Brought to you by the letter P, for SQUIRREL

I’ve been mildly ill for, oh, I don’t know… a month? Close to a month. Just sort of generally crappy-feeling. Tired. Blecky. (That’s a scientific term, by the way.) Sore throat. And then this weird thing where biting down on my left side caused pain to shoot through my jaw and into my ear.

So I did the logical thing, which was to go see my doctor. Except not really; it took me a month to go see my doctor, during which time I just chewed on the right and complained a lot.

But after basically laying around like a dying swan for most of the weekend, Otto insisted I go to the doctor, so I did. I was beginning to suspect I had mono, actually, on account of the fact that I suffer from Munchausen’s By Internet. Because Kira had mono without realizing it and someday I hope to be as cool as she is. And in the meantime, I’m highly suggestible.

So I went to the doctor and I said, “Hey, I feel gross. And I can’t chew on the left, because it hurts, but I grind my teeth at night and have a little TMJ, so it’s probably just that, and also my throat hurts, which is probably just allergies, and speaking of allergies, do you see how my weird eyelid eczema seems to be back for some reason, too? I’m kind of a mess.” The doctor waited for me to finish and then patted my knee in a way that may or may not have conveyed, “There, there. Have you considered Valium?”

Her diagnosis: TMJ. And also an (unrelated) virus. And allergies, yes. She decided to put me on another course of Prednisone, both to knock out the eczema and because it would likely take down the swelling in my jaw and solve the whole not-being-able-to-chew-on-the-left problem. I’m on my own for the sore throat, I guess, though she didn’t object when I suggested that ice cream was probably the best treatment for that, so there you go. [Related: We are reviving Five Full Plates this week, with new fitness challenges, and after being so good and virtuous and losing 12 pounds and exercising daily I have stopped exercising and started gaining the weight back because 1) I love ice cream, 2) exercise is stupid and 3) I am a self-sabotaging moron. So. tune in over there for Renewed Fitness Commitments, Now With More Bitching!]

Anyway. Good God, I should not be allowed to take Prednisone. It makes me mental. MentalER. More mental? I can’t sleep, and while I generally don’t see myself as suffering from ADHD, my attention span on Prednisone is whittled down to tiny snapshots of alternating amusement and white hot annoyance. I am a joy to be around, is my point.

This all also made me ripe for the following:

THERE’s your problem!
Hey, guess what the vet figured out! After listening to the whole history of Licorice and the Barftastic Meds, for the first time in the entire year we’ve owned her (and several rounds of problems with meds), the vet we don’t usually see (there are two in the practice) pointed out that BOTH the flea med AND the heartworm med can cause stomach upset, and it’s probably giving them TOGETHER that’s making her sick. OH, I said. And it’s true that the one time we split the flea med in half and gave it at a different time than the heartworm med, she tolerated it just fine. Problem solved; she took the flea med on a different day with no problems. I am only a little bitter about how long it took for us to reach this conclusion.

Twice the barking!
We are dogsitting for the friend who kept Licorice earlier this summer when we went on our cruise. I’m pretty sure that Nicky is the world’s lowest-maintenance dog, and she’s very sweet, so having her is really no bother at all. HOWEVER, Licorice is being a jealous bitch. If I pet Nicky, Licorice will WALK ON NICKY’S HEAD if necessary to assert her ownership of me and the fact that I should be petting HER, instead. If a noise outside causes Nicky to perk up and “woof!” just a little, Licorice releases a stream of barking usually reserved for the UPS guy, after which one of us is apt to add “I say it louder” (ala Flo in the Progressive Insurance commercials).

Also? Nicky is a Heavy Breather. And both dogs follow me wherever I go, then flop on the floor and go to sleep. While Nicky breathes/snores it is necessary to proclaim in a Darth Vader voice: LICORICE. I… AM… YOUR… MOTHER!

Sure, the more the merrier!
Know what would be a super-fantastic idea while I’m Prednisone-ing my cranky way through the last few days before school starts? Offering to take Monkey’s BFF and his two brothers for the entire day, tomorrow. I AM SMART. Actually, it’s going to be fine. But LOUD. Lord, the loud. I may wear earplugs. Or lock the boys out of the house. Either way.

