Half term this week so Husband and I have both had a week off work. The weather has been nice all week so Tuesday morning was spent taking a leisurely stroll around the lake in the grounds of Wollaton Hall.
I am so grateful that we can access these beautiful spaces.
These two weeks have been very mixed. No surprises there, as the Silver household normally is.
Last Monday was incredibly busy at work with students trying to finish their work and submitting it within the deadlines, all while the computer systems continued to crash and freeze. This has been on-going since the latest Windows OS was installed and people were pulling their hair out as it kept happening. All we could do was restart the PCs for them and keep encouraging them to save their work.
I just felt so unprofessional as even though it’s not our fault and we can’t help it, I didn’t feel we were delivering a very good service. In addition to this several of the students had their work saved as files that were so large the email system rejected them as being too large, so were not able to email their submissions to their tutors. We found ways around it but those two things combined with a chair that got vandalized left me feeling quite drained.
And to top things off we found out later that three of the students had formally complained about the PCs, understandably, but also about the staff in the library that day saying we had been unhelpful and laughed at their troubles.
I am absolutely incandescent. We were nothing but as helpful and understanding as we could be that day given everything we had to deal with. Not to mention one of the students who complained was barred from coming and seeing us for a term due to behaviour earlier in the term.
All the same, it left me feeling quite drained that evening. Didn’t have the energy to cook so we had takeout. Not great for the budget.
Tuesday was a bit better. I had a day off which helped my mood a lot, plus Husband’s visit to Occupational Health went very well.
The appointment went really well. I accompanied Husband to the appointment not sure what to expect. I needn’t have worried however as the occupational health nurse had clearly taken the time to read about Asperger’s Syndrome and how it can present, and went through the information carefully with Husband, checking repeatedly that he was alright and if there was anything he wanted to ask.
It all went swimmingly – until we got to the vaccination history. As Husband will be dealing with items that have human blood on them in his work, he needs to have the Hepatitis B vaccine. Husband hates needles. But to help him they have booked him an appointment to have the injections and blood tests done at the occupational health clinic so he can have them done in peace and at his own pace, rather than having to go to the drop-in sessions.
For some, it may seem like a small thing. However given everything we have gone through these last two years, anyone treating Husband with a bit of dignity and making adjustments so that he can participate fills me with immense joy.
Wednesday and Thursday last week were spent getting the garden together. I have planted nasturtiums and sweet peas and will try my hand at tomatoes this year. I have also planted some flower seeds we were given.
Saturday after work I met up with Husband and the family and his parents very generous paid for a meal out at the Wetherspoon up the road from us. A lovely gesture and it meant I didn’t have to cook after a long day at work.
One thing I have been thankful for as well these last two weeks are my colleagues at both workplaces. Colleagues have listened and offered advice and support, and given us stuff and help.
A receptionist I like at work and I managed to have lunch together and she very kindly gave me lunch, and gave me lots of leftovers to use up. My supervisor gave me a box of cereal she’d bought but didn’t like so gave it to me, and a colleague at my weekend work has been giving me lifts partway home which saves me so much time. It also meant I was able to swing by Tesco Sunday night to get these beauties:
I have continued to use my smartphone responsibly (?) and have installed Shopmium and continued to use Job Spotter. Shopmium has netted us £10.02 in free groceries via their cashback, and I have gotten a £10 Amazon voucher from Job Spotter and I am working on another one.
This Monday was an odd day for us – it was our PIP anniversary. We are still waiting for a court date for Husband’s PIP claim.
Tuesday was spent doing washing and things around the house. The weather these two weeks has been lovely and warm so have gotten several loads of washing done.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were spent at at my weekday job – I enjoy my work and like my colleagues and (most) of the students, but several changes to our procedures were announced this week and I am not sure I can stand behind these changes and how it will impact how we deliver our service. It has made me wonder if I have a future there. It left me drained and Friday night was spent feeling really off and unsettled.
It’s hard to explain, but I felt really flat and drained, and my skin feeling prickly and my hair kept standing on end for seemingly no reason.
So once again we had a takeout.
Must stop dealing with feelings by eating stuff….
Saturday and Sunday have been quite quiet at the university – this is a good thing as we have two new hires starting this month. My colleague very kindly gave me a lift almost the whole way home on Saturday. As the weather was nice I decided to do the right thing and walk the rest of the way, which I enjoyed.
