Some of you will know that This Writer suffers from cluster headaches (or as I like to describe the condition, ‘the migraine that comes back for more’).
It’s a rare disorder in which the victim suffers excruciating headaches, sometimes four or more of them per day, over a period lasting up to three months at a time.
Mine came on while I was working at a regional daily newspaper that limited the number of sick days a person could take to five per year (I was never sure whether that was legal or not).
While the deputy editor was sympathetic, the official line was harsh, and I was treated more as a shirker than a person with a serious health issue.
If I had known I was going to suffer with the condition when I was employed – and had made the situation clear at my job interview – I doubt I would ever have been asked to sign a contract.
That is what awaits Mr Lee – either rejection or persecution from prospective employers.
In his condition, the officials’ decision is a threat to what remains of his health.
A man suffering from a severe neurological disorder who has been unable to work for the past three years has now been told by benefits officials: Get a job.
Darren Lee, 49, was diagnosed with intracranial hypotension – which causes extreme pain, headaches, memory loss, chronic fatigue and dizziness – in 2013 and has been receiving a disability benefit since that date.
Now, officials have re-assessed his condition, deemed him ‘fit for work’ and have stopped his Employment Support Allowance of £125 a week. Instead he has been told to look for work while being placed on Jobseekers’ Allowance of £73 a week.
He said this week: “This is a cruel and unnecessary thing to do to anyone, much worse to someone who is ill.”
Darren, who suffers excruciating headaches which are exacerbated when he is in an upright position, said: “I can be bed-bound for up to four days at a time.” He takes strong painkillers regularly to try to control his symptoms.
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