These things are sent to try us

Posted September 17th, 2014 by Penny Wise

Forgive me if I've mentioned this before but for years my children have been telling me that Bridget Jones reminds them a lot of me. I would be offended - if I didn't agree! Sometimes life's events become such that you just have to laugh really, although I have to admit there have been more than a few tears shed in the past week or two as well. Still, in many ways it has also been rather wonderful - now where do I start? If my memory serves me, when I last wrote I was doing a roaring trade in selling my unwanted goods online and was busy transforming our house into a Chinese laundry in an effort to reduce our power bill. I was feeling positive, in control, super motivated - and the good news is, it worked! For about five minutes anyway. I received an email from Contact Energy showing how our power consumption was dropping, which was a lovely wee moment of triumph and whilst I hadn't got around to adding up exactly how much I had made from selling my stuff on Trade Me, the bank balance was sitting at around $387. Not only was this $387 I didn't have before but I still had so many more things to sell! Another Sunday spent listing and selling should do it - but first came Saturday.

Saturday was just the same as every other Saturday in winter for the past 15 years, spent standing in the rain watching my beloved boys play rugby. Still, I had a birthday party to look forward to that night and I WAS looking forward to it, which was rather unusual for a hermit like me. I had a gorgeous little real, proper party dress I had picked up from the St John's op shop a few months back for $6 and was planning to wear it for the first time along with the shiny new $4 heels my mum had bought me from the Salvation Army store so I had a smart pair to wear to job interviews. However about an hour before I was due to leave I suddenly didn't feel very well at all. I had a dreadful headache and felt terribly nauseous. I felt like a right idiot having to apologise to my friend for leaving her in the lurch at the last minute after saying all day how much I was looking forward to it but I really couldn't do anything and went straight to bed.

From then on, things became a bit of a blur. Now I really must apologise for the rather unsavoury subject matter but I WAS sick and if nothing else it does go to show that saving money was still at the forefront of my mind! I started to realise that all was perhaps really not well when I began suffering from the most dreadful fevers. All of a sudden my brain was awash with the answers to all the world's problems and in five minutes flat I had worked out the answers to my financial woes. It was so easy, why didn't I think of it before? Our little town needed a 'place of ill repute' - yes, sleepy old Whangamata needed a brothel! Whilst obviously I wasn't going to be doing any of the - ahem - 'work', I had several single friends who were dating up a storm and I was sure they would be happy to oblige and split the profits 50/50. In no time my debts would be paid off - who knows, I might even be rich! There was just one problem. I was going to need to buy new curtains as I didn't think blue camouflage was really suitable - but I didn't have the money to buy new curtains. And then there was the problem of the dogs, what was I going to do with them?! I was going to have to give them a bath so they looked nice but even if they were clean and fluffy not everyone liked dogs and they might put some clients off. Not to mention all the washing hanging everywhere! Oh dear, it was all too hard. Fortunately the Panadol kicked in shortly after and I was left feeling rather shocked at my grand plans. Back to online trading for you 'Madame Penny!'

Alas it wasn't to be. More feverish days and nights passed until I eventually realised that perhaps this wasn't your run of the mill winter lurgy after all. I hadn't been out of bed in days and with both the boys busy until 8.30pm most nights of the week with rugby, not to mention exams and study, my precious Trade Me money was being spent on fast food for their dinner, lunchbox fillers and anything they could give me to try and make me comfortable or get me to eat. It was heartbreaking after all that effort; this wasn't what our hard earned cash had been intended for! And another thing; I was actually getting quite scared and I could see from the boys' faces that they weren't quite sure what to do either. I was actually starting to dread being alone at night, the fevers were quite terrifying and I was starving and exhausted from shivering. I thought perhaps it was time to go to the doctor as this thing just wasn't clearing up with Panadol and Cup-a-Soup but I was too sick to get myself there. Eventually one morning I could take no more and rang the medical centre in tears. A nurse came and got me and next thing I knew I was off to hospital in a shiny ambulance and words like 'meningitis' were getting bandied around. I'm not sure who got the biggest fright, the boys or me! One thing WAS for sure, I was finally in the best place.

To cut a long story short, I was indeed diagnosed with viral meningitis and also pneumonia - never one to do things by halves! I'm now home from hospital and in isolation for the next week but that's fine, I'm happy just watching the world go by, immersing myself in the SS Forum and writing. The boys and I have a renewed appreciation for each other and in a lot of ways it has been a really positive, uplifting experience. I didn't like being away from them for so long and they didn't like it either but we managed and it has been great watching the boys come into their own as Simple Savers; particularly Liam who has never been confident doing things like food shopping. Not only does he do a great job but parting with the cash himself has also made him more aware of prices, value and most amazingly of all, he is often weighing up pros and cons and deciding he can go without! It has been a good exercise for both of them seeing how far they can make their money stretch. We did have a bit of a giggle one night; the boys had both had a really hectic day, Ali (chief cook and bottle washer in my absence) had come down with a nasty cold and didn't feel up to cooking and to top it all off the power suddenly went off and it was too dark already to hunt for the candles and camping torches. The poor things had just about had as much as they could take! Upon receiving a very woeful text from Liam I got on the phone to him and did my best to squeak instructions down the line. I had no idea what the problem could be from an hour away but talked him through the workings of the fuse box until we narrowed down a possible culprit. 'I don't want to touch that! What if I blow up?!' he wailed. 'Well you're just going to have to!' I told him and we both held our breath until I heard a 'YAY!' down the other end of the phone. We might have had an entire mountain between us but we still managed to avoid calling out an electrician!

There's nothing like a decent spell of ill health to make you count your blessings and I feel so incredibly lucky. My mum has worn a track over the mountain in her little car visiting me, dropping off soup and making sure the boys are OK and well fed. I am surrounded by beautiful flowers, a dear friend in SS land has sent me enough chocolate to sink a battleship and I have received countless wonderful messages from all over the world. Honestly, there was me a week ago thinking I was all alone! Even Liam pointed out as he saw me merrily mixing Yorkshire Pudding batter on my second night home, 'You know Mum, considering we're supposed to be broke you seem very happy!' And he's right, I am. I mean, to be honest there's nothing else I can do right now. I really don't have the brain power or the energy to get my head round my finances at the moment and it may sound irresponsible but I am enjoying the luxury of not being able to deal with it; I know it won't last long! I missed out on two job interviews when I was in hospital but I couldn't do much about that and they were very understanding. I need to get in touch with the bank and tell them what has been going on and as soon as I can I'll get back into my online selling. It really does peeve me that the money I made from that didn't go where I had dreamed of allocating it, although I did still pay three bills with it but I wanted to use ALL of it! Still, thank goodness that we actually HAD it or we would have really been up the creek. Onwards and upwards once again!

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