Tag Archives: Chronic illness

Why not hold a ME/CFS and FIBROMYALGIA Games?!


Seeing the Commonwealth Games on television last night got me thinking, why not hold a ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia Games?!!

There could be Gold Medals awarded in events such as;

  1. Who can get out of bed first;
  2. The fastest time for getting out of bed and into the kitchen;
  3. Who can go to sleep and stay asleep for the longest time;
  4. Who can take their pain medication the fastest (with bonus points for remembering the correct doses);
  5. Who can correctly put away ten random everyday items from a supermarket in their right places;
  6. Who can remain standing up in a shower for the longest time;
  7. Who can do their meagre household budget the quickest (bonus points for accuracy and for actually knowing what a budget is);
  8. Who can stay on hold with Centrelink the longest without going insane from their on hold music;
  9. Who can fill out an application for the Disability Support Pension without going mad and tearing it up in tears;
  10. Who can drive their kids to school whilst remembering to actually have their kids in the car and then leave them at school before going home;
  11. Who can actually drive;
  12. Who can find the leftovers from dinner the night before (hint: try looking in random cupboards);
  13. Who can convince a doctor that their condition is real (bonus points for completing this before the Games closing ceremony);
  14. How fast can you convince a random member of the public that lying in bed all day is actually not a holiday (again bonus points for completing this before the Closing Ceremony);
  15. Who can take the most medication withhin 24 hours without significant side effects; (ambulances will be on standby);
  16. A motorised wheelchair race;
  17. Who can hold a conversation the longest whilst actually making sense;
  18. Who can say the word ‘Centrelink’ without screaming or bursting into tears;
  19. Who can receive a refusal for their Disability Support Pension the fastest;
  20. Who can go a day without pain (this event will carry over to the next Games in four years time, and every Games after that until a winner is declared);
  21. Who can climb up the steps to the diving board the fastest (you don’t actually have to dive, simply falling off is acceptable);
  22. Who can watch real athletes complete the decathlon without feeling exhausted and requiring resuscitation;
  23. Who can remember to bring their tickets so they can get into the Games (bonus points if you also remember your lanyard and plastic ID holder);
  24. Who can complete a five metre swim without drowning (floaties are allowed);
  25. Who can remember to actually show up to the Games;
  26. The final event, traditionally a marathon, will be replaced by awarding gold to the first person who remembers where they parked their car.

These are but a few of the exhilarating events of these wonderful, prestigious Games. They would be held alongside the Paralympic Games because no-one with ME/CFS or Fibromyalgia could possibly interfere with their events.

If the four years between Games is too short for competitors to recover in time, the Games may need to be held every eight years (or twelve).

The actual gold medals will be made of paper, as we do not want to see contestants falling off podiums after receiving them due to their weight.

Also the podiums will be replaced by beds, at different heights off the ground (the tallest being one-and-a-half feet high) so contestants can actually receive their hard earned medals.

I think we are on a winning idea here!Who is with me!

…….now that is just rude, you could simply just say no……

Now what am I going to do with all these paper gold medals???

My own ME/CFS/Fibromyalgia story


I am writing this with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, in the hope that someone else may recognise the symptoms I had (and ignored) and do something before it is too late.

When my first symptoms appeared I did not rest but ‘fought bravely on’, or so I thought. The truth is I made it much, much worse for myself……

Let us start at the beginning.

By all accounts I was a precocious kid who was also very shy.

About the age of five or six (maybe seven?) I came down with glandular fever. I did not know it at the time but this was very bad news and quite possibly the beginning of my current condition.

I remember feeling incredibly exhausted and in pain all over my body. After I was diagnosed I had six to eight weeks off from school and vaguely remember being so tired that I couldn’t do anything, spending all my time in bed. Not much fun without the smartphones and laptops we can enjoy now.

I was very young for my class, as my birthdate of early February allowed me to start before I was strictly of school age. This meant I finished Year 12 when I was only sixteen.

After the glandular fever I was a fairly normal kid. I spent ages outside playing with the kids up the street, running around with the best of them. In fact my parents had to tell me, on many occasions, to calm down and not make so much noise.

I wish I had that energy now!

In grade eight, from memory, I started to ride my bike to school. This was no mean feat when you consider we lived five miles away as the crow flies, and there were not many crows around to give me a lift so it was probably a six mile trip for me and my bike.

