Unrelated random things

I was thinking this morning—after I managed to stick my foot deep into my own mouth in front of a bunch of people, YAY!—about various cliches. Like, there should be something to describe the feeling of entering the third month of your kid’s hospitalization and still not knowing 1) when she might be coming home, 2) if she’s truly getting better, 3) if the #*&%^ Medicaid approval is ever coming, 4) if life will ever feel normal again. That’s far too long and messy, and you know what? 90% of people do not want to hear about it, anyway.

In the end (of the foot-in-mouth scenario) I had to settle for meekly apologizing, citing my current status as “a big ball of hurtiness” thanks to recent events. It felt inadequate, but saying “every time I think I’ve reached some sort of acceptance about all of this, a great big wave of THIS SUCKS I HATE IT hits me again” feels whiney.

Somehow the phrase “wearing my heart on my sleeve” popped up in my head. And then I thought that the meaning isn’t quite right for what I’m going through. This, this is more like having my intestines pinned to my shirt. And then I thought Intestines On My Shirt would be a good band name. And it’s really hard to imagine how I manage to continually say the wrong thing in social situations, isn’t it? It’s a puzzle, truly.

* * * * *

So I was doing my various “shop online” sorts of things (which, these days, largely consists of finding deals for other people, rather than spending any money ourselves because of the aforementioned Medicaid thing) and found a really good deal on boys’ sneakers. And even though Monkey’s current sneakers aren’t that old, I thought to myself (“Self,” I said), “I am going to be smart and because this is such a good deal, I am going to buy the next two sizes Monkey will need, because clearly Puberty Is Nearly Upon Us and soon his feet will become enormous. Well, more enormous. Anyway.

Then this morning I was sitting in a waiting room with Monkey—the sneakers are ordered, but haven’t arrived—and just for fun I found myself leaning down to feel the tip of his shoes to get an idea of how much room he has. Only, at first I thought he had something stuffed in there besides his feet, because you know how you should be able to “squish” to tippy-toe section of your sneakers? Yeah, you can’t do that on my son’s shoes. BECAUSE THEY ARE TOO SMALL. His toes were all curled up in there and Mr. ACK A LEAF TOUCHED ME, MAKE IT STOP was all “What? My shoes are fine! I have no idea why your eyes are bugging out of your head like that!”

Normally Monkey doesn’t come to mind when you think of Cinderella’s wicked step-sisters, but now that I know the extent of his ability to cram a too-large foot into a too-small shoe, I’m thinking if there’s a local production he’d be a shoe-in (ho ho, you see what I did there).

* * * * *

I kept meaning to tell you the story of The Poison Ivy Plague, but somehow I kept forgetting or getting distracted and now it doesn’t seem nearly as amusing as it did initially. Not that this will stop me from giving you a synopsis, anyway:

One of the many things Otto and I had in common for years and years was that we both appeared to be immune to poison ivy. I wouldn’t advocate building a relationship on that, or anything, but still, it was kind of nifty… until it ended. In the wake of The Wrong Dog Saga, all we had to show for all of that running through the woods was that Otto got a terrible case of poison ivy. And then he got MRSA, to boot, and it all pretty much sucked. And then he got better and we forgot about it…

… until the next year, when he got poison ivy AGAIN. Apparently once you get it, each subsequent exposure tends to provoke an even worse reaction. AWESOME. And then the year after THAT (last year) it happened again, although by that time I had the good sense to realize that maybe not everyone wanted to hear my repeated whining about what is essentially, y’know, my husband having a rash.

Fast forward to this summer, when Otto once again (with feeling!) comes down with a raging case of poison ivy. He used his cream, he went to the doctor and got steroids, and it got better. BUT THIS TIME the moment he finished the steroids, it got really bad again. And then his doctor said, “Huh, I think maybe this isn’t poison ivy at all, because that is weird. Here, go see this dermatologist.” Naturally the dermatologist’s office scheduled him with great speed (where “speed” = “not so much speed, actually”) and he was left to scratch himself into insanity for several weeks, during which time we tried to figure out WHERE, WHERE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY IS THE POISON IVY??

I still haven’t gotten it, by the way. Ever. Neither have the kids. Just Otto, because he is irresistible and poison ivy loves him.

Well. Otto took a little stroll out to our dog run (remember the fence debacle, which was partly about the fence around the pool but mostly about providing a fenced doggie area outside of it for the world’s most spoiled dog?) and YOU WILL NEVER GUESS! All those years of drought here in Georgia, when everyone had dead, brown lawns and even the weeds could barely grow, we had foolishly assumed any poison ivy on the premises must be out in the woods somewhere. This year, it has rained regularly. The dog run was like our very own personal poison ivy preserve, where all the poison ivies who couldn’t quite make it in the wilderness could come and mate and reproduce and then rub all over our dog… the same dog who feels very strongly that if Otto is sitting down it is her God-given right to lay in his lap and be rubbed and adored.

