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Cortisone Shot Side Effects

Last Modified on May 08, 2016

Cortisone shots are widely used by veterinarians as a treatment for allergies when a dog or cat is in a constant state of itching, chewing and scratching. Cortisone injections are also frequently used to treat arthritis in dogs as the cortisone creates an anti-inflammatory effect similar to cortisol that is helpful in reducing inflammation.

Cortisone Side Effects: On the flip side, it is reported that cortisone shots can sometimes produce quite serious side effects in dogs and cats. These side effects include panting, lethargy, vomiting, blood in the stools and dramatic changesĀ of personality, and organ failure.

Below you will read reports from our readers about the side effects their pets experienced after receiving a cortisone shot. Sadly 21 people suspect that cortisone shots caused the untimely death of their pet.

Please let us know about any side effects you have witnessed after your pet's cortisone shot.

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Posted by Om (Hope BC, Canada) on 07/12/2013

Another cortizone shot side effect. I know of other pets who became diabetic after c. shot and also after prednizone.

I am diabetic but after learning from EC how diabetic allopathic meds kill (see also GreenMed Info. Com) I threw all that paraphernalia away and, being vegan now, feel very healhy and very different than before. Insulin kills.

As to your kitty I would suggest do some research on natural health lines. There must be something that would provide an answer. I have found all my health answers online, on EC and MMS. That is where I would go. MMS have a supportive team. Right now I have three cats on MMS for various complaints. Believe me, it is affordable and effective. Start with one half drop for kitty and go no further than 2 drops. I wish you both all the best. Love, Om

Reader Feedback  
123 User Reviews | 1 NAY | 2 WARNINGS! | 37 SIDE EFFECTS | 29 DEATHS REPORTED

Posted by Jaya (Dubai ) on 03/16/2016

[SIDE EFFECTS]  Side Effect - I wish I had time to read this site on side effects of cortisone before it was administered to my poor baby. I have a 1 year old french bulldog, bruno. On 12th March 2016 we took him to our local vet to vaccinate him for rabies and distemper. He took the 2 shots like a brave little boy and our vet even listed the side effects of both. As soon as we reached the parking lot, he vomits all over the back seat of my car. We ran in and called the doctor who immediately scooped him up and took him back inside. Unfortunately, without giving us too much info on what he was about to do - he administered Cortisone shot. Bruno seemed dazed after that but we thought it was because he was weak and so brought him home. He hasnt been the same since then. He drank almost 3 liters of water in 24 hours and accidentally pees all over the house. Even though he is house trained. We punished him yesterday but didn't for one second think it was the cortisone effect. Then last night I stumbled upon this site and realized the side effects match Bruno's current situation. We've called our vet's office 3 times since morning - still waiting to hear back. Why dont they list pros and cons before administering cortisone? Surely as pet parents we have a say in this matter? Im really dreading what the results will be and Im praying whatever it is - is temporary.

Replied by Theresa Donate

Mpls., Mn
Hello Jaya,

Fellow Frenchie lover here! I am guessing the reason they did not ask you about administering the cortisone shot was because there was no time - meaning Bruno may have been experiencing anaphalactic shock [sudden, extreme allergic reaction] and the cortisone was to gain control over the reaction to avoid suffocation and keep him alive.

A couple thoughts for you.

1 - never give Bruno another vaccine again, ever. You may wish to discuss what happened with your vet, and ask they put it in his file and make it an official record that he had this life threatening reaction so he can be exempt from having to have those vaccines that are required by law.

2 - You can dose homeopathic Thuja Occidentalis to help with the adverse reaction to the vaccine; even though it appears he is over the bad part, the reaction is a chain of events and what often happens after a vaccine reaction is a systemic yeast infection. So first attempt to negate the allergic reaction with Thuja.

3 - Be on the look out for yeast and act NOW. Yeast may manifest as gunky ears or itchy skin - don't wait for a problem, just know you need to head it off before it arrives. Switch to a grain free diet if you do not already feed one, and monitor all treats so ensure they are not filled with grains, sugars and starches and dyes and colorants.

4 - Consider Ted's Borax protocol for dogs, and also alkalizing with baking soda in the water; I alternate between one or the other but some folks have done both at the same time.

