Friday, October 24, 2008

Household celebrations!

I tend not to write too much about our non-quilting life so you may not know that over the last few years my husband - who is a teacher- has been suffering with a serious problem with his voice. He has had several operations and an oddly frightening moment when, after a biopsy they told him that he did not have throat cancer. ( They never told him that they thought he did!). After a long cycle of having prolonged periods of school and being unable to communicate well, his voice getting better, him returning to school for a while and then losing it again and being off, the medics started to tell him to consider an early retirement.

It is fair to say that he needed some time to come to terms with this but after a year or so and another cycle of the above he decided enough was enough. Not only did he have one of our top ENT surgeons on side but our GP also happens to be an ENT specialist so we could not have had better advice and support. So, reports were gathered, courage was summonsed and the application went to the Teachers Pension Scheme for early retirement. And was promptly rejected.

The rejection was on the rather stupid basis that there was no evidence that he could not teach one to one ( There is no such job in a school) and on the rather less stupid reason ( from my lawyers point of view) that the main ENT surgeon's report said at one point ,"Cannot teach in the future" and then "may not be able to teach in the future." They took the latter as implying a possibility of recovery.

I did not see this report before it went in, but I did immediately write an apoplectic letter demanding he write an addendum more along the lines of the advice he gave Dennis which was in essence, continue to teach and you run a serious risk of losing your voice for life. Dennis went to yet another appointment to have a camera shoved down his throat. The surgeon was also apoplectic. He is Indian and it turns out that when he was taught English in India they were taught that 'can' and 'may' meant the same and were simply interchangeable. Sadly in English English they are not.

A fresh application was prepared. The surgeons report was as clear as a Swarovski crystal and just to assist the 'little doctor who is not even in practice - how dare she not believe my report' making the decision, a video of the throat examination was provided. It shows the missing mucus at the back of the throat which is the essence of the problem. (Or, rather, it shows the lack of mucus...!) Off he goes to the occupational health team who have to sign the application. there a doctor tells him that it appears all applications are being refused at the moment - even really serious cases - and not to hold his breath. I gear up to draft appeal papers and Dennis posts the application recorded delivery.

It goes missing, video and all. He is not happy. The post office agreed to help us trace it but it would take 16 days. Given that the school were threatening to dismiss him anyway because he can't do his job due to illness ( yes, there is indeed a fundamental contradiction in the system there) on 31st this month the timetable was becoming crucial.

Then yesterday we arrived home and a letter was awaiting - his application was accepted. He is now a 57 year old pensioner! It is odd to celebrate such a necessity but the relief from stress is great for him and the different between that and just taking his pension early without the medical grounds is significant ( by around the sum of my commodious quilting budget!) The terms of his retirement mean that he can still work in jobs that do not require use of his voice and so in my other capacity as Queen I have appointed him Royal Quilting Chauffeur.

By co-incidence we go to Bath for a well deserved break for both of us tonight so the blog may be sparse for a while but we shall be having a happy time. He deserves it.


Feather on a Wire said...

Well done! A friend went through a similar battle to get her medical retirement. They said not one of her problems individually would stop her working, she had to appeal to get them to recognise that the several conditions in totality did.
She found the union most helpful (though as she was lecturing at degree level, it's probably a different union).
I hope you DH has a wonderfully happy retirement (just like those adverts).

Elaine Adair said...

OH my - thank goodness it's over, but I'm sorry to hear of the great stress, disappointment, concerns, etc.

Happy retirement to your DH! And may his throat condition not be an impediment to his retirement. 8-)

Brenda said...

Dear Helen and Dennis
This is cause for celebration indeed. Now you have certainty on this issue, you can proceed to plan for some retirement travel. The royal chauffeur need not tangle with Sydney traffic, we have other ways of ensuring that you reach Copacabana safely ;-) Have a great time in Bath - the car should be able to drive itself now!

Kristin L said...

Argh! Bureaucracy. We are having our own bureaucratic issues here and I can completely sympathize with you and Dennis. Congrats on getting it worked out, and I hope he enjoys his new career as Royal Chauffeur. ;-)

Diane said...

Helen -- how scary, and frustrating, and finally, relief making! I'm sure you and Dennis have both felt a huge amount of stress about this... I hope that now you both can relax. Perhaps you can set Dennis up with a long arm machine so he can quilt your creations while you're off doing your work?! A quilting team! (I see a sit com here...)

Karen said...

Congratulations to both of you on Dennis' retirement, sounds like a long hard fight. When can we expect you to visit the west coast (US) 12 x12's, now that you have time?!

English Rose said...

what a hideously stressful time for Dennis, and for you too. and thank goodness that common sense finally prevailed. I hope that you both settle into this well, and look forward to seeing the direction he will move in... enjoy your trip to Bath.

Shasta said...

Wow! I'm glad things worked for him, and you. Red tape is awful to have to get through.
Enjoy your travels.