Crying for Anita


March 27

I read your column this week and cried for you. My heart goes out to you.
I followed your original story all those years ago and feel so sorry for you, but commend your courage and determination to achieve what you have and to remain independent. I recall some time ago that you applied for a disabled parking permit (blue badge) and it was refused. I recall you asking the rhetorical question of how disabled you have to be in order to qualify.
Having recently been refused a badge for my husband we too are left asking the same question.
One of the problems, as I see, it is the lack of transparency in the system (I know too well that that also applies to most bureaucratic processes over here!), but the system is long winded to put it mildly and had we known that you need to be so disabled, so as not to be able to get out of the house, we wouldn’t have applied in the first place, so freeing up the system for those ‘genuine’ cases, so that they have a speedy resolution.
The criteria is twofold; the degree of disability plus the degree of mobility. The degree of disability as a percentage, is arguably more transparent than the seemingly arbitrary mobility points system. No-one (consultant, nor GP) can tell us what the points are awarded for or how you need to be in order to achieve the magic 7 points.
As it stands today, in our case, I have appealed (a month ago) and other than the stamped receipt from the receptionist in Alicante, where it was hand delivered, we have no idea of the process or timescales involved. Will he have to go to Alicante for examination again, who will decide the appeal etc.? Will we have to wait another two years, will it be considered at all? In short are we wasting ours and their time?
Whilst I would not want my husband’s personal situation quoted in any newspaper article, without changes ‘to protect the innocent’, I give you a brief summary, for your own information, of his (and my) situation.
In all the very long wait (2 years in our case), for his examination I never, for one moment thought he would not qualify!
They have classed him as 75% disabled and awarded him 4 mobility (or is it immobility!) points. He is a type 2 diabetic with the long term complications of the disease (damage done mainly before he knew he was diabetic). He has kidney failure and is on haemodialysis four hours, three times a week at Denia hospital and he is required to leave in a wheelchair due to massive fluctuations in his blood pressure both during and, for some hours, after the treatment. In short he is dizzy and subject to falls afterwards. Mobility is virtually zero on those days.
He has a heart condition and had a pacemaker fitted last August. He has intermittent claudication, which prevents walking very far as the blood supply to his legs, is as the name suggests, is only intermittent. He has ‘Charcot foot’. Due to damage in the nerves the bones in the arch and middle of the foot collapse, push downwards and make the bottom of the foot like a rocker and prone to ulcers (he has one at the moment). Without care, including avoiding pressure on it, it will lead to amputation. He has eyesight problems, with blood vessels bursting at the back of his eyes and without warning resulting in temporary (so far) loss of vision.
All of the above was known to them when he was considered too mobile to qualify and the basis of my appeal is the language barrier (although I know they understood my Spanish and anyway the medical reports were all in Spanish), because I still can’t quite believe they can have taken it all on board.
I push him in a wheelchair when we are out unless I can drop him off at a door. Then I worry about him wobbling or getting in before I can park and get back to him. I took him to the examination in a wheelchair as there is no guaranteed parking near the clinic. We had to park a couple of streets away on the day. He can’t walk, can’t do steps etc. etc.
He didn’t get out of the wheelchair during the examination and they seemed to spend a very long time testing his upper body strength. I joked with him at the time that perhaps as his legs don’t function they expect him to crawl on his belly, commando style. Many a true word and all that! 🙂
I would add he receives care second to none by our health centre in Moraira and in Denia hospital and I do not have enough words to praise them highly enough.
I have osteoporosis and osteoarthritis and am only 4′ 10 tall, so it is hard for me to lift the wheelchair in and out of the car and to push him around generally, despite buying the lightest possible wheelchair. When he falls over there is no way I can get him up and he can’t do it by himself.
In addition, since he has been ill I have (for the first time in my life) suffered from a couple of bouts of depression. Ironically, I am told I need to ask for help more!
At the hospital I park across two spaces when I go to collect him from dialysis as they are so narrow, it is impossible to get the door open wide enough to push the chair up close so he can get in. I have people tooting me and on one occasion shouting abuse, as though I just can’t park properly! I do six trips per week from Moraira to Denia hospital, as a minimum. On the positive side, the hospital car park attendant helps me whenever he sees me (and he never complains about me parking across two spaces). Thank goodness for these small acts of kindness that you treasure and that restore your soul.
Finally, my daughter said that you reach true ex-pat status only when you write to the papers signing it ‘disgusted of Moraira’. I guess I am just about there lol.

Best wishes
Janet Jasper

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