While some people dream of being able to get paid without doing any work, those who are physically or mentally unable to work often dream of being well enough to hold down a job and have a ‘normal’ life.
After being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a woman from east London had no choice but to get aid from the government after she failed to get her symptoms under control. Tragically, however, those benefits were cut off and she was forced to go without food.
A Lifelong Diagnosis
A 27-year-old from Hoxton, an area in east London, only wanted a normal life. However, she was never able to have that after she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at a young age. Since her body was unable to produce insulin on it’s own, she would always need to monitor her blood sugar.
Managing The Disease
In addition to monitoring her blood sugar, Amy Driver also had to inject insulin to keep her blood sugar at normal levels. Many people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are able to manage their symptoms and go on to lead perfectly normal lives. However, not everyone with the disease can manage it as well.
A Daily Challenge
In some cases, getting diabetes under control can be incredibly difficult. If blood sugar levels are too high for too long, people can experience severe dehydration as well as permanent damage to the eyes, nerves, kidneys, and blood vessels. In extreme cases, it can even lead to a diabetic coma.
A Dangerous Balancing Act
However, high blood sugar levels aren’t the only concern for those with diabetes. If blood sugar drops too low, it can cause a condition called hypoglycemia, and people with it can experience seizures and may even slip into a diabetic coma. Without early treatment, hypoglycemia can result in brain damage or even death.
A Constant Struggle
For Amy, getting her diabetes under control was a lifelong struggle. According to Amy’s boyfriend, Clifford Watson, he watched Amy struggle with her condition for the entire eight years that they dated. Sadly, she never was able to get her blood sugar levels stable.
Out Of Control
Her diabetes was so out of control that on numerous occasions, he would come home and find her unconscious on the floor. “She would sleep and sleep – I had to make sure I was with her every four hours to make sure she had her insulin injections. She would just sleep through her alarms,” Watson told iNews.
If diabetes continues to go untreated, irreversible damage can be done to the organs. Because of how long Amy’s diabetes had been out of control, she had also started to struggle with permanent disabilities. According to Watson, Amy’s eyesight and hearing had started to deteriorate over the years because of her diabetes.
Asking For Help
Even though Amy wanted to work and have a full life, her condition left her physically unable to get and keep a job. Her body simply wasn’t capable of handling the physical demands of working a full schedule. As a result, Amy was forced to apply for the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
A Weekly Payment
The ESA is a welfare program in the United Kingdom for adults older than 16 and younger than the state pension age. It is specifically designed for people who struggle to work because of a long-term medical condition. Since they can’t work, those who are granted the ESA are paid an income-replacement benefit to replace what they would have been paid if they were able to work.
Focusing On Getting Healthy
Because of how severe Amy’s diabetes symptoms were, she was considered sick enough to be eligible for the ESA. After the payments started, Amy was able to focus on trying to get her health on track instead of worrying about trying to hold down a job.
The Lost Paperwork
However, that all ended in 2016. According to Watson, the local job center lost Amy’s paperwork, which had exempt her from having to try to find a job to continue getting the weekly payments. “After her claim was messed up she was then having to attend classes aimed at getting her into work,” Watson explained.
The Trouble Begins
“She would go to the Job Centre and vomit. We kept trying to tell them that she really wasn’t well but no-one would listen,” Watson added. In order to get the payments, Amy had to attend appointments at the job center to show she was looking for a job.
A Downward Spiral
While she tried her best to attend, she occasionally missed a couple of appointments when she was too sick. As a result, the payments were halted. That happened a few times over the years, and Watson explained that it really put a strain on Amy. Not only did it affect her physical health, but also her mental health.
A Single Income
According to Watson, he was also given the ESA after he was stabbed two years ago and had to relearn how to walk. When Amy’s payments were halted, they struggled to get by on a single allowance. “Amy needed to follow a low sugar diet, and these foods for a specific diet aren’t cheap,” Watson said.
The Final Straw
“I went without food to try to help her,” the 37-year-old explained. In May 2017, Amy was cut off from her ESA again because she missed another appointment at the job center even though she had proof that she was at a doctor’s appointment.
The Four-Week Sanction
“We showed the evidence that she had a 94 percent attendance rate and she was told she would get her money the next day but that didn’t happen. Next thing we’re told is that she had a four-week sanction and no-one could explain why,” Watson said. Meanwhile, Amy was barely eating enough to keep her blood sugar healthy.
A Depressive Episode
At that point, Amy wasn’t in control of her diabetes nor her finances. As a result, she couldn’t afford to buy and eat the right foods she needed as a diabetic. “It got her really down and she wouldn’t get out of bed or even watch TV. She hardly left the bedroom,” Watson explained.
When they tried to get help from the job center, they told Amy to go get food at a food bank. “Amy’s diabetes made her extremely unwell. We had no food in the house at the time. She was told to go to a food bank – we called one and they said they didn’t have suitable food for diabetics,” the 37-year-old said.
The Phone Call
One day, Watson suggested Amy go to visit her dad to try and get her out of the house and in a better mood. “When he saw her he told her she looked pale and suggested she have a lie down. Then he took a shower and after that found her body cold,” Watson said. “I was at home making her a roast dinner when her brother called me to say she’d passed away.”
‘Killed By The Government’
“She was literally killed by the Government,” Watson said after Amy’s fatal low blood sugar attack, which was caused because her ESA had been cut off and she couldn’t afford enough food to keep her glucose levels steady. As if the situation wasn’t tragic enough, Watson also explained that the local council kicked him out of the home he shared with Amy after her death since it was in her name. “It’s a struggle finding landlords who will accept housing benefit and the council aren’t helping me,” he added.