Who reads this stuff?
I now own one of those e-reader doohickeys, and as I’m terribly old-school about books—not meaning that I need to sniff the pages, but that I believe in getting them for free from the library or for cheap at used book stores as often as possible—I owned it for months before I ever bought a single book for it. But at the beginning of the summer I bit the bullet and purchased several titles to read on our vacation, and BOY did I love having four books on one tiny device rather than a purse that weighed 40 pounds. Of course, now I have some other travel coming up and I was thinking maybe I’d get a few more books, so I was browsing through the eBook Store and getting annoyed by the prices, so I decided to look at the “Under $5” selections. In my highly scientific research I have determined that 98% of those options are cheesy romance “novels” (I’m sorry, they require air quotes).

Actual titles from the store in this category:
A RAKE’S GUIDE TO SEDUCTION (first, gather the leaves into a pile…)
SPENCER’S FORBIDDEN PASSION (no one could know about him and Fido)
MY WICKED PIRATE (the other pirates are too well-behaved)
WICKEDLY HOT: HEAT (thank you for the clarification)
I HARDLY KNEW YOU: A TALE OF LESBIAN LYCANTHROPY (lesbians everywhere rejoiced when werewolves stopped being so damn hetero)

Yeah, that!
I’m pretty sure I am supposed to be doing something important right now. If only I had any idea what it was, that would be helpful. Did I mention I had three cups of coffee this morning? Because I did. And then the dogs barked. And I thought about taking a shower but I got distracted. By Nicky’s breathing. Or maybe some birds outside. Or cereal.



  1. Heather

    “First, gather the leaves into a pile…” It is a sign of MY own exhaustion/general braindeadedness that I didn’t get that at first, but then I did, and I giggled. And possibly snorted. *ahem*

  2. Chris

    Oh, this was fun. I want you to take the Pred all the time! Also, I am reading 3 of those books right now. I will not tell you which ones. Enjoy the ice cream!

  3. mar

    It was worth the price of admission to go see “Up!” just for the “SQUIRREL!” line – we use it all the time!!!!

    At least you have the prednisone to blame your attention span of a flea. Me, I’m still Googling for an official sounding diagnosis for my lack of enthusiasm, lack of concentration, magnetically-attracted-to-the-couch-ness, chocolate craving disease I must have ….

  4. Chuck

    The last title on your list sent me into a laughing/coughing fit. I guess I shouldn’t read your blog while I’m drinking juice. Good luck with the prednisone, hope you feel better soon, and watch out for werewolves!

  5. elz

    Munchausen’s by Internet-that’s some funny stuff. My sister was terrible during med school, she’d read about some weird, random disease and then be CONVINCED she had it. Convinced.

  6. Leandra

    Ruthlessly Bedded, Forcibly Wedded sounds like it should be against the law! I have thus far resisted the temptation to get an e-reader, but I can definitely see the advantages. For one, not having to hold the pages open with one hand while you eat with the other!

  7. Jenni

    I don’t have an e-reader due to my love of free books from the library as well, plus the fact that my mom buys most of the books I’m interested in and then gives them to me after she’s done. But one night, when I had just finished book #6 in a series that currently has 10 books out and I was still number 3 in line at the library to get #7, I did install a pdf reader app on my ipod. Then I got a pdf version of the book I wanted. And then I read it that night. And all of that because I couldn’t wait the three days or so that it would’ve taken to get the book from the library. But now I love it and I have 4 books on there and it is so much easier to take places with me and I can sit anywhere a read a book.

    Is there such a thing as an e-book library? Because that would be fantastic. Although seems a little hard to monitor…maybe? I don’t know.

  8. liz

    Tried hard not to laugh out loud at this post, (am at work), but failed utterly.

    You make me happy.

  9. Katherine

    Check out for some cheap ebook ideas. She ran a bunch of author interviews recently and says that most of them have ebook editions around $2.99.

    I’m sorta tempted by a Kindle, but I fear I’m too cheap to buy the books – the library and I are BFF.

  10. Jamie

    Look, something shiny!!!!!

    Oh, where was I?! In this situation, I’d carry around a list at all times. I’m a list gal and if it’s not on the list, I’m very likely to forget about it!

    I just got a Kindle yesterday for my birthday. I’m trying to decide what should be the first book I download – a “classic” that everyone should have (or should have read), or the James Patterson one that’s next in the series I was reading but didn’t want to buy it in hard back. Ah, decisions!

  11. Lylah

    That fourth one totally should have been WICKEDLY HOT: FLASH.

  12. Lori N

    Wow, that was an amazing example of Prednisone attention deficit side-effect disorder with a side of coffee. I got dizzy just reading it. :) Well done. And now I’m heading for a nap, or cleaning my house….