Mystery solved! Licorice was pretty much coating herself in the stuff and then coming inside to share the love.

So Otto began spraying the poison ivy in the dog run with poison every day, and of course we closed the gate into the run so that our rotten little pup wouldn’t end up poisoned. This caused Licorice to spend an inordinate amount of time starting at the gate, willing it to open via her laser glare. She was quite annoyed. Then Otto left town for a few days for a work thing, and while he was gone I:
1) bathed the dog,
2) washed all of the bedding and towels in the house,
3) generally cleaned and wiped down all surfaces I thought could be recontaminating anyone.

Now Otto has been to the dermatologist (who said “Oh yeah, that’s poison ivy, here’s some new cream and you must use it every day for a month and then offer up a burnt virgin goat at midnight to complete the ritual”), the poison ivy in the run is gone, and the dog pretty much hates us. Also, the doctor pointed out that probably all of our furniture and rugs are coated in urushiol by now, so GOOD LUCK.

I cannot remember what the point of this story was. Ummmm, maybe it was that we think that’s the end of the poison ivy mystery, but knowing how things go around here, who knows.

* * * * *

And on top of all of THAT, I need a haircut. Tragedy abounds, I tell you. Though if I literally had my intestines pinned to the front of my shirt, I’m thinking no one would notice my giant puffball of no-longer-short-but-not-yet-long-either hair. Something to consider, I suppose.


  1. Aimee

    Then you would be Lady Intestinesonmyshirt, whom I believe is a minor character on Game of Thrones.

  2. deva

    Intestines on my Shirt sounds like a really good tribute band name, but I don’t know for which band yet.

  3. Catherine

    Here’s a funny story just for funniness. My mom has had a series of random medical issues (not serious, just annoying, like being in a wheelchair for months because of a broken ankle, or fighting with the insurance company about covering a vaccination that they totally covered for my dad but not for her). But she was just about done with everything and feeling so glad that she could stop dealing with doctors and PTs and insurance companies.

    Then she woke up to find one breast had completely deflated during the night. The saline implant from her mastectomy 20 years ago had given up the ghost. Back to the surgeon for her!

  4. Melissa

    Catherine – I hope it is not insensitive of me to admit this, but I just died laughing at the mental image I got. Hope your mom can get re-inflated quickly!

  5. kat

    Im not sure the exwctl mixture and whatnot or even if im going to spell this right. I too am immune to poison ivy. But ive heard FelsNaptha mixed with other stuff kills the part most people are allergic to.

  6. Jennie B

    Yay for mysteries solved! But I am truly exhausted for you reading this. Ack!

  7. laura

    I had the definition of sin described as something that causes great pain to your soul. BUT, continuing to sin made your soul more tolerant to the point that you could do HORRIBLE BAD things and your soul would be like ‘whatever’.

    I’m kind of undecided on whether a mother’s heart should be designed the same way. On one hand, I want to be empathetic to my children’s heartaches and pain. On the other hand, there are days when I would just like to develop some callouses.

    There is no good way to deal with any of the stuff you are going through. So you’ll have to carry the best you can, even if it means occasionally putting your foot in your mouth. Or, as politicians are so very fond of saying, mis-speaking.

    take care.

  8. Tracy B

    All of sudden, I’m itchy. Really itchy….thanks.

  9. Maria

    Your band could be called Intestinal Shirtitude.

  10. not supergirl

    I totally could design that band’s shirt. ;)

  11. Gaylin

    I think a good name for a band would be:

    Otto Has A Rash!

    or not . . .

  12. Mandy

    Oh, Mir. I know that you’ve already and quite forcibly said that you wouldn’t accept donations for C’s care, but damn do I wish you’d reconsider. We’ll never meet, but I think of you and yours as our extended computer family. And if you think about how much money you’ve saved all of us over the years with your deals… well, quite frankly, I think many WCS-ites would agree with me that a small donation is not a big deal.

    All we need is a catchy name. Intestinal Lemonade? Medicaid Lemonade? I don’t know. You are much funnier than I.

  13. Katie in CA

    And to go with that intestional shirt, you should get a brain hat. I would link to it, but I don’t want my comment to end up in the spam folder. Just google brain hat. I am actually knitting one for a teacher friend who purposefully paints intestines on shirts with her class for open house.

  14. Katherine

    As you were relating the poison ivy saga, I had the feeling it might be pet related. I used to get poison ivy every summer, pretty much always along my right inner forearm. I finally figured it mst be coming in on our cat. I’m right handed, so of course I would hold him in my right arm. I hope for Otto’s sake and Licorice’s that all the poison ivy is gone, never to return!

    I hope everything else starts looking up as well! All appendages crossed here for you.