I participated in all sports, cricket and football being the main ones, and ran the 800 metres on sports days.

The only symptom I can recall near this time is that when I became a teenager I would sleep (when on holidays) until two or three in the afternoon. My Mum chided me for this, and why not because it was not normal behaviour. The beginning of CFS?

I exercised a lot, including a 1.5 kilometre run most nights (yes I know I’m mixing metric with imperial, I was at school when it changed so give me some latitude here!) so I did not lack energy.

When my University days began I do remember waking up feeling more tired than when I went to sleep. I had to drag myself to go to boring lectures and tutorials. However I thought the tiredness was because of my hatred of University. Another big mistake.

Then I started my first job as a Management Trainee at a bank. I quit after less than two years when I thought I was underutilised (I had taken to bringing a book to work because I got my work done too quickly).

In hindsight I was monumentally stupid. I was in their marketing department at the time, a role I would kill for now.

However I knew better (I didn’t) and since I had got my first job at my very first ever job interview, how hard could it be to get another one?

Bloody hard, especially if you quit your job during a recession. More fool me.

I spent the next two years doing odd jobs (storeman, pizza delivery, market research) before landing a role in retail sales. Oh, and waking up exhausted. The CFS continued and I knew no better so I soldiered on. Another big mistake.

My personal anxiety at this point was through the roof. I finally got a full time, steady job, but as a retail salesperson. Every day for the first few months I’d have to psyche myself up just to get out of my car and walk the few remaining steps to work.

My anxiety was stratospheric.

My morning tiredness by this point was out of control. Coca Cola was my staple drink, three or four cans a day to keep me awake…plus I loved it!

Fast forward a few years to my thirties, still changing jobs every two or three years because I would get bored. My first marriage had imploded and my morning exhaustion had me eating a Mars bar with a can of Coke for breakfast, just to get going. Yet another clear signal (with hindsight) missed.

This went on for a few years.

After my failed marriage, which meant I could only see my son (who was the light of my life) every second weekend, my stress levels were on another planet.

During the twelve months directly after my wife and I separated I suffered tonsillitis three times, was made redundant twice, had my wisdom teeth out, a knee operation and almost died from liver failure due to an auto-immune disease. Stress galore and even more tired in the morning.

Looking back now the stress was so enormous it was always going to pay me back, big time.

At this stage I definitely had what would be diagnosed today as CFS. They say the best thing you can do at early onset of CFS is to rest. However I was going through a divorce and had shamefully had to move back home because I was broke, so no rest for me.

Fortunately another good job came around and I was spending more time with my son (50/50). He kept me going when I was totally exhausted. How could I stop with a young (three or four year old) wonderful, incredible child to care for?

I had a lot of sales roles early in my career and as a sufferer of anxiety this was not good. However I persevered because I liked unemployment even less.

Waking in the morning was becoming a far more serious issue, as I had to force myself to roll out of bed to make sure I wouldn’t go back to sleep. Days were just a blur and I couldn’t wait to get home and lie down.

Sound familiar?

My fault entirely, as some management consultant had given an IQ test to everyone at a place I worked whilst in Sydney (another story). The good news was that he recommended I join Mensa and he told me that if I found myself in a room of two hundred people then I would, on average, literally be the smartest guy in the room. After the ego died down I put enormous pressure on myself to succeed (in anything, I just had to!).

After my return to Adelaide I was working a normal nine to five job, then at the end of that day I went to an office I shared with a friend, in a startup business we saw promise in. After just over a year of this and having a local distributor steal the exclusive rights to what we were selling, we decided to call it quits.

I was so damn tired I could hardly think straight. But I HAD to succeed and be a millionaire by the time I was thirty-five! This was the worse thing I could of done to my now very fragile body and mind.

Then I met my second wife (still married eighteen years later) who is very much into health. She became very concerned over my morning tiredness and the stress I was under.

After actually waking up feeling refreshed (the only time I can remember doing so in my life) on Kangaroo Island on a holiday, I readily agreed to see if anything could be done. I wanted more mornings like that one!

My first doctor diagnosed me with anxiety induced depression and I was put on a drug that, again in hindsight, made my ME/CFS condition worse. I took Zoloft for the next fifteen years. Zoloft can lead to ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia.