  13. mamabear

    Mir, you are always exactly what I needed. This morning I am headed to the doc with the same no energy, sort of just feel on the verge of crappy for over a month, emotional, distracted, tired despite good nutrition and exercise symptoms. Though I have no ear pain when I chew, so my symptoms are even more vague than yours. I’m giggling to myself now, and my blood pressure will be down where my doc likes it this time. (Boy do they make me nervous!) I’ll just think of your book titles and I’ll sail through the BP test and following “there isn’t anything wrong with you, go get some exercise” lecture and still be giggling. Thank you!

  14. Caroline

    I like it when you’re on “P”. Its fun!

  15. Tracy

    OH my goodness…this post was alittle everywhere, huh? I loved it! I hope you start feeling better. Oh and the SQUIRRELL…was hillarious!!!!

  16. Megan

    Don’t forget to check Project Gutenberg if you’re a realio trulio OLD classic lover (I found a whole slew of hilarious 1890’s girl’s books in which NOT ONE PERSON is bedded or wedded AT ALL. But there is some mild mischief and some very, very polite shenanigans.

    Also, I think you’ve solved my problem – obviously someone is spiking my water with prednisone… and has been for…. a very… long…. SQUIRREL!

  17. Diane

    I found today (by accident) that my library has on-line books, video and music for loan…in multiple formats, including ipod. I love reading on the itouch – and as you said, having half a dozen books in the purse but only adding 5 ounces to the (already over the carry-on weight limit) purse.

    Um, have you considered writing your own cheesy romance novel while on the prednisone? I have a feeling it would be a hilarious best seller!

  18. RuthWells

    You’re pretty funny when you’re overcaffeinated…..

  19. Sharri


    I hope you have seen a dentist and gotten a night guard to sleep with. My husband spent the last 2 years with the same kind of tooth pain, as well as complete exhaustion during the day. He works out of the house and had to take several naps a day. He also used to get migraines so bad they would put him out of commission for 2 days and one time brought him to the emergency room for a ct scan because he was sure his head was going to explode.

    In that period, he had been diagnosed with mono, as well as some other type of mystery virus and high blood pressure. I have a night guard for TMJ and had been telling him forever to get one, but he kept blowing it off. Finally his dentist talked him into getting a night guard because it was obvious he grinds his teeth. The first morning after wearing it, he woke up without a headache and had enough energy to get through the day. He has since gone off the blood pressure medication and all other symptoms are gone. He wondered why nobody had recommended a night guard before… Somehow I refrained from killing him!

    Oh… and the weird eyelid eczema? I get that too and it sucks… what’s up with that?

  20. Becca

    Ah, pred. It makes me want to climb up a wall and bang my head against the ceiling. On my asthma bb we refer to it as the evil candy.

  21. Ani

    If you have an iPhone or an iPod touch, there’s a free Kindle app. That, plus, scouring through the “classics for free” link posted above = 5 classics (Jane Austen, anyone?) on my iPod Touch for zip, zero, zilch, nada! Woo-hoo, now my brains won’t dribble out of my ears while I wait for my kids to be done with swim lessons.

  22. Sarah

    I second the suggestion of checking your public library’s website for e-books. Mine has them and its great. (And I’m planning to deal with my long commute next year by downloading their audio books)
    … basically, you can check out or reserve e-books the same was as regular books, and they auto delete (from some programs) after 2 or 3 weeks … others you have to agree to delete after that time (you get a reminder)

    As for eyelid eczema, my mom had that and eventually figured out that it was a mold allergy – when they were off for summer break the mold in her classroom rug grew to the point that it was visible – Yuck!

  23. Paula

    Don’t you just love drugs? And caffeine? And squirrels?
    You have no idea how often ‘squirrel’ is said in our household in reference to something my youngest or myself does. It’s that or ‘shiny’.
    Your post today was hilarious. Thank you for the laugh.

  24. Rocky Mountain Woman

    I’ve been resisting the lure of the e reader, but I love the idea of not having to have a special bag for books when I travel! Can you say obsessive compulsive? Anyway, love the post, maybe I’ll go get another cup of coffee and see if it helps my writing! It can’t hurt, can it?

  25. arduous

    If you feel the desire to catch up on the classics, they’re all available for free … I downloaded a bunch of Jane Austens which I had already read and now have reread and Anna Karenina which is still being neglected on my Kindle… someday though!

  26. Rachel

    This post elicited multiple bursts of out-loud laughter and snorting at Starbucks… my fellow coffee-drinkers are looking at me in amusement/curiosity. “Wickedly Hot: Heat” makes me wonder if there are other versions of this book? “Wickedly Hot: Burning Up,” “Wickedly Hot: On Fire,” Etc. Quality titles.

