Medical assessments with Atos

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Re: Medical assessments with Atos

Postby denys » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:50 pm

You dont need to justify yourself to anyone zoomie, unhelpful posts can cause upset and there seem to be a number of them appearing at the moment. It is something we Moderators are dealing with, hopefully it will all be resolved soon.

This site is anonymous and no-one knows any other persons circumstances completely and so it is inappropriate to say whether or not someone should be receiving any form of benefit.

We always advocate members giving assessors all the facts about the condition and how it affects their day to day life. The first fact being that FM is a fluctuating condition and you may be able to carry out a task on one day but there is no guarantee that you would be able to carry it out again.

I wish that everyone who is facing the anguish of assessment or filling in the forms etc. gets the right decision for their situation as quickly as possible and that the stress doesnt make anyone more poorly than they are already. :grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug:
Denys

As a Public Moderator of this forum my opinions/views expressed are personal and are no more valid than those of other members and not necessarily those of UKFibromyalgia.
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Re: Medical assessments with Atos

Postby hippychick » Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:13 am

juliewilson2412 wrote:Has anyone got any good advice/guidance or know some good websites as I am going for my medical assessment with Atos in next two weeks? I would like to be prepared!


Hi there Julie, I hope I'm going to be able to give you an idea of how to be prepared having finally gone through my own ATOS assessment just over a month ago.

Like everybody, I'd been absolutely dreading that letter arriving to let me know whether or not I would even need to attend an assessment but let's face it has ANYBODY actually NOT had to have their assessment? Be amazed to hear if they haven't. Well, my initial forms, (you know that tome of a questionnaire they send and require completion of and which takes most of us a good couple of weeks to fill in in fits and starts),were sent back within the time limit, but only just. Then came the dreaded wait....having been told in my accompanying letter that I would hear back within 3 months...yeah right....so the weeks came and went, as did the months then some EIGHT MONTHS and one week later, the dreaded letter DID arrive..... Told me, exactly what I'd both been expecting and dreading, which was that I would be required to attend an assessment.

Letter also told me that I'd need to contact them if I had any mobility problems, used a walking stick etc. because while there was a lift in the building I needed to attend, I would have make my way down 32 stairs in the event of a fire. I rang and told them that while I do use a stick, I would have my husband with me who'd be able to help me down any stairs if an emergency did occur, only to be told that they'd have to change my venue because I was....'a health and safety risk'!!!! First time in my life I've been called one of those :-) But it wasn't to be the last.........

Venues on offer that were on the ground floor were offered to me and I selected the one closest, (still a 45 min drive away mind you, whereas my original venue would have been only a 15 minute one), and given a new date, 2 weeks away.

To say it was probably the most stressful weeks of my life would be an understatement, even worse than the not knowing for over 8 months had been. Fibro flare up was in FULL swing. Chronic fatigoo had me more like Rumplestiltskin, (nooo idea if that's spelt anywhere near right :crazy: ), than even a shadow of my usual self and that shadow's never exactly a live wire at the best of times :sleep: I was a mess. Could barely string a sentence together, sounding as if I'd been on the hit and miss 24/7 but hadn't and it all just got worse and worse as the days leading up to my assessment went by. Whole family kept telling me that I had 'nothing to worry about' but they hadn't seen post upon post on forums such as this, to know that anybody actually sailing through these assessments without appeals or total failures were as rare as hen's teeth!

Day finally arrived, I could barely get out of bed and remain upright with eyes open so it didn't bode well, or maybe it did........

Arriving at the venue, we parked in a disabled bay and we'd arrived half an hour before we needed to because we didn't want to risk being late. We would've sat in the car even longer had I not needed an urgent loo trip, (another part of my health concerns is a bowel problem which I won't go into, suffice to say it's more than just IBS :lol: and can need a speedy hobble to a loo without little or any notice! Have to carry a spare pair of drawers, plus wipes and nappy sacs at all times if anywhere other than in my own home), so we had to make a move, sharpish. The actual department I had to attend was closed for lunch for another 15 minutes but thankfully the door into it was unlocked and I was able to locate and reach the disabled loo JUST in time!

By the time I came out, the reception had reopened and my husband had already booked me in, so I took a seat, (only ONE suitable for me to be able to sit in easier and have any chance of getting up unaided on a 'good day' and this was far from being anywhere near one of those), and waited to be called in. It honestly beggars belief the poor people you see at these things and people who are so obviously NOT fit for work like the poor lady who'd suffered a stroke to the extent that she was paralysed down one side and hardly able to communicate BUT she'd been called in for one of these blessed things. Her daughter had to support her and you could see the poor lady trying to hold on to some dignity by trying to refuse the help, but as her legs almost gave way, making her daughter grab her again quickly, she conceded and let her daughter support her again. This terrified me because I felt that if somebody as visibly disabled as her had to have her ability to work questioned, what hope would I or any other fibromite have with our mainly invisible symptoms stand?

