Public Health Systems Are The Best

emergency-sign-at-hospital

We have had an … interesting week. In the grand scheme of things, it is fairly mild and moderate compared to others. And my ability to say that sentence comes with a fairly healthy dose of gratitude.

EG Sinister had emergency surgery earlier this week. Without going into all the details, he had severe pain on Monday night and it was not calming on its own.

Like most parents, we considered our options:

  1. Panadol and sleep on it
  2. Dial-a-Doctor (or whatever it is called) where a GP comes to your house after hours without cost because it’s covered by Medicare and our awesome public health system
  3. Take him to the hospital, about 7mins drive from our house, which is a public hospital and no cost for us to attend the Emergency Ward.

 

Considering the level of pain he was in, we took option 3. That’s right–we had options and we could choose one at our convenience with only Sinister’s health in our mind. That is a huge privilege not shared with many around the world.

When Sinister and I arrived at the hospital, he was helped by a security guard and nurse into the Waiting Room. He was seen to by a triage nurse and then brought to the Paediatrics ward, all within a 20-minutes.

As the pain increased, he was quickly attended to, first by a doctor and then by a specialist who organised emergency surgery. They arranged surgery within an hour of the specialist’s consultation, around 1am.

hospital-trolley-for-patients

The good news is Sinister was out and moved to the Children’s Ward by 4am the same morning. Once again, at no expense to us and without delay.

Now, I want to add a bit here: We have private hospital cover as well. However, in an emergency, we go to the closest emergency ward available (our local public hospital). If any of us are admitted to the hospital, the public system will pay for our excess and then claim the rest back from the private health insurance provider. We are still contributing towards the public health system, the insurance company still receives its excess, we receive the immediate care required and have no out of pocket costs.

What I don’t understand is why anyone would be against public health systems? I am more than happy for my taxes to contribute to a universal health care, especially for our less fortunate. Hell, I have been that less fortunate person earlier in my life and the difference between private and public is huge.

Flashback: When I was around 20-years-old, I had a severe asthma attack at work. It started off slowly, at which point a colleague took me to the GP next door to see if we could prevent it from worsening. No such luck and the GP called the ambulance.

ventolin

What I didn’t know at the time (since I was trying to breathe and stuff) was the GP had given the ambulance drivers instructions to take me to St Andrew’s Hospital, a private hospital, for observation. In doing so, they drove past the public hospital. Subsequently, I was charged $350 for turning up in an ambulance and receiving a chest x-ray. Even the ambulance driver commented, an x-ray is not necessary–she needs oxygen and observation.

Imagine having to face this every time you were ill. Every time you feel your chest tighten or the second dose of Ventolin isn’t working, you freak out at the cost of receiving the urgent care you need to survive. In Australia, it sounds insane. But we are pretty lucky compared to others.

medicare

Our health system is not perfect. We can have weeks to wait for a GP appointment. I know some people who have 6-12mths waiting for specialist appointments for their weak hearts or kidney stones. But generally speaking, you can drive right up to the door of any public hospital and know there are a bunch of nurses and doctors who are eager to do their best to help you. I have visited our hospital often enough to know we have a large number of nurses and doctors who want to help.

And that’s important to note: Our public health system is brilliant but it is held up on the shoulders of all the hard-working staff at the hospital. They are human, like the rest of us, but we place heavy expectations on them to perform miracles. Often they do; sometimes they don’t. Either way, they deserve as much appreciation as the system which allows us to access them.

If you are fortunate enough to have access to a working public health system, make sure you take the time to thank the staff who provide it. For those who either do not have or do not support universal healthcare, I would be really interested to hear your reasons why.

Oh, and Sinister: He is absolutely fine. He is recovering really well, taking a few days off from school and resting as much as he can. He now has a new pain benchmark and a new respect for the solid advice he has been given for a speedy recovery.

view-from-hospital-sydney

View from the hospital bed. 

EG Dad and I are also recovering well, finally catching up on sleep and not stressing over every sound made by the spawnlings.

Parenting, right? At least we’re doing it within driving distance of a public hospital.

Indoor Play Centre Hell

I have been bribed into Indoor Play Centre Hell.

Nefarious was invited to a classmate’s birthday party at an indoor play centre: multi-level playground with soft-fall mats, trampolines, rock climbing walls… A kid’s dream!


And a parent’s nightmare!! So noisy! So crowded!!

I am down with the Mother of All Headcolds. Instead of staying here, I had planned to disappear and go shopping for a present for another party tomorrow, but the hosts showed Zaltu the play area for her age, and bribed me with free wifi and an open tab at the cafe. That’s right minions: FREE COFFEE!!

