An unexpected change in our family's circumstances.

I am standing on the very edge of a cliff. I don't like heights and I feel sick and dizzy. All I want to do is back slowly and carefully away from the edge, back to the security of the green and pleasant lands where I feel safe.

This is not an option. I not only have to look down but I have to jump, eyes wide open, my heart bounding in my chest like a small bird trapped and terrified. After years of being proud to be self sufficient my family is now forced to apply for help from the British government.

My husband had an accident this week. Nothing gory, not a drop of blood spilled. But through no fault of his own (or anyone else's) he is left wearing a leg brace allowing only 60 per cent movement in his trashed knee.

His quad muscle on the top of his thigh became detached from the knee cap - tendons completely sheared. He cannot walk without crutches, and stairs are the equivalent of a mountain- scalable but not without considerable effort and pain.

His income stopped the minute his tendon snapped. Self employed without work there is no money. We have no significant savings so the first thing I did after driving home from the hospital he was ambulanced to (an hour and a half away from our home) was to go online and look what we might be able to apply for.

I found Employment Support Allowance. We aren't entitled to Statutory Sick Pay as he is/was self employed. I say is/was because the lovely helpful lady on the application line gently pointed out that since he can't work for the forseable future my DH for the first time in his life since he first pulled on his work boots aged 15 almost 4 decades ago, is unemployed

Hopefully we should get ESA and then apparently can apply for council tax reduction and free school meals. Luckily the children are excited about the meals -it takes the sting out of the news we had to break to our little performers DS#4 and DD#2 that they would not be able to start ballet, tap and musical theatre lessons in a couple of weeks as we had promised.

That more than anything broke my heart. I make a point of trying never to promise anything I can't fulfil but I had no choice but to break that promise. Knowing that it was unavoidable does not help.

So with applications in, the waters at the bottom of the cliff are slightly less murky. I am trying to avoid looking at the sharp rocks, partially hidden. The rocks of potential financial disaster caused by a car breakdown, school trip, birthdays, washing machine malfunction....

We are used to living on a tight budget. Friends and family tell me I am strong, I will cope, we will survive.

But I am going to be a selfish cow now and stamp my feet and howl at the moon a little.

I am SICK of coping, getting by, managing. I want to be able to take my children on holiday. I want to be able to put extra petrol in the car and take them crabbing at the seaside for the day. I want to buy them an ice-cream when we go for a walk in the woods. Who did I piss off in a former life? Why do we seem to have more disasters than the average family.

My hard working husband suffered a heart attack and TIA due to a undiagnosed hole in the heart 7 years ago. That was a terrible time. I have diabetes and Fibromyalgia Syndrome but have pushed myself to lead as normal a life as possible. I can't believe we are facing another stressful year of poverty.

It's not fair.

There is no safety net. We have to wait weeks to hear if we will be given £77 a week ESA. What are we and others in similar circumstances supposed to do in the meantime? Bills still keep rolling in, we have to keep eating. Luckily I had a good month blogging last month and if my calculations are correct we should just about manage this month. But with Easter and my Gran's funeral the following month's earnings were down. It's a counting game and I always hated maths.

I'm not looking for pity. It's just writing about my life is second nature to me, good and bad, it all ends up here.  Already I have had so many kind messages from bloggers which buoyed me up in those first few hours after the accident.

This community is on the whole, wonderful. I know there will be fellow writers out there who will help me stay afloat and guide me through the next few scary weeks and months. I know there will be people offering to hold my hand and gently pull me back from the edge of the cliff. Some of you have already offered and for that I thank you with all of my heart.

And of course we have friends and family in the "real" world. Good wishes and prayers have been pouring into our home.

I will do my best to look up not down. My darling husband is alive, he didn't fall from height, he didn't end up with a catastrophic head injury. He is broken but still the love of my life. We will manage.



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