Hand Foot & Mouth Disease

Posted: June 5, 2017 in Uncategorized

I am a stay at home dad to my 15 month-old daughter. Although she attends childcare for two days a week, I am quite happy to be a part of her life for as much time as I possibly can.

I never knew how big a part I could play in her life as I am currently experiencing.

You see, we are both currently going through a bout of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. Although it is uncommon for adults to contract this virus, it happens on occasion. I have decided to use this opportunity to try and shed some light on the symptoms and what it feels like, so that other parents might understand what their little ones are going through.

For anyone who has not heard of this virus, it is rather common in places where young children gather. Childcare centres, play centres, that sort of thing. It is usually first noticed as a few red spots on the hands or feet of the child, and quickly progresses into many spots on hands, feet, lips and inside the mouth and throat.

In official terms, it is known as the Coxsackie Virus, which I thought was a rather humourous name.

Let me assure you, this is no picnic. I can honestly say that my little one is an absolute trooper! I would like to describe each of the symptoms to you, so that you can understand why your child might be more clingy than usual.

The first indication that I had contracted anything at all was when I suddenly broke into a fever. Lets call this Day #1. The fever escalated from absolutely nothing to profuse sweating and shivering in about 30 minutes. Then came the throbbing headache and sinus pressure. I was actually rocking baby to sleep at the time, and had to slink to bed immediately afterward. I am usually a night owl, but this had me in bed by 9pm. I slept with my electric blanket on its highest setting for 11 hours. I have suffered migraines in the past. This was on a par, if not worse than that.

Day #2.
I woke with a strange, furry taste in my mouth. It was like I had not brushed my teeth for a few days after having greasy takeaway food at the end of a long night out on the town (I remember those days!). I then noticed my tongue seemed numb. I looked in the mirror and saw the reddest throat I think I have ever had. And plenty of white spots on my tonsils, too.

At this point, I didn’t realise what I had, as the little one had not shown any spots or noticeable symptoms. As she is also teething, I assumed her clingyness was due to this, and nothing else.

Then we saw a spot on her hand. Another on her lip, so small you could miss it. A few hours later, I had an itch in the palm of my hand. I looked, and there was a spot. A visit to the doctor confirmed the worst.

Now, as the spots are the most obvious sign of this virus, I should probably tell you what they feel like.

The spots are mildly itchy to start with. No big deal. But they hurt to touch. Even just a little bit.

Imagine an ingrown hair, or a paper cut. Now imagine a few hundred on the palm of your hand, between your fingers and on the pads of your fingers. Now imagine crawling with your entire body weight on them. This is what baby is currently going through.

I have felt this sort of pain only once before. When I was younger and stupid, some friends and I would jump from a local pier into the water below during summer. We would climb the ladder on the side of the pier and repeat all day. The next day we would realise what pain was when remembering the barnacles on the lower rungs of the ladder, and how they had sliced our feet to ribbons.

These small spots are currently on my palms, between my fingers, pads of my fingers, soles of my feet, between my toes and all over my face.

It hurts to put on my shoes, it hurts to walk, even barefoot, opening doors or even a milk carton is agony. I have never thought about how often I use my fingertips in my daily life until now. (Answer: it’s lots!)

The spots are also not friends with warm water, as I discovered. Although you might think that a nice warm bath would help to soothe the discomfort, they are sensitive to temperature. For example, I was giving little one a bath earlier. The elbow test said it was a safe temperature, so reached in for the washcloth and… YEOWWWW!!! Every spot sent a message to my brain “this water is a billion degrees too hot!!!” I placed a thermometer in the water, and it confirmed it was only 34 Celsius, and NOT 34 Kelvin (Incredibly hot!)… this sensitivity is only for hot temperatures, as cold water and even the freezer has been a welcome sanctuary for my hands all day.

The spots on my face seem different. As a long time sufferer of psoriasis, I have learned to care for my facial skin differently to many guys. I have also seen it in terrible states at times. My face currently resembles a chemical burn I once received from a product with false claims of ingredients. (That’s an entirely different story!) It feels incredibly dry, cracked and tight, like I have left a mud mask on for a few hours. Smiling, blinking and even chewing hurts to some extent. For my face, I have been treating the spots with tea tree oil and cold water. So far so good!