  15. Jen

    Don’t feel bad about the shoes. In April, sy son started complaining his shoes were hurting him. Two weeks later, I finally got him to the shoe store, only to find out that he had gone up 2 whole shoe sizes so of course his shoes freaking hurt. Me being not so smart, I bought him shoes that fit him at that very moment, because really, how much more could his feet grow? (I obviously know nothing about teenage boys) A month later, those shoes were too small already. He has mainly worn sandals over the summer. I am taking him this weekend to buy shoes for school, I figure his feet can’t grow that much in the week before school starts (I have hope, at least). I learned my lesson and will buy them at least a size too big.

  16. Golden
  17. Ethel Louise

    There’s a German word (of course) for what you described in the first section: Fremdheimwehtochterheilungsverzweiflungkrankenkassegenehmigungsverpeilungnormaleslebenswehmut. There’s a shorter word, too, but this ain’t a cursin’ blog.
    (Thinking of you all from afar.)

  18. addy

    Ya, i had to take my daughter to the doctor. There was something wrong with her toes. They hurt really bad and maybe there was blood under her toenails and could be a really bad ingrown toenail???? or two. Nope, shoes were two sizes too small and she didn’t tell anybody cuz they were really cute and purple!!! Gahh – you kidding me?? That was a nice conversation with the peditrician.

  19. kazari

    I’m not sure about the intestines thing. For me, it’s more like somebody sanded all my skin off, so I’m just open to the world…

  20. RuthWells

    Oh dear god. Is Monkey hive-free, at least??

  21. Megan

    AUGH! I am violently, horribly allergic to poison oak and its evil friends. Like, I lost three days – honestly can’t remember them beyond THE ITCH EXTREME and was left with a permanent terror of the stuff. Enter large, friendly, delightful and very dim dog who LOVED to dive into bushes and things in the hopes they might contain a skunk (VERY dim dog). I lived in terror of having nasty oil end up in the car or in the house somewhere where it might leap out and get me.

    Otto has my sincere and total and absolute heartfelt sympathy.

    Sckewze me. I think I need to go wash everything I own now just in case reading about poison ivy infected my knickers with oil…

  22. Shana in Texas

    The problems your family is facing are so ugh. I mean come on, etc. but it was poor Otto’s poison ivy that is just unfair. I still bear the marks of an extensive poison ivy rash and the exposure was 8 weeks ago. The cat was the culprit I this story. Still a little itchy… Anyway, it’s the evil rash that that has me railing on your behalf.

  23. Korinthia Klein

    How you can be going through so much and still find the time to crack me up is beyond me.

  24. Chuck

    I need a haircut also. Hope the new shoes work out and that your home remains ivy-free.

  25. Anna

    Oh, great. Lovely. Try getting new furniture with your buckets of money (wow, that was a long time ago!) and then giving away your old furniture to your worst enemy. That should improve your outlook on life. Except for maybe karma.

    And I LOVE Catherine’s story.

  26. Melissa M.

    You could get yourself a goat to keep that cute dog company. They eat poison ivy for fun! And to build up energy to eat everything else.

  27. karen

    Tell Otto to use Phels Naptha soap when he comes in from the yard to wash his hands and arms, or sanled/bare feet, etc… in the future. If he gets any of the Poison Ivy oils on him, that stuff washes it off quickly. They also recommend washing with it before you got out in the stuff. Bathing the dog in it might help too :-)

  28. Rebecca

    For the Poison Ivy rash you might try Zanfel. It’s expensive (although I think there is a generic brand now.) It has worked miracles for my husband when he had a super bad case of poison ivy. The rash was gone by the next day. Of course, what the derm gave him might have already helped…

  29. Valerie

    Oh shit! This summer my youngest son and I are having mystery rashes pop up and disappear– extremely irritating. I thought it was most like poison ivy. We hadn’t been weeding, which you would clearly know if you could see the flower beds. It is totally cheating for a weed to rub on my dog and enter uninvited and still be in the damn yard!

    I am really starting to worry about you! Oh, and on the foot in your mouth thing, who cares? We all say the stupidest things every day and most people are too caught up in their own drama to worry much about anybody else. With everything happening on your end, I am quite sure you have gotten some doozies. Unless your snafu makes the evening news, it is probably already forgotten by everyone but you. That won’t stop it from haunting you for days, but maybe that is just me. That little worry can take a number! You say so many things so well, I am betting the funky ones just get cancelled out.

  30. mamalang

    I enjoyed your post, but the comments have me dying. It felt wrong to laugh at Catherine’s story, but it seriously sounds like something from a sitcom. And I love Intestinal Shirtitude for a band name.

