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Fighting a legal battle with very few resources

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Pie chart explained at  the end.


It feels like most of this year has been taken up trying to deal with 2 very big problems that have occurred as a consequence of my Bankruptcy. Which is dealing with legal and financial “debt” actions for bills and charges relating to one of the flats I used to rent out. In Motherwell.

Both the council for the area and the factors that manage the property want me to pay for things that have arisen or been charged after I went bankrupt in Sep 2014. This is why I referred to “debt” in inverted commas – as it is debts I haven’t run up myself. And no reasonable person would expect to be liable for these – as the properties had all been handed over to a Trustee In Bankruptcy in 2014.

My Trustee In Bankruptcy (say) they have repeatedly explained my situation to these 2 organisations (particularly the factors) over the last few years – ie, I am bankrupt, went bankrupt because of health, gave all assets away on becoming Bankrupt, have no income or savings now. And can hardly manage to deal with anything because of my health. Which is WHY I opted for Bankruptcy. Sorry, I know this is the 1000th time I‘ve mentioned this . . . . !

I have also made (been forced to make) some efforts at explaining all this myself to these organisations – usually in long emails. At great cost to my health every time, as even small exertions usually make me more ill. And can cause me to crash/relapse even further for days, weeks, etc.

Trying to think and type out an email will usually take me hours and is a very big exertion with my level of health and ability (or disability).

Again, this is why I went Bankrupt.

But these 2 particular organisations don’t care a jot about this. They seem determined to push on for their pound of flesh.

Some of this stuff I’ve probably written about in earlier posts – sorry about this. And for maybe repeating stuff.

But I desperately need to try and pour some of this out – as it is all keeping me very ill indeed. It feels like it has consumed most of this year. And it is consuming me. My physical health and my mental and emotional health too. Nightmares all the time, increasing this year – with all this worry.

Oh, and the Bankruptcy itself is still ongoing.

Still being administered.

Still dragging on.

Some other flats still to be sold.

So for me, being “discharged” from Bankruptcy in Sep 2015 has meant absolutely nothing. I have no idea what benefits there are from saying a person is discharged. Not that I expected any benefits as such – I just mean what is that actual point of the statement saying you are “discharged” when you were a landlord with various properties ? Because they don’t get disposed of overnight. And it is also pretty unlikely they will be disposed of within 12 months either. (By “disposed of”, I mean sold or repossessed.)

Given that one mortgage lender has taken almost 3 years to repossess an empty flat. A flat that was not tenanted, was unoccupied, ie. vacant – in Sep 2014. And well before that too I believe.

Yes, you read that correctly – 3 years . . . .

This of course, is the flat that has produced the bills I am now having to “fight” these legal and financial battles for.

I put “fight” in commas too, because I have so little ability to fight this.

As well as all the pages of physical symptoms I have with Severe ME, the awful cognitive dysfunction (AKA brain fog) prevents me being able to express myself or remember things when I most need to. Well, it causes problems for me all the time of course. Its very frustrating not to be able to remember stuff I have just read in a book, or having to re-read an email 5 times, or cannot digest something just heard on TV perhaps. It is miserable actually – but not essential in the way it will be in a court case.

The legal battle the firm of property factors are waging against me – is now in the 2nd part.

This firm (I will call them Apollo Property – not their real name) are suing me in 3 stages for factors bills, charges and “estimated” bills for communal maintenance/repairs. The total I think, adds up to somewhere between £9000 and £10000.

I think the reason they are doing it in 3 parts is so it comes under what is called the Simple Procedure in Scotland. It used to be called something like Small Claims. Either way, it is dealt with by the Sherriff Court. And I think the legal charges for the person bringing the action are cheaper than a normal court case. And the top limit for these types of cases I’m told are £5000.

So I am assuming that is why Apollo are doing it in this way.

It makes no difference to me really – as I have no funds with which to pay any of this. And would never have expected to be liable to pay these things. No reasonable person would surely ?

As I mentioned in this post, IF the flat had still been tenanted – the tenant’s rents would have been taken over by the Trustee. But I would still be liable to pay bills like these factors bills – from fresh air .

No reasonable person would expect this to be the position.

And I still don’t know for sure if this actually IS the legal position.

The previous solicitor I had requested to send or email me the specific legislation relating to this, ie. The Act and section, paragraph etc, where this is stated and detailed. So I could read it myself – as it seems so unbelievable.

He hasn’t replied.

But then he has been paid. (You have to pay the legal fees in advance and ongoing for this type of legal assistance. You do not get a bill at the end.)

 

For this 2 nd Stage – Apollo are claiming approx £5000.

For “estimated” bills for communal repairs and maintenance.

I don’t understand how it can be estimated – you would think they must know what they have paid out exactly ?

And is legal detail not meant to be accurate and specific ? I thought that the whole essence of legal stuff was the preciseness of the detail ?

So I am baffled by this.

 

Ironically, the whole communal area where this flat in Motherwell is located had, as I understood, been allowed to go downhill. And this was probably a result of the previous factors failing to carry out any maintenance or repairs over a period of a few years. (They eventually went into Administration and the current factors Apollo took over.) And of course, this would be why the letting agent I used said they just couldn’t get any decent tenants for the flat. And it had sat empty for quite some time before 2014.

No landlord would just choose to have a property sitting empty. Just saying . . .

