Over the weekend, I saw Dr Doireann O Leary put up an Instagram post referencing a study which looked at the conduct of medical professionals on their personal social media. This study inferred that these professionals, namely vascular surgeons, were being inappropriate in the way that they conducted themselves online, in a number of ways, including the uploading of holiday photographs wearing swimwear, drinking alcoholic drinks and expressing political views. This investigation of social media accounts was done by male “researchers” setting up fake accounts to spy on their medical colleagues to report their findings. Quite rightly, Dr Doireann’s post lambasted this “study” for what it was – an unethical, in many ways misogynistic, double standard holding piece of research which really held little to no value. It professed that this content would negatively impact their future careers if made public to their future patients and employers.
Life got a bit mad and away from me so the Covid-19 quarantine diaries are kind of gone for now – it’s not that nothing happened, but a whole lot of it is repetitive. So instead, this time, I’m opting for a snapshot – less detail, more of the important stuff. Because believe me, you don’t need to know about the million Pokemon characters I’ve been learning about of late…
So, Life in Quarantine Ireland, A Snapshot of Summer 2020.
My dad died three and a half months ago. On the 15th of March, three days after I received the phone call telling me he had crashed his van and they thought it might be something to do with his heart, we made the decision that matched his wishes to end his time being kept alive by machines. He was 57 years old. I am still having trouble remembering he is gone. Grief during this time has been… an experience.
Quarantine has kept on going. The Coronavirus COVID-19 has taken over the news, and changed everything about how we conduct our lives. The past month had already been hectic and dramatic, between graduating college, getting engaged and losing my dad, but that was only Month 1 of dealing with Coronavirus in our lives. I’ve decided to keep on this record of the time, so that hopefully it will be something to look back on, to show the way we got through this crazy time. This period of life, the month after losing my dad, was one that was definitely more tough than I even expected, and involved a whole lot of putting one foot in front of the other. However, there were little things of note, so here’s a part 2 to the Quarantine Diaries.
We are currently living through a period which will undoubtedly enter the history books. There are moments in life that everyone has the “where were you when” memories attached to, and the happenings of the last month or so have definitely been categorised as that. Our country (along with many others) is under a lockdown – perhaps not by name, but definitely in principle. We are in war-time mode – deaths reported daily as statistics we wait for, new case reports, sheltering in safe zones. I’ve found it hard to write recently but I think for posterity it would be wise to get my thoughts on it all down – thoughts I can show Eliott when he is older, a record of what we have lived through, this quarantine period. I’ve gotten some inspiration from Sinead at Bumbles of Rice, who did a diary format of her last month and a bit, and followed it up after, so I will be borrowing that style to get this all down.
The Quarantine Diaries – Part 1.
I had lots of plans for blog posts this January. It was to be the re-starting of my writing, there have been lots of changes and I wanted to tell everyone about them. I have more time for writing, time that isn’t sucked into academic writing and college work, and a job that was draining my soul. There are drafts that I started writing of recaps of our life over the last year so that we were all caught up to date. But January came and took my breath away a little, by taking a man I love so dearly and ending his story a bit sooner than any of us were ready for. Read More
Irish writer and blogger, Nicola Cassidy, writes beautiful historical fiction. I remember reading December Girl when it was released in October 2017 and devouring it, so I was really looking forward to her second offering this year. I don’t think it breaches any spoilers to say that I was not disappointed in any way by The Nanny at Number 43. I’ve received a copy for my Kindle to review (thank you very much, Poolbeg), and got through it in two nights – not wanting to put it down. Here’s my review of The Nanny At Number 43.
SeaFest, the largest free, family-friendly maritime celebration in Ireland, takes place in the Port of Cork, Cork City this weekend, from 7 – 9 June. It features a fantastic array of free events for all ages — free sailing, kayaking, vessel tours, opportunities to see marine creatures up close, and a variety of interactive sessions. There will also be a number of familiar faces — cooking demos from top celebrity chefs such as Neven Maguire, Martin Shanahan and Rory O’Connell; and a talk from Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann, Evelyn Cusack on our changing weather. There will be plenty of things to entertain your family and make this a weekend to remember!
It’s the last day of April, so I’m definitely late to the parade on this challenge, but I thought to compile the whole month as a blog post would be a nice way to put all these recommendations and listings together! This challenge on Twitter was initiated by @Jabberwocky808 and has been joined in by a multitude of readers with thousands of suggestions. Here’s my addition to the Reading Irish Women Challenge.