My hubby then needed the loo and sat my paperwork on my lap while he went, which then sailed down on to the floor and the best I could do was to put my the end of my walking stick on it to drag it back closer to me where it had to remain until he returned to pick it up.

Three folk were called in before me, then a very large terrifying looking lady doctor came out and called me in. Hubby had to help me up and by this point, I was having real trouble staying awake let alone be able to answer questions coherently. I was yawning and stumbled as I went through the double doors to where the examination rooms were for which I apologized to the doctor, why I don't know, but apologize I did for being so tired.

The doctor introduced herself and the then told me that I looked exhausted to which my dear hubby replied, 'oh that's pretty normal for her I'm afraid' :-? After the introduction and explanation of what would transpire, she got to the bit about 'and then a short physical examination may or may not take place' I mumbled that this was what I was dreading most because I knew it would be painful, but she emphasised that it may still NOT be necessary, dependant upon how the rest of the interview went. Glimmer of hope for me that I might be able to escape the physically painful side of the whole thing at least, gave me some hope.

Questions came about my conditions, how they affect me on a daily basis and I have to say that for this my husband proved invaluable as I stumbled over the words trying to make sentences and constantly apologizing for not being able to get the words out. She also asked my husband if he was my full time carer, which he replied that he was, and then she asked if he claims.....carer's allowance! He doesn't and has no intention of doing so and told her this saying that his work pension gets us through having retired from his job in 1999 aged 50.

On asking me what I could actually 'do' on a daily basis.....my mind went completely blank! No seriously BLANK! Hubby came to my rescue telling her that basically my 'normal' day would consist of me getting up quite early after a very restless night, then collapsing onto the recliner chair where I'd remain until I needed the loo again which would mean I had no choice but to go back upstairs and only then I'd get showered and dressed, with his help. Now if my bowels are behaving I may not have needed to go back up to the loo for several hours, (10 hours plus isn't unusual for me where tiddles are concerned and it's a family joke that I have the bladder of a camel even though I drink a helluva lot of water plus other beverages :-) ), so it's not uncommon for me to still be sitting in my dressing gown at 2 o'clock in the afternoon or later!!!!! Family are no longer surprised to turn up and see me still not washed or dressed at any hour of the day.

The only bit of anything remotely physical I had to endure was having me try to grip the doctor's hands after she'd looked at the visible arthritis in them and commented that I didn't have much strength there. Not news to me of course :crazy: I'm the one who can't even open her calcium supplement tubes until somebody else has removed the childproof strip bit of plastic for me! Can just about push the tops myself after that. Thumbs are rubbish!

The one thing that seemed to dominate the w-h-o-l-e interview though was....the chronic fatigue! Seemed as if that was somehow the 'magic' word. To me though, the chronic fatigoo is only a relatively small part of my day to day life because I'm so used to it.

The doctor also told us that she was amazed that I'd been made to go for one of these assessments as I should've had one in my own home and asked if I'd tried to get that. I hadn't and said I hadn't been told how to go about it and had also been given the impression that it's ultra hard to get approval for such a visit. Apparently.....it requires a letter of support from your doctor being sent to the whoever it was at the top of the original letter, (blowed if I can remember who that was at the mo without the letter near me), so maybe it's still not too late for you to do this? Of course, it would prolong the agony of the wait if they decide you are eligible for a home assessment, so you may or may not want to consider trying, I don't know.

Then the end came, after we'd been in with the doctor for about 40 minutes, telling me that she didn't need to do any other examinations and she informed me that she WOULD be recommending me for the ESA being 'severly disabled and'.....here it is again, second time in 2 weeks I'd been called one, but I was for any employer....'a health and safety risk'!!!!! :roll: :roll: :roll: She said she'd also be recommending that I never be asked to attend any further assessments, but that doesn't mean I won't have to still have any others but in my own home I suppose she meant. At this point.....I wept. Shameful I know, but I'd been soooo terrified of this thing and as we all know stress is one of the worst things a fibromite needs because it just makes our symptoms 100 times worse, so it came as a HUMUNGOUS relief to be told I'd actually be going onto the ESA Support Group and NOT the work related one. Pheeeeweeeee peeps! The dear doctor, and she REALLY was a dear, nothing like the monsters I'd been told to expect and I honestly felt as though she was trying to help me pass the assessment! Amazing that, especially as the report about ATOS wanting out of it's contract early because of the death threats etc. the assessors had had, was only on the news 2 weeks before my assessment! At the time the news featured this item, I wished they'd pulled out already so that I wouldn't have to see them but in the end, it turned out with the best result I could've expected, but that my family and friends all tell me they knew I deserved.

