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Claimant Sexually Assaulted During PIP Assessment

September 17, 2019

Spotted here.



I was sexually assaulted last spring by a female nurse at my PIP assessment. She didn’t believe I was bladder and bowel incontinent, and said she needed to examine me. Not knowing this was wrong, or what she was about to do to me, I lay on the couch as asked.
She thrust her hand between my legs and placed it on my genital area, asking me to squeeze. I did as she asked, then she removed her hand, saying “there’s nothing wrong with you”
I felt defiled and abused. I went home in tears, and was later alerted to the fact by my disability advisor, that I could have urinated on the nurses hand, and had to go home soaked in urine. There were no handwashing facilities in the room, so the nurse would have had to leave me unattended whilst she went to the bathroom elsewhere in the building.

Her assessment was so poor and missed out all of my mental health issues since childhood, and went as far as to say I did not present as tearful, when she actually tossed a box of tissues across the desk towards me, as I was crying so hard.
I lost my award because of her assessment of me.
I complained to I.A.S.and an investigation took months, including a face to face interview. I gave a police video statement, and the police said as I had no witness and she denied touching me, there was no case to answer.
I have complained to the NMC and will very likeky have to attend court against the nurse. She left I.A.S not long after my complaint, but I do not know if she resigned or was sacked.
She now works somewhere for the NHS and is likely abusing other vulnerable disabled people.

I’m wondeting if anyone else encountered an assault at assessment? I have PTSD about the event and relive that vile morning from start to finish.

Thank you.
ATOS Miracles



September 16, 2019

Sitting at his writing table by the window overlooking New York’s East River, Irfan Malik watches the water rush past. He too is in a rush. There are so many poems to complete before the words escape him forever.

The 61-year-old Punjabi poet, who was once fluent in four languages, has aphasia — a variant form of Alzheimer’s disease. He is losing his words one language at a time.

On good days he rolls with the water and is able to write — although it can take hours to finish a line. On the off days — and they are advancing rapidly — he can’t access the words. On these days he just watches the river rush by.

Malik was diagnosed with logopenic aphasia in 2015. “‘Aphasia’ means impairment of language, ‘logo’ means shortage. So he is losing his language,” explains Amna Buttar, a geriatric doctor at New York University Langone hospitals, who is also Malik’s romantic partner.

Initially he only had language issues but this summer it was confirmed that he has Alzheimer’s disease with memory impairment as well as executive function impairment, Buttar says. “His dementia is still considered mild, but will progress.”

When it began, Malik compared what happened to his brain to a stroke. The damage was done and he would have to learn to adjust, he thought. He stammered and would get slightly annoyed when people finished his sentences before he could. But he had accepted this was the hand he was dealt.

He moved to New York City from Boston in 2016 to be with Buttar, a fellow Punjabi expatriate, who fell in love with his poetry before she fell for him.

They met in 2014. Since then, Buttar has happily translated Malik’s Punjabi verses for English speakers. She is a passionate fan of his work and is eager to share it with a larger audience.

These days she also translates his conversations. While Malik can still understand English, he has trouble finding the words to express himself. He will slowly lose his comprehension too.

“It is so sad that a person whose life is about words is losing his words,” says Buttar.

“It makes me happy to know he is continuing to write poetry,” she says.

Malik became a poet out of necessity.

While a student in Lahore, Pakistan, in the 1970s, he was set on becoming a fiction writer and was writing in Urdu, the official language of Pakistan. Once his first story was published, he started showing up at the Pak Tea House, a hangout for famous and up-and-coming writers and progressives.

“I was very young so nobody paid attention to me,” he says. So he and another young Punjabi writer, Zubair Ahmad, founded a youth group called Nae Uffaq (New Horizons). They held meetings and readings at another tea house and soon attracted a young following.

“We became their voice,” he says.

It was not a political organization, says Malik. “Not yet.”

But by 1977, after General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq came to power in a military coup d’état deposing Pakistan president Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, that all changed.

“I decided now was not the time to write stories or fiction but now was the time to get involved in politics and I joined an underground Communist Party,” he says in Punjabi with Buttar translating.