Clearly, I am very very cheap.

Seriously though, this is a great party they have put on for a bunch of 3rd-graders (around 8/9yo). Entertainment is included, along with food and drinks. And most parents will appreciate tiring the kids out just before bed.

Only glitch for our EG Family is the 1/2 hour drive home. I will have to feed Zaltu a chocolate bar to keep her awake, because if she naps even 10mins on the way home… Well, there goes any productivity tonight!

Damn you, EG Dad. My Mother’s Day present tomorrow better be awesome!!

Have you ever been to a kids’ indoor play centre? Share your survival tips!! I’m going to need alllllllll of them!! 

Do Your Spawnlings Wear Sunglasses?

sunglasses-featureI wear sunglasses all the time. Seriously, every day. Take a look at my profile picture. The spawnlings each have their own pair as well. However, shopping for sunglasses is a tiring exercise.

I recently did a review on some sunglasses over on GeekMom. Yes, I scored some freebies for it (perks of blogging). To be completely honest, I was really wary about any sunglasses purchased online. Remember, I am of the bespectacled species; pretty much useless if my prescripted lenses are even slightly out.

I also grew up in Northern Australia. Sunglasses are part of the uniform when you cross the border. And if the sunglasses aren’t meeting the grade, it will cost you big time in headaches, eyestrain, and a bunch of other health factors.

The idea of buying sunglasses online was as appealing as shopping in person–which I hate.

The thing is, how do you know you’re buying quality before you hand over your cash? You look for reviews of people who truly put something to the same testing you would.

And yes. My spawnlings like to destroy things.

So here’s the review for you again, in a more “Evil Genius Mum” standard. Again, you can read the full review over at GeekMom, with full costs and links; I’m just expanding upon the testing and suitability for each spawnling.

For the energetic 3-year-old honey badger

Zaltu is three years of pure energy (like a lot of three-year-olds), inspired and motivated by her older brothers. She’ll give anything a go, because “she don’t care!” Zaltu is not a stereotype; she likes all bold colours, surfing the waves with her dad, racing in Mario Kart with her mum, pulling out the DC Superhero Girls dolls, and dreams of being an astronaut. Generally, she likes the idea of sunglasses, but they never stay long on her face because they tend to interfere with whatever chaos ensues.

These Julbo Booba sunglasses have been an absolute hit. Zaltu loves wearing them everywhere. And yes, I do mean everywhere.zaltus-sunglasses

The sunglasses look good. They have bright bold colours with soft enough arms to rest easily on her head. Zaltu has a big head like her mother. We recently learnt Zaltu’s glasses fit an 8-year-old friend. True fact. I was a tad nervous about stretching them, but the sunglasses flexed really well.

The quality of the lenses is fantastic: plastic category-3 lenses, designed for full UV protection. These sunglasses are the genuine product, cutting out the glare so prevalent on both the beach and the ski slopes. And the added wrap-around feature is a boon to both light-leak and fitting on the head.zaltu-julbo-sunglasses

They are also fairly scratch-resistant. Zaltu throws these things everywhere. Yet they come up a lot better than the scratch-resistance I paid for with my sunglasses. They have survived the sandy beach and easily cleaned up afterwards. I’m not sure exactly what they have done, but these sunglasses have completely survived the Summer Holidays of a three-year-old. They are good.

For the experimenting 7-year-old scientist

Nefarious is the scientist, with the curiosity for why things happen (and how to make it go “BOOM!” again). He is the one to think outside the box and push things to the limits.nefarious-sunglasses-polaroid

Aesthetically, the style is a little more “classic cool” with bolder colours to choose from. They are the perfect transition point between the high-energy fun of the Julbos and the more conservative frames for the older kids. These frames are a harder plastic but not so hard as to stick into a kid’s head.

The good thing about the harder plastic frames: they have survived tree climbing, being sat on by Sinister, and a short but effective game of tug-o-war with Zaltu. The frames have a small amount of flex to the structure, but not so much to bounce out a lens.

Of course, Nefarious loved the reflective lenses because they hide his eyes. Yes, I did explain to him about the practicality of the lenses, but he didn’t care. He is seven. He just loves rolling his eyes at me behind those shades.nefarious-polaroid-sunglasses

Only downside: they don’t wrap around and stop the light leak on the side. However, Nefarious says he hates that style. So clearly this is my issue, and I should be grateful he has sunnies he is willing to wear.

