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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

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Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

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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. → 

« In which I don't bother coming up with a conclusion. | Main | Pretty Rambo: love him at your own risk. »

If it's not one thing, it's your mother.

Diagnose me, Internet: for the past three days I have had a blinding headache, my entire body aches, I am mildly queasy, and if I walk more than a few blocks I feel as if I should just lie down in the gutter forever. My guesses are hanta virus, or imminent death. Any other ideas?

Speaking of hypochondria, my husband spent last weekend obsessing over a mole that had suddenly sprouted on his wrist. The mole was all the things they say moles should never be: irregularly shaped, dark, raised, shiny, bumpy, mole-y. We enjoyed 48 hours of Scott peering at his wrist and whispering “Oh god oh god oh god.” Of looking at pictures of moles online and predicting the grim outcome of the biopsy and why didn’t he have life insurance and etc. So this week he went to the dermatologist, who diagnosed him with…

… a scab.

Yes. A scab. The mole that had suddenly appeared was a CUT that suddenly SCABBED. And oh, how I laughed. I laughed and laughed. There may have been some pointing. I’m not a nice person. I am now calling him Scabbers.

(My husband agreed to let me share this story on one condition: that I mention how, by the end of the weekend, he told me he thought the Cancerous Mole was getting smaller, and I told him that he was insane, that he was seeing things because he was so afraid of going to the doctor. So. But still. A scab! Laugh! Laugh and point!)

Speaking of words that begin with “scab,” my son’s itchiness has also been diagnosed. The kid has scabies. It took three doctors to figure this out. As I had joked, he was in fact being eaten alive by microscopic vermin. For MONTHS. One application of scabicidal ointment later, my son’s skin is smooth and clear. I shared this news with my mother, who shouted, “He has SCABBIES? I don’t understand! How did he get SCABBIES?” and I'd like to say that I told her he caught them from his father, but I wasn't clever enough, probably because of the parasite that’s eating my brain.

Reader Comments (64)

Back in the olden days when I was a Bad Girl And Proud, I deflowered a virgin boy. Several days later, the boy found a suspicious spot on his upper thigh, and he went to the college health center and told them he thought he'd contracted syphillis. They diagnosed his spot as A PIMPLE. A pimple! Oh, how my slutty friends and I all laughed!

Also, I just posted a few minutes ago about my own unexplained itchiness, which my husband thinks is scabies. Even the word makes me feel itchier. Is a little bit of cream all that is required to fix it? I thought that you'd have to burn or boil all of your clothing and bedding, too. Come visit me and tell me if you think I have scabies. I don't want to have to sit in my doctor's waiting room for four hours just to be told that maybe I should consider showering more than twice a week.
March 14, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSummer
*So* glad that I'm not the only pointer-and-laugher out there...hee!

March 14, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterR
Internet diagnosis: Sounds exactly like the thing I had last month. Actually, almost everyone I know had it (and actually my grandmother wound up in the hospital with it, but her health was already not good so I wouldn't worry about that part). I think it's just a weird virus. It's definitely the most annoying illness I've had for a while, though.
March 14, 2005 | Unregistered Commentercyclopatra
March 14, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterdr. dayment
Great! And I thought I just had a sinus headache. How could I have been so blind! Why didn't I just check my handy-dandy pocket DSM-IV?? WHY???
March 14, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterkate
i could consult with my vast knowledge of all things medical from my days as a twenty soemthing trying to diagnose her own undoing (turned out i was sleep deprived) but i shall not because i know deep down you don't want my advice. you are certainly as smart as i and will no doubt be quite able to cure thine self.

please tell your husband i a at once laughing and pointing but also heaving a sigh of releif. it could have been SOMETHING. it could have been. it wasn't, which is why the laughing and pointing, as you're well aware.
March 14, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterhonestyrain
Shhhhh.. This is just between you, me and your hypochondriac husband. (Oh yeah and all of the internet)

Last month I started having severe pelvic pain and bloating. It hurt more on one side than the other but it had me doubled over at times. I was in tears it hurt so bad. I was convinced I had cancer and made an appointment with my doctor.

Turns out, I don't have cancer, I was ovulating. Me, the one who only ovulates once or twice a year and have not done so in two years was ovulating.

I'd forgotten how painful ovulation can be with cysts... Duh.. Cancer! Talk about an idiot. But having not done it in two years, I guess I can get a small pass on my idiocy. Right?
March 14, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJanis
Non stop headaches, disoriented, tired, just out of sorts, achey, no appetite...I was diagnosed with viral cure, just pain meds for the wracking just runs its course...a derned long 8-10 days...yucky..hope you find out what it is!
March 14, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterjudy
Your symptoms sound like migraines to me. Mine have all those symptoms and three days is a normal amount of time for them to last. That's a bummer. Flu would be better.

If it does turn out to be migraines, my doctor recommended a great book called "Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain" by David Buchholz, MD. I got it pretty cheap from
March 14, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie
I just hope you don't have the same thing Geordi LaForge got on Tarchannen III--you'll need more than lotion to get rid of the ultraviolet sensitivity. (That should send Pretty Rambo scrambling for his TNG Companion.)
March 14, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
Maybe you should go to a Rheumatologist. Have you ever heard of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA for short)???? Get yourself checked out girl/ Hypochondria or not go to the DR! Love your blog!
March 15, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterDaphne Sullivan
(Unpacks the trusty tricorder)

Aahhh. Yes. Of course.

Diagnosis: Diptheria.
March 15, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterFox
Dude. Get some life insurance.
March 15, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
I can't believe neurasthenia is in the DSM. I thought it left the lexicon with the death of Victoria.
March 15, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterpalinode
Better to be laughed at for a scab than ignore an evil mole. Of course, you're getting this advice from the gal who thought that once again, her dermatologist would take the "suspicious" mole she had found and tell her -once again- that it was normal. Nope, this time it was melanoma. All's well because I caught it very early.

But I do love the Scabbers nickname! :-)
March 15, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterdish
I'm going to play the lupus card here.
March 15, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca
As the child of the least illness sympathetic woman in the world--a Midwestern freak of hale heartiness, I offer what I heard my entire childhood: (Rolling eyes) Oh, you'll be fine, it's just the winter blahs. Get outside to blow the stink off and you'll feel better.
March 15, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSuzyn
Hmm. Besides the headaches, can you hear your own brain bubbling in the night? Because A said that happened to her once, and that she had the mad cow. I think she's mad, but I don't know about the cow. We decided later perhaps it was just her being eccentric. Your problem sounds more grounded in reality. Which means I have no idea.
March 15, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterlis
Laughed so hard I peed my pants! You crack me up. Thanks, I needed that.
March 15, 2005 | Unregistered Commenteramy
I'm not dead...I'm just dysthymic now.
March 15, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria
Omg, Hanta virus? Speaking of....
March 15, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterVery Mom
"Blow the stink off"! This may be my new favorite phrase.
March 15, 2005 | Unregistered Commenteralice
I'm thinking your husband switched your morning cup of Joe to decaf without telling you. For payback.

March 15, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJill
I call it March Madness - join the St. Patricks Day parade tomorrow and walk away your aches. I am told all the firemen will be there and in uniform.
March 16, 2005 | Unregistered Commentermabby poo
can you actually get a diagnosis for hypochondria (and please don't pick on my misspelling again - i'm doing this one-handed!)?

i found your blog thanks to that nyt piece and now look forward to noontime pumping, because i can close my door and read your archived posts. there's a danger in this, though. you are so goddam funny that in the past week i have overpumped TWICE! so when i say i wet my pants laughing at your blog, that's no hyperbole, no sirry.
March 16, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

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