Monday, 3 May 2021



DO YOU KNOW the most fun you can have with Google? Simply type in one of the five W words and see what comes up as a suggestion. 

When I say the five W words, I mean of course, What, Why, Who, Where, When. The suggestions that follow are random and weird and sometimes quite funny. 

What Hogwarts house am I in: Quiz? 
Why were cornflakes invented?
Who is the oldest person in the world? 
Where am I? No, really, that's an auto-suggestion. Clearly, enough people ask that question for it to be auto-generated on Google. 
When will hairdressers reopen? I think I might have auto-generated that one all by myself. But only because there are horses out there, with less hair than I currently have.  

So, everything you ever wanted to know, and loads of stuff you probably couldn't be bothered knowing, is all there, just a few clicks away. Every encyclopedia in the world to the power of infinity. 

And there you have it: my deep, philisophical thoughts about Google summed up in two lines. In fairness, they're only worth about two lines. 

The truth is, Google is my go-to. It's because I'm basically a quick-fix sort of person. Not that I can actually fix a lot of stuff myself. I mean, if the boiler breaks, I Google it. I know I can't actually do anything about it, and I will get an expert in, but I like to have an idea. 

But I like to feel I have some control, that there will always be something I can do right now, this minute. Health is an excellent example. But it carries a warning. For example, never, ever Google Why is there a big black mark on my leg?

Because Google is unlikely to know that you banged your shin on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and have a stonking great bruise as a result. Instead, it'll try to convince you that you have contracted some awful disease and at the very least, you'll need your leg amputated. 

So, my Google searches reflect this. And they're full of things like, What are the best foods to eat to reduce inflamation? That covers a multitude, to be honest. Think up any inflamation you can and Google will spit out lists of foods to eat and ones to avoid. A lot of it is common sense, but if you tweak your search and add in herbs and spices, it sends you down lots of other fascinating rabbit holes. 

When I wake up one morning and realise my jaw is quite sore, I immediately Google: Why is my jaw sore? It throws up lots of possibilites but half of them scare the life out of me, so I give in and make an appointment with my doctor instead. 

My lovely doctor thinks it's TMJ, and tells me that's a dentist thing. I thank him, go home and Google TMJ. It stands for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder and it's basically arthritis in the jaw. Fantastic. I phone the dental practice. 

My lovely dentist, whom I attended for many years, has retired and a younger man has taken over his list. 
'I've seen him twice,' the Eldest tells me, in an effort to reassure me. 'He's lovely.' 

'So, how are you today?' he says, when he greets me at Reception. 
'Er, not good, that's why I'm here.' Always better to be honest when it comes to health, I find. And pain, obviously. Then, afraid I might have hurt his feelings, I tell him what The Eldest said. He gives a little chuckle. Not because he finds it funny, I imagine, but because he feels sorry for me. 

He diagnosis TMJ. There's no quick fix, he says. I wonder if this man has somehow found out that I am a huge fan of quick fixes, and is keen to forewarn me early. But before I have a chance to analyse it, he starts to ask a long list of questions. The usual sort to start: allergies, medications, does my jaw click when I eat?

I have to think about that. Sometimes, I concede.
Do I grind my teeth when I'm asleep?
Absolutely not, I tell him. I try not to sound defensive, but I'm not sure I succeed. And let's face it, how would I know? Wouldn't I be asleep? 

'Does your partner say that you grind your teeth at night?'
He's not letting this one go. I think about The Husband. I suspect his snoring might drown out my teeth grinding. If I were to grind my teeth. Which I don't. 
'That would be a no', I say cheerfully. 

'How did you feel about coming here today?' 
I actually turn to look at him, unsure I've heard correctly. I don't think I've ever been asked that question by a medical professional. I think about it. 
'Anxious, I suppose.' 
Excellent question. 

'Were you nervous abut leaving the house? Because of Covid?' 
Ah, I see where he's going. 
'No, it's more of a dentist thing', I assure him. 'Low pain threshold.' I can't really read his expresson behind the mask. 

Finally, he has a look in my mouth and praises my dental hygiene, but diagnosis teeth grinding and jaw clenching at night. I'm amazed. Why now, after a lifetime of nocturnal slack-jaw have I become a teeth grinder? 

'Anxiety', he says. 'I've seen loads of patients during the last year who've developed the habit. You don't realise you're anxious but it comes out somewhere.' In my case, it seems, my jaw. 

The immediate solution is painkillers and jaw stretches. I prefer to think of it as facial yoga. Somehow, having a nice name for what is quite a painful thing to do, makes it less awful. 

The more long-term management - no quick fix, remember - is a night-time mouthguard. He makes the mould there and then, and I dutifully make the appointment to see him the following week. 

The effects of Covid can be longterm and sometimes quite unexpected. Whether or not you actually contract the illness. And like the illness itself, there's no quick fix. 


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Sharon. xx