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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

Some Books
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Sleep Is
For The Weak

Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

The site that inspired the book!

At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

« Here's where I get all preachy. You can skim this one. | Main | Only two reasons why I married the right person. »

Don’t rub me like a Jedi knight.

The above is a statement uttered by Henry. I was going to provide the anecdote that would put it in context, but the hell with it. You might think you can figure out why he would say such a thing but you won’t be able to figure it out. Henry is an enigma wrapped in a riddle, side-by-side with a conundrum, across the way from a bugaboo.

In other news, my son is covered in rashes. This is not new. For lo these many months he has been bedecked with eczema and bespeckled with hives. As he himself put it, he is "itchy, itchy Ichabod." I haven’t done much about it because—well, I blame the liquor. Whoops! Actually I am sober 89% of the time, and we’ve done everything we can to figure out what the problem is, and everyone’s conclusion is that there’s no real problem. Except he’s all scratchy and hive-y. The hives bloom and then fade of their own twisted accord, with no apparent connection to anything he’s eaten or done or said or thought. One doctor posited that it might be a reaction to our wool rug, so we no longer let him lounge pantsless on said rug. We apply medicinal salves and unguents on a regular basis, and we dose him with Benadryl. Our detergents are everything-free. No longer do we enjoy bubbles in our bath—instead we add soothing but decidedly un-festive baking soda, or as Henry calls it, “baby soda.” After the bath, instead of rubbing him like a Jedi knight, we pat him softly like a Sith lord.

Then he spent the weekend with my in-laws, and returned with smooth, rash-free skin for the first time in, oh, since he was born. My in-laws denied doing anything special for him. So the only reasonable conclusion is that his skin benefited from their lack of squalor. That a weekend in the suburbs meant a blessed reprieve from the dust mites and chiggers that usually gnaw on his infant flesh as he slumbers. In other words, we live in filth. Which I guess means I should vacuum or clean or whatever, but I’m so tired! And self-absorbed! Oh—and drunk.

Reader Comments (62)

I bet you've thought of this already...but it might be your water? One of mine (boys, that is) is really sensitive to changes in the softness (or hardness) of the water (in addition to all the non-perfume stuff, and washing the clothes before he wears them, etc...)Just a thought...poor Sith Lord Henry.
February 16, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterjill in nc
I'm allergic to the cold and used to get hives from it all the time as a kid. Missing recess rules! Now I only get them if it's wretchedly heart-stoppingly cold, but that might be a possibility?
February 16, 2005 | Unregistered Commentermer
sith lords *are* particularly tender.
February 16, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterwix
Please, please, pretty please will you tell the anecdote which makes sense of rubbing like a Jedi knight?
February 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJane
Poor Henry! As someone who always seems to have something wrong with her (right now, I'm sporting a lovely, mysterious 16 x 10 cm bruise on my leg), I feel for the kid. Especially when the doctors say things like, "Hmm...that's odd" and "I think it's in your head." Because, you know, I'm just so talented that I can make my blood vessels spontaneously combust or something?? Argh. I've totally forgotten the point of this post...

Oh, yes, careful how much Benadryl you give him. My mom used to put Benadryl in my bottle so that I would sleep, and now, 20 years later, I have an immunity to Benadryl. Now I just have to drink vodka to knock me out...which I really won't complain about.
February 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNat W.
Perhaps, as my feet are buried in a solid layer of disgusting unswept kitchen crust, this is why Nathan has hives?
February 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterVery Mom
No no, it's *good* for him! You're building up his immune system! Very important.
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterWeeze
Hey! Every child needs his/her peck of dirt. So what if they meant it as a one-time deal, and not a daily dose? What do they know?

Sorry he's itchy. I hope you're able to find the answer. Or he outgrows it. Or something. Poor guy.
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterkelly
I guess you guys have already ruled out pet allergies (don't know if you or your inlaws have them)? My husband got hives from an overdose of Vitamin A, but that's the only time I've seen them on anyone.

Could it b something in the car upholstery? House plant allergies? Man. I hope you guys figure it out. Poor Jedi.
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered Commenteremjaybee
Maybe rubbing him like a Jedi knight is giving him irritable skin?

Is that the anecdote?