As for the throat, this has to be the toughest part in the early stages. I’ve had my share of tonsillitis and other ailments, but this is next level.

Swallowing anything at all is painful. Bread, water, soup. It all feels like razor blades. I made a peanut butter sandwich on multigrain and was close to tears by the end. Plain old tap water had similar results. If you needed to understand why your child had lost their appetite, this should explain it. On the positive side, the severe pain of this will only last a day or so. After that, there is still discomfort, but only in the form of lumps in the throat. By the end of Day #2, my throat was feeling much better.

Day #3
Today began when I moved my feet under the covers. The lumps on my feet were so sensitive that this woke me up. I then tried to yawn, and realised my face was so tight with the facial sores that I could only open my mouth about 3-5cm before things started to crack and cause pain. Swinging my legs off the side of the bed, I tried to stand. Feet super-sensitive, I forgot!! Socks and moccasins on, this will help alleviate the sensitivity, effectively wrapping my feet in cotton-wool (or actual wool, in the case of my moccasins!)

Looking in the mirror, my heart dropped. My face was worse than the day before. Covered in spots, lumps and legions, I resembled some sort of beast from the underworld, banished from society and forced to live in catacombs beneath the city. Some of my grossness had seemingly burst through the night, causing it to crust onto my face and make my skin feel even tighter. A thorough but gentle wash with lukewarm water helped to remove this, followed by a tea tree soaping in the shower. My hands feel even more sensitive today, almost like they have suffered severe sunburn with a touch of pins and needles. Its frustrating that I still cannot get a lid off a peanut butter jar, or use my key in the front door. Fine motor skills are a luxury that are often overlooked until you can no longer enjoy them, it seems.

Toward the end of Day #3, I noticed that my hands seemed less sensitive than earlier. I think I have finally reached the peak of this epic mountain, and I am finally starting on the road to wellness again. Those pesky spots are still there, and there are even a few new ones on my feet, but they seem to be hurting less than they were.

Day #4
very late last night (so I will count it as today!) I finally got the lid off the peanut butter jar! my hands and feet are suddenly not as sensitive anymore. Strangely, they now have more spots, although the new ones are much smaller, or in some cases, fainter than the original ones. Perhaps this is the death-rattle, or the final wave of these spots? I really feel that I am starting to heal now. The legions on my face are visibly dried, and some are able to be gently peeled (gross, I know… but so satisfying!)

My throat still looks like a war zone, but oddly, does not hurt. I have a slight cough, but most of the discomfort from all of the symptoms seem to have passed now. The only thing that needs to happen now for me to claim a full recovery, is for these pesky spots on my hands to go away, and the spots and legions on my face to do the same.

I think the hardest part throughout it all though, is the self-imposed quarantine. Not being able to get out into the fresh air or to the park, and to entertain a grumpy 1 year-old indoors for 5-7 days! No friends to play with, no visitors to socialise with. Although it gives us both more time for cuddles to console each other. I do agree with childcare not allowing the child back for a week, though. The less people to be subjected to this, the better!

EDIT: Over a week after things had subsided, my fingers and toes were still feeling numb or tingly. Later that day, one finger got itchy, then another. The skin practically fell off each of my fingers, mostly from the pads, but basically everywhere that the spots appeared in clusters. In the space of two days, all ten fingers were raw, making things difficult in regards to typing (which is why this is a late update!) My feet decided to join in the fun a few days later, making walking very painful. Every single step hurt, and I could feel every little pebble under my shoes with painful accuracy. I am hoping that this is the last of it all!!


Political Donations

Posted: February 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

So you may have heard, the PM of Australia is now having to answer to the people and the media why he personally donated $1.75m of his own money to his party immediately before the last federal election.
Or perhaps you heard of the now former Health Minister using taxpayer dollars to fly herself and partner to the Gold Coast with no notice (on a private jet – costing taxpayers ~$20,000!) and ended up buying an apartment “at a whim” worth almost $1m.
Or maybe the incident where the former Speaker of the House decided she did not want to be stuck in traffic on her way to a fundraising event, so decided to hire a helicopter to fly over the freeway traffic below, and billed the taxpayer $5000?

