Saturday, 13 October 2007

Growing Up

A bit of a jumble this post; after recovering from the physical and emotional load of 'There and Back Again' I have been waiting until my thoughts sorted themselves into various blog topics, but more kept piling in, so this is a bit of an off-load. And I am trying to do this at 8pm while watching the England Rugby team crucifying the national anthem. Well, bless them, its going to be a tough one, so up and at 'em boys. Who described it as "a game for ruffians, played by gentlemen" ?

First, the pic of Sally above, after who I have named myself. She was such a sweetheart, a companion for twelve difficult years, but she has been gone for just as long. My current profile picture of four year old me, sat down in a frilly frock, felt appropriate when I added it last year but no longer feels representational of where I am. I am maturing, and the fringe is growing out (from the skull surgery) and the current steroids mean I am standing and even walking a bit more. This picture will (hopefully if I get the url right) replace the younger me on my profile, but I am so much older than that picture there is little chance I will be recognised from it, even in this rural village called Dorset. And the spectacles have changed dramatically, needless to say !

Now, the big news is the weight is dropping off me, thanks to Neris and India. Those in the know will know who I am referring to. So I feel no embarrassment posting the pic of me taken more than a decade ago because although no diet on the planet can role back the ... (What a start Josh Lewsey - a THUNDEROUS try ! Yeah !! Come on Johnny .... .... oh well, five points in 2:44 minutes - nice one.) ... can role back the years, I feel tremendous confidence. Thanks Neris and India. That is all I will post on the subject for yonks, so don't ask.

Maturity. The visit up north (last visited in 1998 for my father's funeral - you may not remember, that was his last typical act, the funeral ending on the day and at the time of the eclipse) ... (I like brackets, so did Virginia Woolf, who didn't use brackets, but this stream of consciousness is a result of reading her's) ... to my mother, who I have not seen for six years or so, and who I didn't speak to for eighteen months, after her last massive betrayal of me.

(8:29 minutes and England are leading 5-3 against France)

Mother was on her best behaviour. There were a number of contributing factors: She is now in her mid-80s and a little frail. I was not staying with her (Oh I LOVE CentreParcs) so she had no opportunity to have control over me, in those small devastating ways of hers. Also, in order to make the trip (250 miles) and be safe away from home and home helps, my PA did the driving and stayed with me for the week, so she accompanied me most of the time I spent with my mother. So mother was on her best behaviour, with only a few small slips.

(Prince Harry looking a bit nervous in the stands watching the line out ... its ok Hal, still 5:3 to England.)

So, I was able to a 'good-enough' daughter to my mother. We have been friendlier to each other during the last year or so on the phone, and during the visit I felt genuine affection for her, which is the appropriate place to be in when one's mother may be slowly coming to the end of her days. That she feels less of the need to put up barriers and fight, (with everyone, not only me) and is able to expand into herself since my father's death, was at least a 50% contributing factor. She opened up about family history, where in the past she has kept it to herself as if it had a value she was not prepared to give away.

(bugger, 17:53, Eng 5 Fra 6)

On the last night of our stay, I had what Jung would call a 'big dream'; a dream that showed there had been a massive shift in the unconscious psyche, making unconscious contents conscious. That is what psychodynamic psychotherapy teaches - the psyche's own dynamic at work. The big dream is too symbolic to make any sense as a reported dream story here, but it was about pulling in more positive anima into my consciousness, allowing the feminine to be integrated; not needing to be quite so animus driven to protect myself against the negative feminine, when that anima is coloured by a female's first experience, her mother. Who most definitely was not a 'good enough' mother. So, I am maturing - (about bloody time I hear the Freudian super-ego commenting).

So, after the swop of pics this replacement profile pic will reflect the optimism I feel. The current optimism is not, I am pretty confident, only a result of the steroids. A side effect of big steroid doses is more firing of the brain synapses, so I have to prepare myself for the crash that comes as the steroids leave my system some ten weeks or so afterwards. 120 mg in my butt lasts a long time.

( ... "Johny Wilkinson needs to be at his immaculate best at the moment" - so come on, stop missing the goal !!)

