Saturday, 20 February 2016

How cool is this?

Not our actual glove, but pretty close - image taken from here
Things in the Dopey household were a little fraught this week.  Wednesday night saw Dope herself become really quite poorly.  I called the NHS on 111 and, to my alarm, they sent an ambulance for her.  Of course, she promptly perked right up, charming the paramedics with smiles and waves.  She bounced and pointed and squealed at everything in the ambulance and the crew empathised with me over the capacity of kids to make their parents look like big fat fibbers.  They could have chastised me for using their valuable time on a child that appeared healthy and well, but they didn’t.  They also didn’t seem to mind that she repeatedly reached for the hazardous sharps bin.  They simply blew up a latex glove and drew a smiley face on it so that she had something safe to play with.

At the hospital Dope was checked and monitored and cooed over.  She was admitted (see, we did need that ambulance!) and I was brought tea, given a bed to rest in and offered food.  A nurse came and good naturedly changed the bedding when Dope peed on it.  She didn’t grumble.  She also didn’t scold me for failing to catch the pee in the sample pot that I was supposed to.  Finally, Dope’s symptoms settled down and we were officially discharged.   

It was a worrying 12 hours but that’s not really what I’ve come here to tell you about today.  Instead, I want to remind us all that the NHS is amazing.  It’s most amazing points being;   

1.       It keeps people alive and healthy...
2.       For free...
3.       No matter who you are*
*There are exceptions for non-residents who pay for their treatment.

How cool is it that we can go to the doctors with niggles?  That we think nothing of getting ourselves checked out, ‘just in case’.  Would we look after ourselves quite so well if we faced a bill at the end of it?  Would we wait that bit longer to be sure that there really was an issue to be checked out?  Or would we wait until payday?   Every such delay would increase the risk of late diagnosis and treatment.  These are worries that we simply don’t consider.  The NHS protects us from those risks and difficult decisions by just being there.  Waiting for us, whenever we’re niggling, for free.

 ‘But the waiting lists!’ I hear you cry.  Yes, these are frustrating.  There are also more serious failings in the system; fatal misdiagnoses, neglect and abuse by staff, cuts taking away services, staff leaving for better pay and conditions elsewhere.  Please let’s not get into a debate about the whys and wherefores of this.  Let’s look at the bigger picture.  These incidences are heartbreaking and newsworthy because we expect MORE from the NHS.  We know they can do better because we normally leave hospitals healthier than we were when we went in.  I think that’s pretty cool.

What’s more, we know that there is a point to complaining because the NHS will respond and make changes.  We could be cynical about their motivations and efficacy in this, but the point is that reviews happen.  They, and we, understand that every life matters and that mistakes can’t just be written off.  Elsewhere, profit driven doctors and clinics take payment and glory for healing patients.  When things don’t go so well, they simply take payment.  The more people they see the more they earn, regardless of outcomes.  NHS staff earn the same regardless of the numbers they treat so individual doctors are driven and measured by quality outcomes for patients rather than quantity of patients for profit.  Again, cool hey?

When my sister in law in Nepal told me she was pregnant I was excited.  Buda not so much.  I chastised him for being a grump and he silenced me by reminding me that in Nepal you don’t celebrate a pregnancy.  You celebrate a birth that leaves both mother and baby alive.  And THAT’s the gift of the NHS.  It allows us to live freely and plan life with little caution.  We know that there is a safety net there for us that will almost certainly protect us.  Can you honestly say that a pregnancy announcement has left you worrying for the life of the mother?  I think this is the coolest point of all.

So people, please take a moment to consider what a gem we have here in the UK.  If you’re so inclined, take this one step further.  See it as a call to action to promote and protect the NHS.  If that’s not for you, just try really hard to imagine life without it.  Remind yourself and others of the freedoms it allows you and never miss an opportunity to highlight just how cool that is.

PS – It’s worth pointing out that neither I, nor anyone else connected to me, works for the NHS.  I just like to give credit where credit is due and to inject a bit of gratitude to areas where we can easily become complacent.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Playing Cupid

So, that's Valentine's Day done for another year.  For some there will have been flowers, romance, love and so on, but I suspect for most it will have been just another day.  For some, it was probably  a tough day.  A day when every shop, TV advert, facebook update felt like a personal attack.  Red hearts and pink champagne dangling just out of reach, saving themselves for those 'in love'.  That exclusive and excluding club that makes anyone outside feel a bit sucky, a bit less worthy.  And I don't like that.  Not one bit.

Earlier this week I had a friend over.  She is single and childless and hurting because of this.  She's 38 years old and working on accepting that she will never be a mother, not naturally at least.  She's a good and successful woman but feels rejected and alone.  For her, Valentine's Day magnifies of all of the gaps in her life.

After she left my house I got to thinking.  I got mad at Valentine's Day.  Stupid commercial, Hallmark holiday.  Callous shops, adverts and facebook statuses spurting out Disney-fied versions of love and relationships.  And couples...COUPLES!  You have each other.  You love and hold each other and share memories and homes and children and cars and fears and worries and hopes and dreams all year long.  Why spend a day looking further inward, leaving others hanging around on the edges alone?  I wanted to stop the whole thing.

Then I realised that stopping all of this nonsense is not the way to go.  Yes, Valentine's Day has been hijacked as a day of romance, but we can change that.  We can, and should, keep it as a day of love.  And here's the difference; romance might get one person interested, but love will make many people stick with us.  Love connects more than just couples.  It embraces friends, family, pets and communities.  It's long lasting, supporting, ever evolving and deserves to be celebrated.  So, this year, I reclaimed my Valentine's Day for LOVE.

