scheduled to work any shifts.

Apparently when Husband’s boss was leaving, the treasurer took over putting together the rotas for the summer. The treasurer told the boss and deputy that she would be doing this based on what was put in the calendar, and to cascade this information to the staff so they would put their availability in the calendar.

They don’t seem to have told Husband this. In addition he went in with his timesheet in the beginning of August and verbally told the deputy he was available to work. They said they might have some work for him the following week, but of course we heard nothing. Can’t help but think the deputy is responsible for a lot of the upset Husband has gone through.

What really grinds my gears as well is that Husband has for three whole years while volunteering and later working there, always been given his shifts by text. Every. Single. Week. Why would he just understand that the procedure was different, unless he was told what to do?

We learnt that the workplace are in severe trouble financially due to parents either being in poor financial straits themselves or for simply not paying their bills. According to the treasurer, they’ve now had to sell some of the debt on to debt collection as the workplace is stretched very thin financially.

The treasurer did not say it directly but implied it was the main reason why Husband’s boss was asked to leave as she’d given people too many chances and agreed to let them pay in installments.

Because of this they will not be using any relief workers at the workplace apart from the holidays now, as they are contractually obligated to pay the manager and deputy, and the two apprentices they have.

The workplace has taken the log we have kept with what has happened to Husband, and also our list of Reasonable Adjustments, and will respond to these. Eventually.

Husband still wants to pursue the grievance as he feels it’s important to see through to the finish, but he has resigned himself to the fact that he now needs to consider his options.

Back to jobhunting, now. He naturally finds this quite daunting as he has not done this for three years.

This time it will be different though. Husband now has a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome and we are exploring what support there is available for him through Jobcentreplus and Remploy.

All the same, I am worried about him and his mental health as I will be going back to work six days a week starting Monday. I wish i could spend more time at home to support him, but as the main breadwinner it’s just not possible. We need the money now. More than ever.

The unknown of trying new things. And the delight of finding you can manage.

Husband did something that’s not quite like him this week, and managed it as well.

He made dinner for me! And, he made something that he hadn’t made before, and he managed to do it.

For the uninitiated: Some people who have Asperger’s Syndrome struggle with things that are new and different, and encountering these things make them anxious. Some may also need very clear instructions and support with doing tasks.

For Husband, saying ‘just cook it until it’s golden all over’ for example is not helpful as he won’t understand what that would mean. How long is that for? And what shade of golden? Instead, you say ‘preheat the oven for 5 minutes. After the oven has preheated for 5 minutes, put the food in at 180 degrees for 45 minutes. Set a timer on your phone for it.’

Husband does cook but it has to be things he knows and has made before. Even then he will ask me to come and check the food and check it’s going ok.

I asked Husband if he could cook dinner on Wednesday as it is normally the hardest day at work for me, as it is so busy. He said he would and then said he would cook something new, try something different. I said that was ok and to think about what to buy and to check the cupboards as well, and I said if it didn’t work that we could have a takeout, that that would also be fine.

He said he would try making what he had in mind, and asked me to buy some crusty bread on my way home.

Well! I came home from work and we had this!

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Husband made dinner! Potato, carrot and onion soup with mixed herbs, garlic and bacon.

He was so pleased with himself that me managed to do the recipe first time around with no support. It was delicious and he has said he will make it again for us. He explained to me in great detail how he’d researched recipes, gone up to the Co-Op to buy the ingredients and then peeled and chopped everything.

It might seem odd for some to celebrate it. But I am so proud of him for giving it a go and I can tell he was pleased with it, and that it’s given his confidence a boost. It is a big deal for him and I will continue to encourage him to try new things in future.

 

Applying for PIP: Our experience, part 2.

Husband was assessed by someone from Capita in our home for his assessment for PIP; after a slight hiccup as she could not find our house we got started.

To start the PIP assessment you have to show two kinds of identification; we chose Husband’s passport and birth certificate for this purpose.

The lady had a laptop where she wrote all her answers down and she stayed for about an hour.

I have mixed feelings about how Husband’s assessment went.

An hour is in my opinion not enough to accurately gauge someone’s needs and how well they function in everyday life in my opinion. Husband presents very well but does need a lot of support with everyday living – and how can you assess that from sitting across from him in a chair and asking questions? Surely you need to see what he does to cope with day to day living to make that assessment?

I’d read through our PIP form to remind myself what we said, and I stupidly assumed we would be asked about what we had put on the form. But when the lady started, she seemed to jump back and forth between different points, which threw me a bit.

She asked Husband about his mental health, how he coped at school (asking about support he was offered there) and how he copes with going out and meeting new people. Thank goodness I was there to be able to fill in extra information.