At this particular scheme where my flat was – there are 3 small blocks of flats. Each with 11 flats in them.

They would all have needed similar work to mine I am pretty sure. So anything I am being charge for can be multiplied by 11 for definite. And then by 3,  as 3 blocks.

Very recently it also came to light these factors Apollo are also charging the mortgage lender a sum of £16280 which they want paid to them from the sale of the flat.

(The lender finally repossessed it in March this year, and it was sold in July. )

The only detail Apollo seem to have given the bank’s solicitors is vague descriptions like “essential maintenance” and “charges”.

So that means the total of these repairs for my flat = £5000 + £16280

= £21280

And for the full block (as communal works)

X 11 flats = £234,080

And for the scheme of 3 blocks :

An absolutely whopping £702,240 . . . . !!

These figures seem astronomical.

I didn’t mean to type so much detail and make this into such a long post. But my head is spinning with all of this . . . .

And how to fight it with so little energy.

 

The pie chart in the picture at the top is a screen shot I took from an app called ME/CFS App. I try to record my daily energy use on it – in the hope of it helping me in the future. Or maybe as a visual aid perhaps to show a GP of how my life is.

I’ve been doing this off and on for a few years.

The dark blue is the amount of time I am either sleeping – or completely disabled.

Possibly resting or recovering from doing stuff, but certainly unable to “do” anything at all. Not even listen to soft music, certainly not read.

Just totally non-functional.

And this is at least 80% of my life.

Probably more actually – as you fill in the areas of “activity” in 30 min boxes. Nearly everything is a high or medium energy activity for me. A low energy activity may be listening to meditation music lying down. Or maybe eating food.

A simple text message might take me 20 mins to type out – but I would probably fill a 30 mins box for this on the App. So I tend to overstate my time being active.

I imagine my actual level of functioning is around 10 % .

Which is a pretty shit life – lets be honest.

10% is the figure the App keeps telling me is my baseline. I don’t even know what “baseline” means, as haven’t had enough spare energy to read all the instructions in 2 or 3 years.

So anyway – I’m trying to fight this legal battle with Apollo Factors while being functional only 10% of the time.

Not to mention the firm of Debt Collectors now employed by the Council for Motherwell as well.

I don’t feel very hopeful.

But its good to vent . . . .

And if the sheer effort of typing all this gets some of this horror out of my head, and reduces the number of nights a week I have exhausting nightmares – then it has been worthwhile for me.

Sorry its such a long read.

 

 

 

 

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Bankruptcy in Scotland:  The law is an ass ? 

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I enjoy writing as it can be theraputic. But this is only the 3rd post I have done this year. And it will soon be the end of June. Half the year gone.

This is because I am still horribly limited by my ME and can manage to do very little. Everything takes me ages to recover from. Maybe 90% of the time I’m sleeping, resting or recovering. Some days a bit better.  And some even worse – when in bed 24 hours out of 24.

Resting or recovering isn’t much different from sleep for me. Well, apart from not having nightmares when awake. But I’m usually unable to do anything. Just pretty much non-functional. It feels like attempting anything, no matter how small, triggers off an increase in symptons. Which is miserable.

The Bankruptcy stuff is STILL ongoing. Since 2014. Shock after shock after shock. A constant battering to my health. And my husband’s health. It has been endless.

And is actually getting worse.

In my 2nd last post I had appealed for a solicitor to help. Because I was being sued by a property factor for their factors bills dating back to 2014. These bills were for their regular management charges, plus general repairs and maintenance.  And of course I was very shocked at this.

The property was one of my 14 buy-to-let flats which were handed over to the Trustee In Bankruptcy in 2014. When my health totally crashed.  All correspondence, bills, statements etc have been getting posted onto the Trustee every week since 2014. (By my husband as I have rarely been well enough to get out.)  And the point of this was that the Trustee would deal with everything. Handle everything.

That is what I was told by the bankruptcy Adviser. That was why I was advised that bankruptcy was the best option for me, as I understood it. And why I accepted this. To “give away” the properties and all responsibility for them. I was too unwell to even think about trying to sell them myself. I wouldn’t have wanted to do this anyway at that time. I would have waited until the property values had improved. As to sell then would just have resulted in many shortfalls against the mortgages.

I know I have laboured this point before. In this post – The Bankruptcy Stuff Keeps Getting worse.

And this one – A Long Slow Road. (This is quite a long post about various things. The comments about Bankruptcy are in the 2nd section.)

And this one – Unwanted Visitors.

And this one – My Life So Far – Not What I Expected.

But it is all the more shocking to me the more that happens and the more I find out.

IF I understand correctly what has happened recently :  It seems the original owner of the property (ie. me) is still liable for payment of bills like Factors bills from ONE DAY after their bankruptcy date. Up until the date the flat is either sold by the Trustee or legally taken back (ie. repossessed) by the mortgage lender.  Even if this takes years and years.

In this particular case it has taken years. From 2014 until March 2017 in the case of this flat. Almost 3 years. 3 years for the mortgage lender to repossess a property which was empty. Not tenanted. And no mortgage payments getting paid on it.  And its not just this flat. As I understand it – there are still 2 other flats left.  Therefore it would seem I still legally own these also.

Jesus wept . . . .

Just to talk about this a bit further.