I’ve got a five-year-old son. Half a decade has gone by since he entered our lives and turned everything upside down. It’s hard to believe, even seeing it there written down (and having heard it on a loop all day, he’s been telling everyone he’s five now). Far from the five-pound baby boy who was so tiny that even the premature-baby clothes we had to rush out and buy were swimming on him, he’s now big and bold, and a fully formed personality. He’s off to big school this September, which is approaching so much faster than I’d anticipated. The quote “The Days Are Long But The Years Are Short” is definitely one which is resonating more and more with me as time goes on. We’re thankfully mostly rid of the sleepless nights (these days I just blame academic deadlines rather than a screaming baby or a toddler who refuses to sleep in his own bed), but we’ve still got weekends where it feels like forever until Monday morning and creche is open again so that I can hear my own thoughts without also hearing “Mammy, if these two Pokemon are fighting, which one is going to win?” on a loop. Still, though, five is big. Five is a long time to be a parent, trundling along and learning on the job.
I used the same format for the last years birthday post (and the year before), a snapshot of his life at the age he’s at now, which is nice to look back on and see what has changed, and what has stayed the same. So here we go, Eliott at five: a Snapshot. Read More
I’ve been blogging a lot less than I wanted of late, it’s been busy. I’ve been getting into strides with college work, epidemiology is kicking my ass, and when it isn’t, my body is deciding to take over. And that’s all before dealing with the junior tyrant who resides in our house half the time. It seems he’s on a job share with our very sweet, funny four year old. An eternal balance that I’ll write about at some stage when I figure out what exactly I’m doing (he may be 18 by the time I figure that one out). October has been a month of lots of change. Here’s just a snapshot of what we’ve been up to.
I’ve been listening to lots of podcasts of late that I’ve gotten fully sunken into.
The people from Spotlight in the Boston Globe (yes, the same people that the film is about) are doing an excellent investigation into the case of Aaron Hernandez, the NFL player who was convicted of murder and died by suicide in 2017, called Gladiator. It goes beyond the case itself and looks into Football Inc to see what exactly caused the horrific acts which took place and what could have been done to prevent them.
CBC have done an incredible podcast series called “Uncover: Escaping NXIVM” which I’ve barely been able to stop listening to – but definitely isn’t one for in the car with kids as it contains some VERY adult themes. In the investigative podcast series about the “wellness” group which the authorities have now labelled a cult, they look into its leader, Keith Raniere, and one woman’s journey to get out.It discovers what drew Sarah Edmondson to Raniere and his followers and how she ended up turning on him. Not one for the squeamish but definitely a compelling story.
On a less serious side of things, Eliott has been OBSESSED with the song Shotgun by George Ezra. It’s been playing here A LOT. I still can’t believe his face matches his voice, but whatever, it’s a VERY catchy song. And very cute when my four year old, who knows three lines, is singing it happily.
I’ve finally immersed myself in The Crown. I know, I know, I came SO late to this party but I LOVE it.
We’ve also been watching the third series of The Good Place. We’re rather resentful for the weekly wait between episodes, because we arrived rather late to the game and got to binge watch the first two seasons. So it feels AWFULLY forking unfair to have to wait a week between episodes. But they are TV gold and so so worth it. I NEED a Janet in my life.
For the coming month, we’re getting stuck into the final series of House of Cards. (For those not up to date, please be aware that the trailer is for the final series of the show and therefore may have spoilers!)
I’ve been doing a lot of academic reading this month as the Masters is proving to be VERY full on (as I probably should have expected). However, I have had a few good reads which I will compile into a much fuller book review post. Here are just some of them in brief
The Importance Of Being Aisling – the much-awaited sequel to Oh My God What A Complete Aisling. I have a lot to say about this book, but in short – I thought it was even better than the first. Total heart warmer of a read.
All American Murder by James Patterson. Yeah, this one wasn’t such a heart-warmer but it was fascinating. It also dealt with the case of Aaron Hernandez. I’d read the book before starting the podcast so I’m kind of getting a 360 look at the whole case. As a crime writer, Patterson certainly knows how to use the language to keep people gripped and at times it feels difficult to remember that this all happened, it’s all real and these are actual people’s lives and deaths.
The Magic Moment by Niall Breslin. This one was a kids book purchase, introducing children to mindfulness and giving a way to deal with fears, like a fear of the swimming pool. I thought it was a really charming read and a good introduction for kids, one which our four year old is learning day by day.
