Career Champion: “Back on track”

Sally Champion

Sally Champion continues her weekly blog about the process of setting up a part-time business as a writer. She had polio as a child and after years of working nine to five, she is now having to think differently about how to earn her living. Sally invites your comment and advice.

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Episode 7: “Back on track”

Over the last couple of days the components of my plan to create a safe platform for myself while I establish my business have swerved back on course as quickly as they recently swerved off it.

I wrote to my KiwiSaver provider after they told me their trustees would only grant me half the amount I needed and now they have put all the money I asked for in my bank account.

I also heard last week I had been accepted for the Enterprise Allowance or Flexi-Wage short business course, after initially missing out. I feel grateful to have a place.

Next week I have an appointment to see a Work and Income designated doctor to see if it can be agreed that I should be on an Invalid’s Benefit, rather than a Sickness Benefit.

I have been wondering how I can explain the effects of polio to him. It’s actually crazy hard to do.

I know what it is because I’ve felt it all my life. Apart from the mechanistic – my hand doesn’t work properly and I have very poor balance – it’s to do with stamina and the level of activity I can sustain and the recovery time required if I willfully or unwittingly miscalculate. It’s taken me a lifetime to get to grips with that.

When I was a kid I fell in love with netball. The kids at primary school were sensible enough to prevent me from joining their teams. I was firmly not selected for even the G team. They weren’t silly those kids. They wanted to win and they had seen me play. I had a fierce competitive instinct too, regardless of the fact that catching the ball was nigh on impossible and running up and down the court was fraught with frequent nose dives into the asphalt.

My mother must have got sick of me complaining about not getting “picked” because she got me into a suitably lowly ranked team that played on +Saturdays. She’d met a woman at golf who happened to be the team coach.

I loved it. Every Saturday I would put on my uniform – a purple, box pleated, gym frock and black tights and bike off to the court.

I would return home, tights in tatters, blood from newly skinned knees running down to my ankles, incredibly happy.

One day after the game one of the girls from my team came over for a chat. I was pulling my bike up from the grass and I can remember feeling so exhausted I could hardly stand.

She asked me if it was at all possible for me to try harder so I could play better.

I remember holding my bike and looking at her incredulously. I realised she wasn’t being unkind. Hers was a genuine drive for betterment.

I told her, no, I didn’t think it would be possible for me to try any harder.

I re-thought netball after that and took up gymnastics instead. I loved gymnastics as much as I had previously loved netball and looking back some refinement had been made. At least gymnastics wasn’t a team sport.

It was however, a similar kind of experience in terms of once again embracing a resounding failure of mastery. So in the end I became disenchanted with gymnastics and took up playing the bass recorder in the school band, leaving dreams of sporting success behind me forever.

Next week when I go and see the Work and Income designated doctor I will try and explain my experience of polio to him in the best words I can come up with. I will happily answer any of his questions but I will let him know that because of my lived experience I consider myself to be the subject matter expert.

Sally starts the business course on April 8. She will talk about the course in some detail in her blog and is happy to have readers ask her questions, etc.

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4 thoughts on “Career Champion: “Back on track”

  1. and you are the expert! This is fun to read even if it is not fun to live… Do you know the site I read about it at the weekend in an old north & south. Might be useful for you?

  2. Just give the WINZ doctor this latest post Sally. You have eloquence in bucket loads. May common sense continue to emerge from those bureaucratic gate keepers.

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