I messaged my friend and invited her to my house this afternoon.  I then went on facebook and invited anyone who felt like being loved and happy on Valentines - regardless of whether they were single, married or anywhere in between - to my house for cake, tea and lovely times.

Two more women joined us.  Two awesome women raising kids on their own.  They have both been hurt by romantic love in the past.  They have no-one to take over mummy duty when it all gets a bit too much.  I simply cannot imagine how tired they must feel sometimes but they keep on keeping on regardless.  I don't know either of these women well but very much plan to change this.

I knew that the women coming to my house today needed to feel part of Valentine's Day, reminded that they DO have a claim to this festival.  Heck, I needed that too.  Yes, I have a husband but he's not particularly romantic.  No-one was going to spoil me, woo me or treat me so  I gave these women the type of Valentine's that would make me feel loved.

Each got a homemade card with an individual message and verse inside.  They got red roses tied up in ribbon and a favour bag with heart shaped chocolates, I made lunch and let their kids run riot in my house.  I wiped up their spills and assured them it was fine when they pushed my daughter to the ground.  We talked, we laughed and generally enjoyed each other.  When they left my house was upside down.  Nothing was in the same room as it was this morning - even the rug from Dopey's bedroom was lifted out into the living room.  It was perfect.  I plan on doing the same again next year.  Maybe with the same women or maybe they will have moved on by then.  I may have a room full or my invitation may not be accepted by anyone.  And that will be OK because it will mean everyone feels loved enough already.  But I will keep on inviting.  I will include the excluded and be the person who shows EVERYONE that they're loved, especially on a day that seems designed for telling us we aren't.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Family Fun Fail

Looking for ways to keep your kids entertained and your bank balance in credit?  Well, I'm afraid to say that you're probably in the wrong place.  I just failed miserably at this.  I planned on taking Dope to see the fish in the little aquarium on the 2nd floor of our nearest museum.  How cute!  Dope loves fish and the museum has free entry.  Perfect.  Free and fun.  Hurrah!

Unfortunately, people, the afternoon was neither.  I spent my life's savings on road tolls getting to the museum and then took out a bank loan to pay for the inner city car parking charge.  I sold a kidney to fund the cup of tea I had to buy to sit in the museum cafe and then finally had to sell one of Dopey's kidneys to buy another drink to re-hydrate us on the way out of the sauna cum aquarium.  Free day out it wasn't...*

In terms of fun, our starting point for the day was Dope's nursery.  I picked her up at lunchtime thinking that she could sleep for the car journey over to the museum.  She had other plans.  She apparently still hadn't forgiven me for abandoning her in that safe, caring, stimulating environment earlier on in the day.  She screamed and cried and shouted at me the whole way there, finally conking out as we pulled into the car park.  That nap cost me 40-odd minutes of city centre parking.  I could begrudge that, but it's in the past so I'm willing to let it go.

After battling through the howling wind and icy rain, I took her to the museum cafe.  Here, my friends, we were going to sit happily.  I would drink tea and Dope would eat her healthy, homemade snack and babble to me about her day.  Instead, I wrestled Dope into a highchair and she merely considered my culinary offering before swiping it out of my hand and down to the floor.  I offered it again, she screamed.  I re-packed the snack and she went into meltdown demanding I give it back to her.  I gave it to her and she threw it at me.  We repeated this cycle several times.  What fun!

We then headed up to the aquarium and finally had some success.  She made all of the right noises at the fish and the eels and the octopus.  She wandered up and down, delighting the pensioners around us.  She waved and pointed at everything and all was good.  Except that it was stinking hot.  So hot that I seriously thought I may pass out.  I bundled us both out of there quickly and back down to the cafe where I bought an extremely overpriced orange juice that most likely saved my life.  This is probably the only time its price tag has ever been justified.

Back home things got worse.  Buda was working late so it was still just me and Dope.  There followed a catalogue of errors that would keep you reading way past your bedtime so I will just give you a snapshot of the aftermath, as shared on my Facebook feed...

"So, I've managed to jam the bath plug in the bath; smash a glass in the kitchen sink; burn my daughter's taste buds with madras spiced scrambled eggs; drop her replacement dinner onto the floor; fill her up with rice cakes and fruit pot; fall while carrying her. My child, understandably, has grizzled and protested at me throughout this time. She then took 90 minutes to get to sleep. I'm also covered in baby snot from all of the consoling I've had to do. Oh, and I've just noticed that our electricity meter is almost at zero so we will most likely be plunged into total darkness fairly soon. Sorry Keshav, you work one evening shift and I've let our household crumble. ‪#‎proudmummy‬"

At this point the urge to fall asleep there and then was great.  But I decided to say NO to defeat.  A good mother never gives up, right? So I cleared up the mess and the house looked great.  Did I enjoy my well earned rest then? No I did not.  I decided I was going to finish the day UP on where I started rather than simply breaking even.  I went to the washing machine and saw, for the first time in my life, that I had dyed all of the white bits of my clothes pink.  I didn't think that this happened outside of detergent ads and predictable sitcom storylines.  But it does and it did.

Buda finally came home and laughed at my day.  At me, really, but he was kind enough to de-personalise his amusement.  He cheered me up with news of a cheesecake he had brought home with him, bringing me this with a cup of tea.  

Has anyone else ever seen such a cheesecake?  No, and I'll tell you why...because hemorrhage themed desserts have never caught on.  I was so horrified I knocked over my tea and then finally conceded defeat and headed to bed.

* Understand that my life savings, along with mine and Dope's internal organs did, in fact, remain in tact throughout this afternoon.  I didn't take any loans out either.  I did, however, have to dig very deep in my pockets to fund this folly.

Diary of an imperfect mum