I’m George Gaskin and on 5 July (2011) at 8.15 I was on my way to a medical with Atos Healthcare. No doubt quite a few of you in the not-too-distant future might find yourselves called in, as Incapacity Benefit no longer exists and has been replaced with Employment and Support Allowance.
So through the front door and it was like going through customs when I had to show them my passport to prove I was in fact myself and not an imposter! Next up, into a room where the woman informed me she was a nurse. Not quite the medical expert I was expecting.
It was going to be based on the form I filled in plus a letter from the doctors and of course the medical. First up what your condition is, so I informed her it was chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension followed by when was it diagnosed? 2001 was when it was diagnosed and 2002 when I had a Thromboendarterectomy, which was when she started having trouble keeping up with the typing, because of my blood condition hereditary Stomatocytosis and the red cells exploding under a certain temperature. I had to be defrosted a bit earlier than expected and the right side of the heart had gone from three times the size and is now stuck at twice the size, not a good result. Also having no spleen doesn’t help because of a weak immune system.
Next topic was drugs; the Bosentan stumped her for a bit closely followed by Sildenafil, which I had to explain I was given to boost the Bosentan which in the past had started not to work as well. Followed by the run of the mill prescription drugs. After that came questions such as how does it affect you in your everyday life, stairs, moving around the house, getting dressed, washing and what do you do all day? “Obviously staying alive and breathing doesn’t count then” so my reply was “everything affects it when I exert myself I get breathless, dizzy and if I try to work through it I could black out or suffer a cardiac arrest or, as the hospital calls it, sudden death syndrome” which was the answer for most of the questions including shopping, which I informed her was why I don’t do it. Then it was blow into the tube, The stars came so quickly that even she asked if I was alright! Three bend down to touch the floor tests, off with shoes and socks and up on bench followed by four leg stretch tests and then the medical was over.
Told me she doesn’t give the decision because that’s with the powers that be, but her report will be based on my heart condition and because of the backlog I won’t get a decision for three to four weeks. Flipping great. A few more weeks of stress.
Out to the front desk or was it the ministry of funny walks? Commonly called waiting room. For your troubles you can claim your travel expenses, in my case £12.50 for the 50-mile round trip and £2.50 for the car park, with the pains in chest on the way home from all the stress absolutely free.