A few years later I joined a very small business and invested a lot of time and money into it. The business was in the finance industry, and I joined exactly one month before the Global Financial Crisis wiped us out.

My timing, when it comes to money, has always been atrocious.

Even more stress now, as we faced the reality of possible bankruptcy and losing our dream home. For the next three years I worked every single day (yes including Christmas Day) networking and chasing clients for my own sales and marketing consultancy, as there were simply no jobs during this time after the GFC. Money was great one month and terrible for the next two or three.

Even more stress.

Then I started teaching international students all about business, team building, leadership, finance and marketing. I loved it. However I was still waking up feeling exhausted.

Then in about April of 2016 I had what I thought was the flu. I felt like I had been hit by the proverbial bus but strangely did not have a blocked or runny nose. I now believe this is when my Fibromyalgia began, with this virus triggering another that had lain dormant since my glandular fever, causing my ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia to explode.

The GP I went to for this ‘flu’ told me to rest and wait it out. I tried to talk to him about my exhaustion for the last thirty years but he dismissed all this, telling me to get a good night’s sleep and take up exercise. The worst possible advice for the condition I had.

I went back to work a week later when I should have stayed in bed. If I had I probably wouldn’t be in the situation I am in now.

Then my legs started to feel incredibly heavy, as though made of concrete, and I began walking crookedly, uncontrollably, crashing into walls and, most embarrassingly, walking into student desks. The pain in my legs started soon after.

Finally I was getting the message my body had been trying to tell me for the last thirty years…”Stop! Rest! You are an absolute wreck!”.

The next doctor (I did not bother going back to the unbeliever) was sympathetic and actually believed in ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. However she told me she did not know enough about it and so referred me on.

In so doing she did me an enormous favour and I will always be grateful.

The next doctor was a godsend. I first saw her in July of 2016. She had no preconceptions about my condition and was treating other patients with the same symptoms.

I had a five week break over Christmas that year (2016) after struggling to get through every day beforehand. I did nothing but stay at home and rest, but at the end of those five weeks I did not feel any better.

My suspicions were confirmed on my first day back at work as my symptoms were as bad as they were before my break. This way the time when I knew something was seriously wrong.

My new GP sent me to a Neurologist, fearing MS, whom I saw in January 2017.

The Neurologist shared the suspicions of my new GP and booked me in for an MRI. It showed lesions in my brain but it was inconclusive for MS.

My all over body pain (Fibromyalgia) got steadily, and significantly, worse. Eventually every day when I arrived home after work I had to ring my wife to come into the garage, and help me to get out of my car. I could not get out without her help.

Eventually I asked my boss at the time if I could work from home every Wednesday because of my illness, as Wednesday was my admin day. I had taken increasing numbers of days off before this just to try and cope. Unfortunately he did not believe me, instead he asked if I had my own business outside of work or was I working for someone else each Wednesday. That relationship was therefore doomed, and I must my part that with everything that was going on in my life I was probably not being a model employee

Shortly after I parted company with my sceptical boss, and had another teaching job within days, working just three days a week.

Unfortunately my condition continued to deteriorate so I started working just two days a week, then one. Finally I had to tell my employer that I couldn’t even do one day a week because it was taking more than a week to recover from just that one day.

With fear and dread at the consequences, my wife and I had decided that I simply could not work in my my condition.

In June of 2017 my Neurologist ordered another MRI which showed no change. Just in case she had missed something she referred me to a Specialist Physician. The good news was that she did not think it was MS, which was a relief.

The Specialist Physician diagnosed me with ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. I finally had my diagnosis! I felt relief and dread in equal measure.

While all this was going on I was dealing with superannuation insurance claims and the reality that we were going to have to sell our dream home. Keeping our house clean for open inspections was a never ending task for my poor wife, as I literally could not raise a finger to help her.

This all happened from April to September last year.

Then our house sold, a bittersweet moment filled with regret, sorrow and extreme guilt for me. After all it was because of my illness that we had to sell.

I suffered more stress since July 2016 through to when our house sold in September 2017 than ever before.

And now we had just thirty days to find somewhere to buy or rent.

Fortunately we found a beautiful place in Nairne, about another fifteen minutes out from the city. It is smaller than our last home but we are loving it more and more each day (to my eternal relief!).

However prior to knowing that we would love this new home, but feeling a little excited because it was so new, the packing and moving happened all around me as I looked on helplessly and with much guilt.