5 - Consider Zymox Hcl for ear infections. Get it online. I like to have this around for when the rare yeasty ear occurs in my pack of Frenchies. Great stuff, works great.

Please report back!

Posted by Ryan (Lebanon) on 02/12/2016

[SIDE EFFECTS]  My vet prescribed my dog an anti-histamine that contained 0.25 mg of Dexamethasone for an allergy my 1 year old female American Pit Bull Terrier was having (pimples and rashes on chest and chin). He had her on two pills (morning and night) for 10 days. After the 10 days elapsed the pimples and rash somewhat dried up. I had no idea what I was really giving my dog and boy do I regret it tremendously. After about a week the pimples and rashes returned. He told me to put her back on the anti-histamine (called Histamed-F), and after about 2 days all hell broke loose. My dog started drinking excessively and subsequently urinating constantly, it goes without saying she urinated in the house more times then I can count. I discontinued the medication and called my vet immediately. He called me in for a blood test and told me her blood sugar was very high (around 300) and that she either has diabetes or Cushing's disease. Bear in mind this is a 1 year old American Pit bull that gets at least an hour of high activity everyday, running, swimming, hiking, and play dates in the garden on almost a daily basis. I feed her grain free food as well (recently switched to raw as to keep down sugar levels). So as you can imagine this was devastatingly shocking for me. He then performed an ACTH stimulation test by injecting her with some more hormones (again I was an uneducated person wanting my dog to get better), to see the reaction of her adrenal glands. It turned out negative. It has now been 2 weeks after the shot and all medication was stopped and my dog is still officially diabetic (sugar level still at the 300 mark). I've left the old vet and the numerous opinions I've received since are to wait for some time longer to see if the drugs administered are the reason for her current state. I know for a fact that they absolutely are. The question now is did they permanently damage my dog or is this something that could in fact be temporary. This agonizing wait for answers and for my dog to get better is making me lose hope on a daily basis. Whatever ends up happening, I will never ever allow any use of steroids in my dog unless she is on the brink of death. Cause nothing can warrant what is happening to my dog now, especially not a measly skin infection.

Replied by Theresa Donate

Mpls., Mn
Hello Ryan,

I am very sorry to hear about the complictions your APBT developed after taking this drug :-(

Remission is possible, but first read up:

This is from a particular case in a cat:

"If diabetes mellitus is confirmed in this cat, you might have a chance of "reversing" Timmy's diabetes. To do that, however, you should definitely not administer any additional glucocorticoids. In addition, we should start feeding a low-carbohydrate canned diet (less than 5-10 of daily calories), and began treatment with a long-acting insulin preparation (eg, ProZinc or insulin glargine) given twice daily.

By controlling postprandial hyperglycemia and lowering the cat's circulating blood glucose to close to normal throughout the day, this may help revert the effects of glucose toxicity on the insulin-secreting pancreatic cells and remission of the diabetic state may occur (1, 7). "


Please discuss with your new vet what worked for Timmy the cat as it may be an option for your girl.

Please, please report back!

Posted by Janette (Dover, Tn) on 02/08/2016

[SIDE EFFECTS]  I took my Bassett Baby Girl in for a sprained paw...yes she is 12 but still ran and played and rolled on the floor...They gave her a cortizone shot....10 days later...her hip had lost muscle mass and she could not walk good. Her hip kept giving out on her. Took her back to vet and they did xray. They said she had a bad disc. They put her on steroids and temadol for pain. I believe the shot did the damage to her hip. Until the shot Baby Girl never had any issues. She was healthy as a horse. I have to place a towel under her pelvic area to help her up to do her business. I researched and had to put her on pepcid to stop medicine from upsetting her stomach and I put her on milk of magnesia to help her go to the bathroom without straining herself. Now she won't eat...pain meds taking her appitite but she has to have them. I feed her baby food through a syringe. She is depressed. I am ordering her a furbaby wheelchair as soon as my taxes come in this week. She has grit and has not given up and I am not going to give up either. Any help would be appreciated.


Replied by Nora
Cork Ireland
[SIDE EFFECTS]   My dog had a Depo Medrol shot 3 weeks ago and hasn't been the same since. He is having trouble walking and I don't know what to do. I am not getting much help from our Vet. He had no problem walking before the shot.