He stopped writing prose and became a scribe for an underground political circular called Red Flag. Life was tough for young activists. Malik said they were routinely rounded up, imprisoned and tortured. Malik knew of three young leaders who had died while being tortured. With that in mind and when he was no longer impressed by the party leadership, he quit the party and fled Lahore for Sweden with his Swedish wife, who was 8 months pregnant with their daughter.

He wrote his first poem in a new language — Swedish — in a new city — Stockholm.

He was studying Swedish and working on improving his English, when a journalist asked him to write a piece about Bhutto for a Swedish magazine. This paved the way to a job teaching immigrant Pakistani children in Stockholm both Punjabi and Urdu.

He published an Urdu translation of nine Swedish short stories titled Ghongay (Seashell) in 1993.

“I left home at 5 a.m. and was home at midnight,” says Malik. “I didn’t have much time so I decided to do poetry rather than prose. It doesn’t take as much time or research as prose fiction does.”

He did most of his writing commuting between schools on the city bus.

He met the late Swedish poet Gosta Friberg. In 2002, Malik published Ghaira (An Ever Expanding Circle) a Punjabi translation of Friberg’s poems.

“That started my journey into poetry.” Malik says. He soon decided to write only in his mother tongue, Punjabi. When South Asia was divided into India and Pakistan after the British pulled out in 1947, Urdu and English became the national languages of Pakistan. Written Punjabi was given an Urdu script and as a result the language lost a lot of its power.

Malik wanted to give it back.

His first book of poetry Vich Jagratey Sutti Taang (Desire Is Sleeping Within Sleeplessness, 1992) is about love and sex and politics.

His next book Akath (Untold, 1998), is a collection of poems about a language that is dying. It is a philosophical metaphor. One poem gets shorter until there are no words left and the book ends with several blank pages.

Malik relies on pauses to punctuate the words that paint his poems. Those silent spaces have always held as much importance as his carefully chosen words. Now as he writes about facing his illness, pauses take up even more space.

His third book Nun Guna (The letter N, 2000) plays with the structure of language.

Malik can no longer read that first poem he wrote in Swedish or speak to his first child in her mother tongue. That language disappeared first.

His English words are evaporating, too — gone before they reach the tip of his tongue. These days, it’s a struggle, but he can have conversations in Urdu and while he can still find words in Punjabi, he has trouble expressing himself in deep intellectual ways, says Buttar.

Malik can trace the onset of the disease back years before the official diagnosis. He was living in Boston with his second wife, an American he met in Stockholm, and their two children. He was working in the IT department at Harvard University when he first noticed a stammer as he searched for words. It was about 10 years ago.

By the time he was diagnosed in 2015, his marriage had unravelled and he had met Buttar. He was on disability from his job at Harvard and the prognosis depressed him.Get some good advice in your inboxGet expert advice on life and relationships with the Star’s Advice newsletter.Sign Up Now

After months of wallowing in despair, Buttar said to him. “You have a choice — stay depressed or do something about it.”

He chose to continue sharing his poetry. He contacted friends in Pakistan, across the United States, in Canada and Europe telling them he would be travelling and asking if they would arrange readings.

“Poetry is such an intimate thing,” Malik says of his preference for small gatherings.

Malik had five readings booked in Pakistan before he arrived which lead to further readings over the two weeks he was there. The same thing happened in San Francisco and Vancouver where there are large Punjabi communities.

Each year since including this year, he has continued these poetry tours. In 2018, he gave readings in Toronto, Stockholm and London.

“Some of the people who came to my readings knew my poetry. Some others didn’t but when they heard, they became my fans,” he says.

Malik writes about romance, spirituality and politics from the point of view of a man in exile. Different themes are seeping into his latest work which reflects his changing outlook on life. He wrote Call of Mystics at the table by the East River.