There have been plenty of examples of this sort of spending, and many more during the election campaigning. Signage, TV ads, Brochures, Automated phone calls to show us that they care…

Would it not be easier to implement a single fund. All political donations go into the one fund. It then gets divided up between the parties based on how many seats they currently hold (or for new micro parties, based on a predetermined amount per running candidate.

This would ensure that all parties were on a level playing field. It would ensure that “Big Mining” were not “buying off” a particular party, rather, their money was going into a pool for all parties. This way, each party would have a relatively balanced ground to sell their policies, ignoring who had more funding, or who donated to who. Focussing on policies!

It would also show the Australian public how each party could work within a budget.

If all spending was to be accounted for, and all spending stopped 1-2 weeks out from the election (when there is a media blackout anyway), the parties could then tell us how much they had left over (which would be returned to the pool for the following election, or spent on infrastructure etc) The voting public would then see if they received ‘value for money’ throughout the campaign, seeing how well each party could secure good business deals for printing, advertising, resources etc, as well as seeing that they are able to balance the books in a timely manner. After all, most parties carry on about “balancing the budget”, expecting people to liken the federal budget to a household chequebook, when they could not be further apart. Rather than talk the talk, show us your walk! Balance an electoral campaign, limit wasteful spending that usually amounts to numerous flyers that go straight to the bin, and spend wisely.

In this current climate, I think we could do with this level of scrutiny.

An amazing insight into what the end of funding for Safe Schools really means…

Writing in Shadows

Dear Prime Minister,

I wasn’t sure how to address your government’s latest announcement yesterday. The age old belief that announcing unpopular moves late on Friday no longer has the same power it did in the years before social media. Social media now means an unpopular announcement now trends on Twitter within minutes of the announcement and, if it’s on a Friday, that announcement has the weekend to fester and build momentum.

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As a designer, people sometimes seem to think of my role as ‘auxiliary’ or perhaps ‘unrequited’ in their industry. Some even go as far as to request designs done for them at no charge, because “It should be easy for you, you are creative” or my favourite “We will give you exposure, and perhaps set up some regular work for you with us”.

Unfortunately, “Exposure” does not pay the bills…

Many seem to think of a designer’s work as a glorified hobby that does not deserve recognition or even payment. Whilst many of us do indeed enjoy designing various things, and perhaps even do the odd design for no charge, for us, this is our job. This is something that pays our bills, keeps food on the table and our families off the streets. I have never heard of someone asking an accountant or a lawyer for free services, in exchange for ‘exposure’, but somehow, creative people are deemed less important.

Take note, every single thing that you have purchased that is in packaging has been designed by a Graphic Artist.
Every single man-made product you have held in your hand, experienced, viewed or touched has been designed by  Product Designer.
Every single store you have walked into, walked past or walked through has had its layout, lighting and shelving designed by someone in those fields.
The lawyer has their stationery, document templates and all other formal documents designed to some extent by a designer, as does the accountant’s personalised cheques, advertising materials and even the software that gets you a refund.

Every single industry on this earth has a designer involved at some level. They work hard, they work long hours and often forego important events in their lives to get the job done. In one position I worked, it was not uncommon to be sitting around an empty office, talking with the cleaners as I waited for an executive to make final changes for an urgent press ad that had to be submitted that night. I could have easily been sitting at home with those I love, spending time with them, hearing about her day and perhaps watching some TV together, but instead, I was made to wait on someone else decision until 11:30 at night sometimes. This was with no extra pay, and in fact, it was expected of me on a regular basis.

More often that I would care to admit, I have had to chase down clients, pestering and pressuring them for many months after the final artwork has been submitted for my payment, which had been invoiced (meaning I pay taxes on it) but not received. (Still paying tax on money not received!) With one client, I chased them for 6 months for a few hundred dollars. Eventually they paid, only to ask me a few days later for further designs.

In what other industry is this level of disrespect acceptable, when my work would not only benefit your company, but also potentially make your company some or even considerable money?

I recently read this amazing article on a blog, which tells of the trickery used to keep people in design positions. It uses our own self-pity to keep us docile and willing to work under these ridiculous conditions. Even if you are not a designer, it is well worth a read!

A Short Lesson in Perspective

My question for Border Force is, if the press release was simply “badly worded”, why have we not been told of its ACTUAL definition and intention? We have been told it was “incorrect”, and the operation was cancelled, but what was the CORRECT definition of these “incorrect words”…??!

