AFTER leaving school, I worked in my local NHS hospital for 10 years (paying National Insurance, naturally).
At about this point, I sustained serious brain damage as a car passenger in a road traffic collision. I was absent from work for a year to allow my immediate neurological deficits – and some orthopaedic ones – to stabilise.
I returned to work for about 11-12 years, even though I was unknowingly experiencing low-level temporal lobe epilepsy; however, I managed to carry out my duties since my colleagues were alert to my condition. However, I eventually had to leave work when the temporal lobe seizures became more frequent and, in the period after retiring, I went through a spell of having classic "grand mal" seizures, which can be very incapacitating. I applied for Disability Living Allowance, but did not get it until an appeal and, eventually, a tribunal.
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I realise that there are people who could walk beside me to the end of the street (although that's about as far as I'll get before I'll rest to get my bearings because double vision is causing my head to swim). There are plenty of "armchair experts" who will dismiss the notion that I have any disability at all. All I can say to them is walk a mile in my shoes.
That's the beauty of a National Insurance scheme – you hope that you'll never need it, but if you do, you're damned glad that it was there and, if the millionaires in the Government with their private medical schemes want to take it away, I've got a sneaky feeling that they know what will happen to them come the next General Election.
12 Denholm Street,