Replied by Theresa Donate

Mpls., Mn
Hello Nora,

You might consider dosing your boy with activated charcoal. I would try 1 tsp into some wet food - it is light, fluffy stuff that gets all over and makes mud very quickly; use a tasty tinned food or tuna to help mask the earthy taste. I would do this am and pm for 3 weeks. You might also consider offering doggie pedialyte along with his regular water bowl to help with electrolytes as chances are your boy is peeing like a race horse from this drug.

You might find it helpful to keep a daily journal to document your starting point and then track any changes or improvements.

Please report back!

Posted by Adam T (Wa Australia) on 08/25/2015

[DEATH REPORTED]  Cortisone killed my cat. Had a growth is his throat which was tiny, got bigger I think due to an injection given to him by a home vet . I think once it got air all the cells spread and got bigger. Despite this he was still his normal self and played outside and ate heaps etc. Heaps of energy. The first shot he stemmed fine . Had another shot a week later. That was the end of him. The next day he wasn't making any noise and just slept all day. During the next few days he was really bad , not eating, not moving, looking depressed and rapid breathing. One night he could barely sit up, drooped over. The 4th day his body split open , looked like a burst tumor. My boy went berserk with the " immunisation " never seen him like that. He must have known that was going to be his downfall. The cortisone set him off and I know for a fact that was what made him Real sick because he changed completely for the worse after it.

Cortisone is horrible. Don't get it for your pet. It kills them.

Posted by Jennifer (Amarillo, Tx) on 07/15/2015

[DEATH REPORTED]  Out 12 year old Dachshund was having lots of itching and yeast infections. The vet suggested a steroid shot. We agreed. Within 48 hours of the shot our precious dog was lethargic, withdrawn, panting and not eating. The breathing got worse so we contacted the vet who said that can happen and bring him in if it worsens?? Within hours our dog was dead...all over a shot to stop itching! We are devastated and this was so preventable.

Replied by Deborah
Chino Valley
I'm so, so sorry to hear this about your beloved Dachshund. My husband's and my thoughts are with you and your family at this time. A terrible tragedy. We are so sorry, and thank you for alerting others to this even in your time of sorrow.

Posted by Eva (France) on 07/07/2015

[SIDE EFFECTS]  Our little terrier mix (14 months) got a steroid shot in her knee to deal with a partially torn cross band. The shot was supposed to be slow release for 3 weeks. She developped side effects straight away: Lethergic, drinking enormous amounts and urinating constantly, her kidneys stopped working properly (needed two mornings of infusions and meds from the vet), skin problems. And now, after 6 weeks, she still has more skin sores appearing and is not her own self: She is tired, she isn't running fast and seems to have totally forgotten how to play. Just stands there and stares at her toys or growls at our other dog when he is showing her any attention. Does anyone have an idea how long this may still last or what we can do?

Replied by Theresa Donate

Mpls., Mn
Hey Eva!

You might try putting your terrier on a prednisone detox regimen. Consider these herbs: Milk thistle, Burdock root, dandelion and Essiac tea. Read the recommended dosage on each bottle and adjust by weigh accordingly - your dog might need 1/2 capsule for a doggie dose vs 1 full capsule for adult human dose; this is something you will have to tailor for your particular dog when compared to the particular strength of the herbal product you have in hand, so I cannot be more exact on the dose to use.

For dosing schedule you might do the Burdock Root first thing in the morning and then again in the evening on an empty stomach. Dose the Dandelion Root twice daily also. Dose the Milk Thistle three times a day, with meals. After the 15 days discontinue the Burdock root and start the Essica tea; dose the Essiac Tea for fifteen days, three times a day - you can continue the dandelion and Milk thistle on the Essiac.

Please report back on how your terrier recovers!

Posted by Doris (Phillipsburg , Nj ) on 07/05/2015

[DEATH REPORTED]  My dog was given steroids for itching, and developed Cushing's disease and internal bleeding. After 3 months of round the clock care, she died. It cost me over $10 K to try to save her. I still miss her everyday. Don't believe the vets - cortisone is NOT safe for dogs.

Posted by Twila (Bay St. Louis, Miss.) on 06/10/2015

[SIDE EFFECTS]  My great pyrenees had hot spot on leg. Took to vet and got shot of cortisone. It's been one week and he has went to restroom four x at night now. He is four and never done this since a puppy. Seems really thirsty also.