A whole lot of coffee. And probably not enough water. Must strive to do better. Next month will be better!
Layers. Because between the changeable weather, buildings that have blasting heat on one second and walls made of glass letting out heat the next and medication causing hot flashes, I seem to be an every-season-in-one-day kinda girl these days. Much as I love my wooly jumpers (and I LOVE them, so cosy), having to attempt to discreetly pat down my forehead from sweat-gate while in a meeting with people I would like to work with is MORTIFYING and not worth it.
I’ve recently discovered a penchant for Massaman curry. I don’t do spicy food, so curries have never really been my thing, but oh my god, I have found the food for my death row meal. Now if I could just figure out how to make my own perfect one from scratch so that the local Thai place doesn’t wind up just setting up a direct debit, that would be wonderful. Any suggestions for a good recipe?
In September, I started a part time masters in Public Health. It’s very full on and I’m currently trying to get my head around epidemiology, which is basically statistics on steroids. It’s not been easy, and hasn’t been helped by the brain fog that I’ve been experiencing, but I am enjoying having something to focus on that isn’t my pain levels or my frustrations at life. I’m also looking forward to getting to get stuck into my chosen research topic over the next few months – how I’m going to juggle it with work, parenting and everything else is yet to be determined but fingers crossed it will all fall into place.
Last month, I got a rather incredible surprise by being awarded Best Parenting Blog in the Blog Awards Ireland! I wasn’t able to make it to the ceremony, thanks to a pesky presentation in college, so the very lovely Sinead from Bumbles of Rice collected the award on my behalf.
I am beyond thrilled that my little corner of the internet has been considered to be something more than just the place I put my ramblings. I started writing this blog almost five years ago and never really saw it becoming what it has done then. Back then I was just pregnant, hormonal and needing a place to vent. It’s become a place where I’ve shared my experiences, gotten to meet others who have been there, done that and had their t-shirt puked on. I’ve met incredible people who have not only become online friends but some of them “real life” friends as well. So winning the award has really put a smile on my face and I am so thankful that others out there like what I write.
Darker evenings encouraging the Netflix binges of new shows and reading of books, once we manage to get the little man to get into bed.
Hallowe’en this year was also a bit of fun, given that it was Eliott’s first that he properly got into. He dressed up as Catboy from the PJ Masks in full costume and had a ball trick or treating!
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This CatBoy enjoyed his first ever trick or treating and is now stuck into his first ever viewing of Halloweentown, absolutely ignoring all the sweets…. #allhallowseve #catboy #pjmasks #pjmaskscostume #pjmaskshalloween #trickortreating #dressuptime #parentsofig #pjmasksallshouthooray #catboycostume
Cold weather (well, changeable weather) has a habit of making my muscles and joints seize in not fun ways. So, there’s that. Also, the seemingly unending whinge. If anyone fancies taking on a four year old, perhaps as a tool for an abstinence-encouraging part of a sex ed programme in secondary schools, he’s open for bookings. He’s lovely really. There are just a LOT of emotions built up in his tiny frame. And he’s not exactly rocking this whole “extra hour” thing by any means. But who needs sleep?
That time of year is rolling around again. The leaves are on the ground in gorgeous colours, the weather is getting colder. I’ve taken to ignoring the Christmas decorations popping up in the shops because Hallowe’en gets to come first! This year is Eliott’s first year properly getting into it (thank you montessori), we’re even making a big deal and decorating the house in spooky decorations! In the spirit of all things spooky, Netflix has a huge selection of scares for all ages. Here are 27 options for watching while hiding behind a cushion – a mixture of movies and series to get stuck into in the run up to Hallowe’en.
It’s National Breastfeeding Week in Ireland. This means it’s time to celebrate all that is good and great about supporting women feeding their babies. It’s not something I feel particularly well-experienced in to write much about. My experience revolved around 9 weeks of supplementing, of panic and of not enough support – not exactly a ringing endorsement. There’s definitely a lot I’ve learned since. There’s lots that will be put into practice if there’s another baby to make it a better experience for everyone. However, this year the slogan for the week is “Every Breastfeed Makes A Difference”. Here is a stash of breastfeeding resources which I have found to be EXCELLENT. In celebration of the boob-tastic women who fuel their kiddies themselves, I hope you find this helpful.