As I understand it – all rents that were paid by tenants are taken by the Trustee. Even if any had been paid to me by the letting agents – the Trustee still gets them. As bank accounts get frozen.

But I am still meant to (legally) pay all these bills. I mean, seriously . . . . ?   And how am I meant to do this ? Or any other ex-landlord in the same situation.

To give a more extreme (but simple) example :

If a bankrupt landlord owned 100 flats. And they were all tenanted. All these rents would be taken by the Trustee In Bankruptcy. And if the Trustee doesn’t sell the flats themselves and the mortgage lender takes 3 years to actually repossess them – the bankrupt ex-landlord is still liable for all these bills. So the Trustee would get 3600 rents (monthly rents for 3 years).  But the landlord would still be legally liable to pay 3600 factors bills (if the factors bill monthly).  Does he/she magic the money to pay these out of thin air ?

IF this is the law – then the law really is an ass.  (I’m in Scotland. I don’t know if it is the same in England.)  I can still hardly believe it. It seems so unreasonable.

I have requested my solicitor to email me the details of where this is wtitten in the bankruptcy legislation. ie. The name of the Act and location (section, paragraph, whatever) of where this be found.  Not that I really know what I’ll do with this once I have it. But I need to be able to actually see it for myself. And it should be made widely known I think.  So that nobody else can be given the advice we were, without being told of these consequences.

Another point is : If any flats have been empty (not tenanted) a while – it gets even worse. As council tax bills build up too after exemption periods have been exhausted. Exemptions usually only last 6 months.

This then implies that utility bills for any empty flats, or empty periods, are my responsibility too. Where the supplier applies a standing charge.

This particular flat had been empty for quite a while before it was given to the Trustee in 2014.  Possibly a year, but maybe longer.  This was because the letting agent could not get any tenants for it. As I think the communal areas had deteriorated and fallen into a poor condition. This was because the previous firm of property Factors (who eventually went bankrupt themselves) failed to deal with any repairs or maintenance.

The irony of this is not lost on me . . .

Now I do realise (or assume) that when most people go Bankrupt they do not have a choice.  Because finances and debts have got to such a position where there is just no way to rescue things.  But my situation was different. As mentioned in previous posts – our assets well exceeded the debts.  But voluntary Bankruptcy was taken purely because the Bankruptcy Adviser clearly said that the Trustee would deal with everything. Take everything off my hands. All mail, demands, forthcoming  threats (once things stopped getting paid),  phone calls, etc,  just had to be passed onto the Trustee.  (And we knew we had to pay a big price for this financially and emotionally. The loss of our home of 15 years and all the equity in it. It was no easy option or get-out.)

At the time of getting the bankruptcy advice nothing was in arrears. Everything was getting paid and there had been no missed payments.  I was even still getting 0% credit card offers thru. My credit score (with Experian) had been 999 (the highest in the Excellent range) for a long time. Although it had dropped down a level by early 2014 – to the Very Good range I think. I suspect because the amount of capital debt was rising, even though nothing was in arrears.  It was getting harder though – but that was more because of my health.  This previous post from Feb 2013 gives an example.

I know they say ignorance of the law is no excuse. And it seems to be no defence either. But seriously – would anyone reasonably expect this to be the case?  Even my administrator at the Trustee said she would dispute the claim because it wasn’t my fault all those factors bills had built up. Plus the fact that I have no income or savings with which to pay, or even make a payment arrangement. (This wasn’t legal advice of course. She told me the Trustee do not have any in-house solicitors that could advise me.)

To add insult to injury – I have no way of knowing if any of the work billed for by these Factors has actually been done. Plus – I don’t even have the bills I am being forced to pay. They were all sent onto the Trustee over the last 3 years. (Everything has been sent onto them. It is what we were told to do.)  Then everything regarding the Factors claim was sent to the solicitor.

Words cannot describe how unjust this whole situation feels.

Now this same firm of Factors have started more court proceedings for “planned maintenance” bills.  The next one is for £4900.00 and has been allocated a claim number for court.  And they have stated they will be further suing for yet another amount for “planned and ongoing maintenance” – this time for a sum below £2000.00 .

In addition, the council for the Motherwell area where this flat is (North Lanarkshire Council) have now sent me a demand for almost £2600.00 for council tax. It was delivered by sherriff officers acting for the council. I  sent it the Trustee right away. As they are still administering my Bankruptcy. They have now sent it back to me and suggested I ask the solicitor about it.

We cannot afford to pay for any more legal help. Husband has been working 7 days a week for a while now to be able to pay for the recent legal fees.  And towards repaying the friend who very kindly gave us a cheque to settle the factors demand. 

Neither of us would be able to obain any loans now as our credit records will be utterly trashed as a consequence of the bankruptcy.  And hubby working 7 days a week is hard – given that I can hardly do anything around the house. And he does almost everything.  Just a week or two ago he had the lovely task of emptying plastic jugs I was having to use in the bedroom – as I was too ill to manage to the bathroom. Too much info I know, but this is how bad it can be. And scrunching up A4 envelopes so I could use them to breathe into (like a paper bag) when I felt panic attacks coming on.

How much more can he be expected to do?

And how much more battering can my health take ? Or husband’s.

Trying to communicate with the solicitor over the last few months has taken a massive amount out of me.  If I was well enough to do this sort of thing I wouldn’t have needed to consider voluntary bankruptcy in the first place.

