Monday, 16 January 2012

My Spartacus Story

I was born with a condition known as Spastic Diplegia, a form of Cerebral Palsy which affects my lower legs and back.  I have had several operations on both legs to stretch the muscles and tendons in the back of my legs and to correct problems with both knees.  I was told by a Doctor when I was seven years old that I would never run, never walk properly, never play football like my friends.

As a child I had to deal with daily exercises that were excruciatingly painful and weekly physio and hydrotherapy.  And then my knees started to dislocate - my right knee first and then both.  I had operations to stabilise the patella (the kneecap), my right one as a teen and then my left in my early twenties.

Just under ten years ago I slipped during the winter on a patch of black ice, twisting as I fell.  I spent the next five years recuperating, finding it difficult to walk and do many of the things most people take for granted.  But I was raised with a work ethic, something my Father instilled into me from a very young age, so I tried to once again return and work.

Within two years I found myself worse than I had ever been, in daily agony and unable to walk more than a few feet without immense pain and having to rest.  I now cannot walk without the aid of a walking stick and crutches, and walking around anywhere other than at home is almost impossible.

Without my Disability Living Allowance life would be extremely difficult for me.  I wouldn't be able to get out, becoming a virtual prisoner in my own home.  The DLA means I am able to lease a car through Motability, giving me a much needed way to get around.  I cannot begin to describe how important this is to me!  I also cannot put into words how scary the current Welfare Reform Bill is for someone like myself who relies on this benefit in this way.

I struggle every single day with my disability - I hate saying that about myself, believe me.  I am in pain all the time, and there are many more people out there with similar and worse stories and experiences.

The Welfare Reform Bill is an ill-conceived piece of legislation, which targets the most vulnerable in our society.  It will cause true hardship and I am proud to add my name to the growing list of people determined to fight the Coalition's plans.

I am Spartacus.  Alone we whisper, together we shout.

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