Replied by Theresa Donate

Mpls., Mn
Hey Twila!

This is a common side effect from the cortisone shot - increased thirst, increased hunger, panting when it doesn't feel hot outside and increased urination due to increased water intake.

You might consider Ted's Mange Remedy followed up with a sprintzer bottle of Ted's Anti-fungal/Anti-staph dip to treat any trouble spots on your dog. Alkalizing the water with baking soda can also help keep the hot spots in check.

Replied by Wendy
Columbus, Oh
One of the known side effects of steroids (cortisone is a steroid) is excessive thirst. Just make sure your dog has lots of available, clean, cold water to drink, and take him out often.
Replied by Eva
Sorry, this is a very late reply and I hope everything is OK for you now. Just wanted to say that it's important to let the vet check the kidney function as the continued drinking may also be a sign that they can't cope on their own.

Posted by Jeannie (Wv) on 05/16/2015

[DEATH REPORTED]  These posts have solved a 10 year mystery for me.

in 2002, I took my Great Dane in for a regular check-up and the vet said he heard a heart murmur. He explained dogs can live a long time with them and it was nothing to worry about. So I didn't...

By 2005, we had moved and I had a new vet. By then, the dog was 9 years old (old for a GD), and having trouble with arthritis. Omega 3 fish oil pills helped for a while. Then, the vet said she could give her cortisone shots but explained, if used over a long period of time, they could cause kidney failure. No other side-effects were mentioned. (The heart murmur was never discussed; I assumed she knew of it because she had listened several times). I decided to take the risk to ease the dog's pain, as she would likely not live long enough for kidney failure to kick in.

She got 3 shots over a period of a few months without any abnormal side effects that I recall. Maybe some extra drinking, but she drank a lot of water anyway. Each time, she perked right up and would prance around like a puppy for 3-4 weeks before starting to slow down again.

When it was time for her 4th shot, there was a substitute vet, as mine was on vacation. Everything went fine in the office. But, when we got home, I took her for her walk and she didn't make it far before she had to lay down. Her back legs had completely given out and she never regained her strength. Lethargy set in, she stopped eating and wouldn't move.

Within five days, I had my regular vet come put her down at home. We both chalked it up to the cortisone just wasn't doing it anymore, but I wasn't fully convinced because she dropped so quickly after the shot.

Looking at pictures later, I realized how much weight she had lost in the course of the regiment. I remembered she had not been weighed as was the usual practice before giving her the shot. So, I thought the substitute vet may have given her an overdose for her size. But I never knew for sure.

Now, I think it was the heart issue, and the cortisone exacerbated any congestive heart failure that may have developed from the murmur. I'll see if my thinks that was a possibility.

Replied by Theresa Donate

Mpls., Mn
Awww, Jeannie - after 10 years I know the grief and pain remain. I am glad you have an answer of sorts.


Posted by Rosslyn (Australia) on 01/05/2015

[SIDE EFFECTS]  I took my silky terrier to the vet because he was red all over his stomach the vet gave him a cortisone injection and cream to apply I did tell the vet that he previously has had yeast infections. Next day all he did was sit on the sofa and shake was very depressed and lethargic although he ate well. Two weeks later the skin on his stomach started flaking off, so I stopped using the cortisone cream. Now four weeks later he is no longer red and itchy but his skin is still peeling off and he smells yeasty, I put him on a raw diet no starches no grains and have been bathing him in tea tree oil shampoo which has helped a lot he also has omega 3/6 oil and is almost better he has lots of bald patches hopefully his fur will grow back and his playful personality is almost back to normal. I will never allow my pets to be given cortisone again.

Posted by Pam (Bristow, Va) on 01/05/2015

[DEATH REPORTED]  My cat starting having uti issues in September and took Orbax. The systems came back in December and she lost some weight. Bloodwork, ultrasound, xrays, etc revealed no known issues. Suggested I take her to a specialist, but she was 16-years-old and didn't make sense to spend another $1,000. No vomiting or diarrhea just some blood in the urine. She started losing weight so the Veterinarian gave her a steroid shot, Dexamethasone to make her hungry and perk her up. She died 5 days later. She had severe vomiting that night and couldn't walk the next day. She couldn't stand to eat out of a food bowl and I had to hold the water bowl for her. She was very disoriented and just became lifeless.

