Clems story

My story started in November 08. Prior to this I was running a very successful business employing 4 people and working towards creating a very sellable business that would provide me with a secure retirement-future. I was 49 years old at the time of my accident.

On my way home from a business meeting a driver pulled out of a side road without looking, straight in to my path. I hit the car at 45 miles per hour but because I tried to avoid the collision at the last second, I was thrown out of my seat, so when the air bags went off my shoulders were wedged in between the front seats while I was still sat in my seat. From this moment on my life changed in a way I could not have imagined. Back and forth to the doctors and hospitals as the pain took hold and would not go away. My GP tried me on everything, paracetamol, diazepam, gabapentin, pregabalin, co-codamol, morphine, amitriptyline and the list goes on. I was diagnosed with having damage to my occipital nerve and cervical spine, a tendon torn off my shoulder, damage to my sacroiliac joint resulting in sciatica and damage to my lower spine. The only operation offered was to re-attach my tendon to my shoulder.

I could not work at anywhere near the pace that was needed, tasks I managed easily before the accident, were now carried out far slower and drug accompanied. I watched my business walk out the door of my workshop and there was nothing I could do. My friends who worked for me also lost their income and future.

I had by this time been sent by my solicitors to see every consultant available, whose sole job I was to find out later, was to find the root of my pain and attribute it to the accident and not to treat my pain or advise.

I had become very depressed after losing my business and my house and was forced to live in a part built motor home outside my now redundant workshop. My only saving grace was an interim payment from the other side's insurance company. And although this removed some of my financial worries at that moment in time, it certainly did not give me a future and did nothing for the constant pain I was suffering. The only respite I had from the chronic and severe pain flair ups was from amitriptyline, a god send in the early days but the side effects took away my ability to function on any real level as I felt spaced out all day and slept for 10 hours plus at a time. At this point in time it was 2 years since the accident and I was broke and had to apply to the DWP for help with living expenses and to find somewhere to live. This is when my life nearly came to an end. I thought the accident and pain was enough to deal with. I had not predicted what I was about to be put through.

By this time I was suffering with bouts of incontinence due to the medication and chronic IBS. I was now virtually house bound. Taking more morphine on days I had to attend appointments so not to have an accident whilst on public transport.

I was assessed and granted housing benefit and £142 per week to live on etc. I had to subsidise my rent with the interim payments as they would not award a single person enough rent. Plus there were no 1 bed flats or houses available. When this came up for review I had to attend an ATOS examination. I had filed out their questionnaire honestly and with the assurance that my GP was also on my side and well aware of my condition. With all my ailments I scored enough points to qualify for all my benefits. My world imploded when I received ATOS/DWP's finding and was judged to not have enough points to qualify for housing benefit and was awarded £72 for JSA and was deemed fit for work. I could not understand what was going on and did not know how I was going to cope and realised I had enough morphine to call it a day. Somehow I needed to understand what was happening. I was in so much pain and did not know where to turn. I was fortunate that my solicitors secured another interim payment but that was not going to last forever. I was now becoming desperate with everything. The DWP were not interested in my GP's report or my consultants report. To compound things a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with terminal cancer and had 3 months to live. The DWP wrote to him and said they considered he was fit for work.

Severe depression and chronic pain was all I had to look forwards to.

My compensation court case concluded and liability was accepted by the other party so I had some financial security. Not enough to buy a house but enough to rent and not worry. I also had to pay back to the DWP a large portion of my compensation to cover the benefits they had given me.

I was put on the list for a pain management program and had to wait a year to get on it.

Well this has been my saving grace. I am not back to work because of my pain and the associated disabilities caused my manual activities but the pain management team worked with me for over a year, giving me the tools needed to start to rebuild part of my life.

I cannot look back at how I was, as that has gone. I have to learn to live with the limitations I have inherited.

As an honest hard working, driven person prior to my accident, being put in to a position by the DWP at the lowest and most vulnerable period of my life where you are left with only one way out is absolutely reprehensible and they should be made accountable for their actions and failings.

Where am I now.

As well as the chronic pain, I suffer pain flare ups and have been diagnosed with narcotic bowel syndrome. Found after taking a small dose of co-codamol and spending the next two days with excruciating bowel pain. So I will be back to my GP to look at alternatives. I feel I need an alternative pain med even if I don't use it when I get another flair up, as a life without an option is deeply unnerving. I have been  pain medication free for 10 months except for when I have flair ups that I cannot handle and that is thanks to the pain management team at Heavitree hospital in Exeter.

I have shares in Imodium, which help to control my IBS and allow me a little more freedom.

Any chance of a relationship with the hope of a future I am afraid is out of the question as I have too many bad days. I have noticed how certain friends have dropped off because they don't know how to address my problems and to be honest it is not easy explaining to potential partners that they will be taking on a part time carer job on bad days.

I am aware that due to the compensation I was awarded for the time being I have no financial worries and to keep my exposure to bills etc limited, I live in a static caravan now, not equipped for winter. But I must be grateful for small mercies.

Well that's my story.


Clem Jackson

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