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.

And The House of Pun

My grandmother is always telling me:

“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.”

Yeaaaaahhhhhh… that doesn’t fit our household.

We pretty much live in a cyclone of sarcasm, dry wit, and punishing puns. 

Seriously. We have pun wars. At the dinner table. Regularly. Sometimes they are really really bad. And those are often the best ones. 

It’s like a garden of puns. And none of us can leave it alone. 

… hehehe …

There are rules: 

  • Nothing personal, especially no name calling;
  • Must be contextual, stick with the theme of what’s happening right now;
  • Must be with good intent, encouraging others to join in. Nobody wants to excluded or ostracised.

It’s all fun and games until the spawnlings throw it back at me.
Tonight I had to go and remind the two older spawnlings to quiet it down. Zaltu was already asleep and I said “I swear… if you wake her … I’ll … make your holidays …”

Yeah. Lame. And it really sucks because I know that they know I’m pathetic at empty threats. Especially since they replied, with pitch-perfect sarcasm:

“And remind us again, exactly what that would involve? Like, step by step details…”

Damn. Them. 

They kept to the rules. And they called my bluff. I don’t usually bluff. I suck at lying so if I say something, you know it’s going to happen.

There is nothing as frustrating as the anger at your spawnlings throwing your own words back at you… and the pride of them doing it in the best way possible.

Go on. Share stories of your kids using your own words against you. We’re all friends here. I won’t tell…

The Fan Who Found Me

I am not surprised the spawnlings abandoned me for the NERF exhibit at Sydney Supanova last weekend. To be perfectly honest, I would have been disappointed if they hadn’t.

Supnova Sydney 2017 NERF

But it was at that precise moment, without spawnling or security blanket, I was found at my most vulnerable…

While I watched all three of them bound into the play area, with NERF guns as big as them, a man dressed in black tapped me on the shoulder.

“Look up there, and you’ll see yourself on the television.”

Sure enough, I looked up and spotted an advertisement for Zedtown, the NERF Zombie War RPG event. I had reviewed the media day Zedtown for GeekMom (TL;dr – it was awesome. But now you must go to GeekMom and check out the photos).

Zedtown Preview EG Zombies

I laughed. He laughed. I said well done for recognising clean-face me at Supanova under all the zombie makeup at Zedtown. He said, “Hey, can I guess the school your kids go to?”

Nothing makes your stomach drop like hearing a stranger refer to your spawnlings personal details.

“…, uhhhhh… sure… what makes you think…”

“Oh, don’t worry! My girlfriend is a teacher at their school and recognised you in the tv ad. She squealed with laughter seeing you in the ad! She had no idea you were even interested in NERF Zombie wars, let alone a writer to review it!”

Minions: You have no idea of the relief that washed over my body.

Turns out, he is one of the organisers behind Zedtown (I think) and said girlfriend is one of the few teachers who has known the spawnlings since Sinister’s first day at school. And she figured I wasn’t quite like the other parents at school… She just didn’t realise how different.

It’s a fairly conservative, straight-laced kind of area. Perfect for corruption to my way of thinking, one family at a time. 😉 As a collective, they will claim to only know a few shows or books… but individually they are as much a fan of David Tennant in Broadchurch as they are of his performance in Fright Night.

So, once again, we laughed. We talked about Zedtown. We watched the spawnlings gang up on their father. Good time had by all.

And then I spent the next 12 hours, scouring every post I have ever made to ensure there is nothing about our school name in any post about the spawnlings.

Oh yeah, and I’m pretty sure that teacher has now been updated on exactly how awesome we are at NERF wars.

*throws down the glove*

 

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!! 

Nintendo Saved My Road Trip

I have just come back from a serious marathon road trip with the spawnlings, and my most favourite part of it all was the Nintendo 2DS.

Well, that’s not completely true.

The spawnlings were kind of fun as well.

 

IMG_6175

I’ll be the first to admit I had my trepidations. For the last 12 months, Nefarious has been feeling queasy in the back seat of the car. The EG Mobile is one of those three-row beauties (2x2x2 formation) with Zaltu and Sinister usually in the middle, and Nefarious in the back row.

And then one day he was car-sick. Like “redecorated the rear half of the car” sick.

Car-SickThis was last year…when I had the broken wrist. Fortunately, EG Dad was driving the car. Or ‘conveniently’, as he put it.

Anyway, Nefarious had been reading a book at the time. Aha! I hear you say. Yeah, I came to that same realisation too, Einstein. Mainly because I also used to ‘redecorate the rear half of the car’ when I was a kid. Hell, I still do it now—IF I have been reading for more than 10mins in the car.

Naturally, this made me a little nervous about a 4500km round trip to Townsville, North Queensland.

So, for the road trip Nefarious moved to the middle row while Sinister moved up to the front seat with me (and played DJ/Navigator/telephone operator/food provisions). Nefarious also chose not to read any books in the car.

This in itself was a horrible thing to put on any spawnling. HORRIBLE. But especially for Nefarious, who proudly proclaims his signature statement as “Can I finish this page first?” And yes, he learnt that from his older brother.