So, steroids and no WAV for a week (oh dear, more later) meant all that energy was used in clearing the garden ... well, steroids and some new light-weight high tech ratchet loppers - instead of tidying up the overgrown shrubs around the front door and windows, I just cut them off where I could reach from the wheelchair. Dramatic size reduction in the garden too !!! Very therapeutic. No vehicle to take the chopped off branches away, so I used them to stuff in the front hedge. Got you, you little b.....d cats, who sit in the hedge, waiting for the birds to settle into swiping distance. I saw the two neighbouring cats actually walk round from the road-side front of the hedge, up my drive and along the garden side of my hedge, to have a look at why they could no longer take that short cut into my garden, or find the gaps they used to sit in wait from. Truly, I do like cats. I had one years ago, a huge ginger stripped old lady who came to live with me, unbidden, and keep me company when I was pregnant. Twenty eight years ago! I like cats I know, who have chosen to make friends with me. I hate the cats who diminish song birds in my garden.

( ... its still 5:6 and approaching half time ...)

Whether its the steroids (which undoubtedly do lift the mood) or part of the maturing process that allows me to relax about the Dragons at Dorset County Council, I don't know but, despite the six months that have passed since I asked the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate DCC Social Service's five year delay in providing wheelchair accessible adaptations to my home, I am not worried, anxious or concerned about that process. It is out of my hands now. The Ombudsman will decide. And eventually let me know what he has decided. I'm waiting on the Ombudsman finding maladministration and injustice arising from that maladministration. Fingers crossed.

What I have learned from the Ombudsman process, is that those in authority at the local authority are not necessarily more competent, intelligent, informed or capable, than I am. They may be incompetent, uneducated, ignorant, incapable, yet still have jobs that determine the quality of life of disabled people. Now, that IS maturity. Maturing from expecting the 'grown ups' to sort it out. Maturing from expecting the service providers to look after me, as a child expects the parents to put its needs first, before their own. Learning from this long five year process of delays, that I have to put my needs first, not be afraid of demanding what I need. Not being understanding of why they have not supported me, advocated for me, ensured my eligible assessed needs are met in a timely way, despite their bosses demands that The Budget is the most important factor.

Last week I had a meeting with my DCC Social Worker, (who is capable, intelligent and qualified) and a Finance dept. lady from DCC Exchequer Services for a Fairer Charging Assessment. Fairer to who ! is the obvious response. To determine if I am liable to pay a charge to DCC for the home care (home helps) and day care (personal assistants for a socially inclusive life) services I receive. Bear in mind I am dependent on means tested benefits and currently nursing a little overdraft at the bank.

(48:13 minutes - Eng 8 France 9, missed it, how did they do that?)

It was a positive meeting, in that it was fair and followed government guidelines and gave me the opportunity to let off steam about a few things: when the Finance lady explained that if I had any queries about my benefits, she could look into it for me, I was gob-smacked. Does that mean instead of interminable waits on the end of the phone, or gobbledegook replies from the Department for Work and Pensions (the old D of Social Security) to my letters, I can just email you ? Yes. And you can access 'the system' and sort it out ? Yes, we have a partnership agreement to provide this service. Since when, I asked ? Since two years ago. .... Erm, why didn't I know about this. How are service users told about this service from DCC. That is such a helpful service. How have you publicised it to service users ? Er, we haven't. We can't. We have over 2,000 service users and if they all contacted us we would spend all our time answering emails.

Now, just wait a minute here. (said I) Are you saying that DCC have entered into a formal partnership agreement with the DWP and get central government funding to provide this partnership service to service users, but you are not telling service users ? (I didn't wait for her reply; she did look very uncomfortable.) You have to tell your bosses that they need to give your department the resources to provide this service to all DCC social services service users and tell the service users about it so they can ask for it. Your bosses are getting the money from central government for this partnership with DWP but you they are not providing the service ? ! ? ! Am I the only one to think of this ? Why do I have to be the one to point these things out. You have to look after me, what is going to happen to me in 5, 10, 15 years time when I am too tired or too ill to recognise these failings or do anything about them, like I am telling you now. What is going to happen to me when I cannot do it anymore if you are not going to look after the interests of me and other service users. Non-committal silence, significant respectful understanding looks exchanged between the three of us, but nothing said.

(... there's more ....)

