I was awarded a Blue Badge early on in my illness. I hadn’t even applied for Disablity Living Allowance when I made the application and yet I was awarded one with no hassle or drama. With the help of my mum, I filled out the relevant form, attached a doctor’s letter about how my mobility has been severely affected by my health condition and that was that.
Since then I have been awarded Disability Living Allowance, which is now defunct and has become Personal Independence Payment. When my benefit moved across to PIP, I was awarded the benefit at the Enhanced rate until October 2019.
My Blue Badge expired and had been reissued a few years ago. It recently expired again, as in my experience, they only last a few years. This time when I came to reapply, my application was rejected. I spent two hours filling out the form, sorting and scanning relevant supporting documents to be emailed across with my application only to be told that the letter I had provded from the Department of Work of Pensions could not be accepted because it was dated 2016, and not 2017. Those two hours of admin took me two days to recover from.
I pointed out that the letter was the last correspondence I could find and that although the letter was from last year, it clearly stated that I was entitled to my current rate of PIP until October 2019. This didn’t seem to matter. I was told to contact the DWP for a new letter of entitlement.
Phonecalls are far from easy for me because of the concentration and cognitive function they require. Plus anyone who has ever had to ring a government department will probably agree that it’s usually going to waste at least half an hour of your day. So I wrote to them instead, and included a copy of my marriage certificate as they had not yet responded to my Personal Assistant’s request to update my personal details with my new married name and marital status. (That’s another palaver for another day!)
Weeks have passed and other than having my marriage certificate returned to me via post, I have not heard from the DWP and so my application for my Blue Badge is still unfinished.
Today I felt well enough to drive the very short journey into town. My usual disabled parking spaces were available, but of course I am no longer eligible to legally park there. So I drove round the town a few times hunting for a space within walking distance to my destination; Boots for toiletries ready for a January adventure. I do nearly all of my shopping online but as I’d had cash for Christmas and had not much money in my bank account it seemed like a lovely idea to get out for the first time in a while.
I drove round keeping my eyes peeled but the only spaces available where simply too far away from Boots for my little legs to carry me, or there were at the bottom of a particularly sloped part of town.
I gave up and came home, having failed in my mission to stock up on lovely beauty treats for the New Year with my Christmas money. And I confess I got home and I cried. I cried because not having my Blue Badge stopped me being able to do something as simple and wonderful and magnificent as take myself off into town for a solo adventure. Now that may sound incredibly dramatic, but that blue bit of plastic is so much more than a parking space within walking distance. It is my Golden Ticket to a little taste of independence and life outside of this house, lovely as it is. It is an opportunity to remain a part of a world that I rarely feel a part of anymore.
Not being able to park within walking distance reopened the wound that can never be completely plastered over; the wound that hurts more than any other injury I have ever sustained. It is the wound that each chronic illness sufferer has; the one that society has inflicted on us by not allowing us to be fully fledged members of their community anymore. We just don’t quite fit anymore. I cannot even go into my own town because I am not well enough to walk from a car parking space only 50 odd metres from the shops.
It has knocked my confidence. I don’t get out enough as it is and now on the days when I’m physically capable of it I cannot reach my destination because my Golden Ticket has expired and I am powerless against a system that distrubtes them. And that really sucks.