Self care isn’t something I’ve been known to be great at. Two years ago, a counsellor asked me what were the things I did for self care and I stared blankly at her, because apparently my morning coffee didn’t count. I was very burned out at the time, working full time while in chronic pain with a very hectic toddler in the house. She set on a mission to teach me the error of my ways, and while I’ve not perfected the art of self care, I have gotten a bit better at it. When Sarah, the woman behind the Mama Moments subscription boxes got in touch with me to ask me to try one of their self care boxes, I thought it would definitely fit in well here, especially since she’s kindly offered a discount code to my readers (see the bottom of this post). She very kindly answered a couple of questions for me too, so that we can get to see the woman behind the company.
I’m a big fan of podcasts for when I’m driving or just pottering around the house. I listen to a variety of things, lots of true crime, some political and some just inane. Other posts I’ve written about podcasts I listen to seem to have been popular on here (especially my true crime podcast posts), so I thought it would be a good idea to compile a list of what I’ve been listening to of late, in the hopes of passing on some of the ones I’m evangelical about recently! I’d also love to hear recommendations from others. I am always looking for something new to listen to on my travels.
So, where to begin?
When you have a baby, people are full of advice. Actually, once you get that stick to turn blue and start to tell people, the advice is free-flowing. You can’t eat this, you can’t do that, and if you’re not doing that then YOUR CHILD IS DOOMED. As you can imagine, most of this advice is unsolicited, and a fair portion of it isn’t exactly welcomed. As a first time mother at the age of 22, I felt like I had a huge luminous sign above my head saying “SHE HASN’T A CLUE”, based on the amount of absolute strangers popping up with advice on how to raise my child. Read More
The Irish Health System is a flawed system, there is no empirical evidence at all to show us otherwise. We have seen a medley of errors causing pain and suffering in numerous ways over the past few years. However, sometimes, we do SOMETHING right, and one of those things is the Drug Payment Scheme. Is it perfect? Not at all, but it’s definitely something that everyone should sign up for because it may save you from financial woe in the future.
Here’s a bit of a look into what’s involved, who is entitled to it and how to get yourself sorted out with the Drug Payment Scheme. Hopefully it is something you will never need to use (the majority of users don’t hit the cap each month) but if you’ve got a house of kids, a chronically ill family member or simply want to prepare for the worst, then make sure to get this card into your purse.
September is International Pain Awareness Month. Now, I know that sounds like a bit of an unnecessary one. We all know pain is real, we know it exists, why does it need a month? Well, as someone living with chronic pain, there’s a lot that people DON’T KNOW, or assume instead of actually finding out. So, the hope of this International Pain Awareness Month is to inform, to educate and to hopefully bring a greater understanding to the larger population lucky enough to not directly experience chronic pain as to what we’re going through.
On 20 August 2018, the World Health Organisation released a press release which stated that “Over 41,000 children and adults in the WHO European Region have been infected with measles in the first 6 months of 2018. The total number for this period far exceeds the 12-month totals reported for every other year this decade.” The WHO European Region is made up of 53 countries. 71% of these cases came from 3 countries: Romania, Italy and Ukraine. However, over the past few years, the amount of cases which have been highlighted in Ireland have been increasing and this is a worrying trend. For me as a parent, a chronic worrier and someone who lives with an invisible autoimmune issue, these figures absolutely terrify me.
Measles is an illness which by all accounts SHOULD be extinct. We’ve been vaccinating against it on a worldwide scale since 1971. Doctors have been giving two doses as standard since the late 1980s. By the end of 2017, 85% of children had received one dose of measles vaccine by their second birthday, and 167 countries had included a second dose as part of routine immunisation and 67% of children received two doses of measles vaccine according to national immunisation schedules. So why are we still in a position where not only are children catching this disease but dying from it? It looks like the answer is lying in reduced vaccination rates and in parents choosing to not vaccinate their children.
I do not say this in a sanctimonious way, I do not wish to tell ANYONE that my way of parenting is the best way of parenting, by any stretch of the imagination. However, when it comes to vaccinations against diseases which put not just your child in danger, then it becomes past a conversation about parenting styles and more about protecting the community as well as protecting your own child. I believe that if a child is medically considered fit to be vaccinated (ie not allergic to ingredients or against medical advice), then that child should be vaccinated against these diseases which have potentially life changing and threatening effects.
What Are Measles?
Measles (AKA rubeola) is a highly infectious viral illness. The measles virus is contained in the millions of tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This means that you can catch measles by breathing in these droplets or, if the droplets have settled on a surface, by touching the surface and then placing your hands near your nose or mouth.
