wings and things

“Illness separated”


Yesterday I went to see the people who help people like me to access employment and/or volunteer opportunities. I thought it was about time I got out of my lady-of-leisure mode since resigning from my job at the nursing home several weeks ago.

The woman I spoke to (I will call her Sue) pulled up my records and I misheard her saying that Anthony and I were separated.

Me: No, no, we aren’t separated!
Sue: Illness separated?
Me: Oh, yes, I see. He’s in a nursing home.

Anyway, Sue was very helpful and asked me to come back today with various bits of paperwork that would help to get me back ‘into the system’.

Even though the phrase “illness separated” isn’t new to me, I hadn’t heard it for a long time so it shook me up a bit. Of course there is no other way to describe our situation in terms of the red tape but it still sounds weird, especially the “separated” bit. Oh well.

The views from Anthony’s nursing home window sometimes look uncannily like home and yesterday he ‘saw’ his nephew milking the cows outside and wanted to help. I looked out the window and tried to see what he was seeing (his hallucinations are, thankfully, happy ones mostly).


Me: It’s okay, Ants, he’s just about finished milking.
Anthony: What about the fences?
Me: Ming’s taking care of all that.
Anthony: How much money do we have in the bank?
Me: Lots, thousands!
Anthony: Okay.

I think we might fall into the category of “illness inseparable” now but that wouldn’t tick the boxes ha!


I found out today that Anthony and I are ‘illness separated’.

photo credit to Jane Terren

Ming and I were at Centrelink (Australia’s social security service) this morning to pursue job possibilities for him now that he is not supposed to do manual labour. He is still working for our neighbours as a dairyhand but only for three days a fortnight, and with no lifting allowed. As many of you know, this is because Ming tried to lift something really heavy in our shed a few months ago and actually fractured some of the titanium in his ‘new’ back. He will be scheduled for further surgery in the next couple of months, after which he will obviously have to quit milking the cows for good.

So we were at Centrelink with a the doctor’s certificates and other paperwork that might help Ming claim some sort of interim allowance before and after the next surgery, when (whilst waiting for her computer to reboot) the beautiful woman serving us chatted with me about this and that and she took an interest in my own circumstances. As I had previously received a carer’s allowance when Anthony still lived at home, I was on the system, but she could easily see that I have had no income of any sort for nearly 18 months and haven’t been able to claim any social security help due to living on a farm (asset). She asked me about Anthony and, when I told her he was now in a nursing home, she said, “Well that means you are separated.” I said, “No, no!” Then she said, “It’s okay, I just mean you fall into the Centrelink category of ‘illness separated’ and, as such, you could probably do with some financial assistance.”

She then said she would do anything she could to assist us in our Centrelink pursuits. I was so grateful I nearly got teary and then suddenly she realized that Ming (whose Scottish name is spelled Menzies) used to play football with her own son and, even though she and I had never known each other back then, I not-so-instantly recognized her!

I am feeling a bit uncomfortable about lodging a claim for financial assistance but, on the other hand, Anthony and I have, like so many, paid a fortune in taxes over the decades, so why not? It’s difficult for me to get another job at the moment because I spend a lot of hours with Anthony every week – either here or at the nursing lodge; and it’s difficult for Ming to commit to another job until he knows about surgery (next appointment with surgeon in two weeks).

One of the things I am so grateful for is the fact that my beautiful, now incapacitated, ‘illness-separated’ husband, has had enough savings to sustain us so far. And that we are living on his/our beautiful farm.