Tuesday, February 26, 2013

5 Things about visiting the doctor

It’s the blog topic I’ve been trying to avoid, but it just won’t go away. In the last three weeks I’ve made 4 trips to the GP, 2 trips to the ENT specialist, one trip to the blood lab and spent an afternoon in emergency. Sickness is boring the BS out of me, but in the spirit of art imitating life, here are my 5 things about visiting the doctor…

1.     WAITING ROOM TOYS: Our local surgery used to provide a couple of toys for the little ones to spit all over during the long wait. The star of toy corner was an activity centre thing shaped like a dog’s face. You pull its tongue, roll its eyes, push its nose, you know the drill. That dog was a beacon to every boogey nosed, feverish, rashed-up kid in the ‘hood. If your kid wasn’t sick when you walked in, it would definitely be afterward. I christened it Vomit-Dog. I’ve met other mums who had named him as well: Death-Dog, Spew-Puppy, Poo-Pooch etc. Poo-Pooch is gone now - the doctors realised he was a cesspit of infectious disease. These days, to keep the kids quiet in the waiting room, I show them pictures of Hugh Jackman in Woman’s Day, and to date, this hasn't made anyone sick.

2.     NO APPOINTMENT NECESSARY: No one plans their illnesses. No one pre-empts their kid getting up at 5am and projectile vomiting across the room. Generally, when you call to make an appointment, it’s impromptu. Have you ever called your doctor on Monday because you suspect that by Wednesday you might have the flu? My mum does this every week but I’m sure you don’t. By the time you call the doctor, you’re probably feeling pretty sad and sorry for yourself and would maybe like a little cuddle and a cup of tea. You certainly don’t want ‘Sorry love, we’re fully booked today. Next appointment’s Saturday.’ Really?! I might be dead by Saturday!!! Why does this happen? Can’t they factor in a few unexpected illnesses?  Surely there is such a thing – we’ve had three in three weeks and I’m sure we’re not alone. Anyone?

3.     PEEING INTO A CUP: Now big thinkers, here’s the irony…Why is it that you can’t see your doctor at the drop of a hat, but when the doctor says ‘could you please go into the bathroom and pee into this cup’ you’re expected to waltz into the communal lavatory and split your whiskies on cue, just like that. What if you’re not ready? What if you’re dehydrated? Yick! What if you actually manage to do one? Then you have to carry the warm little jar of pee back from the bathroom and into the surgery. Past all those people in the waiting room. Past Vomit Dog whose eyes are always watching. And everyone thinks you're pregnant. Here’s my hot tip: in winter, shove the jar up your sleeve and act normal. Here’s my hot, hot tip: In summer, wear long sleeves to the doctors just in case. What could be worse?

4.     STOOL SAMPLES! – I’ve been blessed so far to not require one of these myself but I did need one for my daughter once and that was an epic adventure because the reason she was being tested was… constipation! I can’t remember how long it took me to get that sample, or who suffered more during the wait. Let’s say her, poor cherub. We eventually got the sample, and I carried the little pot of turd around in my handbag until I could get it safely back to the doctor. It even came to the park with us for reasons I can’t remember now, but I did protect that poop like a golden nugget – it was harder to come by and therefore much, much more valuable.

5.     CONDESCENDING DOCTORS: First I’m going to mention all the fabulous medical staff we’ve encountered lately. They were quick, switched-on and made being sick as fun as it could possibly be for a kid. Now I’m going to tell you about Mr Condescending. Mr Condescending actually looked down his (large) nose at me and said ‘it’s funny how symptoms disappear when you walk into the hospital.’ Yep. Because a 7 year old can fake a 39-degree temp. And vomiting. And can make her body flop on cue and knows how to roll her eyes into the back of her head. I must have forgotten my daughter was possessed. Really? When you’re worried enough to take your child to hospital, do you need to be made to feel like an idiot as well? Here’s my last tip: Even if they make you feel like a dramatic, overreacting helicopter mum, always do what you think is right for your child, because in the great words of that evil witch on Rapunzel “Mamma knows best.” And we usually do.

Incidentally, my demonised daughter ended up having glandular fever, which the big-nosed doctor failed to pick up. I developed a slight crush on our ENT surgeon, who is at least 15 years my senior, balding and never going to read this blog, so I’ll say what I like about his gentle caring ways. And finally, if you ever have to collect a stool sample, may it be for constipation, as I presume this would be better than diarrhea.

Check ya’s!

Monday, February 18, 2013

5 Tooth Fairy Dilemmas

My little one lost another tooth last night and is now a verified gummy bear. It's also given her a short-term lisp, adding to the strange cuteness of the gappy smile. But having just come from her room, where my husband is ever-so-quietly searching for the bagged tooth which has fallen off the bedhead into the mess below, I’m reminded just how arduous a task playing tooth fairy is, and of all the things that can sometimes go wrong...

1.     The tooth disappears: This must happen to everyone. The kid is so excited, they take the tooth to school, to grandma’s, on the trampoline, into the dog’s kennel and before you know it, it’s gone! I even know a few kids who swallowed the damned things before they came out. What to do, what to do? Every self-respecting fairy knows. You write a letter, explaining how you lost the tooth, how sorry you are and why you still deserve the cash. It’s like asking for a payrise when you haven’t met budget, except in this case the kid will still get paid. 

2.     The tooth re-appears: The fairy, upon entering the room, cannot locate the tooth. Without night vision, silence slippers or other stealth enhancing tools (they’re reserved for super-heroes), fairies can only fluff around in the dark trying not to sigh or grunt too loudly in exasperation before leaving the money anyway. What do you say when the kid wakes up and yells “I got my money but my tooth’s still here!??” Because you slept with it darling, in your hot little hand, and it got lost amongst the sheets and you were lying on it – princess and pea like – and the poor fairy didn’t know what to do. FAIL!