Measles symptoms appear around 10-14 days after exposure to the virus. They typically include:
- Dry cough
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis)
- Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers on a red background found inside the mouth on the inner lining of the cheek. This is also called Koplik’s spots
- A skin rash made up of large, flat blotches that often flow into one another
Less common complications of measles are:
- pneumonia (lung infection), signs of which are fast, difficult breathing, chest pain and deteriorating condition,
- hepatitis (liver infection),
- encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), which can be fatal, so watch for drowsiness, headache and vomiting,
- low platelet count, known medically as thrombocytopenia, which affects the blood’s ability to clot,
- bronchitis and croup (infection of the airways), characterised by a hacking or barking cough, and
- squint, if the virus affects the nerves and muscles of the eye.
These complications are more common in children under the age of five or in adults over the age of twenty.
The infection occurs in sequential stages over a period of two to three weeks.
- Infection and incubation. For the first 10-14 days after you’re infected, the measles virus incubates. You have no signs or symptoms of measles during this time.
- Nonspecific signs and symptoms. Measles typically begins with a mild to moderate fever, often accompanied by a persistent cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis) and sore throat. This relatively mild illness may last two or three days.
- Acute illness and rash. The rash consists of small red spots, some of which are slightly raised. Spots and bumps in tight clusters give the skin a splotchy red appearance. The face breaks out first. Over the next few days, the rash spreads down the arms and trunk, then over the thighs, lower legs and feet. At the same time, the fever rises sharply, often as high as 40 to 41 degrees celcius. The measles rash gradually recedes, fading first from the face and last from the thighs and feet.
- Communicable period. A person with measles can spread the virus to others for about 8 days, starting 4 days before the rash appears and ending when the rash has been present for four days.
For a look at what it’s actually like to go through your child(ren) having measles, Kellie from My Little Babóg has written this piece which I think every parent should read.
Why Should We Vaccinate Against Measles?
The measles virus is exceptionally contagious and spreads easily among susceptible individuals. About 90 percent of susceptible people who are exposed to someone with the virus will be infected. To prevent outbreaks, at least 95% immunisation coverage with 2 doses of measles-containing vaccine is needed every year in every community, as well as efforts to reach children, adolescents and adults who missed routine vaccination in the past.
What is The MMR Vaccine?
MMR is a safe and effective combined vaccine that protects against 3 separate illnesses – measles, mumps and rubella (German measles) – in a single injection. The full course of MMR vaccination requires 2 doses. No country in the world recommends MMR vaccine to be given as three separate injections.
MMR vaccine was introduced in 1988. In the Irish system, the MMR is given at 12 months of age by a GP, followed by a second dose of the vaccine at age 4-5 years, either through the school system or by a local GP.
How Does the MMR Work?
The vaccine triggers the immune system to produce antibodies against measles, mumps and rubella, as though your body had been infected with them. Antibodies are proteins that are produced by the body to neutralise or destroy disease-carrying organisms and toxins.
This also teaches your immune system how to produce the appropriate antibodies quickly.
This video gives a bit of a rundown on how vaccines in general work and may be much easier than a block of text to understand!
What About Adverse Reactions?
As with any medication or vaccinations, adverse reactions are a possibility with the MMR vaccine.
After getting the vaccine, there may be discomfort, redness or swelling at the injection site. Children may be irritable and have a fever. If this happens, you can give them paracetamol or ibuprofen as well as plenty of fluids. Keep an eye on their temperature. It might also be a bit uncomfortable if clothes are rubbing against the injection site.
After 6-10 days 1 in 20 children may get “mini measles” with a rash and fever. About 1 child in 100 may get “mini-mumps” with swelling in the jaw area in the third week after vaccination. These are not contagious. Children usually recover from these side effects in 1-2 days.
In rare cases, a child may get a small rash of bruise-like spots about 2 weeks after the injection. This side effect, linked to the rubella vaccine, is known as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). It has been estimated that ITP develops in less than one in every 22,000 doses of the MMR vaccine. There is a greater risk of developing the condition from the diseases that the vaccine prevents. ITP usually gets better on its own, but, as with any rash, seek advice from your doctor ASAP.
In very rare cases, children can have severe allergic reactions straight after an immunisation. This happens in about one in 100,000 immunisations for MMR. Medical staff who give immunisations are trained to deal with allergic reactions to vaccines.
The table below shows the most common side effects from the vaccine, and the levels of same effects seen caused by the disease itself. (Health Protection Surveillance Centre)
People who have been recently immunised cannot infect others with the viruses contained in the MMR vaccine.