Sunday morning was spent lounging around at home, and moving stuff upstairs from the bedroom in preparation for the carpenter to come next week to make the bespoke cupboards for the bedroom.
Next week is half term, which gives Husband and me a nice week off from work, which we sorely need. We’ll get some time together, we’ll celebrate Husband’s birthday, and I will travel down to London to see my friend and her sisters.
I was called by one of the product testing panels to ask if I wanted to do a study with them that paid £20 in Tesco vouchers after work. I am saving all vouchers I get for Christmas (sorry, I know it’s the C word, but it’s best to be prepared!) so said of course.
The bus doesn’t go all the way to the venue so I get off at the closest bus stop and walk from there along the road. Sometimes in winter it’s a pain as it can be dark and wet and sad.
Not today. Everything is coming out so it was lovely and green, and I saw lots of bluebells and cowslip alongside the road. Plus it stays lighter for longer now and the weather was nice so it was quite a pleasant walk.
The study was scheduled to take up to 75 minutes but I completed it in 45, and on my walk back to the bus stop on the other side of the road, look what I spied!
Naturally I have been on the Woodland Trust website to ensure I have identified this right, but they are indeed wild garlic or ramsoms. There was this bunch and one further up the road as well.
It’s important to not take more than what you can eat and leave some for others, so I took a small bunch home. I’ve put them in a glass of water and will use them for dinner tomorrow after they’ve been thoroughly washed.
Well thank goodness for Easter – have had two whole weeks off work. Heavenly and weird in equal measure as it was lovely yet strange to not be at work.
This Easter I have:
Read a lot. I have read Penny Dreadfuls (gothic horror stories), Everything, Everything, and Pandemic 1918. I keep finding books while shelving in the libraries I work at, and now have three books on the go, plus one our neighbour lent me.
Supported Husband with TWO job interviews. Will wonders never cease?
Used vouchers gained from surveys to do two badly needed replacements, so got a new vacuum cleaner and toastie maker and only had to pay the £10 the vouchers didn’t cover.
Spent quality time with family and friends and neighbours.
Attended Sharing Sherwood for the first time in months and really enjoyed it. Got some nice food from it as well.
Had lovely and relaxing romantic candlelit dinner at home with Husband.
Found coat hangers and a cake tin for cheaps in the charity shop, and a cardigan for myself. Also found reduced deodorants in Boots so added it to our stash. Some of them will go to the foodbank.
Been to Norway and seen my family. Going there the flight was so empty I had a whole row to myself. Score!
My sister and her family gave me two nice skirts and a dress, and sent me home with a load of food for Husband and myself. I came home with two packs of lamb mince, two huge packs of bratwursts, two lamb steaks, a pack of pork, four packs of reindeer dogs and a pack of nice steak. It will really help on the old grocery budget.
Pegged washing out!
Got some nice bargains at Tesco after work on Sunday (Got time and a half for it as out of term as well).
I have been keeping myself frugal and have been using up my toiletries.
Spring is coming. It’s getting lighter and warmer every day, which is really impacting my mood in a positive way. I have been able to hang the washing out which is heavenly. Husband thinks I am odd in that I am so enthusiastic about this but it a. smells nice b. doesn’t make the house damp and c. it saves us money and saves the environment as I don’t have to run the dehumidifier all the time while it’s drying.
I have managed to get some nice food bargains and managed to get to Foodprint as well.
It is however with Husband and supporting him that things have been the best.
After a shaky start with the Work Health Programme, it has gone really well.
There is someone there who can help Husband apply for jobs and sit with him and help him fill in application forms. As Husband’s isn’t sure of the way there yet, a worker has been meeting him in town and travelling with him there, also reimbursing his travel costs which is a great boon to us.
His first session went very well – in that he has been invited to an interview for one of the jobs he applied for.
We have also heard back from another place where he applied in January, where they want him to come for an interview.
What is special about that place however is that they have invited him for interview, even though Husband declared he has Asperger’s Syndrome.
This might not sound like a big deal as you would expect society to have come further than that, but it is to us.
Every time Husband applies for something, we eventually get to the dreaded Equality and Diversity section. And every time, we have to sit and genuinely discuss if we should declare if he has Asperger’s Syndrome or not.
In our experience, the great majority of the time we have declared it on a job application, even though he qualifies for the job, Husband has not heard anything back. We have also had the same experience with regards to declaring epilepsy or not.