3.     The fairy forgets to appear: This isn’t just a fail, it’s a monumental F*-Up. How you could possibly forget to sneak into your kid’s room at mid-night and drop off a few dollars? Honestly. After waking at 6am to squeeze in half an hour of exercise, making the lunches, hanging a load of washing, folding another one, double drop off, working a few hours, back to school for pick up, afternoon tea, dance class, signing permission slips, Premier’s Reading Challenge and that thing you call dinner, surely lost teeth are at the forefront of your mind. Lazy selfish fairy! Santa would never do such a thing!

4.     You get caught: They woke up and saw you hovering over the bed. You can’t pretend you popped in for midnight kiss, because instead of your usual loving face, you have a demented blurry-eyed look that says ‘I wish I didn’t have to get out of bed for this crap,’ accompanied by an awkward squint as you search in the dark for the tiny tooth which the child has hidden under his/her pillow. Your face is enough to scare the bejeezus out of any kid, until they realise it’s you, and then they want to know what the hell you’re doing and why you look so weird. Here are some top excuses:
1.     Woken by allergic reaction to fairy dust
2.     Trying to photograph fairy in action and blinded by light as she disappeared
3.     Severely wand-slapped by vigilant fairy who thought you were trying to make off with the dosh
5.     The kid sees you and doesn’t tell you till morning: The game’s up buster! You won’t be needing that pink tutu anymore. That cheeky so-and-so must be about 8 years old to pull this one, and probably has no teeth left to lose, so doesn’t even care. The problem is, he/she is will probably tell their siblings who the tooth fairy is before Wheat-Bix O’clock. At this point, it would be wise to slip the empty mouthed prat a $20 note to keep their gummy trap shut, after all, you do love wearing that tutu.

To end this lovely fairy tale, it should be said that #2 woke up today as pleased as punch and shouted “Mum, Dad, come upsthairs, I have thomething really excthiting to thow you!” She showed her $2 coin and the letter I wrote with my left hand telling her my fairy name and those of my fairy friends, because this is the kind of detail every little girl wants. And we all lived happily every after. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

5 of the best things about 'back to school'

As if going back to school isn’t mish-mashed enough with the happy/sadness of it all. We’ve had a staccato kick off to the school year, with days on and days off, early starts, early finishes, junior side, senior side, short days, long days a birthday and even a sick day thrown in! Oh the uncertainty! So when I woke up yesterday to our first full day of our first full week of school for both children, I breathed a sigh of happy relief.  Here's why…

1.     FINALLY - A ROUTINE!: I always thought I was a pretty cool live-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal, but after having kids, the monotonous value of a routine has taken over. The school holidays knocked me for six.  I physically got to the office maybe twice, and spent the rest of my ‘work time’ battling not to be disturbed while working from the end of the dining room table. I certainly didn’t do any not-for-profit blogging!! I don’t think I actually did much with the kids either.  In fact, I can’t really remember, it’s all such blur. Now school’s back, and so is the routine! We have times and schedules and shit actually happens.  It’s bliss.

2.     NO MORE DAILY SUPERMARKET TRIPS:  Is it just me, or are you always at the supermarket in the school holidays? I think Coles has an advantage over Woolies purely from my personal contribution to their bottom line. The holidays are a feeding frenzy for my kids – they simply don’t stop eating. We also attract lots of other kids to our home, or we gate crash theirs. Both scenarios require either having food or taking food, hence more shopping.  I can’t talk, because during this time, I also do lots of sitting around eating with friends. And drinking. Oops! When school goes back, everyone’s a winner. Me, my waist-line, my wallet. But not Coles.

3.     EARLY BED TIMES: My kids wake between 5.30 and 6am most days.  I can’t complain, because I often do too. However, when they don’t hit the sack until 9.30 or 10pm, which is often the case in school holidays, they’re pretty gnarly by the end of the day.  At least I can hold myself together! When school goes back, they’re so knackered by the end of the day that when I put them to bed at 7.30, they crash, like, immediately. Even in summer when it’s still light outside. And they actually go to bed smiling, which is also amazing.  I love school.

4.     ME TIME: Most of the time, it’s all about the kids. The minute those critters crawl out of you, you disappear into them. Which is mostly fabulous, but when they’re at school there’s an amazing window of me time just for you. Having spent the last 6 years scheduling my stuff into weird times that don’t interfere with the kids waking hours, I now have several days where I can do ‘me’ things in the middle of the day. Like sitting down to eat. Fancy that. Someone has suggested a matinee movie club. And bike riding. And kayak yoga. I know. It’s crazy. What the hell is it? I don’t know, but I might be able to try it now.

5.     SILENCE: This might be the craziest one of all the 5 things.  I’m sitting here at lunchtime on a Tuesday afternoon and I can hear the buzzing of the fridge. I can hear rain falling on something made from tin and water dripping through the filter of the fish tank.  I can hear the jackhammer of my neighbour’s builder carving into stone and I’m wishing it was mine. The builder that is.  Even better, I can’t hear any crying, screaming, fighting or songs from Barbie: the Princess and the Pop Star. And I haven’t heard  ‘Muuuuuuum’ for about 3 hours. Now this is living!

I do feel a tad guilty for not been the crying mum who sent her last born off to big school with the wave of a wet tissue, but I can’t help rejoicing just a little for the fact that I no longer have to be the mad, crazy, rushed-off-my-feet mum who forgets things and yells a lot and never feels like any job is quite finished. I’d rather forgo the sentimentality for the serenity, and I have back to school to thank for that.