The Andrew Wakefield Scandal And Links To Autism
Andrew Wakefield published a study in The Lancet in 1998 linking the MMR vaccine to autism. His initial study appeared to show a link between the MMR vaccine and autism and bowel disease. However, his research was not carried out correctly and has since been discredited. It used a sample size of just 12 individuals. Later it was discovered to be funded by lawyers who had been engaged by parents in lawsuits against vaccine-producing companies. This study was far from unbiased or complete.
Extensive research into the MMR vaccine, involving thousands of children, was carried out in the UK, the USA, Sweden and Finland. This research showed that there is no link between MMR and autism. One study looked at every child born in Denmark from 1991 to 1998. During that time, 82% of children born in Denmark received the MMR vaccine. The researchers looked at the records of over half a million children and found the risk of autism was the same in immunised children as in children who had not been immunised. In 2010 Andrew Wakefield’s name was removed from the medical register after his research was discredited. Experts from around the world, including the World Health Organisation, agree that there is no link between MMR and autism.
Isn’t Three Viruses Too Much For Their Little Bodies To Handle? Why Not Separate Them?
Single vaccines in place of MMR put children and their families at increased and unnecessary risk. Generally, it is considered that the mother’s immunity will cover her child for only up to 12 months against measles, mumps and rubella, and some evidence is showing that the timescale for measles is even less than that. In spreading the vaccines, it would increase the risk of a child contracting one of the diseases while waiting for a time period between vaccines. It would also increase the number of vaccines the child needs to six instead of the current two. The combined vaccine is safer as it reduces the risk of the children being infected with the diseases whilst waiting for full immunisation cover.
What About Herd Immunity? Won’t That Keep Kids Safe?
Herd immunity (otherwise known as Community Immunity) keeps a certain level of the community safe. However, to do this, it requires for the vast majority of the community to be vaccinated. Germs can travel quickly through a community and make a lot of people sick, which can lead to an outbreak. When enough people are vaccinated against a certain disease, the germs can’t travel as easily from person to person. This means that the entire community is less likely to get the disease.
That means even people who can’t get vaccinated will have some protection from getting sick. And if a person does get sick, there’s less chance of an outbreak because it’s harder for the disease to spread. Eventually, the disease becomes rare — and sometimes, it’s wiped out altogether.
Herd/Community immunity protects everyone. But it’s especially important because some people can’t get vaccinated for certain diseases — such as people with some serious allergies and those with weakened or failing immune systems (like people who have cancer, HIV/AIDS, type 1 diabetes, or other health conditions).
Community immunity is also important for the very small group of people who don’t have a strong immune response from vaccines.
What About Reports That Say The Drug Wasn’t Tested Enough Before Giving It To Kids?
The normal procedure for licensing was used for MMR. The vaccine was thoroughly tested before being introduced into the Irish routine immunisation programme in 1988.
How Widespread is Vaccination against Measles Currently, And What Is The Scale Of The Current Problem?
While immunisation coverage with 2 doses of measles-containing vaccine increased from 88% of eligible children in the WHO European Region in 2016 to 90% in 2017, large disparities at the local level persist: some communities report over 95% coverage, and others below 70%.
The figures for Irish vaccination at levels can be seen here. In looking at the figures which are broken down by quarter, we can see a national decline from 93% to 92% over the last 6 years, remaining steady for the last 3 years at 92%. In the breakdown by area, Wicklow has the worst average rate of vaccination for the MMR by the age of 24 months, with just 85% of eligible children vaccinated with the MMR in the last two quarters, part of a steadily decreasing trend in the area. On the other hand, areas in the midlands and the west of Ireland seem to be hitting the targets consistently for vaccination. Those, however, are just the current vaccination figures and do not take into account young adults and adolescents who have not been vaccinated in the years since the Wakefield report which caused mass hysteria over reported dangers of the vaccine. The lack of vaccination around the time of that report’s publication and the years that followed has led to an increased number of secondary-school and college-aged people contracting communicable diseases like measles and mumps which had not been seen before at that age in recent years.
In Ireland in the period between July 2017 and June 2018, Ireland saw a total of 95 cases of measles, 20 cases per million of population. During that same time period the year before, July 2016 to June 2017, this figure was just 15, making up 3.2 cases per million of population. In a single year, it has multiplied 533.333%.
The United Kingdom, our closest neighbour, had 947 cases in the July 2017-June 2018 period, making up 14.46 per million of population. In the year before that, it had 413 cases in total, which was 6.3 per million population, in effect increasing by 129% in a 12 month period.
