With the looming possibility of a major welfare overhall, it got me thinking of the human cost of chronic illness. A lot of people don't really understand what it can be like to have a health problem which feels as though it's holding you hostage, not that I'm complaining or entering in to an embittered rant about how much I miss having what would be seen as a normal life. I always said that I don't see myself as the only person to get ill, or one of the worst cases since the plague hit London. I'm not the first. I'm not the last but I do understand what life with an illness can be like.
The common belief is that living with a health problem is easy. This is the belief of the ignorant masses whose day isn't filled with treatment upon treatment, struggling to make do with even simple tasks or just getting by in any way that I can. Not helped by the judgements of people who really are clueless. One thing that always gets my back up is the attitudes of those who say what they think is a harmless comment such as "It must be nice to not have to go to work" or "I wish I could stay in bed all day". The temptation to go mad and rant at them about how they really do not get it at all. I think the worst thing I heard recently was on a shopping trip. These two people were discussing about how they as agreed that it was a good idea to "throw off all those lazy disabled people." Frankly it took all the self control in the world not to go up to them and say "How dare you. You have no idea how difficult it can be."
Another common misconception is that life with an illness is cheap. That would be true if you didn't have to pay for parts for some specialist equipment and therapies, mobility aids just to maintain some kind of independence, and for some, specialist people to help them. In about ideal world these things would be paid for by the primary care trusts but due to limited resources, that just isn't possible for anyone but the most severe cases.
So if you also think that helping the disabled is a waste, look instead at the people who claim unemployment benefits and don't even try and find work. In the USA, you are only allowed unemployment for 2 years and you have to have proof that you are actively seeking a job before you even get a penny. And you know something, the USA have a fantastic work ethic. And no one spends over a decade unemployed just because it's an easy option. And they look after those who can't work because of health problems. How do I know this? Well having an American friend living with us you tend to learn a lot.