One particular point which irked me was when she was asking Husband about finances and how he copes with reading forms and correspondence. We stated on the form and Husband reiterated during the assessment that he isn’t able to read and understand his bank statements and do forms as he doesn’t understand them. I help him with this; when he does job applications I will read him the questions and he answers them, and I fill in forms for him. I read his bank statements when they come to see if there are any discrepancies as he doesn’t understand them.

Well this lady laboured this part in particular, asking Husband three times, ‘but do you think you could do it with support, if someone showed you what to do?’ and Husband answered no each time.

Couldn’t help but get a bit cross with her. We explained on the form that he struggles with this and why and that I am the one doing it. Husband said on the form that if he had to do it he wouldn’t understand what to do, or what the forms or numbers mean.

Was she trying to catch Husband out by making out that his support needs seem less than they are?

And what does that insinuate about me, exactly? That I’m somehow controlling everything and not giving Husband a chance to try?

Husband trusts me to do the right thing. I know his banking details and information but always ask before accessing this and I would never do something without his consent or without his knowledge. I have more than once in our relationship let him know that if he wants to sit with me as I go through things and have me explain things, I am more than happy to do that. If there is something I feel we need to do, I take the time to explain it to him so we can discuss what we do next. And everything I have ever done is in Husband’s best interest regarding money, bills, planning, applying for stuff, planning for the future.

And believe me I have looked as I know that you can get a Lasting Power of Attorney in place. I just don’t feel that would be appropriate for us at this time as he is capable of making his own decisions and I feel an LPA would make our relationship very uneven. We are husband and wife and as such equal in our relationship, and putting an LPA in place for Husband would shift the balance of the relationship away from Husband in my opinion.

Nevermind. It’s done now and we have to wait to hear what the DWP say. But I am bracing myself as I am fully prepared for having to appeal their decision if they turn our application down.

One thing to note is that this process does take time and that you need to be patient. I rang the PIP hotline on the 19th of May to start the process off, and we are still waiting for a decision. So this process is not for people who are impatient/have no income ><.

An Assorted August.

Well! Back to work with a bang now. Term starts at the college on the 4th of September and I’ve been back at work since the 30th.

It’s been a mixed-bag summer and an Assorted August.

Good points about August were:

  • Visited Husband’s friend and fiance for a weekend, something he really needed. Feeling wanted and like he matters is so important for him.
  • Still being on vacation. I had a chance to relax and bar a few things I was able to do most of what I wanted on my list.
  • Visiting family back home in Norway for a week. We were able to visit my sister, brother, my mother and my best friend and her family in the space of a week. We were able to attend my brother’s Summer Festival at his house where he served home made chili and garlic sausages and homebrewed beer and cider. I was able to go to a flea market with my sister, just her and me. Husband had a lovely time and felt very calm when returning home; he spent a lot of time with my nephews which he enjoyed.
  • My sister and her family are so generous. Going back to the UK she sent 11 kilos of food with us and several pieces of clothing that she no longer wanted. Great for our food budget and great for me, as I’ve lost weight and now only two pairs of trousers fit me. Husband was finally given his 30th birthday present from them (it was a surprise) – a new computer they’d upgraded with more fans, space and a very good graphics card. He has spent the time since we got back tinkering with it and installing games on it.
  • We were under budget for our grocery spend again ❤

 

Things that could have been improved about August were:

  • Husband’s mental health and how upset he is about how work are treating him. Since my July post about his work, he has not been given any hours, so as of today he has not been given any hours for over a month. Going in at the beginning of the month with his time sheet and finding new staff there did not help either. So August has been spent spending time with him and family, trying to distract him from how rubbish he is feeling. It is really eroding his self-confidence and his faith in himself now. Words fail me in describing how upset I am about this and how I can tell it’s affecting him.
  • While at my brother’s party in Norway, something bit me on the leg; probably mosquitoes. The inside of my right ankle turned purplish-red and the whole ankle swelled up. The day after we got back it was so swollen and painful I couldn’t stand on it at all and so Husband went to the pharmacy for some advice. He came back with some hydro-cortisone cream and antihistamines to get it to calm down but it was still just as angry the day after, so went back to the pharmacy after work and asked if they could give me anything else for it. They took a look and advised going to the doctors as they were concerned it could have gotten infected. I went and was prescribed Flucloxacillin.  Am on it now and feel better already but buying the medicines has set us back £13.80. I understand, needs must, but not really what we need right now with Husband not working very much at all. Unexpected expenses are frustrating.

We are due to have Husband assessed for PIP on Monday and the day after we are meeting with Husband’s workplace together with the union to discuss his grievance. I would be lying if I said I was not anxious about these things but have to hold it together. For Husband’s sake.