Posted by Denise (England) on 01/03/2015

[DEATH REPORTED]  My cat died today 15 minutes after a cortisone shot. I am devastated. Vet never mentioned any risk. Wish I'd seen your website before now.

Replied by Theresa Donate

Mpls., Mn
Denise, I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your kitty :-(
Replied by Pam
Bristow, Va
I am so sorry for your loss. My cat just died from a steroid injection this morning. She had Dexamethasone.

Posted by Christineo (Minneapolis, Mn) on 11/30/2014

[DEATH REPORTED]  I took my cat Lucy to the vet on Friday because she was breathing rapidly and had a noise when she did. She was otherwise fine. Ate, drank, played like normal. I decided to take her in and at 5:30, she received a cortisone and penicillin shot. The vet thought MAYbe asthma, MAYbe pneumonia. Sent me home with a round of steroids and antibiotics to continue beginning 24 hours later for a week.

She was fine when we got home, though the other cats hissed at her per usual when one of them goes to the vet. She was fine at 10pm when I gave her her nightly treats. I woke up the next morning and she was dead. She WOULD HAVE BEEN two years old in January. Devastated!!! I can only think that the penicillin would have caused a reaction within a couple of hours due to the immune system, so I am inclined to think that cortisone was the issue. When I researched death after penicillin, I got a plethora of articles about the cortisone probably being the culprit.

I am devastated to think she was alone when she died. I was with my other cats when put to sleep, but Lucy was so YOUNG and full of vitality! She was the biggest sweetheart ever!! My heart is broken.

Replied by Theresa Donate

Mpls., Mn
Hey Christineo!

I am very sorry to hear about the death of Lucy :(

I did research also as the death *yound* Lucy over a cortizone shot baffled me. This is what I found out.

"A less common side effect of corticosteroid use is to uncover hidden congestive heart failure (CHF). If heart disease is undetected (occult), especially if a heart murmur is not heard, fluid can rapidly fill up the lungs causing labored breathing and distress after a steroid injection is given. If the patient is promptly seen by a vet on an emergency basis and CHF is diagnosed by a chest x-ray, oxygen therapy and diuretic injections generally cause the fluid to be urinated out and an echocardiogram can be performed to further define the heart condition."


Lucy very likely had an undiagnosed cardiac condition - something your vet could not have anticipated. In hindsight the presenting symptoms are cardiac related, but in such a young cat asthma or pneumonia would be any vet's first guess, and the shot - properly indicated for asthma or pneumonia - pushed the cardiac condition over the edge. I suppose you could do an autopsy to confirm, but it won't bring her back.

My heart goes out to you for your sudden loss of Lucy~


Replied by Christineo
Minneapolis, Mn
Thank you so much, Theresa!! I adopted Lucy and her sister as well as their mother (couldn't separate them) in early 2013. I sent Paws and Claws a letter about Lucy's sudden death today and she did mention cardiomyopathy as a possibility. I couldn't afford a necropsy, though I would think they would do one for learning purposes. Probably not. I have read articles stating that a cat with a murmur of any kind shouldn't be given steroids as CHF is likely. That murmurs should always be investigated first.

She (vet) heard the murmur a few months ago when they got their shots, but Lucy was so mad being there, it was a possibility that it was stress induced. She was quite flippant about the seriousness of it then AND the night I brought her in last week (I asked it her murmur needed treatment. "No."). I never would have guessed any of this would have happened. Surely she ought to know steroid precautions??

I just can't help but feel like we let Lucy down.

Replied by Theresa Donate

Mpls., Mn
Hey Christineo!

I had the best cat *ever* who died of aortic thrombosis; he was the healthiest cat I knew of, who caught most of his meals - bunnies, chipmunks and the like. Waking up one morning to find him paralyzed in the rear was unreal, and even more surreal the diagnosis from my vet whom I love and respect and would follow to the ends of the earth that PTS was the best option. Goliath was just 12 years old -too soon for him to leave me, but his number was simply up: it was time for him to go on to his next mission, his next assignment. His early leaving allowed him to greet my two senior pitbulls Conan and Sonja who left 6 months and 9 months afterward. In hind sight I do not regret his untimely passing, as I know he greeted Conan and Sonja on the rainbow bridge only like a soul mate could.