It was made harder for me as I don’t think they could understand how bad ME actually is, especially when symptoms are severe.  For example : how do you sucessfully communicate how bad your brain fog (aka cognitive dysfunction) is – when this is one of my worst symptoms?

Sometines I wondered if they actually thought I was exagerrating about how limited I am. And how long it takes me to “recover” from the exertion involved in a simple thing like an email or a phone conversation. A simple thing to them but a very exhausting thing for me. Always triggering a big worsening of ME symptoms and being more ill for days on end.  And I found myself trying to explain over and over how badly limited I am. Then giving examples. Not because I was looking for sympathy or anything. But because all this legal and court stuff have time limits set. And I was terrified of what would happen if I couldn’t do things in time. This was so exhausting and I had been hoping for some reassurance that some accommodations could be made if needed.

I don’t know what to do now.

I’m really not well enough to use the internet to look for ideas. Or make longish phone calls. I don’t mean these things are impossible 100% of the time. But I can only manage a very short time doing things without it making me more ill. Then I’m knocked out for days.  And I get nothing done.

I can’t think straight about any of this. The only thing I do know for sure – is that bankruptcy has been a terrible option in my situation.  3 years of Hell for mothing.

Any suggestions would be welcome. (About the forthcoming claims.) Any info that might be helpful would be great, eg. phone numbers, websites, email addresses.

Thanks for reading.

PS.  I haven’t put the links in yet – where I’ve mentioned previous posts.  Will add soon.

I Wish . . . .

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I WISH FOR :

To be walking on a beach, feeling the warm sand under my bare feet
To feel the sunshine on my face
To be near to water, looking out at a huge ocean, all the greeny blue water
To see the calmness of the hills, their stability
To swim in the sea, or even just walk in it and feel the water around my legs
To sit outdoors and lean against a big solid tree, eating a sandwich, looking up at the sky

To sit on a balcony early evening, looking out at a view of water and hills. And faraway houses.
Maybe with a nice glass of chilled wine
To feel the warm evening air flowing thru my loose hair
To eat a seafood salad in an outdoors cafe, perhaps looking onto a quiet beach
To be able to read a good book and just lose myself in the story
To listen to calming beautiful music

To be very far away from all worries, all insecurities, all fears about the future.
Just for a while  . . . .
Not asking for a perfect life – but just for some things to get a little easier.

Bankruptcy for me has been absolutely no relief whatsoever. It has been brutal.

It has replaced some stresses with different stresses and worries which seem to be keeping me quite unwell. And I suspect the sheer trauma and impact of it all may have made some of my symptoms even worse,
eg, severe brain fog (aka cognitive dysfunction or brain dysfunction)
headaches, and hyper-sensitivity to things like noise, light, using laptop, mobile, watching TV, even listening to music

Hey Ho, nobody said life would be easy . . . .

I crave the company of people who are :

gentle
calm
kind
have empathy and compassion for others
understanding
non-judgemental
are willing to learn, to listen
have varied interests
have a good sense of humour
don,t have rigid black and white opinions
have had life experience which has given them an open mind

I need to avoid people who are :

ignorant and unwilling to learn
abrupt
sarcastic
(sarcasm when aimed unfairly at me is absolutely lethal for my ME, an instant trigger for all my symptoms escalating)
people who make fun of, or laugh at, others’ limitations, or problems
people who make jokes about things that are not at all funny
people who know what upsets me, and my weaknesses, and take pleasure in “pushing my buttons”
(it always works – and I get upset every single time)
have rigid, unbending opinions
who get bored easily – there is so much in life to experience (how can people get bored . . . ?)

But I guess we would all like these things . . . !

Headaches and finding a new GP

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Friday morning.

The frustration of this condition knows no bounds, and I guess I just need to write about it today.

Last Sunday I got out with my husband during the day.
Our car is fixed now and it was so good to get out. I think it was the first time I have been out during the day (ie, in daylight) for maybe 8 weeks.  I suspected I’d be paying for it a bit the next day – especially after climbing all the stairs to get back into our top-floor flat once home.
But that would have been ok. Well not ok exactly, but I would have accepted it without feeling too stressed about it.

I’m writing this on Friday morning and have been pretty much bed bound for the last 4 days. Not so much with exhaustion and weakness (although that too). But with crippling headaches (again).
So frustrating after managing a few hours out on Sunday. That horrible reality of 1 step forward then 3 steps back.

It all got triggered by an argument on Monday evening with husband.
Won’t go into details, but it was an issue that’s been argued over many times.  For me, very upsetting. And it always feels unresolved.
Hey ho . . . but that’s married life isn’t it ?
But it made me think about how emotional exertion (from a bad event) can sometimes have an even worse  impact on this condition than doing too much physically. At times.
If that makes sense ?
Well it made  sense to me.
Being in bed for 4 days completely disabled by headaches and exhaustion is bad.

Oh god, these headaches are vicious.

Been using the usual stuff like Panadol Extra together with Ibuprofen – didn’t work. Eventually gave in and resorted to taking Solpadeine Max the last two days – which I really don’t like taking because of the addictive affect of the codeine in it. And you are only allowed to use it for a maximum of 3 days anyway. Also tried using cool gel migraine patches on my forehead.  Some things would take ages to work, or not do anything at all.