    3 or 4 years ago, I was buying boots for my daughter that is the same age as Chickie. The summer between 5th and 6th grade to be exact. And I kept handing her boots to try on, and nothing was working. Finally, in a fit of despair (she needed them the next morning for fair. Procrastinators unite!) I threw a boot that was 3-4 sizes bigger than the last pair of shoes I bought her at her. And they fit. Turns out that along with growing 11 inches in less than 9 months, her feet grew as well. I had notice she seemed a bit taller, but guess I didn’t notice how much it really was.

    Best part of it all? The pediatrician who told her “you can’t grow that fast, it’s bad for your spine.” I literally asked what she was supposed to do to stop it? Bricks on her head?

    Still Hoping it all gets better soon.

  31. Arnebya

    Damn, I just want things to become markedly better for you, Mir. Dare I say normal? Back to normal? Just better, let’s stick with better. Betterness whose end is undeterminable.

    And Catherine, you gave me quite the chuckle this morning, thank you. I hope your mom’s (reinflation? refilling? pump up the jam?) surgery goes well and she can say screw doctors/hospitals for a good long while.

  32. victoria

    I’ve only read the section on the too-small sneakers so far, but it’s funny : I recall thinking that the photo of the nude feet (at the stool) followed the next day by the photo of your husband and son’s feet in shoes, did not seem to line up, size wise.
    (I now return to read the rest)

  33. victoria

    Me part 2: I really do not know, but would Febreeze-ing the furniture do anything against the poisin ivy ? There must be some murderous product in existance, if not…..
    Your visual image of the intestines on your shirt brought to mind a favourite video of my son’s:
    It is a parody of Lady Gaga’s Born this Way, by Weird Al, entitled Preform This Way. At one point, al is wearing his own intestines, boa style.

  34. Mary K. in Rockport

    We applied for Medicaid for my mother (age 96, in a nursing home for almost 3 years, resources absolutely depleted) in January. Medicaid still hasn’t decided. Here in Massachusetts, it’s called MassHealth.

  35. Nancy R

    I say you hire a carpet and upholstry cleaning company…blog about it, and then claim the cleaning on your taxes as blog fodder. I mean, travel writers can claim their travel expenses, right? I see no difference. :o)

  36. Kim

    I used to run through poison oak to get away from my pesty little brother and cousin, who couldn’t look at the stuff without getting it. Now – I look at the stuff, and my left arm starts itching again, even though it’s been over a year. Ugh. Having poison oak (or ivy, I assume) is a full-time job.

  37. Daisy

    Wasn’t that the Grinch’s problem – his shoes were too tight?

  38. Liza

    I really want to be part of the band Intestinal Shirtitude. Please???

    And I wish I could give you a hug. That’s about all I can offer, no experience, no expertise, only one tiny case of poison ivy on a finger when I was a teenager….

  39. {sue}

    Oh, I get poison ivy like Otto. I want to wrap you all in antibacterial, steroid-coated bubble wrap.

  40. Von

    You know, Mir, with all respect and sympathy, it’s not you who is going through this; it’s not the heart on your sleeve that should be seen. It is your daughter’s illness, not yours.

  41. Robyn

    I was going to say, “Well, Von, bless your heart.” But that’s not how we talk where I’m from. So instead I’ll say, “Von, bite me.”

  42. Mir

    Von, I tried for several minutes to figure out what your point is here and I’m still stumped, but if you’d care to show me the parent of a critically ill minor child who isn’t “going through this” I’d love to see how that works.

  43. Amy-Go

    I’m going to assume Von’s purpose was to provide a punching bag for Mir to use as target practice for her well deserved rage. Which was selfless and kind of Von. Because otherwise, Von, you are an ass.

  44. Pip

    Von, if you don’t feel the pain of your sick loved ones, you’re loving wrong.

  45. katiefleck

    I was immune to Poison Ivy for years but not now! One year my eyes were swollen shut, that’s how bad it was. I’ve gotten it from petting a dog before too, it sucks.

    ((hugs)) Wearing your intestines on your shirt isn’t necessarily pretty but for people like us who just can’t have it all balled up inside, it’s important.

  46. Karen

    I teach my Environmental Science class that many people have a high tolerance to poison ivy and poison oak that is almost like an immunity,,,,but each exposure makes you more vulnerable to losing that immunity, Otto is prime example.

  47. CDM

    Re poison ivy: my husband is extremely sensitive and gets reactions that last for months. Try a cream called Zanfel, which binds with the active toxin in poison ivy (or poison oak) and really makes the symptoms go away immediately. It’s quite expensive, but totally worth the money. Zanfel works no matter how long ago you were exposed. If you know you’ve been exposed, shower right away with Tecnu wash, which gets the toxins off your skin much more effectively than soap. We keep them both around the house and they make all the difference in the world.

  48. Demery

    Oh, Mir. I just read through everything, and I’m so sad and so sorry for everything your family is going through. It’s just too much. Sending much love to you all. And also sending tampon lemonade contributions and a card for Chickadee. xoxox

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