So I am positively delighted that Husband got an invitation to interview, even though we chose to declare his disability.
The only thing we are wondering about is the interview itself – it says in the invitation that Husband has to do a dexterity test for it. I wonder what this means? Some say it’s to test if he can handle equipment without dropping it, and some say it’s about taking things apart and assembling it.
No matter. The point is that they’ve invited him.
Earlier in the year I came to the realisation that if I didn’t have hopes or expectations for something, then I would then not be disappointed if things didn’t work out. Sounds pessimistic perhaps. Therapist called it a self-preservation strategy and I do think there is some truth to that.
But I do have some hope now.
EDIT: Holy hell on a stick, just realized this is my 100th post!
Monday was very stressful at work, as we were down to two staff and my colleague had done her back in so I had to keep going to help her lift stuff or reach stuff.
As we were due to see the Work Health Programme coach the day after, I went home with a lump in my throat. I’d found some vacancies that could be suitable for Husband but the thought of having to sit and fill them in with him for hours filled me with dread.
Don’t get me wrong. We love each other, and as long as I have the will to live, I will support him and defend him.
But on Monday I just couldn’t.
I couldn’t face even the thought of having to do more work, after just having come home from work. And the day after that. And the day after that.
I broke down once I came home and was a crying wreck for most of the evening and the day after.
I just need some actual support, with supporting, if that makes sense?
If I am to continue going to work six days a week to support us financially, I need help.
I need more help at home keeping the house and I need help supporting Husband; filling in application forms, accompanying him places if he needs that, and so forth.
Naturally my poor mood affected Husband so when we went to the Work and Health Programme on Tuesday I cried for most of the appointment and Husband felt rubbish. As it is only the second appointment we have been to I can imagine what impression that gave of us, as the Wellbeing advisor was quite unkind and said that Husband’s problem is me. Because I work so much to support us and he doesn’t do as many hours and he feels he isn’t contributing.
We were both very upset with how they dealt with this, but will try to attend again as there isn’t anything else. Remploy wouldn’t help us as Husband is already enrolled on the Work Health Programme plus they don’t have an office nearby. The working scheme for people with Asperger’s Syndrome run by the county council can’t take him as he lives within the city limits, and it is just for people living within the county (???).
They suggested Husband applied for ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) and it is something Husband’s mother has suggested as well, it is something he could be eligible for and still keep his job.
If applying for ESA is anything like what we have had to deal with applying for PIP, I will not do it.
Having had to deal with applying for PIP and being told in effect that we are lying has brought out feelings in me I did not even know that I possessed. We started this process in May 2017 and almost a year later we are waiting for it to be resolved.
If someone else helps me fill in the form for it and takes Husband to the assessment, sure.
But I am not prepared to go through something similar on my own. I’m sorry if it makes me sound defeatist.
But it’s making me ill.
Husband bless him must have sensed how desperate I have been feeling this week, as he keeps asking if I am ok, no, if I am really ok, and keeps doing things around the house and saying ‘I’m trying to help.’ He wants to give up his counselling so I can go have some, something I have rejected as he needs it more than me. I have explained to him that the problem is that I have so much work to do, outside of work, that I am beginning to feel like it’s swallowing me up.
I think three things have to change in order to help me feel better, as I am feeling so overwhelmed:
I need much more help around the house than what I am getting now. I cannot go on working as many hours I do and still have more stuff to do at home.
I suggested a cleaner, to which Husband strongly objected. So we will sit down and go through a list to divide chores more evenly. At the same time I understand that while things might not be done to my standard (Hanging the washing on the line in a lump? Ok then?), it will still be done. I have to let that feeling go.
I need help supporting Husband’s search for a job. This means I will no longer actively look for vacancies for him to apply for, but leave that with him. If he wants to continue looking for work and finds something he needs help applying for, a gent at the WH programme is available on a Thursday and Friday to sit with Husband and help him actually fill in the form and write cover letters. I will support Husband with getting familiar with travelling there so he can make the journey there eventually unaided when he feels confident enough to do it.
I need a release of some kind. A friend told me she goes swimming. I am contemplating perhaps going on a Monday as I finish earlier in the day and the tram takes me to the leisure centre. I went swimming three days a week to be able to even fit into my ruddy wedding dress get in shape before and I thoroughly enjoy it when I go. Maybe that’s something I can do.