I ask that you think about Lucy with different eyes; she has a soul path, a mission, and this early and shocking passing was part of her plan.

Look at her legacy; she sure taught that VET a thing or two!! This is huge - as some vet's cannot be told, but must learn in painful and embarrassing ways.

I urge you to write your vet a letter, explaining the situation. Explain that the murmur was a known pre-existing conditiont, that you brought it up prior to the shot, and that death after cortisone shot in cats is directly related to cardiomyopathy. The vet needs to know that you know... and that others that follow may be just as intelligent as you in their research.

I also want you to consider that CHF in cats is not a fun path to mosey down, and in passing early - while unexpected - saved Lucy pain and suffering and saved putting YOU through a draining experience of watching her waste away before your eyes as you wait for the other shoe to drop.


{{{Thank you Lucy for your lesson! }}}

Replied by Christineo
Minneapolis, Mn
Thank you so much for your kind and compassionate words, Theresa! I truly, truly appreciate them.

The idea that her death served a purpose is actually something I just posted on my Facebook page. That maybe, just maybe, her dying was a way of saving us both from the angst of getting the medications in her and possible complications from the actual cause of the murmur. I have to believe in something good in all of this. It's the only thing holding the pieces of my heart together.

In the same post, I did express confusion as to how she did not realize murmurs and cortisone don't "go together". And that I fully intended to address this with the vet's office. Is she a 'new' older vet? What is her background? She is new to the practice this year, but I don't know anything about her. I need to address this with the vet to save potential damage to future pets and their owners. She needs to consider the idea that small murmurs are still murmurs. And until you know 'why', you can't assume they are negligible. I've read in several places that you can't determine the severity of the murmur based on sound. It needs to be investigated. does take money.

Again, I SO appreciate your words. I definitely believe in soul purpose and currently submerged in the belief/understanding of it. I will always struggle with the inability to be with her when she passed. But I suppose if I'd found her in distress and couldn't get her treated in time, it would have just been a whole new set of grief (different reasons). I need to just let it go and appreciate what time we did have together. And the love we gave each other.


Replied by Christineo
Minneapolis, Mn
Oh, Theresa. I had sent a message to the agency I adopted the kitties from to let them know. She had actually mentioned cardiomyopathy as a possibility and sent me links for it. I read that in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep and that was the first time I ever felt any peace since she passed. The "who knows" limbo is incredibly miserable. I feel confident that I now know the answer to what happened to Lucy. <3
Replied by Christina
Earily- my cats name was Lucy too. I took her to the vet last week for a skin issue. She was given a shot of cortisone. 3 days later she died of congestive heart failure at the vet's office. She had a heart murmur that the vet had asked me about minutes before she gave her the shot. She should have never been given the shot. I called the vet the day before she died and informed her of the symptoms and she said it was probably a reaction to the shot. By the time we took her in the next day it was too late. Malpractice??

Posted by Holly (Victoria, Tx) on 06/01/2014

My heart goes out to those that have had complications with the cortisone shot. My 4 yr old Schitzu (sorry for the spelling), Darcy, has had excessive itching for about 3 yrs. I thought it was under control after changing her food 3 times. Then it started all over again. She's had 3 cortisone shots in that 3 yr time period. It worked wonderfully with the only side effect of eating, drinking and of course gaining weight.

Well, here we are and she needs another shot but I'm weary about her having too many. I started using Tea Tree Oil and it worked great but the odor was way too strong. I accidentally discovered something else that seems to work really well. I bought a (what I would call a stupid spray that I believed was a sales gimic) made by Top Paw, with Lavender, it has lidocaine, allantion, hydrocortisone, glycerin, and wheat germ oil.

I always believed her itching was from anxiety not so much allergies, because I work long hours.

You won't believe what I just discovered this morning, you know how lavender is suppose to be calming, I took the lid off the bottle and let her smell and lick it and pretended to spray her back-end where she bites the most and now she's asleep and snoring.

I will get a bigger bottle and continue to use this method as long as it'll work. I'm so excited!!!!!! I'll try to keep posted with the progress. Please let me know if anyone else has tried lavender to calm down their pet. I wish the best to everyone. When Darcy is miserable, I'm miserable. She's a gift from God. :)