I am being entirely sincere when I say that on finishing work before my surgery in December, I was more worried about being away from the office for up to 8 weeks, than the awake craniotomy itself.
I know. What sort of person was I? That person – the one sending not very important emails at midnight and checking my NHS-issue Blackberry every 10 seconds. I thought being off work would be terrible. I’d be bored at the very least, but above all, wouldn’t know about all those important things going on and you know, might even be forgotten!
When further treatment commenced and I focused on my rehabilitation it was suddenly the least of my worries. I discovered I can *actually* exist in the world sans work email. What a revelation!
I held onto the notion that I might be able to work part-time during my treatment but it became clear my body had other ideas. The need to adjust the goal posts has become par for the course.
On starting chemo radiotherapy, I had visions of how I would use the time – maybe baking my own bread, fermenting vegetables (that’s a thing now) and getting on top of years of paperwork. It's with no remorse that I admit none of it has happened and it's safe to say it probably won't.
I’m lucky to be employed somewhere with a generous occupational sick pay scheme but like others at the early stage of their career have moved around quite a lot between private and public sectors. Therefore, in relation to continuous service my number of years didn’t cut the mustard for maximum entitlement.
Irrespective of how good your workplace scheme is, eventually it will stop. Statutory sick pay (capped at 28 weeks in total) is £89.35 a week.
I suppose the point I wanted to make here was that a long term illness will undoubtedly affect your finances eventually – the extent will depend entirely on your circumstances. There are benefits you can claim – complicated processes with very long forms. Patience or support from somewhere like Maggies, Macmillan, or your Specialist Nurse might help.
It’s easy with hindsight to advocate the importance of health cover and other such insurances, but in your twenties and early thirties (if you are child free) priorities are likely to be paying the bills, having some money to have a good time, and hitting up Zara once a month.
I’m slightly reformed, more frugal. No early morning Café Nero calls or £8.50 Pret stops. The drawers full of beauty products are getting used and the mutlitude of mini hotel freebies are not gathering more dust – shower roulette is happening and a surprise new scent every few days is quite a treat!
I'm out of my comfort zone (brain tumours are good for that) newly financially dependent on another, but fortunate enough not to need the spare room at my mums just yet.
There was only one thing to do on my last proper pay day. Forget being sensible and have one last big (online) shop up.
I went IN, savouring every click.