I was scandalised while listening to BBC Radio 4’s morning programme Today on Weds 20th May 2020, at approximately 8.45am. Not my usual reaction to this typically well-balanced current affairs programme, but the story was appalling. They interviewed two disabled people who had separately been deprived of their home based carers due to the pandemic. It was a real struggle for them to cope without this support. But, the real shocker was that both of them had become aware of a government ‘frailty’ list which had suggested that certain folk would not be offered ventilation or intensive care if they became seriously ill with Covid-19. They felt that they had been written off as unworthy of being helped or saved!
Each of these two dear ladies had written a letter to their family, copied to their doctors, in which they made a plea that they might be considered as worthy of being saved. They both mentioned that they had cats who depended upon them, and one had children and grandchildren. They admitted to really scraping around to find anything that might convince others of their worth. This is a horrifying example of the depths of worthlessness and despair that can afflict the chronically ill.
I tackle this issue head-on in my book Through the Storms; a manual for when life hurts. In the chapter ‘How much am I worth?’ I talk about the epidemic of low self-worth there is in the Christian church today, which is reflective of a wider problem in our society. Throughout the two decades of my battle with chronic illness I struggled to believe in my own worth. It led to me being unwilling to seek medical help, even in emergencies, because I felt that I was being a nuisance. I learned to deal with this issue, and offer practical steps as to how you can too.
To my disabled friends – and those who are chronically ill – you are of immense value to God and the rest of us. You matter now, not just when you are recovered. And whoever thought up that so-called frailty list deserves to spend some time on it! They might discover what it means to have to assess their own value and offer reasons why they too should be spared.