Yes, stress levels even higher again. I know now that had I taken a few months off after my ‘flu’ in April 2016 I could possibly have recovered completely. Unfortunately I refused to give in and kept dragging myself to work. The alternative at that stage being far too terrifying as I knew how much my wife loved our home, as did I. I was also not sure if we had any insurance that would help us.

My wife and I had visions of a tiny unit in Elizabeth. Or even worse, asking to stay with my parents for a while!

After we moved I spent my time chasing Centrelink and insurance companies, and suffering worsening symptoms. The pain was intense over every square millimetre of my body and I had not had a day without this pain since April 2016.

At one of my visits with my new GP in around August of last year I told her I felt as though I was slowly dying.

We kept trying different drugs but the opioids gave me very bad side effects. One night I almost asked my wife to call an ambulance for me, as I was experiencing severe gyroscopic dizziness and was not sure where I was.

Today as I write this I am in ‘forced retirement’ while my poor wife, who has been an angel through all of this (as has the rest of my immediate and incredibly supportive family), has to keep working.

We have about eighteen months of Income Protection payments left, after which I will receive less than half that until I turn sixty (I am fifty-four now). Then it is the Disability Support Pension which took ten months and the submission of about one hundred pages of information to approve.

My GP has been trying some different drugs lately and one has given me some small relief. Unfortunately my days are still filled with sleeping, reading, watching Netflix, taking drugs and trying to take a shower.

And yes, when I tell that to some people they respond by saying it sounds like a wonderful holiday to them. Then they look at me, see (on the surface) a healthy looking person and either turn away or give me that stare first, the one that says; “You’re a lucky bastard.”

If they had to spend just twenty-four hours in my skin they would be begging to return to their previous lives.

Boredom is a major part of my life. I cannot walk more than 500 steps a day without having a crash the following day. A crash is even more pain, a migraine, incredibly painful feet and hands (so I cannot walk anywhere or hold anything), dizziness, insomnia (wired-tired), not to mention the pain on every square millimetre of my body.

Basically I spend the day in bed taking as much medication as I am allowed and go through three or four cold compresses for my exploding head.

Back to some good news. At least now I know what illness I have and all the uncertainty, forcing myself to work when feeling like death, disbelieving doctors, sceptical employers and the stress of losing our dream home because of my illness, is all behind me.

I have no idea what I will, or can, do for the rest of my life. However one thing I am sure of is that I want it to be a very, very long one.

Hey??

Every moment I spend with my beautiful wife and family is worth all the pain and suffering. I hope that you have someone in your life that makes you feel the same way.

Good luck to us all, and may a cure not be too far away!

An Awareness Poem for CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia sufferers


Suffering chronic pain in silence

Yet not even your medical licence

Makes my illness visible

I can hardly walk

And yet you talk

Of exercise, you’re so derisible

Spend a day with me

And you will see

What I do, just to survive

And yet you doubt

What my disease is about

You think you are so wise

What do I have to do

So I can prove to you

That my illness is very, very real

Perhaps spending a day in my skin

Would allow you to begin

To know exactly how I feel

Only other sufferrers like me

Can really see

The pain I suffer every day

So take your scepticism and leave

Until you come to believe

Because this may be you one day

No known cure nor cause

I deserve a round of applause

When I stand and walk five paces

Pain and headaches go on and on

Can’t tie laces so now wear slipons

A stranger to my favourite places

Now add dizziness, nausea and much more

To understand why my soul is so sore

Your disbelief is ignorant and baseless

Ninety plus per-cent of my days spent in bed

A cold compress and pills for my head

I pray for the day this will all end

Perhaps then you will welcome me

And be ready and willing to see

That this is real, my dear ex-friend

To fellow CFS sufferers


One of the crazy, stupid symptoms of this part of my illness (CFS – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) has to be sleeping.

Well, not the actual sleeping per se but how it behaves.

For example, it is currently 4am. I have been awake off and on since 2am, but right now I am so awake that I want the day to start now.

It is called wired-tired, and normally occurs around 9-10pm when it is time to go to bed and sleep and all you want to do is party (although you can’t, of course, because if you tried you would last about two seconds before you collapsed with total exhaustion).