Lying in bed with so much pain was driving me mad, but I didn’t have the strength to get up and move around. Or do anything to distract myself from the pain.
All I could do most of the time was try to “go with the pain” and breathe. As slowly and deeply as I could. Over and over.
Most of the time this didn’t work.  And I have to confess I wasn’t thinking calm or relaxed thoughts . . .

I was dwelling on stuff like :

This is the UK with a proper health-service. Not some backwater country with no health service.

It’s ridiculous that I can’t get any help with some decent pain medication.
Its really not much to ask for.

I’ve been mentioning these headaches to GP for years and years.

And at least twice to docs at the Homeopathic Hospital.

But nobody listens to a word I say.

And the last GP who phoned me from the surgery I have been with for 28 years was awful and actually made things even worse.
(See last post. The 5th section – it was quite a long post.)

And it is so bloody hard to change docs. To physically do it I mean. With this condition.

This is a situation I’m really struggling with.  And have done for years.

So far, I have managed to get a registration form from another surgery. But my husband had to go in to collect for me. As they don’t post or email them out  regardless of your situation. The receptionist I spoke to didn’t seem to understand much about the limitations of ME/Cfs. And it will be impossible for me to actually speak to the GP until I am registered as a patient.
(I don’t mean I wanted to speak to him as in a proper appointment, I wouldn’t expect that. But just to speak for a few minutes to kind of see what his manner towards people with ME is like.)

The process, as I understand it, is :

1) You have an appointment/examination with the nurse and fill in the form (I’ll need to complete it in advance).
2) Then (IF they agree to accept you as a new patient) your medical records get transferred.
I was informed this can take 2 months. I have no idea why that long.
NB.  You might not be accepted if it is felt you have “too much” wrong with you. (I heard this unofficially, not from the GP receptionist I have to say.)
3) Once this has all happened you can actually speak to the GP – if he hasn’t retired by that time . . .
and then the crucial one
4) You you have to hope (and pray) that he has some knowledge of ME. And even more importantly – a decent attitude towards it.

So its a kind of catch 22.
You have to go thru this process first, before you find out if it was worth all the effort of doing it (ie, to get a decent GP).
You may be rejected anyway.
You may complete the process then find out the GP and the surgery are even worse than the old one.

The chances of getting a GP who is more “ME/CFS friendly” and informed is maybe 50 – 50. Even that may be optimistic.

After just one phone conversation with the receptionist, I was exhausted. Mentally and physically.
And frustrated that she couldn’t understand why this is a difficult process for folk with ME/Cfs.  And may be pointless for me, and a waste of their time also.
I tried and tried to explain why it was difficult. But the longer I tried the more exhausted I got. And of course, the brain fog always gets worse in these situations. And I probably just started to sound drunk and confused.

I really need to be a lot more well than I am just now, to be able to do this.

When I was more well in the past – that of course is when I should have put all my energy into doing it.
But I didn’t.

But I will really need to persevere with this now.
I have doubts about the surgery for a few reasons – parking issues, suspect it may be quite a noisy surgery, etc. When my husband collected the registration form he said it looked as though it was “full of Romanians and asylum seekers” . . .
All I could think of was – as long as they’re not noisy I don’t care.
But the GP has been mentioned to me.
And I simply don’t have the energy to phone around various places. It would just be the same process everywhere from what I understand.
(Did try one other surgery but it was outwith my post code.)

At one point this week, I was actually trawling the internet for websites that sell you painkillers that normally require a prescription. But without a prescription. They seemed to be mainly American sites. But I couldn’t go any further with that – mainly because I just couldn’t tolerate looking at the tablet’s screen for long enough. And couldn’t concentrate enough to be able to read or digest the information.
However that was maybe a good thing. As this would seem a rather dodgy thing to do – maybe even dangerous.
But the pain was bad.

Today however, it is much less.

And I’m writing again – even if it is a bit negative.
I will try and do some lighthearted posts, I promise.

Battered, Bruised and Bankrupt

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Voluntary Bankruptcy

This was the biggest and most life changing event which dominated most of last year.
And is still going on now.
I became voluntarily bankrupt w.e.f September 2014.
Or “in Sequestration” to use the correct scottish term,

I had to make this hard decision because my health was so poor. It had been steadily getting worse over the last few years and I was living a “non-life” really. In bed most of the time (maybe 80% or 90% of the time) struggling with all the horrible ME symptoms (an ever lengthening list). And at the same time trying to keep the property stuff afloat – mainly from bed. With my mobile phone for texts, emails, internet banking. And of course – actual phone calls. But phone calls had to be kept to an absolute minimum as I was too ill most of the time to carry out a business type phone call, or remember accurately what had been said . I relied mostly on emails as I could take breaks in a way you can’t in the middle of a phone call. Plus I needed a written record of almost everything – as my brain fog was severe.

But this was in no way ideal. You can’t deal with everyone purely by email or text. Plus a simple email that should take maybe 20 mins would often take me 4 hours to type. And that could often take me a day or two to recover from the exertion of doing even that.

My “PEM” or “PENE” (post exertional malaise / post exertional neuro exhaustion) has been severe and punishing.

Sometimes I would manage out of bed and get to my desk in my dressing gown and slippers. Looking like an unwashed wreck. Often I had to choose between washing/showering and getting any work done.
Almost every small bit of energy I could muster up had to go on work/property stuff. But over the last few years, I had built up a massive backlog of stuff that I would never have gotten on top of.