At the end of an exhausting but fairly positive two hours .... "I just need you to sign this form Ms Sally ..." Three statements on the form I was asked to sign. Tick one, tick two, hang on a minutes, I am not signing that last one. It says: I undertake to pay DCC any Charge I may be assessed as eligible to pay (or words to that effect). I am not signing that; how can I sign that statement until I know what the result of the assessment is. And another thing ... If I am assessed as having to pay a charge I will appeal the decision. Hasn't any one else spotted this flaw in the form. You cannot ask anyone to sign that statement. Anyone has the right to appeal a Fairer Charging decision, so it is wrong to ask them to state that they will pay the charge before they know what the charge is. I am telling you now, because your bosses who designed and worded this form obviously don't understand service users' rights, that this is wrong and you are wrong to ask service users to sign the statements, without telling them they have the right to appeal any Fairer Charging decision. I am tired of being the one that points out the wrong things that DCC social services keep doing. I need looking after. I need you professional DCC social service employees to look after your service users. Now I am very tired, emotionally exhausted and I am going to cry. And I did. !!!

And that was a very mature thing to do in the circumstances. I did not let them off from their responsibility to this service user, their duty of care. Whether it will have any effect, create any ripples up the hierarchy, I don't know, but they know that I know that they know that the Local Government Ombudsman is creating a bit of a stir at County Hall.

(70:55 minutes, still Eng 8 Fra 9 - Andy Gomarsall, scrum half, needing a bit of attention, and he gets it ... and is looked after and has his needs met, and there is a parallel in there somewhere.)

( 73:59 Penalty - " dangerous tackle - takes it high - not malicious, come on Johny .. .. .. ..
deep breaths" (says the commentator) " England go in front ! And its Doctor Wilkinson !!!"
Only 5 minutes to go.)

77:40 minutes, Wilkinson ..... Oh yes, " no anaesthetic now for the French" .... Eng 14 Fra 9 ... Commentator gleefully - "they're nearly there!"

Prince Harry must be bursting up there - away from the cameras.

(... but not from the newshounds - msn uk news)

Proud England, not without a fight, despondent French ... swelling song ... " Swing Low Sweet Chariot, coming for to carry me home".

There is encouragement in that.

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Blogger Ol Nobby said...

And just as I at last found the rather contratsy photo of me with bar between my legs too, how immature is that?

Welcome home lassy and congtrats to the Poms on winning the game. wehich we also watched what small world!

We had a fun weekend last week, after watching the Aussies and Kiwis choke hideously in the world cup..... It's autumn festival time in japan again, time Japanese men of all genders and ages t drink copious amounts of sake and haul 2ton portable shrines around, even throwing them into the lake! Oh, the fun :D I'v uploaded photo's to my bucket here:

While we contemplate the slowing maturing meaning of our lives the kids are in full swing!

Sunday, 14 October 2007 at 07:50:00 BST  
Blogger Sally said...

Hey, what have you been up to - I cannot click on your comment name to get to your blog ! And the url won't click either. Probably something I am not understanding.

Nevermind, the Rugby was brilliant wasn't it - last week, more this evening, so really looking forward to the final next weekend. I have added a gleeful pic of Prince Harry to today's page.

Glad the kids are in full swing. Makes you glad to be alive regardless, doesn't it.

Sunday, 14 October 2007 at 18:43:00 BST  
Blogger cusp said...

Welcome back. You have been missed. Sounds like a fruitful visit. As for the meeting --- I'm still in awe of your calm and assertive approach.

Sunday, 14 October 2007 at 20:09:00 BST  
Blogger Sally said...

Thanks, and for the email too.

But I don't know what social services make of it all ... whether I am labelled a problem or a challenge to do better.

I don't think they thought I was calm when I cried !

Sunday, 14 October 2007 at 21:26:00 BST  
Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

I loved your taking them to task for agreeing for a service then keeping it secret from the people who need it - and for saying no. A fine example.

I don't know if it is maturity or not, but sometimes I do think some of us need an advocate because the system of people who may or may not be actually interested in you as much as their budget meetings, etc - requires a huge effort to wear down, one which, quite honestly, I had enough problems tackling with able bodied - now days, just trying to remember which agency I am talking to on the phone is doing well.

I did wonder about the little girl in the frock, I thought her grasp of english was uncommonly vast....but who am I to question?

PS - big glasses make you a sex icon in Japan, just thought I should let you know.

Monday, 15 October 2007 at 03:58:00 BST  
Blogger Sally said...