The other side of this insidious illness is that I know for a fact that when I finally go to sleep and wake up around 8.30am, it will be physically impossible for me to stop myself from falling asleep again.

What the?

An example is yesterday. Being a Saturday I was determined…no, determined…to stay awake so I could spend the day with my precious wife.

I finally got out of bed at one-thirty in the afternoon (??).

This is the stupid part I mentioned earlier.

I sat up in bed at 8.30am rubbing my eyes until they were sore, drinking iced coffee, reading, doing anything and everything to stay awake. However, and I would be interested to hear from other CFS sufferers about their experiences, it felt as though someone had each of my eyelids between their finger and thumb and were forcing my eyes shut.

The first I knew that I had gone to sleep again is when I woke up, head down, book in my lap and a very stiff neck. Angry, I redoubled my determination to STAY AWAKE!!

Crap, I’ve woken up again and my neck is very sore this time. Alright, I am getting out of bed and getting dressed (it is around 10.30am now) because I do not want to waste a Saturday!! Here we go!!

What the?? Head down again, and hell does my neck hurt! Bastard, I went to sleep again!

Alright, it is now about 11.30am and I WILL KEEP MY EYES OPEN AND STAY AWAKE!

Owwwww!! What?? No, could not have happened again, I control my body and I was staying awake damn it! Just after noon??? And I am still so tired that if I closed my eyes for more than a second I would be asleep again…wait, no you don’t, this time it is out of bed and WOAH my legs are collapsing and I am trying to walk and I am bumping into everything but at least I am awake! Take that you stupid CFS…what? It’s half past one??

And that, dear reader, is the stupidity of CFS. I could easily get up now, at just after 4.30am. Yes I would still be exhausted – I only remember waking up feeling refreshed and actually, really awake once in the past thirty years – but I could at least stay awake.

When I go back to sleep, in half an hour or an hour from now, I know that I will wake up around 8.30am and have absolutely no control over my staying awake or not. Some days, when my wife is working, I just give in and wake up when she gets home around 3.30pm or so, still feeling like I could sleep another ten hours and knowing that if I do not get up I probably will.

Which is why I am writing this at…4.42am. Because I know I will have no control over my body until much later today, sometime in the afternoon. Maybe.

I hate it, despise it, if CFS was a small creature I would rip it to pieces and then stomp on those pieces until nothing remained. I am angry, furious, and yet I have no control over it.

Many people, on reading this or hearing stories of people with CFS react with “Wow, wish I could spend all day in bed sleeping.” Well my dear fellow human being you are completely missing the point and have zero understanding!

Yes, if I had full control over my body and was actually in charge of my life, a day in bed would be glorious. The point, however, is that I feel incredibly exhausted all the time and have absolutely no control over when I sleep or for how long.

Try having a life around that! You might get to work at three in the afternoon, then fall asleep at your desk half an hour later. How long would you keep your job for?

Or you make plans to meet friends for lunch and then completely sleep through it. Yes, even with setting an alarm. Alarms for me are now just a reminder of past years when I could force myself to get up, when I was still in control. Today they are simply a temporary annoyance that my body ignores completely.

Even worse, every second of every day you know that if you closed your eyes for around three seconds you will fall asleep. (You can relax, I gave up driving months ago – another effect I hate about this part of my chronic illnesses (oh yes, there is more!) is losing my independence. Thank you CFS, I now feel like a ninety-year-old who cannot drive anymore because they cannot be trusted to remain alert at the wheel).

Three seconds until I fall asleep? Except between the hours of three and five in the morning, of course, when you just lie there wired so tight that even though you are exhausted you cannot sleep.

So you write a blog instead, that will be read by, maybe, three people.

Yeah, that is what I call a glorious life, bet you are jealous!

I was King of the world… temporarily


So, I’ve been on a new drug for several weeks and yesterday (it’s just after midnight) morning I woke up feeling a bit better.

Sure, my hands and feet were still in a lot of pain (7/10) and when I tried to read I kept falling asleep and hallucinating while reading. Oh, plus my terrible itching from just below the knees down and a headache that was trying hard to become a migraine, and my skin (yes everywhere, all over my body) was still very sensitive and in some pain and all my joints are incredibly sore… but apart from that not bad at all.

Possibly the best I’d felt in a couple of years.

So what did I do? I overdid it of course, as we all do.

Hey look I can walk 30m with just a stick and don’t need my wheelchair!

