“Chronically sick and disabled” is not the same as “disabled”…

MP Jeremy Corbyn has tabled an Early Day Motion, which puts forward the idea that what disabled people need to enable them to work is loads of support, not the current threats and coercion.

Now I’m not functioning too well today – hard to see/concentrate, even harder to breathe, but it seems to me that Mr. Corbyn is missing a rather important point, which is that many chronically sick and disabled people (a rather more complex condition** than just “disabled”), are unable to work at all, not even for themselves, no matter what. I include myself in their number.

**Being disabled through illness, as I am, is a world away from being disabled through, say, the loss of a limb. The amputee has a handicap to deal with. I, and many thousands like me (and not least those who are mentally ill), also have handicaps to deal with, the important distinction being that we still, every day of our lives, have to contend with the causative agents, the illnesse(s) which caused, and continue to cause, our disabilities – it’s a vitally important distinction that is almost never made these days, but chronically sick and disabled is not the same as plain-vanilla “disabled”. Corbyn fails to address that, too. Everybody does, possibly for fear of offending one side or the other. Well screw that – we’re suffering because nobody wants to accept that our disabilities are not fixed and immutable, but continually renewed, even amplified, day after day after day after fucking day… A fixed definition of disability does not work for us, which is why I always use the term Chronically Sick and Disabled.

Were I to be self-employed, for example (something Corbyn appears to favour), I would surely starve, and/or be made bankrupt in very short order (though where I’d get the startup capital remains a mystery). People like me – and I am by no means unique –  cannot be “incentivised” (aka threatened), or supported into work, because working is simply impossible, for ourselves or for an employer.

In 1980-81 my sick leave was running at 30%, before my employer started making go away noises (and it was only allowed to reach such dizzy heights because I was very good at what I did (in a normal year I would expect to have 4-6 weeks off work, ill). By 1986 I had become so ill that work, for me, might as well have been a concept from an alien universe.

Over the years since then, my condition – admittedly rather complex – has fluctuated. There have been days when I was fit for work. Even, at times, several such days in succession.  Not enough, over a span of 25 years, though, to get anywhere near what would be needed to hold down a job. And had I gone out to work on, say, a Monday, I would have been out of action until about Thursday. In fact the very act of travelling would exhaust my physical resources for the day. No amount of support-in-depth would, or could, change that.

I can, these days – pay attention Nadine Dorries – sit at my computer all day. Sometimes I write, mostly I read, but I can be here for 8-10 hours a day. Hell, why not? I have to sit somewhere, it might as well be here, but Dorries would interpret that as being able to work at a computer for an employer.

That’s impossible on several levels, not least an almost total inability to travel. And what I do at home I do at my own pace. That means that sometimes I can knock out a couple of thousand works pretty much without pause. Other times, like now, it’s like pulling teeth because, today, the process is continually interrupted by bouts of coughing my nuts off, and it’s taken several hours to type this.

That is utterly unacceptable in a work environment.

So, while I agree 100% with Corbyn’s idea that those disabled people who can work should be supported as intensively as is required to enable them to do so, we have to accept that those in the  chronically sick and disabled community might, quite genuinely, be utterly incapable of work, or of simply going out to work, if they wanted to (and, despite what this government would like you to think, many would love to be able to work, as long as their necessarily extensive sick leave could be accommodated (i.e. kept on full pay). Essential, but never going to happen when so many able-bodied people are available for jobs which, let’s face it, just aren’t there.

A chronically sick and disabled person is, by definition, not going to be available much of the time because they are too ill and, realistically, no employer would take them on, not even if the government made up their pay when they were off sick, because it’s not just about money – it’s also about fairness to the colleagues who would have to pick up the slack when I, let’s say, am having 3 months off with an intransigent respiratory infection (as in 1980 and again in 1981).

Many members of the chronically sick and disabled community are not only incapable of work, they are, for the very same reasons, totally  unemployable, and that’s a fact that simply is not being taken into account by – well – anybody. And it’s high time it was.

2 thoughts on ““Chronically sick and disabled” is not the same as “disabled”…

  1. Yet another well wrote article Ron. Thank you..

    I find my self bed bound most.of the time and if it wasent for my phone is be totally depending on my wife. And cater for news of the out side world.

    My phone is my lifeline to the net Twitter and news feeds I wish I could even hold my lap top in bed but I can’t its too hard for me.

    It would be funny for me to even think of work I’d love too but being told you have to stop thinking of getting better and u never are is hard enought with out you feeling guilty about being alive.
    Due to the fact. As a ill person you feel you have to defend your self consently as people think your a sham even in bed 24/7 or the times not often when you are able to get in to your power chair.

    I do think though most disabled people who are.not as you say Ill would like to work.
    But as most disabled know even getting out of the house on to public transport is a full time job its self.

    Having tried when I was able to get out of the house weeks ago had to wait in a bus stop 3 hours with the kids for a easy access bus that nerver came.
    Much to the disposition of a screaming 5 year old told tpu can’t go becase your dads with us .
    Again guilty … sumthing we face ever waking moment of our lives.

    Any way then if we get to work is their a ramp a loo we can use.
    Is their a safe for morphine.
    Can I have a break every ten mins as told to by a doc.
    Is their a cater on.hand to help me take meds
    Or to help me change my piss covered cloths or shit oops never got their on time.
    If these few problems are overcome as u emplyed this guy wants to are sorted may be more disabled could work. But these few listed problems are just a chip on a rock face to many of us living has become a full time job.
    Yet the above mentioned are for those disabled not the ones who are cronic sick tooo.

    The main problem is we can solve.some of the problems faced with working if we are asked. but we are nerver asked we are told
    Like we have no brains .
    Face it we are ill we can’t think wat is right or wrong
    Disabled = brain dead to the goverment or most daily mail readers.

    Until we have disabled people in government it won’t change.

    And this blog is right pity the people who make desisions for us read this and many other great blogs disabled people write.

    I’m disabled
    I’m Ill
    I’m dieing
    I’m Scum lazy
    Who should work !

    Wrote on a phone in bed ..

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