The “target” for disease control as considered by the WHO is less than 1 per million of population. Only 21 out of 53 countries (51 when you discount those who did not report in 2017/18 and 50 when you discount those who did not report in 2016/17) meet that target in 16/17, and only 8 countries meeting it in 17/18.
The largest surge in cases seems to radiate in Serbia, Ukraine, Italy, Georgia and Greece. Just 7 states out of the European region had effectively eradicated measles in 2017/2018, reporting zero confirmed cases of measles in that time. The Italian Senate has recently voted to remove mandatory vaccinations from their legislation in a time of already startling climbing figures of infection in their country. In contrast, in the USA where the public school system in many states requires full vaccination schedules for access to schools (and vaccines are given free of charge), with a population of 325.7 million (2017 figures) has had a total of 1691 cases since 2010, with 667 of them taking place in a huge outbreak in 2014. It is thought that the majority of those cases came from infected visitors from The Philippines. In Australia, which has a similar “mandatory” policy, where they penalise parents financially and refuse to allow access to public institutions for not vaccinating kids without medical cause, there were 1279 cases between 2010 and 2018 year to date, in a population of 24.13 million people. When you compare this with the YEARLY figures that we are seeing in areas of much smaller population – Ireland has 4.773 million people, which is just over 20% of the population of Australia and just 1.47% of the population of the United States, it is clear that our problems are on a much larger scale.
So, is mandatory vaccination the solution? I don’t believe it is a politically viable option, given the current way that the Irish government functions. There are already policies in place across the Health Service Executive to make vaccinations as easily accessible as possible to patients. Parents are given reminders by text message in some cases, and at checkups with doctors. We do not have a system that allows those doctors to make that choice for the parents, ultimately the choice is up to them. I just hope that in making that choice, they are not making the choice for another child or vulnerable person’s health for them.
Vaccinate your children – give them and the community around them the best chance of good health and avoiding a life-changing or ending disease. Measles is not a childhood illness children should have to get in 2018, and by vaccinating them, it gives them the best possible chance of avoiding its dangers.
Having a baby, being pregnant, the whole lot – it’s a massive learning curve. I’ve written previously about the things I will do differently with my second child than I have with my firstborn. However, I noticed that all of them were things I would do once the baby arrived, and not during the pregnancy itself. Since my pregnancy, I have watched a lot of my friends go through their various pregnancies and new baby stages and am learning a lot from them. I’ve also read a lot, between parenting blogs and books and articles, which has brought a whole lot of learning in itself. I’ve discovered things I wish I knew before my pregnancy, and so, here’s the list of what I would hope to do differently the second time around.
So, today is Leaving Cert Results Day. Students will open envelopes after months of waiting and agonising, and the knowledge of those results will be here. It’s a day that has both students and parents on edge. At 9am, in schools around the country, the wait will be over. It’s something I remember vividly, that wait, the going into the school. I remember walking into the principals office, him handing me the envelope and telling me he hoped I was happy with them, and walking out into the hall to open them. A mixture of emotions filled the hall – some were ecstatic, others less so. One girl sobbed in disappointment, openly.
I don’t remember the exact results I got in my Leaving Cert. In fact, when I was asked a while ago by someone what subjects I did, it took more than a few minutes of thought to remember them all. It’s now 9 years ago. It has faded from mattering, pretty much within the first few weeks of going to college. For the amount of pressure I put on myself for it, the future me is looking back and wondering just what was it for.
I’m a big fan of brunch. Often I find that I don’t feel like eating first thing in the morning, but still in the mood for something breakfast-y later on. We have a weekend tradition of heading for brunch and have been trying different spots around Cork City to see who does the best. One of our favourite discoveries is Ali’s Kitchen on Paul Street.
It opened in 2016 in the building which used to house Connolly’s Bookshop. It’s a beautiful red brick building. I was intrigued to see what would go in its place, as the building itself to me was worth really working with. Ali’s Kitchen doesn’t disappoint. The decor makes the most of the beautiful red brick walls. The bare minimalism leaves the focus where it should be: on the food.
Ali’s Kitchen describes itself as a bakehouse, and the baked goods are definitely what will keep customers popping in.
So, let’s get down to the brunch menu.