In the end I had to choose between my health and my ME getting even worse – or giving everything up.
When I write it like this, I can see there really was no choice.
But I went thru a lot of mental agony and anguish before deciding. Even started to have panic attacks at one point.

Doing this stuff had been my life for the last 11 years.
And I had struggled on for a very long time – because you can’t just get rid of 15 flats overnight. And I knew the consequences of “giving up” would be awful.
It wasn’t like resigning from my career in insurance in 1997 because of my health, after almost 20 years with the same employer. And walking away with nothing. And that door just closes behind you.
That was simple compared to this.

This has been terrible, and caused my health to go even further downhill. Which was one of my fears about doing it.
But it had to be done – and it was done to give myself a decent chance to improve again in the future.

When everything is more settled, and I get to a stage where I have some peace of mind.
I feel sure I can start to improve then.

I’ll probably write more about this in later posts.
As it has been traumatic, and I do need to get stuff out.

 

Moved house

For 2 reasons :

1) I wasn’t managing in our home very well any longer.
It was a semi-detached house with stairs (obviously). The stairs were hard. I could manage them some days – but with bad exhaustion after. Other days I couldn’t manage at all. My bedroom had been moved into a downstairs room some time ago – but the bathroom was still upstairs. (Had a downstairs loo, thank goodness.) My office was also upstairs (and I was hardly managing into it). The kitchen was too far away from the bedroom and living room for me. And when I did get into it, I often couldn’t stay in it for more than a few minutes at a time – as there was nowhere to sit down. And various windows throughout the house (incl my bedroom) I was unable to open – which would drive me mad.
It had a garden of course, but I rarely managed to get out in it over the last year or two. Any “good” days were spent trying to work and keep everything afloat. Not every one of course, but most of them.

2) The other reason was that we knew we would later voluntarily hand over our house to the Trustee In Bankruptcy. It would have been “taken” off us anyway. We had lived in it since 1998 and there was plenty of equity in it. So we knew it would be sold off to take the equity.
It has just gone onto Rightmove for sale this week. And it looks so sad and empty.

A house move is a stressful event anytime.
We moved well in advance of the bankruptcy taking effect. I actually moved into the flat before my husband at the end of May 2014. As I was desperate to get away from the house, its stairs, and all the other problems.

But as anyone with ME will know – a house move takes a huge toll on your health. Even when it’s a happy house move.
But in these circumstances . . .
I’m just glad its over – and I pray that we don’t have to do it again.

 

Had to change Banks – twice

How would I describe doing this (with ME) ?
Complete bloody torture . . .
The 1st change was recommended by the financial advisor and done ages before the bankruptcy. Bank manager clearly informed of probable future bankruptcy therefore ensuring everything done properly.
It took me months to get all the direct debits set up again – as I can hardly manage to tolerate using the laptop, or phone, etc with my ME being so bad.

Everything was just getting settled and running fine – then the bank decided that they were freezing and closing down all accounts (nationwide) for any bankrupt people. No notice was given at all. It just happened instantly.
This threw us into chaos.
Husband’s salary had just been paid in a week before this happened and we couldn’t get it back out. Well, we did eventually. But with a lot of hassle.
And trying to get a new current account once you have actually become bankrupt is very difficult. (No surprise really.) Most banks don’t want to know, and I actually thought we weren’t going to be able to open one at all at one point.
It was chaos, and mega stressful with ME.
Because you can’t pay many things without a bank account. And, as already mentioned, I am very limited in even being able to make phone calls. Or use the internet. And physically going out to places to try and pay things in cash was totally beyond me. (Still is most of the time.)
We now have a new account up and running (thank god).
But almost everything (DDs etc) have still to be set up all over again.

Not easy . . .

 

Homeopathic Hospital (or Centre Of Integrative Care)

Had a 5 day in-patient stay in January 2014.
This was a huge disappointment and actually resulted in my condition getting even worse afterwards. Especially when I read the doctor’s report a few weeks later.
There were many good things about the stay – I must add this.
Eg, the company of the other patients, getting good food at a regular time, the garden view from my bed (and got out into it twice), some of the meditation classes, a marvellous massage (called a Bowen Therapy massage), a great adjustable bed, a chair in the shower area to sit down on.
But there also a lot of odd, weird things that I tried to ignore and block out while I was there. This was hard work to do mentally, as a lot of things didn‘t “feel“ right.
But I didn’t speak up while there.
Partly because too exhausted – the whole effort of getting organised and getting there had taken its toll. And my husband was ill too and I was worried about him.
And the brain fog doesn’t make it easy to think clearly or express yourself when needed.
The other thing was – I didn’t want to be labelled as being “over-anxious” or having a “depressive/negative mood”. So I just kept quiet about things I was concerned or confused about.
But when I read the doctor’s (fairly short) report later – I was horrified. Angry, upset and despairing at what a waste of time and energy (mine) it had turned out to be.
Most of my symptoms had been ignored. And I reckoned about 80% of what I had said (or tried to say) had been dismissed or ignored. Or I hadn’t been allowed to talk about some symptoms.
Looking back – the total time the ward doctor spent with me was maybe 45 mins on the 1st day. Out of a 5 day stay. For 25 years of illness . . .
And a list of symptoms that was getting longer and longer. And more severe.
I had been so “grateful” and “positive” and “upbeat” while I was there. And on the last day, And even when I was just home.

