I've been asked why I've given up. There are a couple or so of answers to it all, like with most things I suppose. The short one is that I am tired, worn out, right through to the bone. There is no joy in living anymore, no spontaneity, no hope. Possibly worse is the fact that there is no sense of purpose or meaning to any of it. But the very worst without a doubt is the utter lack of control, the dis-empowerment and the constant requirement to justify your very existence.
I am disabled. It isn't a condition I particularly aspired to. I didn't elect to become a cripple. I didn't wake up one morning and decide that actually it might be quite fun not to walk anymore. It happened to me gradually and over a number of years. At first it was just the occasional cramping of the leg muscles, the pins and needles, the creeping numbness. The waking up from the middle of a deep sleep with red hot flames of agony. And you carry on taking kids to school, walking the dog and going to work.
And gradually, the occasional cramping and pins and needles and red hot flames waking you up becomes more and more frequent and eventually, you spend more time in pain and it takes you longer and longer to walk to the shops. And before you know it, you spend more time resting between steps then you spend stepping between rests and your entire life is now centered not on where you are going but how you are going to get there.
My ex had walked out just before my youngest was born. My children were 27, 18 and 17 years of age when I was finally diagnosed. They were all either already living their own lives or well on the way to doing so. That was a relief actually. The only ones directly affected by my increased impairment and crippledom were the cats, the dog and I. The animals couldn't care less if some days I did not have the energy to dress myself.
The dog was elderly and quite happy to just wander about the back garden on the odd days I couldn't walk her. She was sedate enough to amble beside the mobility scooter on the days we did manage to get out. As long as my weak right arm did not mean that I couldn't open a tin ... and with an electric tin opener that didn't happen ... they were all happy to sleep when I did, awake when I was and adjust to a new way of life.
Which was just as well as little did I realise that the reality of living with an impairment was going to take that much of an effort. Everything had to be fought for. I was used to fighting, I'd been a single parent for most of my life. During the Thatcher years I'd fought for my right to work. During the Blair years I was actually £40.00 a week worse off working then I would have been had I elected to stay on benefits. I'd spent years working in deprived neighbourhoods as a community development worker and a community activist. But nothing prepared me for the fight I now faced as a disabled single individual in my fifties.