For the smooth 10-year-old chilling out

Sinister is the more subtle of the three spawnlings. While he loves to be the class clown, he only likes the attention if he is in control of it. At heart, he is quite conservative and deep-in-thought. Sinister is the one to sit back and watch you from behind his sunglasses, playing out a million and one scenarios in his head.sinisters-sunglasses

Again, smooth, classic style but in a colour variant he likes. These are the hardest plastic of all the frames. There is no flex in the arms whatsoever. The true test of comfort: Sinister is still wearing these on top of his sunburnt nose and there is no pain.

Like his brother, Sinister also likes the mirrored lenses. He also appreciates the single colour scheme, as he feels a little more ‘grown-up’. What I did notice with this pair is that the frames are ever so slightly curved to the face. Even though they are not fitted, they do provide a bit more protection to the eyes on the sides.sinister-sunglasses

See those water droplets in the photo above? No watermark. Not sure exactly what special feature that is, but from a prescripted lens point of view (who hates any smudge or scratch on her glasses) this is AMAZING. What kind of dark magic is this?!? And how do I score some!!

Each of these sunglasses survived the Spawnling Test Zone; buried at the beach, thrown across the room, sat on by older brothers, running through water features, spinning around and around on a spinning teacup. The worst they seem to have is a slightly loose screw in one arm on Zaltu’s sunglasses, which is easily fixed at any glasses shop or with your own tiny screwdriver at home. I wear glasses all the time and a loose screw is nothing new in this family… or in our glasses.

I’m still stunned by how easy it was. Vision Direct is an Australian website, and they deliver anywhere in the world. They provided me with the kids’ sunglasses for reviews, and now I am so impressed I am going back to them for my own prescripted sunglasses (at my own expense).

The hardest part of the whole process was probably measuring Zaltu’s face for her glasses—have you recently asked a three-year-old to stand still for 10 seconds?

The Dental Cost of Pregnancy

I cracked a tooth. 

Eating toasted fruit loaf. 

And not some Han Solo in Carbonite level toasting. I’m talking lowest dial on the toaster. Warmed enough to melt the butter. With a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. 

To be fair, I cracked the filling. Yes, I have fillings. I have really dodgy teeth. Despite brushing twice a day, flossing, and avoiding a lot of the really sticky sweets like toffee apples and Chupa Chups. I still have dodgy teeth. 


Here’s something they don’t tell you until AFTER you become the vessel for some spawnling: pregnancy is really bad for your teeth.

So here I am at the dentist. The day after The Crackin’ (I like that …) because they couldn’t give me a seat until the next day.


I haven’t eaten. I haven’t had a cuppa tea. I am not a happy camper. It’s not like the benchmark is high; I am yet to meet a person who enjoys going to the dentist. But today I’m a little more grizzly than usual.

And the dentist senses that. I see him flex his fingers, wary of putting them anywhere near my choppers–except for the fact I need his fingers working to fix my tooth.

“So how many kids do you have?”

Three spawnlings.

“You know, you can kind of blame them for some of this tooth decay…”

And with that little sentence, he has rocketed into first place of all the greatest dentists. Ever.

Now let’s get something straight: dental hygiene is more important than you probably give it credit.

Most of us know the routine; brush twice a day, floss daily, rinse after every meal, avoid sticky sweets. 

There are also heaps of unsubstantiated stories of why pregnancy effects your teeth; the baby leeches your calcium, mum’s too busy to brush, morning sickness brings too much acid to your mouth, excess blood in the gums increases your risk for gingivitis.

The thing is, some of these are kind of true…and there’s not enough detailed research to confirm anything. Typical of any pregnancy-related research.

So which parts can I blame on my spawnlings?

  • Babies leech your calcium reserves during pregnancy: true but when they do, it will come from your bones first. Apparently, any leech-able calcium in your mouth is found first in your saliva, not your teeth. While small in quota, any calcium in your saliva is beneficial for coating your teeth and adding to the enamel protecting your pearlers. If your teeth are losing any of their structure, your problems go far beyond the symbiotic relationship with your unborn;
  • Morning sickness rots your teeth: true in that morning sickness… No ALL-DAY sickness will upchuck more acid into your mouth, throwing out the delicate balance of bacteria-fighting acid and enamel-protection. Add to this any reduction in the calcium in your saliva, and Holy Teeth, Batman! 
  • Extra blood increases your chance of gingivitis: true, for some but not a blanket concern. Increased blood flow can make your gums swell and bleed in pregnancy, but this is also because of a build up of plaque. Vicious cycle–you can’t brush your teeth properly because your gums are bleeding, but then the plaque builds up and causes your gums to bleed. Add those pesky pregnancy hormones to the mix and your gums are even MORE susceptible to infection. 