Tongues have gotten stuck to palate/ When you close your eye/ You see white light/ Flowing in water/ Rushing water/ Black water/ My heart desires/ This water to show me pictures / Drakes, catfish, frogs/ And Shah dolay de chohey (Microcephalic children considered mystic) / Then all of us join in Bhangra dance (Punjabi folk dance)/ Dam a dum mast qalandar/ Dam a dum mast qalandar (Sufi mystic chant)

Longtime friend and established Lahore-based literary writer Zubair Ahmad says Malik has a formidable presence among the post modern Punjabi poets who make up the Western Punjabi literary movement that started after the partition in 1947.

“Every poet has his inner river wherein he fulfils the water of his creation,” says Ahmad. “To me (the basis of Irfan’s poetry) is life abroad,” says Ahmad. “His source is not old classical Punjabi poetry or folk literature. He is a different kind of poet. His diction is not traditional and his poetry stands apart,” Ahmad says. “Anti-traditional, avant-garde and new poetic diction — he has made his place.”

Malik moved away from poetry during his years at Harvard, preoccupied with everyday life — work, family and taking advantage of the free Harvard education available to employees. He took courses in writing, theatre and acting and started the South Asian American Theatre there.

Eight years went by. When the memory lapses started, directing and acting became too challenging. One day he came across his poems and “I dropped my books in the sea. I needed to get back to it.”

Since then he has compiled and published two books of poetry Dooji Aura (The Other Woman, 2015) and his latest collection of selected works and some new poems he wrote about his disease titled Chhanday Agay Kayser, (Poetry for Saffron Flowers, 2018).

“Experimental, postmodern, non-linear, pithy, and self-reflexive are all apt descriptors for his poetic compositions,” wrote Saeed Ur Rahman, in a review of Malik’s last collection in Pakistani news magazine TNS. “Punjabi is a lucky language if Malik keeps on producing such refreshing work.”

At his readings, Malik often is accompanied by an English translator. Several of his poems have been translated into English, Swedish and Urdu and appeared in literary journals such as Salamander, a Boston-based magazine.

He has the title for his next collection Awan Waley Din Chutti Mangdey Nein (Coming Days Are Asking For Time Off.)

“In it there is only one romantic poem,” says Buttar. “It is about me. The rest are about Alzheimer’s and his disease and his feelings about his disease.”

As Malik continues to write, he is also focusing on getting more of his poems translated into English so his children will have access to his life’s work when he is gone.

“They don’t know my language and they don’t know my poetry,” he says.

It’s not easy. Nothing is easy for Malik anymore.

“It is tough for both of us,” says Buttar.

“Being a geriatric doctor, I know what is to come, so half the time I live in denial and half the time I know too much and it is very stressful trying to deal with it,” she says.

“But the hardest part is knowing he is going to forget about me. ”

Meningitis Awareness Week

September 16, 2019

Life is very different for Lesley Hart since she had meningitis nearly 10 years ago.

“I’m no longer Miss Independent. It’s impacting more and more as time goes on. But I live each day as I want to.”

Lesley is one of nearly 2,500 people who develop bacterial meningitis and meningococcal disease each year in the UK.

The Meningitis Research Foundation says the right support is key for people like her.

To mark Meningitis Awareness Week, it has released a survey showing that, while many know the condition can kill, very few are aware it can cause ongoing side-effects.

In the poll of 2,000 people, 87% underestimated – or did not know – that people who contract bacterial meningitis can be left with long-term problems.

And 90% didn’t know deafness is a common after-effect of meningitis.

Meningitis causes swelling in the lining of the brain. It is caused by a viral or a bacterial infection.

Viral meningitis usually gets better on its own. And while most of those with bacterial meningitis who are treated quickly will also make a full recovery, it can lead to serious long-term problems. One in 10 cases are fatal.

In Lesley’s case, she sought medical help when her usual migraine symptoms failed to improve.

She was admitted to hospital – and at one point her parents were told she had just six hours to live.

Lesley, who is from Hereford, says: “‘Meningitis is an infection I never thought I would get.

“My after-effects are wide and varied including a brain injury and short-term memory problems. I can struggle with holding information and I have tinnitus.

“I have nerve damage and I don’t feel hunger or thirst. I struggle to keep my feet warm. My skin grows funny on my feet and so I have deep-tissue dermatitis.

“When I was discharged I did not receive aftercare automatically, I have had to fight for every single appointment.