But it all knocked the stuffing out of me.

I tried to reason with myself that I maybe had been expecting too much. But I just expected a doctor/doctors who had some knowledge and understanding of ME/CFS. Then I used up even more energy trying to go back over how it had gone so wrong, why had I not been able to make myself understood, did I not speak clearly enough, had I been speaking too fast (trying to get 25 years of history out remember), etc etc etc.

But it was damaging.

 

Have no GP now

Well, that’s not totally correct. But as good as.
The combination of having moved house to a different post code (although I’m actually closer to the surgery now), and the fact I haven’t been able to get into to surgery since 2011, means that I was told in October 2014 that I had to find a new GP.

I’m still reeling from the phone call that day.

A GP that I had never met or even spoken to before phoned me after my husband went into the surgery before going to work that morning. To ask for better (any) painkillers for me. My headaches have been very bad the last few years (mentioned while in the Homeopathic Hospital, but not taken seriously). And I had been awake most of the night actually crying with the pain. One of the worst nights ever, pain-wise.
The GP who phoned was abrupt and aggressive, wouldn’t let me speak, and I’m not sure she even understood what I was trying to say part of the time. She had a foreign accent.

She used phrases like :

“What’s wrong with you – are you housebound or something ?“
(Re why I haven‘t got to the surgery since 2011)

“We only do home visits for elderly people or people who cannot walk”.
(I didn’t want a home visit – just some effective medication.)

“If we come out to visit you and find out you CAN walk – we will be very angry with you.”
(I didn’t want a home visit but I was speechless at this.)

“I am noting your records now that you are not to be given any more prescriptions.”
(She talked to me like I had done something wrong. And was therefore punishing me.)

“There’s no rush – just within the next few days.”
(Telling me I had to change to another GP surgery – despite me trying to explain I hardly managed out, or even to make phone calls most of the time.)

And it went on and on.

I was in tears (of frustration) after it. And my heart rate felt like it was thru the roof for days later.
I have been with that surgery since 1987 and l don’t think I’ve had a home visit (or even asked for one ) in all those years.

 

Asked 2 ME Charities for help in finding a new “ME/CFS friendly GP”

1) Most recently (a few months ago) :
Paid £20 to join one and used a lot of time and energy emailing their advocacy worker. To explain in detail how limited I am and why I was asking for their help with the GP issue.
She was very nice, but explained she had a big backlog of people with ME needing help. And couldn’t really spend any time with me at this point in time.
She did mention one GP but I don’t think the practice is going to be suitable for other reasons. Even if he still works there, which she wasn’t sure of. And I would still have be a lot more well than I am just now to be able to make enquiries, or go there.

2) A few years ago :
The other charity (or maybe its more of a support group) – I used to be a member of years ago. But only managed to go to 2 or 3 meetings.
Anyway, I asked if I could pay the annual membership and rejoin. And explained my main need was for help finding a decent GP.
(This has been a big problem for me for years.)
I had hoped that somebody/anybody could just give me a recommendation for a decent one. I got an email reply just suggesting I come along to their next meeting – although I had tried to explain how limited I was, and rely mainly on email. I emailed back a few times asking could I pay their membership and rejoin anyway – but they just stopped replying.
So I gave up.

 

Car broken down at end of road – 5 weeks ago

I went into bankruptcy for health reasons.
To relinquish all the properties, and all the work and responsibility that went with them. And all the dealings with Letting Agents, Tenants, Banks, Mortgage Lenders, Tradesmen, Factors, Insurance Companies, etc etc etc.

It wasn’t so much for financial reasons – although debts had certainly built up over the last few years with me not being able to deal with things well, or quickly enough. I was making losses and haemorrhaging money.
But before the process started, everything was getting paid ok and nothing was in arrears. But it was a struggle trying to juggle it all.
Our assets well exceeded any debts – on paper anyway.
After the process we are left with almost nothing.
The Trustee is allowing us to keep this one flat to live in – mainly because it has a big mortgage on it and no equity in it.
But any life assurance and mortgage endowments were taken off us and cashed in.

But – the one bonus for us was they allowed us to keep our beloved BMW.
Only because it is so old – it is a Y registration. Which is roughly 15 years old I think. And it is probably worth less than £1000.
I have always loved this car.
It is the most reliable car we have ever had – and it looks good. And is so comfortable and secure to drive (when I’m able to.)
I was forever boring people with how reliable is has been.

5 weeks ago it broke down at the end of the street . . . .

A major suspension issue – involving a lot of labour time to fix (as well as an expensive part). To have it fixed by a BMW dealer or even a smaller garage would be unaffordable. The repair would cost more than the value of the car itself.
However, we are lucky that a friend of husband’s is working on it. Which will be much cheaper. But its a very slow process as he can only do bits at the weekends. In daylight. And the weather hasn’t helped.
But it will get fixed – eventually

 

– – – – – – – – – –

 

This blog post has taken me ages to write. I changed it so much. And didn‘t want it to be so long – but felt the need to get all this out.