Here’s a bonus for you: the pregnancy hormone Relaxin loosens up your ligaments. ALL of your ligaments. Including the ligaments supporting your jaw. So when you’re lying in the dentist chair with your mouth wide open, be aware how loose your jaw will be… 

I found out the hard way, at 2am when I dislocated my jaw yawning. Yes – yawning. The day after a long session in the dentists chair, my jaw was so loose it was dislocating every time I yawned. 

So what have I learnt from all of this? Pregnancy is a bitch. Sure, I could go with the wise dentist and blame it on the spawnlings but I reckon that gives them far more credit than they deserve.

The truth with pregnancy is we are not just vessels. We are powerful creators! We are investors in the future, giving ourselves to whatever may come from it. Sometimes that cost can be way too high. It is not always the glowing experience romanticised in marketing campaigns.

In the meantime, my dentist and I are working on a dental management plan. My teeth may not improve, but I have no intention of allowing them to get any worse. 


And The Crackin’? Well, that’s just a reminder of how much I have invested already. 

Yeah, my spawnlings are so sweet they give me toothaches. 

Kings’ Kids Corps

kings-kids-corps

Summer school holidays are in full swing, and the spawnlings are not yet restless… but only a fool would allow them to reach that point.

Kings Comics are to the rescue! They are putting on a special kids day for all your little heroes and villains.

So what’s on offer?

  • Cosplay Competition
  • 10% off All-Ages comics (DC Superhero Girls is a fave in our Lair)
  • Games and Activities
  • Kids workshop with Louie Joyce
  • Face-painting (I want a unicorn)
  • Lucky dip bags
kings-facepainting

Used with permission / Kings Comics

The staff at Kings Comics have really been building its community spirit over the past year. Free Comic Book Day was huge back in May, with special guests Nicola Scott, Dean Rankine, Tristan Jones, and Mark Sexton. That particular celebration was the most family friendly (and the most fun) in all of Sydney—dare I say, the best of ALL FCBD events.

Yes, I will dare to say it!

fcbd-kings-guests

Used with permission / Kings Comics

 

The team at Kings Comics always make people welcome in their store. In 2016, Kings also kicked off the women’s only comic-book club Queens of Kings with monthly meets and special guests. They also had their first Single Issues Night earlier this month; a social night of merriment with fellow comic-fans and plenty of single issues to flick through (single issues of comics, not single people with issues… though, I see your point…)

But forget about the ladies, and who cares about drinking and reading comics!! The next big thing is the Kids Corps! Now is the time for all the spawnlings to come and have some fun!

For more info, check out the King Comics Facebook page. Evil Genius Inc will be there (minus EG Dad). Cosplay and all. You couldn’t keep us from the party!

 

When:                 

Tuesday 10 January 2016  –  11am to 4pm

Where:                

Kings Comics

310 Pitt Street, Sydney

 

kings-fcbd-balloons

 

Too Many Monkeys in the Political Circus

It is going to be a long day, while the world waits for the outcome of the US election. 

It’s easy enough if you’re outside the US to claim “not my circus, not my monkeys”, but let’s be honest. The President of the United States is pretty influential over the rest of the planet. Whatever the outcome, those monkeys are flinging poo at all of us. 

And while I’m eagerly listening out for updates, I am SAHP with EG Zaltu as well. I need a distraction from checking the interwebs every 5min.

So, Zaltu pulled out Too Many Monkeys, a kids tabletop game that seems highly relevant to today. 


Too Many Monkeys is a card game from Game Wright, for 2-6 players. The box says for ages 6yo+, but Zaltu hands me my butt regularly in this game. If they can count, they’ll pick up all the other cards fairly quick. 

Each player starts with six cards face down. They take it in turns drawing cards, looking for the monkeys. When you find a numbered monkey, you substitute it for the face-down card in the equivalent position in front of you. 


There are other cards to help or hinder; Wild Orang Utans are the wild cards and can move around your cards as required, giraffes and elephants are trying to join the party, raccoons raid the trash for any monkeys you need, Skip cards are the bane of my gameplay, and Do Not Disturb can turn any card face down again. 


At the beginning of each round, the winner of the last round removes one card from their face-down collection. Eventually players work their way down to one card, and the Monkey Champion!

It’s a great game for spawnlings, from 3yo Zaltu up to 10yo Sinister and even grumpy Ol’ EG Mum.

And if nothing else, it gives me a happier distraction while I wait for the other monkeys to sort their s….tuff out.


Have a close look at the box and you’ll see the wear-and-tear that comes from years of love and use. This was a gift from friends almost 5 years ago. It has travelled to Borneo, Queensland, and New Zealand. No payment or sponsorship for this one!!

If you like the game reviews, stay tuned–I have just returned from PAX Aust and have some awesome games to share very soon!