  27. Karen

    You know what? I think I LIKE you on Prednisone.. you’re hillarious!…

    but seriously, feel better….and if it’s any consolation, lots of people are complaining this year of excessive icky-ness I think due to the miserable heat and humidity the whole country seems to be afflicted with.

  28. Alyce

    A comment on another blog alerted me to the fact that some libraries have eBooks available for your reader. Perhaps a search of libraries in your area (or ATL near dermatologists) might help you find some new choices without breaking the bank?

  29. Karen

    I used to get that itchy eyelid thing. My doctor told me to wash it twice a day. I use diluted Dr. Bronner’s on my face morning and night, including the eyelids, and have not had a flareup since — other than the time I decided to try a fancy eye makeup remover.

  30. Veronica

    Try the book despository ( – they have free ebooks. I mean, no guarantee that they’re not all cheesy romance stuff, but you can try?

  31. Jason's mom

    You might want to check out the Baen free library for e-books. It’s here: I’ve been told that Project Gutenberg has books available for download too. Mind you, these are legal sites so you are not taking away from anyone.

  32. Rebecca

    The Sony Reader supports the e-books downloaded from your library for free, unlike the Kindle or the Barnes and Noble readers that only allow those specific formats.

  33. addy

    Hee hee hee – P for funny! Thanks much. Hope you feel better soon.

  34. Cele

    You always make me feel better about myself. Gawds, I hope that didn’t sound like a slam because I adore you, your family, and even the…. SQUIRREL


  35. Kate

    Is it sad that my brain functions like this normally, without the drugs?

    And just an FYI, I too, have TMJ. I too, have allofasudden not been able to chew on one side of my mouth. I too, went to the doctors and got some anti-inflammatory crap ass drugs. The next week not only could I NOT chew on both sides, my mouth no longer closed, literally.

    I had somehow managed to dislocate my own jaw! It felt like I got punched in the face. Apparently massive amounts of stress can lead to severe clenching of the jaw at night, which then leads to weeks upon weeks of physical therapy.

    Heed caution.


  36. Aimee

    Verily dreaded! Now *that* I would read…

    I have an e-reader (starts with a K) and I love it — but I do wholeheartedly agree that a disturbing majority of the free stuff is pseudo-romantical in nature, and involves either bodices or demon-lovers or both. HOWEVER, I have also obtained some very good books for free, and if you like to read (or re-read) classics, MANY of those are free. I am currently reading a free version of Don Quixote, for example.

    I’m glad you figured out Licorice’s problem, and am also fairly sure that I suffer from Munchausen’s by Internet. Awesome!

  37. Sharon

    A perfect storm of activity. Sounds like an ordinary day in August.

  38. Laurel

    ah TMJ. . . when I was younger and single my dentist would ask “is it finals’ week or did you break up with your boyfriend?” I find wine and an occassional Ambian helps.

  39. MandaCakes

    Do a search for “free” or “$0.00”. The titles become even more hilarious.

  40. MandaCakes


    Seems a logical conclusion to the series, yes?

  41. elizabeth

    MandaCakes rocks.

  42. Pam

    I thought I loved you normal, but even more so on the “P”!!!! You always make my day and you are the first place I go on the computer every day. Keep up the insanity and don’t stop the P….. LOL Can’t wait to see what you have in store for us for tomorrow…….

  43. Brigid

    Munchausen’s By Internet. Bwahahaha. I’m right there with you. I loved my one stint on prednisone but had five days of utter despair when I came off of it. I did get a lot of closets cleaned out that week.

  44. Brigitte

    It took me YEARS to find out I had tree pollen allergies, because I did not sneeze or get weepy eyes like normal “hay fever” sufferers. No, I’d get a sore throat and terrible hacking cough that doctors would say was bronchitis, and give me antibiotics (turned out it was really post-nasal drip).

    Then I’d get an ear infection, which after a couple weeks of pain-killers and antibiotics not working on THAT, would spread down to the jaw so I couldn’t chew solid food.
    Turned out my eustachian tubes were just backed up from allergies.

    Now I take allergy stuff during my peak seasons, and while I still feel logy, I’m otherwise fine.
    Phooey on doctors.

  45. Connie

    Where have you been all my life???? I needed a pick-me-up this morning, and you were it. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This was endlessly entertaining, and creepily familiar. I’m going to go get another cup of coffee now.

  46. ramblin red

    Or dear, those books. The werewolves one had me in stitches especially, but that one was nothing short of awesome.

  47. Katie in MA

    Oh, good god – what happened to you while I was away on vacation?? :)

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