Odd how for me, a weekend with the in laws would actually cause my skin to bubble and burn and melt right off.
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMelissaS
Eucerin creme -- the good kind that comes in the tub, not the bottle. CVS generic has the same effect. It's GREAT for unidentified rashes/dry skin problems. Good luck!
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterLiz
Henry is coated in a layer of Eucerin every day. If I try to hug him he slips right out my grasp.
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered Commenteralice
I keep getting this weird rash around my eyes. Like ezcema ON MY FACE. It is really screwing up my beauty.

Anyway, sounds like you are doing everything you can. Poor little rash man!
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterEm
i've had eczema my whole life and the two biggest things that seems to influence whether or not it pops up are 1) humidity of the air, and 2) my hydration level. i drink about 3 32-oz nalgene bottles of water a day and that pretty much keeps it away. obviously, he'll drink less than that. but that's what has worked better than any of the various cremes i've ever tried. a lot less painful to apply too. =)
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterbrian
It's New York.
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered Commentersac
When little girl was about 9 months old, she started getting hives at odd times as well, we tried watching the diet, the soaps, any particular change in season, etc.. to no avail. After the doctor finally did a blood test, we found she was allergic to cats (which we no longer had) and dust mites. When the doctor told me she would probably outgrow the dustmite allergy, I responded "good, because I am not the kind of girl that vacuums under rugs, under beds, or behind furniture." He seemed floored that I was not willing to run home and scour our house from top to bottom every 3-4 days in order to keep a few bumpy spots from coming up on my kids arms and legs. She outgrew it or just simply became accustomed to the the little buggers.
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJen
Well, whatever it is in your household, it DOES go away if he switches to the in-laws, so at least you know it's not some bizarre auto-immune medical condition! And as a side, you can use this to pressure the inlaws into taking him("His skin is so much better when he's with you) and thus have extra time to (drink)clean! Yes, that's it, clean!
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterRedhead
My daughter gets hives from taking hot showers if she doesn't take Zyrtec every day.
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNance
Man, you make it sound like even someone like me should have babies! Just kidding. I'm sure if I did they would be able to subsist for weeks on a steady diet of dust bunnies and cast off bird seed.
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterschmutzie
oh nance, watch that daily zyrtec intake. i've been taking it every day for a couple of years, and now it doesn't keep me from itching. however, when i don't take it, i'm in a world of itch - way worse than i was before i started taking it.
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterboo
Egads! I am about to join the ranks of the unsolicited advice givers: Aveeno. They have a bath powder made of colloidal oatmeal, which is supposed to help with the itchiness.
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterWindyLou
When I had shingles (shut up), I was told to try a strange little cream called Sarna. Or perhaps it was Sarno. Either way, it was quite soothing. I don't know if it's indicated for small slippery toddlers, but it might be worth a try.
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterRachel
Henry's case sounds like my brother, who was covered in eczema and hives as a child, and they could never figure out why. But, it did go away once he hit school age (he has no allergies as an adult, except one near-death experience with an antibiotic). I, however, was rash-free as a tot and now break out in nasty eczema (from eating eggs? lunar eclipses? James Bond films? I don't know) all the damn time. I also had a roomate with no known allergies who was fine at home but would be covered in hives the minute she stepped into her friend's (freakishly clean, pet-free) house.

Can any rash-defeating advice be distilled from these boring stories? Yes: Henry needs to grow up, and stay away from his friends. He'd have to share his liquor with them, and Lord knows that's no fun.
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJ.
I, too, am a rash mistress. When I was a kid I had horrible hives for two weeks until my mother figured out that I was allergic to the cheap-ass laundry detergent she was using. As I got older (around college age) my hands would inexplicably swell to twice their normal size and itch like crazy. Sometimes the hand swelling would be accompanied by an all-over hives rash, too. No idea why. After I left home, my hands stopped swelling as long as I stayed out of shopping malls (?). Now my hands don't swell, even in shopping malls.

In November I took my son to the doctor for an ear infection and she noticed a fine rash all over his body. He doesn't appear to itch. It's barely noticable. She suggested lubing him up with Eucerin. I didn't bother and the rash went away.

Rash stories are fun!
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
I have no advice, just a survivor story: my brother was crusty and itchy and blotchy until sometime during grade school, when he apparently grew out of whatever the problem was.
February 17, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterfrog

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