And this is where the Nintendo 2DS came in. And I swear, I never had any intention of it being used but it was so absolutely brilliant.

Each boy has a 2DS and a couple of matching games to play, predominantly Pokemon. This means they can connect to each other within the car and battle or trade or whatever without a plethora of cords dangling around or having to climb over car seats just as the police drive by.

 

Pokemon Sun 01.jpg

Image provided by Nintendo, thus proving they were eavesdropping on our road trip 

 

And the 2DS does not make Nefarious sick. Not once. Not a peep out him until we hit Sydney on the return journey, and then it was only a headache from fatigue with the looooooooong trip.

Even with a total of an hour a day of DS time, the boy spawnlings were able to play together or separately, having some nice moments to break up the journey.

Now before you get all “oh, for the boy spawnlings only” with me, Zaltu is only 3 and a half. She is still learning how to play. She had a couple of moments playing Pokemon Gold on the 2DS (you can download it from the Nintendo Shop for about AUD$13). She also was on Pokemon Go duty sporadically during the trip.

But after the success of the last epic road trip, I am seriously considering one for her in the near future.

Nintendo must have been eavesdropping on my car again, because they have just launched a new 2DS XL, with the release on 15 June 2017. And it looks pretty.

NewNintendo2DSXL_White-Orange_Box_Packshot.png

Unlike the single-piece the boys have, the new design is a clam-shell with a larger screen just like the new 3DS XL. Personally, I prefer the 2DS for the spawnlings… and myself. Remember the car-sickness thing? 3D on the portables makes me queasy, and I ain’t taking that risk with the spawnlings playing in the car.

I’ll be honest—I like the pretty colours too. Although, I think considering how the current political climate might impact on the popularity of the white/orange scheme… Black/Turquoise for me, please!!

New Nintendo 2DS XL Black-Turquoise Packshot.jpg

The only unnerving thing is how quietly they made the announcement. Don’t get me wrong: Nintendo was all about the bright party announcements for most of 2016. And it was a huge year for them.  But it makes me feel like this announcement for the 2DS XL is missing something. Like they are holding back on us… At AUD$199.95 (RRP), it’s more than the standard 2DS but having a flippy-feature is not enough for me to take that engineering risk with my spawnlings.

I’m really hoping they have some additional feature yet to be announced. Maybe, just maybe, they could lighten up on the region blocking? That would seriously make my work with GeekMom a lot easier.

Purchase of a new 2DS, however, is on hold. Right now I need to focus on recovering from the road trip. And while I am grateful I don’t have to clean up biological confetti, we do have some unfortunate offerings to the Travel Gods that need to be dealt with.

IMG_6618

** Stay tuned! I’ll be sharing details of our East Coast Roadtrip very soon!!

 

How to Survive a Heatwave with Your Kids

It’s a little hot in the EG Lair today.


In this type of weather, no-one is a happy camper.

We don’t have aircon, and we’re OK with that. It used to be only a few days each Summer that actually required serious cooling down, and on those days we would drive to the closest shopping centre. 

But the hot days are increasing in numbers and intensity. To put it simply, we are having heatwaves. And more of them.

Want proof? Sydney has just broken a 125-year-old record of the most days in Summer breaking 35C (about 95F?).

I’m not a Summer kind of gal. The spawnlings handle it far better than I do, but even they are having trouble sleeping and keeping calm in the sibling battles.

So here are my Top Five Tips For Surviving A Heatwave:

  1. Get thee to a shopping centre–or swimming pool, local library, or the like. Something indoors. Outside options, including the beach, still come with a high risk of heat exhaustion. Movies are good, so are cafes and food courts. Seriously.
  2. Freeze your Fabrics–EG Grandma always puts damp washers in the freezer and they are perfect for calming the odd overheated moment (or seven). Then I moved to Central Queensland and learnt about putting your underwear in the freezer. GENIUS!! It doesn’t last long, but that immediate relief is worth it. Plus the spawnlings love the idea of undies in the freezer!
  3. Ice-creams in your bottle-shop–for those not from Aust, our “liquor stores” are known as bottle-o’s with GIANT fridge sections to keep the beer cold. Often they are located right next door to the corner shop or convenience store. Buy your ice-cream at the shop, walk next door and “peruse” the beers until your ice-cream is finished. You may want to consider buying one for the bottle-o attendant. Just in case they aren’t initially sympathetic. 
  4. Re-appropriate a kiddies pool–you know you’re just a big kid anyway. Fill the kiddies pool with water and a few dozen ice-cubes and chill out. If you place it right, you can even set it up near the TV, with ice cold drinks around you.
  5. Frozen rice–this one is for bed time. You know that wheat pack you have, for all those aches and pains? This works in the same way. Put a cup of rice in a clean sock, tie it off, and throw in the freezer. After at least an hour, you can put in bed to cool the sheets for an easier sleep. Rice won’t melt and make a mess, but does retain cold very well (thanks to Sharlene Hensler for reminding me about this one. Good minion)

Hopefully the heatwave in Aust won’t go too much longer, but each year just keeps hitting more and more extremes. That’s why it is so important we keep our cool while we convince the rest of the world to come to the climate change party.

Stay cool minions.