So, to sum up Julie, if you do have the chronic fatigue, (which most of fibromites do even if it's spasmodic and not constant but can come and go), you may well be fortunate enough to see a doctor, (or other healthcare professional they say can do these assessments. I'd been praying to get a doctor as oppose to a nurse or anybody else since I felt they might be best placed to understand the multiple problems that fibro brings, especially if they happened to specialise in rheumatology ;-) ), who's of the same mind as the doctor I saw. We can all but hope.

Do you know what? As I was being asked all these questions my mind just could not focus on the replies, let alone get out a sensible sentence. While I felt awful about this, I had no say in the matter, because my mind and body determined the way the day would go anyhoo and at one point my husband told me to stop apologizing as it wasn't my fault. It's the British way though eh? :-? Like if somebody bumps into us......we're the ones who say 'sorry' :crazy: It's seconds after such a bump that fibromites feel the pain though :shock: OUCHY!

On our way out, the doctor shook our hands, (gently in my case, she honestly DID seem to really understand fibro let alone my other things), and my husband felt that he had to say thank you and how she'd been much kinder than anybody we'd been prepared to see after everything you hear on the news and read in the papers. I was leaning heavily on both my stick and my husband with the feeling of some relief as I hobbled out.

No sooner in the car, than I had my eyes shut. My 'usual' daily headache had been pounding since waking up that morning and the tinnitus was literally deafening and all I wanted to do was...sleep.......

Still couldn't feel total relief about this business until I had it in writing of course, because we all know, what the ATOS doctor/health professional recommend, isn't the final say, but the DWP has the final say on whether or not they take the recommendation on board. Thankfully, in my case, they were all in agreement and I've been put in the support group and now receive the contributory ESA payments and I couldn't be more thankful, I honestly couldn't.

My dread was being forced to try and go to work because I couldn't imagine any employer taking me on for anything and being prepared for me to only turn up now and then, surely no such employer exists? I've been 'on the sick' as 'twer for 37 years now, going first from sickness benefit, then to invalidity benefit before becoming incapacity benefit in I think it was about 1995 ish and I'm only just over 4 years off my state pension too! Infact had they not changed the state pension age from 60, I would now actually have been getting my state pension for 5 months already :( Typical eh? One and only time in my life I was bang on time, the day I was born and only months too soon to qualify for the pension at 60 :scream-1:

I do wish you and anybody else who's still waiting for these horrible blooming assessments, the very best and that you too, can survive the day and come out with the result you deserve. I'd say fingers crossed, but no chance with the way my digits are swollen today. Typing with chipolata sausages today :yikes:

Good luck to one and all. I've still got the hurdle of trying to get onto the PIP from my DLA when my assessment for that finally arrives.......have been told that won't be until 2015 onwards and I'm totally terrified of failing that because I've just ordered my new motability car as my 3 year lease is coming to an end on my current one and IF I lose that.......that will be the end of any independence I'm still hanging on to on the days I can drive myself or when hubby takes me anywhere plus it'll mean the loss of our touring caravan too as my car's always been the tow car for that! May aswell just shoot me now eh? I feel as if the powers that be are determined to make us decrepits into hermits who'll become sooooo depressed we'll reach for the hari-kari knives and save everybody money and make the undertakers millionaires............

And on that cheery note :lol: .........

Gentle hugglies,
Hippy
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Re: Medical assessments with Atos

Postby juliewilson2412 » Thu May 01, 2014 7:32 pm

juliewilson2412 wrote:Has anyone got any good advice/guidance or know some good websites as I am going for my medical assessment with Atos in next two weeks? I would like to be prepared!

There is no mention of which benefit the assessment relates to, it could be PIP, or it could be ESA.

The benefit I am on is ESA.
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Re: Medical assessments with Atos

Postby juliewilson2412 » Thu May 01, 2014 7:58 pm

Thank you Hippy for sharing your experience. Knowing me when I am more stressed I have complete fibro flare up. But I also have other medical aspects too. Fatigue and fibro fog can be severe just like you. I am taking my partner who knows me the most for support, and if I cant answer questions or for him to expand on my answers. It sounds like you have such caring support from your husband, that means a lot as I too have an excellent support and understanding from my partner. Hope things go well for you in the future.
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