Hi Elizabeth ... you are a major inspiration - ok,I envy you the ability to hand cycle ! but not all you have to deal with over on your side of the planet. Advocacy is essential for all, you are right - we cannot fight alone those who defend their position, instead of supporting their service users. That is why blogging is so essential. To let others know its not only happening to them, and that its not their fault, its the system that is at fault.

Fighting the Good Fight. Not alone.

Monday, 15 October 2007 at 14:03:00 BST  
Blogger Robert said...

Sally, thank you for visiting my blog. I promise to read yours soon; it looks fascinating. I will send you more details about Mullins, he was quite interesting and his wife also, she seems to have been a powerful influence in Education.

Monday, 15 October 2007 at 16:28:00 BST  
Blogger seahorse said...

Wow Sally! Successful visit, positives coming through in bucketloads. Then your meeting, which could become a manual on how to handle such meetings. You told them that's for sure!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007 at 00:19:00 BST  
Blogger Ol Nobby said...

Try that, strange to find oneself suddenly living ina country where anti terooism raids are going on and stories of secret training camps, or is this more supression of freedom of expression which seems to be inceasingly a problem for us, Wierd times I can tell you.

This bloke appears to be perhaps a bit of a problem child wandering the streets when he should be supervised........

Just maybe its all Politcal nonsence and posturing but it seems to have upset the Saxon earthen gods just a tad

Meanwhile life is quiet.

However I am once again a non person or aperson whom isn't me.

I must poat about it, may wait till the anti terrorism thing calms doen or I may be accused of being incitive os sumtin.
he writes with a big grin.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007 at 07:31:00 BST  
Blogger Sally said...

Thanks Seahorse, I don't know about it being a manual on how to do - it wasn't thought through at the time, it was just a gut reaction, based on maturing away from being afraid of stating my truth - in the face of parents' denials of my what was really happening all my life - a sense of enough is enough, I can't deal with anymore problems with social services, so tell them now in no uncertain terms and demand they sort it out - knowing that the Ombudsman is on the scene.

I don't want to keep having to do this sort of thing. I want them to take responsibility for tackling their bosses.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007 at 09:48:00 BST  
Blogger Sally said...

Roberts visit above came as a result of googling 'Dorset Men' (not the living - the statues !) for a future post ... he is a sculptor living in Dorset. Nice place Dorset, full of interesting places people and things.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007 at 09:51:00 BST  
Blogger BloggingMone said...

Keep saying "No!", if you feel like it. Its a good thing to do. I hope your ombudsman is doing the job he is supposed to do...
Both Sallies are very beautiful looking ladies!
I have been watching Rugby a lot when I was in Australia, where there is always Rugby on television. Usaully at nighttime when I was suffering from a jetlag. Unfortunately I never quite got the hang of it. To me it is a heap of people wrestling and then someone escapes, trying to throw the ball over the goal. Very strange.
But anyway: three cheers for the English team!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007 at 10:03:00 BST  
Blogger Robert said...

Who described it as "a game for ruffians, played by gentlemen"?

Well I started to read this post and had to think about this comment about ruffians. Now I might be wrong but I think the original line was about football; A gentleman's game played by ....; some other bright spark (probably someone like Wild) came up with the converse for the better game, which fits, except that they all seem to kiss each other these days!

I hasten to say all that is in jest, I expect my "political speak" is wanting so please do not be offended, I mean no harm to anyone. (well not many anyway).

Now I will go on reading!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007 at 18:20:00 BST  
Blogger Robert said...

Right, I see. You will not be the first enjoy the company of Local Government. I think it better if I say no more at all on that subject other than to so I wish you all the luck in the world on this. I will read Saturday's next time if I may, I should be working on my sculptures and I have to pretend I am not blogging or the family get cross with me!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007 at 18:36:00 BST  
Blogger Sally said...

Oh dear, I hope this wasn't a specific reference to Dorset County Council. I have received other indicators that I won't be the first ... and also negative vibes about the LGO ... so my fingers remained crossed.

Now, back to the chisle with you !

Thursday, 18 October 2007 at 22:16:00 BST  
Blogger Sally said...

Hello Mone ... Rugby; its taken me three years of dedicated watching the ball to get some idea of what is happening and why. But that shows the fascinating complexity of it - I cannot imagine watching cricket for 3 hours (or even three minutes).

Take care - not too much typing !

Thursday, 18 October 2007 at 22:22:00 BST  

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