We’ve been there quite a bit over the last two years. I’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, and generally, I opt for the french toast. Himself normally chooses the Eggs Benny. It seems that every table around us is the exact same – one person goes sweet, the other goes savoury. I honestly have never seen a french toast like this. (So obviously, here’s an array of the french toasts that have gone before).
The Eggs Benny is served with Durcan’s Ham from The English Market and is absolutely delicious. I tend to order it when I’m feeling I can’t justify my dessert-for-breakfast selection of the French toast.
There’s also the beauty of the Florentine which can’t be ignored – the hollandaise is DIVINE.
What About Kids?
We have always found Ali’s Kitchen to be extremely accommodating of kids. While the size of the place isn’t super buggy friendly when it’s busy, for older toddlers and up they’re very friendly. Although there isn’t a designated children’s menu, we have found that they’ll either give a smaller portion or serve up something kid friendly. Eliott is a big fan of their poached eggs and sourdough, while when I’ve been with friends they’ve served up porridge, half portions of french toast and excellent kid friendly eggy soldiers. If kids have leftovers or don’t feel like eating right now (but you know they will later), Ali and her team are more than happy to pack up the leftovers for you to enjoy at home.
How About The Coffee?
Ali’s Kitchen serves the most gorgeous coffee I’ve had in ages, an Italian blend that I could stay drinking all day (and then jitter all night and feel like it was worth it). Make mine a flat white – I like to grab mine to go when I’m wandering around town even if we’re not in for a sit-down meal.
Even if the food wasn’t as delicious as it is, I would recommend going to Ali’s Kitchen for the service alone. We have never once had anything but a stellar experience here – and we’ve been here a lot, on a variety of different days. The staff are enthusiastic and pleasant and so happy to help with anything we have needed, whether it be a different chair for the four-year-old, menu selections or simply exchanging pleasantries. It gives it such a family feel in what can be a rather distant city centre location, and it’s the reason we keep coming right back.
I highly recommend getting there early. It isn’t the world’s biggest cafe, and with food this good, demand is high at the weekends. Even if they’re full though, it is worth the wait – and few places are that good when you have a hungry four-year-old in tow.
During the week, their breakfast menu runs from 8.30-11.45 Tuesday to Friday and is definitely worth trying out if you’re not able to make it at the weekend. I’ve not been in yet for lunch (it’s on my to-do list) but have heard great things. If it’s anything like the morning feasts, I’m in for a treat.
It’s one of my absolute favourite places to go in the city, whether for a bite to eat or just a coffee and cheeky pastry. For a look at more of their menu, check them out on Instagram – it’s definitely what I would class as food porn. I definitely recommend heading along to see what all the fuss is about, you’ll become a firm fan. Just make sure to save me a seat!
BadMammy is on Facebook and Instagram, come over and say hi!
This isn’t an ad, nor has Ali’s Kitchen asked me to review or offered any benefit to me for doing so. I’m simply a massive fan of the place and think that my readers will definitely benefit from checking it out!
For the last six weeks, I’ve been taking a drug called Humira which was meant to help get rid of my chronic pain issues. The general gist of how it was to do that was that it would tell my immune system to cop onto itself, stop fighting itself and calm down the inflammation which my doctors think is causing all the pain to kick off. I was so hopeful that it would work. Living in pain all day every day has been my life for the last five years and it’s bloody hard, so I have tried MANY things to get rid of it. But sadly, this time was not meant to be, Humira didn’t work for me. Here is my experience with the drug and what we are planning to try next in the hopes of getting me pain-free (or at least able to function).
It’s officially Autumn and our heatwave, for the most part, can be declared dead and gone. We can’t say we didn’t get a Summer! It’s not every year that we can say we got a proper Winter (remember Snowmaggedon?) and a drought in six months in this part of the world. Personally, I’m glad that the majority of the humidity seems to be taking a reprieve. I’m simply not built for the sticky hot weather above 25 degrees! It’s not to say I don’t love the heat, but let’s just say, it takes some getting used to. Now that we’re back to status quo, which in Cork is rain, I can guilt free stick on a Netflix series and binge to my heart’s content, without the FOMO that came with sunny weather! So, what have we been watching, and what have I got lined up?
As a parent to a four-year-old, we spend a lot of time at Soft Play. It’s a necessary evil. The Irish weather doesn’t allow for playground hijinks as much as we need, and the alternative is absolutely wrecking my house (and my head). So, off to Soft Play we go. He loves it, he’s a daredevil mad to be climbing higher and higher. Me? My love is somewhat less obvious. For me, soft play raises more questions than it answers. Here are just some of them.