I feel more calm now. As in, I don’t feel great, but it’s not all coming out. It’s simmering a bit deeper within me.
The end of the week has been better.
As Thursday was warmer and we had bright sunshine, I took the plunge and hung a load of bedding out to dry on Friday before leaving for work. It had almost dried by the time I got home Friday afternoon and hangs on the airer upstairs in the top floor to just get it completely dry.
I also got some lovely food bargains last week and this week, which helps our budget a lot.
Next week is half term and I am flying to Norway to see my family. Coach leaves at 2am on Monday morning for Heathrow (What possessed me to think this was a good idea, as I will be working 2pm to 7pm on Sunday? What?).
Hopefully I will have a chance to relax a bit.
And I will perhaps not feel so lonely.
EDIT: And to add further fuel to my feeling of not coping: Suddenly realized yesterday that I had not let my self-employed work know I am going away tomorrow (they need 2 weeks notice minimum to find cover), so I had better ruddy find a way to do the work while I’m there! And when I came home I’d gotten a letter to say last month’s credit card bill hadn’t been paid – I’d forgotten! Paid it in full immediately of course, but we have accrued £12 in late fees and £26 in interest! AAAAARGH!
We are now in March and I can now look back on February and say goodbye to everything that happened within said month. Spring is coming as crocus and daffodils are poking through, however it is still feeling very cold at night so against my better judgement the heating will stay on for a wee bit longer.
Speaking of heating, as it turned out I’d read the meter wrong (we have a dial meter for the electricity, whoops!), so we don’t have a humongous bill to contend with anymore. However they have suggested we up our Direct Debit to £48 a month so we will see how we cope with that. Our tariff ends tomorrow so I will be looking for a new tariff and supplier, especially as E.ON will no longer be giving us Clubcard Points for our bill. I know British Gas gives Nectar points for theirs so maybe that’s an option?
Good points about February were:
The lovely receptionist at work who insisted I took home a whole pack of hot cross buns, some meringue nests, fruit and whipped cream for my husband and I to enjoy. She often gives me food and leftovers so this is a great help.
My husband being able to travel to Wales to see his sister and come back again in one piece. The assistance I booked was not what we asked and coming back he nearly missed his train, and we have learnt to avoid rush hour at Birmingham. But he now knows what to do so he can go again. He had a lovely time and I think it was just what he needed to lift his spirits a bit.
Continuing to make sales on eBay for the Travel Fund. I have decided to sell some clothes I have that I don’t wear anymore so will be making more listings for this month. One of them has a bid.
Travelling home to see my family and celebrating my Mum’s 70th birthday. Managing to see my best friend and stay over at her house. Being gifted a lot of meat and sausages by my sister to take home so our freezer is full to bursting now. This helps with the bills as well.
Transferring my tax allowance meaning I got a refund of £145 (thank you, MoneySavingExpert). This will go into our Travel Fund, together with the incentive for switching to Halifax as well as the £60 I earnt for doing the consumer study at home.
I have signed up to another free course with the union, Level 2 diploma in Awareness of Mental Health Conditions. I did a course with them previously on assisting people with learning disabilities and it gave me some great insight into how best to support the students at work.
Things that could have been improved about February were:
Having to have Mum admitted the day before her birthday party as her serum lithium levels were through the roof. She was given leave for a few hours to attend her own party but was admitted until Monday. This was a big worry for us on top of readying my sister’s house for the party, preparing food and cleaning. When I travelled home Friday night the train pulled in at 10.20pm and I had to get up for work at 6.30am the day after, so even though I had five days off from work, it certainly did not feel like a break and I still feel worn out and like I haven’t quite caught up.
My husband’s workplace being horrible to him about scoring him for his assessment, the first one since he passed his probation, and not making reasonable adjustments for his Asperger’s Syndrome. We have contacted the union and a union rep will be visiting us on Tuesday the 7th of March to review the notes we have been keeping and help us with what we can ask the employer to do to support my husband at work. We are not sure if his workplace has an Occupational Health department so this is something we have to explore further.
So it’s been a month of contrasts, to be sure. I think I will feel a bit calmer and more positive now that spring is coming. I have had a look in our back yard and think we’ll try planting some chives this year. We already have rosemary, sage and thyme planted in the garden so some chives would be nice. Maybe we could also have some parsley though I don’t know if that can grow outdoors.
Shh... don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.