Thursday, 27 September 2012

My house. 8pm

It's now twenty-five minutes later.

It's 8pm. Thursday 27th October 2012.

And I did it:

Time for some telly.


If this makes no sense at all, click here, and for more like it, click here for The Gallery

My house. 7.32pm

It's 7.32 pm, Thursday 27th September 2012.

My children are in bed, B is in America (where he has been all week), the washing up and washing are being ignored, as I, in my usual way when I am on my own (in the adult company sense, obviously), have come straight down the stairs and sat in front of the computer.

If I don't think about the stuff I have to do, I won't have to do it, right? Anyway, it turns out, fortuitously, that Tara's gallery this week is 8pm...

Which gives me 25 minutes to do the washing up before I have to publish some pictures...

Monday, 24 September 2012

What can I do to stop the end of the world?

Where do polar bears live?
In the Arctic.
Is that with the penguins or Father Christmas?

I dodged that one rather neatly by saying that it wasn't the penguins, because they live in the Antarctic, but that I thought Father Christmas lived a little South of the actual Arctic Circle, so not actually near the polar bears either.

And as I was saying it I realised that there's more than a possibility that by the time I'm having to admit that Father Christmas doesn't actually exist, I'll be having to admit that nor do polar bears.  Or not any more.

And I don't know how to stop it.  I don't know how to make it better. 

Because it is happening, isn't it?  Is there anyone out there who really seriously thinks it isn't?  I've hitherto been a bit head in the sand ('cos that's all that will be left in a few years time) about it all, but the news, last week, that the Arctic ice cap shrank 18% more than the previous record this year has really hit me.   This means, says Professor Peter Wadhams (who he?) of Cambridge University (oh, right), that: "The final collapse ... is now happening and will probably be complete by 2015/16," with, to my mind, although not to the scientists', who spell it out in terrifying detail, unimaginably catastrophic results for the entire world.

But what Professor Pete doesn't tell us, what none of the scientists tell us, is what can we do?  What do they do?  I don't mean ending drilling for oil in the Arctic (although frankly that does seem a wise idea), or reducing China's carbon emissions. I can't, personally do either of those things.  What can I, we, you, do? 

Because I have this conversation in  my head.  It happens in about twenty years time, and it starts familiarly:

You know when the scientists told you you were changing the world's climate irrevocably and it was going to result in global disaster?
Why did you let it happen?

I'm selfish, you see.  I can't bear the idea that my children will look at me, at us, in years to come and think we stood by and did nothing.  That the end of the world started on our watch.  But I honestly don't know what to do.

I don't drive other than when I have to (so yes, I walked my children to school in torrential rain and gale force winds this morning - provoking a tantrum when I said no umbrellas). I switch off lights in a doubtless infuriating sanctimonious fashion, normally when there are still people in the room. (Often B in the loo. He loves that).  I take my own bags to the supermarket.  I am adamantly not going to turn on the central heating until the end of October (the other end), despite the fact I had two hot water bottles in bed with me last night.  I read the information about where food has come from and only buy in season.   I reduce. I reuse.  I recycle.

But none of it's enough, is it? So what should I do? Should I never take another flight?   Should I vote green? (I don't think we even had a green candidate here last time) Should I join Friends of the Earth? Should I change my energy supplier?  Should I take my entire family off grid? (Significantly easier said than done, obviously). Or is none of that enough either? 

And if there's nothing I can do that'll ever be enough, how am I ever going to be able to explain it?

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Meningitis - Keep Watching.

This time last year, I went to a really interesting  blogger event about meningitis.  It was fascinating, terrifying and reassuring in equal parts, and I came away full of enthusiasm about making sure that everyone out there, be they parent or not, has access to a meningitis symptom app or card, and, better, knows what those symptoms are, and, should they find them, where to get help.

To my shame, though, I also, said "and if you've got any questions, put them in the comments, and I will ask an expert".  But I never did, so now I am.

Because the three main meningitis charities, The Meningitis Trust which supports people affected by Meningitis in the UK, Meningitis UK which does pure research into finding vaccines to prevent against all forms of meningitis and The Meningitis Research Foundation which funds research, supports those affected and raises awareness, have recently launched a new campaign.

It's no coincidence this is a year from the last one - this is peak time for meningitis: as with so many less serious illnesses, we are more vulnerable to it as the weather turns, so this is the time they, and I, are asking everyone just to watch, and keep watching.

I did once diagnose someone with meningitis.  I thought that's what it was, and I couldn't have been more terrified when I found out I was right.  It wasn't a child though.  It was the boy I fancied, and I was in my second week at university....  He's fine now, by the way.  I never got anywhere with him, but I'll never forget him either.

I thought, therefore, that I knew about meningitis, especially after the forum last year, but I didn't know the answers to these questions, posed last year, and now kindly answered by Dr Nellie Ninis who is a consultant paediatrician at St Mary’s Hospital, London (widely considered to be a centre of excellence for meningitis care):

Q.           What about the "stiff neck" symptom? Is that important? Mind you, whenever I've had a sick child and I've asked "does your neck hurt?" the answer is usually yes.

A.         A stiff neck will only occur in meningitis and not in septicaemia (Remember not to confuse the two. Septicaemia gives you the big purple rash and kills FAST) neck stiffness is really only seen in much older children, probably 8 years upwards and it tends to occur late. The other signs of meningitis are much more important, namely, bad headache, lots of vomiting, drowsy, not looking or communicating properly and excessive sleepiness. The younger the child the more non specific it is, which makes diagnosis a bit of a subtle clue finding mission for doctors. Most painful necks in paediatrics are caused by tonsillitis so my advice is look for the other signs.

Q.           What should you DO, while you're waiting for help to arrive? Give maximum dose of calpol and ibuprofen? Sponge down with tepid water?
A.        What should parents do while waiting? Calpol, Ibuprofen and tepid sponging are all fine but my biggest advice is don’t wait too long – just take your child straight to hospital if you are properly worried. If you are not too sure then take those measures and see if they start to look better and if in doubt consult a health professional.

I can't thank Dr Ninis enough for her very speedy (given it took me a year to ask the questions, she answered them in less than a day) response.  She's also said she's ready to answer any other questions, however silly they may seem, so please do ask in the comments below.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Parenting mistakes no. 2,538

Yesterday I took M to the emergency doctor because he had been screaming inconsolably, writhing in my arms, for no apparent reason, for over half an hour.

It was a tantrum.

She was jolly nice about it, all things considered.