So I ended up walking just over 700 steps when I’ve been under my 500 limit for ages.

Oh, and it felt good!

Until I woke up just before midnight (twenty minutes ago) with excruciating pain in my knees. And yes the itching, hand and foot pain are all still there and have been joined by neck and back pain.

And insomnia.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Because for two years I had pain all over my body, head to toe, and today (well, technically yesterday) my middle felt reasonable. Not in a ‘let’s go dancing’ reasonable but in a ‘hey, my pain is not as bad in places’ type reasonable.

And now I am paying for it. Just 200 steps over my self-imposed limit (try walking just 700 steps in a day and you will realise how pathetic my 500 steps are) and my knees are on fire.

So did I learn my lesson and will I take it easy next time I have a ‘good’ day??

Of course not!

Wired-Tired, the joys of ME/CFS


Last night my wife wanted to go to bed early as she’d had a very busy week, and since she takes care of me, wouldn’t survive without her and love her with all my heart I agreed.

One of the benefits of #CFS is that you can sleep anywhere at anytime, and yes that is part of the curse as well!

So 8.30pm and I get to sleep reasonably quickly (about an hour instead of the several hours it normally takes). Then I wake up, check my watch and I think it says 12.30am. Wow! Four hours straight for me is excellent!….yes, another side affect of this lovely illness is I don’t sleep well. I also have #Fibromyalgia and the pain keeps me awake most nights, fighting against my Chronic Fatigue and winning.

Then I check the time again, with my glasses on, and it’s only 10.30pm.

Bugger!

And now I’m wired-tired. This is the symptom where my brain is screaming at me to jump up and run around the block a few times (the wired part), and yet I know for a fact that after I jump out of bed I will collapse on the floor and have to do nothing for days, maybe weeks, to recover.

So, I’m dead tired yet my brain wants to run around the block. So I lie there and try to rest, concentrate on my breathing, and in the silence I am now more aware of my pain, dizziness, tinitis and have no energy to even turn over in bed. And yet I want to run a marathon. My body must really hate me!

Time ticks by, very slowly, not much I can do about that. So I compose this post in my mind to distract myself from those symptoms and, eventually, get back to sleep.

And wake up again every hour, to go through the same process again.

I hate nighttime!

It is now 5.40am and I can’t cope with this sleeplessness any longer, hence I’m writing this post. Then, like every other day, I will fall asleep suddenly only to wake up with my head in a very awkward position and an accompanying neck ache.

To try to stay awake I’ll play a movie on TV, and have to rewind it four or five times as I keep falling asleep. I also have no energy to get out of bed to get the breakfast my wonderful wife has made for me.

This goes on until early afternoon when I drag myself out of bed, get my breakfast and lunch (so I don’t need to get up again, it’s too hard) and take them back to bed.

At about 4pm I get up to join my wife in the living room and collapse into my reclining chair, fighting off sleep and the need to, still, run a marathon.

Then I eat dinner, maybe stay up another hour if I can, then it’s back to bed.

Repeat. Ad nauseum.

Welcome to my illness (well, part of it anyway…oh yes there is more, but I don’t want to give it all away at once!).

The final insult is my brain fog, so sometimes I’ll struggle out of bed to get my breakfast and lunch, yet when I get to the kitchen I can’t remember why I went there. Cursing I’ll go back to bed, hunched over my stick like a 90 year old man, until I remember what it was I’d got up for.

Cursing, I’ll go back to the kitchen saying to myself; “breakfast and lunch, breakfast and lunch” so I don’t forget this time.

The joys of ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. And yet the majority of doctors still don’t believe it’s an illness. Thank goodness more research is being done in this area now.

…..I’m sorry, what was I talking about?

Centrelink – epic fail!!


Centrelink is there for the needy, sick and disadvantaged, and yet provides the worst service of any government agency.

The top level of management needs to be sacked immediately, along with their middle management that publish outrageously incorrect phone answering statistics.
Then, and I know this will cost us, but there needs to be a Royal Commission into the whole Department and the policies currently in place. It could easily be a case of the right people being tied up by stupid beaurocracy. Until such a public, complete investigation is done those most in need of help in our society will continue to be treated with disdain.
We should all be ashamed (especially the policy makers who make it so difficult for Centrelink staff to do their job) for treating our people so badly.