VicPol were apparently (off the record) talking of their disgust in these plans, having no idea of the operation, yet today, Tony DumDum has said that the whole idea was VicPol’s, and that DumDum and the office of DumDum had no knowledge of this operation taking place at all… If Border Force are acting on National Security, and are a government department, WHY does his office apparently have no notification of it?!

Either DumDum is lying to us (again/still), or Border Force are following in the footsteps of Hitler’s Nazi Party, and circumventing the acting government and becoming a power above the law of the land… This is only 6 weeks into their existence, so expect more of this behaviour in the months to come. We can only hope that the next government work to disband Border Force, and launch a Royal Commission into our current government’s abuses of human rights…

Australia is (was) better than this. I am embarrassed and ashamed to call myself Australian under this government. A country built on immigration, suddenly becoming a police-state and essentially reverting to the teachings of Nazi Germany to weed out those ‘undesirables’ amongst us… it is a deplorable and lazy way to do things…

This has been written by Julian Burnside, QC. A well-respected Barrister based in Melbourne, and a Human Rights Advocate.


The cruelty and indifference of Serco and Border Force continue to astound.

Mojgan Shamsalipoor was in year 12 at school in Brisbane and was taken into detention. Then she was put in detention at BITA, the detention centre in Brisbane.  Then she gave an interview to the ABC, and she was moved to detention at Wickham Point in Darwin, despite the fact that her husband (Milad Jafari, a permanent resident) lives in Brisbane.


Her removal from detention in Brisbane was brutal.  She was dragged out in the middle of the night by the hair.  Five or six Serco guards were invovled in the exercise: to remove a young woman from detention in one place and move her to Darwin, 3000 kilometers from her husband and friends.  In the detention trade, this is known as…

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Labor has officially lost my vote.

Let me explain this properly. As previously mentioned, I have been a Labor voter ever since I could vote. My Grandparents, and all relatives back to Federation have been Labor voters, due in part to their employment at the local Rail Yards, Dock Yards and other trade industries. My family have always been working class, hardworking union members throughout their years, finding comfort in the knowledge that the trade unions were there, fighting for their rights, conditions and safety.

In the past two years, however, Labor has seemed to have lost its way. Labor have been leaning further and further to the right, following the poll trends and the ‘easier options’, and not following their own principles. More and more often, Labor has been conceding to the Liberal view, either siding with the LNP’s decision to introduce mandatory Metadata collection and monitoring (even though the evidence shows that every country that has introduced these regulations are now either seeing their errors, or now having these regulations removed due to their inefficiency and exorbitant costs) Lowering their visionary standards (agreeing to a lower RET, meaning our Renewable Energy Target will be at an all-time, uninspiring level of around 5% by 2020 – Compared to China and America at 80% by 2050, and Denmark’s achievement of 140% a few months ago).

With all of this, I have been fooling myself, in the thoughts that “At least the Australian Labor Party (ALP) is not and “extreme” or “cruel” as the Liberal National Party (LNP) – at least I agree with many of ALP’s policies, compared to none of the LNP policies. This has now changed completely

Tonight, I have reached the decision to vote Greens for the first time at the next Federal election. I base this decision SOLELY on ALP’s decision to now adopt, or consider to adopt, the LNP policy of “Turning Back the Boats”. This decision is not a light decision, or even a decision that people may think ‘does not affect them’. This decision will affect every Australian at some point in their lives.

Allow me to clarify.

Using the field of music, I want to list some artists who were refugees. Bob Marley, Freddie Mercury, Gene Simmons, Angus & Malcolm Young, Bon Scott and Jimmy Barnes. Using these few names as an example, I want you to think of this.
Without Freddie Mercury, Queen may well have remained a garage band. All of the music that they created and inspired in others would be silent. Freddie’s roles as an ambassador for AIDS Awareness has potentially saved MILLIONS of lives.
Without Bob Marley, we would have missed out on the introduction to Reggae music into the mainstream. This would’ve stopped the progression to early forms of Punk & Ska. Marley also gave rise to other artists, such as Jimi Hendrix, Cream and Eric Clapton – not just covering his music, but embracing the soul of his music, and taking it to a different audience. Bob Marley also highlighted the dangers of smoking, dying of lung cancer at such a young age.
Without Gene Simmons, KISS would not have introduced us to GlamRock. A rock show would almost certainly be void of pyrotechnics and extravagant costumes.