“Once I was referred to the brain injury team they were amazing though. He was finishing my sentences about what I was struggling with.

“It was great to be finally listened to and validated”

‘Cost can be immense’

Lesley now lives in a bungalow controlled by smart text, and has meals delivered, which she can heat up. “I have forgotten I am cooking things and leave them to burn”.

But the illness didn’t only change her health.

“My relationship has ended. I have two amazing friends, but I lost most as I couldn’t go out clubbing, and alcohol has a very negative impact on me. I was no longer deemed as ‘fun’.”

Lesley now works two days a week. “The brain injury team suggested giving up work completely, but I’m too stubborn. I also couldn’t cope with my own company every day.”

Vinny Smith of the Meningitis Research Foundation said: “While many are aware that meningitis costs lives, fewer people know about the damage the disease can do to people’s long-term health and their future.

“The cost to people can be immense and sadly some never fully recover, so the right support is essential.”

PIP Claimant Made To Simulate Wiping Bottom At Assessment

September 16, 2019

When Two Comedians With CP Fell In Love

September 13, 2019

When we put three disabled comedians together round a picnic table we hadn’t banked on hearing one of the best disability love stories we’ve ever heard.

We’re a hard-bitten cynical bunch at Ouch sometimes but this was a beautiful moment from Spring Day about her relationship with BBC Three’s one and only Jerk, Tim Renkow.

The story packs even more of a punch when you find out about her history and how much fun they’ve been having as a couple ever since.

Features the “catholic cure for stammering”, body positivity and more in the podcast that does disability differently – almost like it’s normal.

Melissa Blake

September 12, 2019

When Melissa Blake shared a blog post she’d written about Donald Trump on social media it went viral.

But most of the thousands of comments she received weren’t criticising what she’d written, but how she looked.

Melissa, 38, has the genetic bone and muscle disorder Freeman-Sheldon syndrome – a rare condition that affects the mouth, face, hands and feet.

“There were comments from people calling me ‘ugly’ and saying ‘she looks like a parade balloon,'” Melissa tells Newsbeat.

The final straw came when a particularly nasty commenter suggested she should be banned from posting pictures of herself online because of how she looks.

“I thought, well, I’m going to do the opposite and show them that they’re not going to get the better of me.”

In response to people calling her ugly, Melissa, who is a freelance journalist and disability blogger, then shared three selfies of herself on Twitter.

Melissa’s tweet was met with a positive response online and to date has had over 22,000 retweets and over 256,000 likes.

She says being judged on her appearance during her 14-year-career as a journalist is something she’s “come to expect”.

“I find this is something a lot of women who put themselves out there face – they are subject to visual attacks.” Image copyright Melissa Blake Image caption Melissa is touched by the support her selfie post has received

Melissa has had over 26 operations to straighten out her joints, hands, knees and treat her scoliosis – a condition where the spine twists and curves to the side.

She says it’s been hard at times to ignore the cruel comments she’s received.

“I’d be lying if I said they didn’t bother me and it’s hard not to get down on yourself.

“These people are just sat at home hiding behind their keyboards. I don’t think they would say half of what they say on the internet to someone’s face.”

But whenever she feels down, she looks at everything she has achieved so far.

“What I’ve overcome helps put things in perspective,” she adds.

Melissa also has a message for the trolls who may have insulted her and then seen her viral selfie post.

“I hope my selfies help them see there is a human on the other side of the computer they’re insulting.

“I think it just goes back to treating people how you want to be treated. I know that sounds so simple and cliché, but I think it’s true.”

George Wildgust- Oldest Known UK Man With Downs Syndrome

September 11, 2019

A man, whose family believe he is the oldest person in the UK with Down’s syndrome, has said dancing keeps him young.

George Wildgust, who celebrated his 77th birthday last month, was not expected to live past the age of 10.

People with the condition are expected to live to their 50s these days but the life expectancy was much lower when Mr Wildgust was born in 1942.

His niece, Nikki Wright, said he loves to watch Strictly Come Dancing and dance around his care home in Nottingham, where he has lived since 1993.