And it will be the first that most people in my real life will learn about the Bankruptcy.
I have only managed to tell a very small number of people. Mainly because my health has been so bad and I have hardly managed to see anyone.
(And it’s not really suitable for a text message . . . )

I’ll probably write more about much of this stuff in future posts.
I’m desperate to be writing again.
It is a struggle as I’m still feeling quite unwell much of the time. And just trying to think and concentrate is exhausting. And using my laptop feels like torture some days.

Doing this post will no doubt wipe me out for days. I feel totally wrecked after doing it.
But in this case, it will be worth it.
The more I can pour all this stuff out (onto this Blog) – the more it is out of my head. And creates “headroom” for better stuff.

That‘s the plan anyway . . .

My Work Is Killing Me

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My Work Is Killing Me

Couldn’t get back to sleep – the racing brain again.

Thoughts rushing around at 100 miles an hour, lots of different work ideas, many contradicting each other, cannot decide what best to do over 2 o/s issues from yesterday, lots of other o/s problems rushing into my mind that need dealt with too, all important things (as I deal with Property – everything has a financial effect or knock-on and a financial penalty if ignored too long).
But I cannot focus on anything properly.

My concentration is shot to pieces – and its only 6.30 am. Not even out of bed yet or started my day.

And have the bad headache back again.
It started chewing away at my head as soon as my thoughts turned to my work. But don’t want to take painkillers just yet. (only 4 left in the house – but that’s a separate problem !)
So decided to type a post for my blog instead.
As my hope is that getting this out (of my head) will help release stress therefore help my damned CFS symptoms . . .

Don’t want to go into too much detail here about yesterday’s property problems – as it will be on the boring side. (And I plan to start another blog about this.)

But the No 1 item in my head is the unhelpfulness of the banks.

In particular a bank I spoke to on the phone last night for around 30 mins.  I mean we all know it’s the credit crunch – but honest to god – they could not be more difficult or awkward to deal with if they tried.
I was left feeling that I wished I hadn’t bothered as it turned out to be such a waste of my time and my energy. Both as valuable to me.
Still – I should be grateful that at least it wasn’t India.

I am sure this is the No 1 reason for so many small business going to the wall.

Anti-Depressants

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Why Happy Pills ?

I have been on anti-depressants for over 8 yrs.
My doc was always keen to give me these since I was diagnosed with CFS in 2002/2003 – after struggling on at work for at least 12 years before that.
With CFS or ME come a big list of physical problems which can make day to day life quite difficult.
Add to that almost no NHS medical help (none that works anyway), no financial help, no practical support, no emotional support.
Plus often boredom, impatience, or disinterest from people in general.

No wonder people get depressed !

Or in my case – more stressed-out than depressed.
If I didn’t “take the tablets” I would be in danger of bursting into tears of frustration and anger at stuff on a regular basis.
Almost every aspect of my life has got harder over the years. Especially the last 2 or so years.
Right now I seem to spend most of my life working – then exhausted – then sleeping.
Then more of the same . . .
There is very little time, space or energy for much else.
Not by choice – but because I work for myself and it takes me ages to get thru stuff some days with the CFS.
If I rest – the work problems and backlog gets worse. And everything has a “financial penalty” of some sort – as I deal with property.
If I just push on and on while feeling ill – I then end up “crashing” physically and mentally. And may end up in bed for a day (or even a few days) to recover. And while recovering – the work backlog and problems all get worse.
Its a vicious circle.
And I have “lost” so many days out of my life this way over the years.

Add to this the problems of trying to do normal daily activities like food shopping, cooking/preparing some dinner, laundry, housework, household finances, personal things like having a shower, or ironing clothes to wear.
These things can be major challenges at times when the CFS is bad – and often just can’t get done. Partly because no time left, but more often because no physical energy left over to do them.
Apart from the most important one – ie. Eating !
Mind you, at times I have even had to resort to just eating some biscuits or a slice of cheese for my dinner before collapsing into bed.
Not ideal.
– Then add to that the problems of having no money to spend, being overdrawn (or close), credit card debts rising, etc. And that’s just the household finance.
– The property finance is maybe 10 times as complicated and the credit crunch/recession of the last 5 years makes this all the more difficult. But I am still managing to keep it all afloat – though it feels like it is taking everything I have got at times.

But no choice here really.
As I can’t just “make it all go away”. And in this market and financial climate it isn’t possible just to sell it all off quickly – even if I wanted to.
I always look at the long picture – and keep telling myself it will be worth it in the long run.
And that I will get there.

My GP’s view on CFS and ME was that you will not get any financial help from the state – as you have to be “virtually in a coma” to qualify. So he would not help me at all. And this was years ago – around 2003.
NB. Can you imagine how angry I feel when I watch Benefit Cheats on TV . . . . Not that I would want to rely on benefits but it would have been nice just to have a little bit of financial help at times! Just to ease the strain.
I mean other people get benefits who don’t always need them, eg. Child Benefit. But thats another issue.

This is why I got into property.
My choices were very limited. And I had to do something, and something that would (ideally) produce some money in the long run.
CFS makes me unemployable – as I can only work when I can work. And I do work most days. But I can spend 8 hours at my desk and PC – but some days only get the equivalent of maybe 1 hours work done.

But I recognise I am lucky that it does fluctuate and I do have good spells too – and actually have a life. Maybe just not every day.

This has been a long post – and maybe sounds a bit “moany”. (sorry !)
But my goodness – it feels really good to get all this off my chest.

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