Angus & Malcolm Young and Bon Scott, although not refugees, were migrants to Australia as part of the migrant wave of the 1950s. Jimmy Barnes was also a part of this wave. Without Australia’s acceptance of these kids, Australia would not have nurtured, and ultimately delivered these talents to the world.

I want you to imagine a world without the music of Queen, without mainstream Reggae or the larger-than-life presence of KISS. Imagine modern rock music without the influence of AC/DC. Music would be rather boring. Now think of everyone that relates to this music. The people that use a particular song to remember something good in their life. A song that perhaps has helped them get through a difficult time in their lives, marked a special occasion, a first kiss, the grieving of a loved one, or even an escape from the world and its nasty abuses. Without this music, where would these people be now?

Now I want you to think about the following names. Sigmund Freud, Dalai Lama, Albert Einstein, Ben Elton, Victor Hugo, Lord Maurice Saatchi, These names have all shaped the world for generations. Modern Psychology, Religious ideologies, Modern Theology, Quantum Physics, Atomic Energy, Relativity, Space Travel, Comedy, Musicals, TV Classics (The Young Ones, Bottom, etc) Classic Literature, and lastly on this list, Advertising.

All of these massive names were refugees.

Now, imagine what Australia is essentially turning around and punting back into the open seas. All of these modern discoveries. Talents that have essentially changed our lives in every sense, overlooked. Potentially being sent back to their deaths. This list does not include the many, many unsung heroes in our society. Surgeons, Doctors, Lawyers, Politicians, Business owners / employers, Athletes, Musicians, Artists, Actors, Activists and even the guy who makes your morning coffee. Every single one of these people could essentially change your day, or your life.

Now imagine that we are now essentially telling the world that, although we are a wealthy country, and managed to avoid the GFC, putting us in a position that was envied by every other OECD country around the world, although we have more than enough room for more people to live in this vast land, we are not only not accepting them, but we are stopping their boats in international waters and turning them back to face persecution, torture, rape and murder.

These human beings do not get on a boat for fun. They do not get on a boat to ‘jump the queue’. Many of them (98% at last estimate) choose this method of entry because they are fleeing in the dark of night. They are unable to get a visa or leave their country as they are fleeing the persecution of their government. They are fleeing imminent danger at the hands of political forces, police, military. Many of these people that I have personally met have left family – wives, children, babies, parents, siblings – because they simply could not bring them, risking their lives to get here and hopefully send for them when it was safe to do so. People have left infants, only to miss out on their formative years – having no contact apart from occasional phone-calls, never holding their children in their arms. This is not a decision that any parent would choose lightly.

Make no mistake, these policies are not “Turn Back the Boats”, rather, they are “Turn back the terrified, scared, inconsolable, injured, damaged, broken, depressed and desperate human beings.” It could also be said that we are turning away unknown prosperity, knowledge, wealth, intellect, skill, artistic talent and life-changing personalities that are the very wealth that Australia was built upon. Without immigration, Australia would be a very bland place (Imagine if since 1788, Australia remained a land of Irish and English convicts. We would have no Italian, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Jewish, Nordic, or even Russian people living here. Imagine how boring and plain our choices of restaurants would be? Without Immigration, Australia loses its very identity. Australia would cease to be the vibrant, interesting, amazing, diverse country that has made it the envy of the rest of the world. We would lose our identity as an accepting nation.

“Turning Back the Boats” will have disastrous effects for Australia, and more importantly, it will put the human beings that are on these boats into potential harm.

I will not vote for a party that supports this view, and therefore, I will no longer vote for Labor, and I am aware of several hundred people who have these same views, and will no longer be voting for Labor. I suspect that there will be many tens of thousands of voters who would share these same views, measured against only a handful that will decide to vote ALP over LNP based on this single policy. If this policy is changed to be more accepting and humane, perhaps I will reconsider, however I could not sleep soundly at night, knowing that a vote from me assisted in allowing a party into power who knowingly sends innocent men, women and children back to a country that could essentially rape, torture or murder them, simply for being who they are.