Apologies for the silence, fans (!) but we’ve had a bit of a week, Chez T-T.

Last week Baby Tai-Tai was ill. We first noticed this when Mr T-T picked him up to change him and was showered in the remains of Baby T-T’s dinner, lunch and possibly even some of those little star shaped rice snacks that taste of air he’d had for elevenses. Fortunately this happened on a tiled surface, but it can’t have been pleasant for anyone concerned. I wouldn’t know as I was busy, simultaneously mopping and Googling.

Ah yes, the curse of Dr Google. Allowing the concerned parent of an unwell child access to the internet is the worst idea of all, worse even than allowing said unwell child to hold your iPhone as a ‘treat’. As the evening wore on and Baby T-T seemed to be worsening, I managed to convince myself that this was variously; lactose intolerance, malaria and scarlet fever. You thought scarlet fever was some mediaeval thing, like codpieces and the lute? Scarlet fever is alive and well in Shanghai and coming soon to a playgroup near you.

Come the morning, the thermometer was way above 40 degrees and the boy was a baby-shaped hot water bottle so it was time to get to the doctor sharpish. That’s where the fun began. Before you could even factor in the stress of finding a taxi with a seatbelt to take us to the hospital, I first had to find a doctor that would deign to see us.

Upon calling our nearest expat hospital (coincidentally, the very same hospital where Baby Tai-Tai was born, you’d think I’d have learnt my lesson there, eh?), I was told that a young child with a sudden 40+ degree fever, lethargy and severe vomiting was not considered an emergency, therefore I should book an appointment to see a Paediatrician some three days hence. Clearly unsatisfied with this, I quizzed the receptionist as to precisely what would be considered a paediatric emergency at their hospital. Funnily enough, she couldn’t answer my question.

After quite some time ringing round I managed to get an alternative clinic to see us, a good 40 minute cab ride away. Upon arrival, I had a huge raft of forms to complete and about 30 different waivers to sign, promising not to sue them if they accidentally dropped a brick on my son’s head/injected him with strychnine/amputated an ear. Only then were we allowed to see a GP, who advised bed rest, paracetamol and charged me £90 for the privilege. In and out in around 3 minutes. They didn’t even give me the paracetamol, I had to use the stuff I already own.

It’s not often that I feel sorry for an insurance company, but I did then. I can only imagine that our medical insurers are cursing the day they ever laid eyes on our application form, what with £90 GP consultations and £320 blood tests. Not to mention the £10k that Baby T-T cost them in just 3 days by the simple act of being born.

All this has made me think wistfully about one of the main things I miss about the UK – the good old NHS. It may well be the case that 3 minutes of a GP’s time really does cost £90, but thanks to our wonderful, overstretched healthcare system that runs on the very principle that good health should not just be the preserve of the wealthy, I will never know about it. Whilst Bupa and suchlike might be a nice bonus if you have it chucked in with your job in the UK, I don’t know anyone who would be seriously disadvantaged without it as the NHS is the standard option for everyone, no matter their income. And, Jubilee flag-waving and bunting aside, that really is a British institution to be proud of.

Baby Tai-Tai is fine now, by the way. You would never know that he’s been under the weather at all. My poor iPhone, however, is a different matter.



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