Of Drugs and Dust, Part 1

One bulging cheek

Some days, I looked kind of like this guy, only not as cute.

One morning in January, I was talking to a colleague when I realized that I was biting on my lower lip as I spoke. A trip to the ladies’ room mirror showed me that my lip was swelling up. It went away after a few hours, but on the way home that evening, I stopped at a grocery store, and walking into the store, I was concerned that when I coughed, it came out as a squeak. Checking out, I could not answer the clerk, so I drove to urgent care a couple of blocks away. The doctor there diagnosed me with the laryngitis virus that was going around then, and opined that the swelling lip was unrelated. I believed him, since I had several co-workers who had had that very virus.

It was not a virus.

A couple of weeks later, I had a regularly-scheduled checkup with my primary care physician, and I told her about the urgent care visit, and said that the facial swelling had continued, now accompanied by hives, mostly in the morning. She asked about stress in my life, and I said, “Let me see. We’re financially stressed, my son moved out in December after a prolonged closing, we’re in the midst of rearranging our house since his move, my mom fell and broke her hip on Thanksgiving and is now in rehab…” and on and on. So, yeah, my life was a big ball of stress. She put it down to that, and I believed her, since hives are a typical sign of stress.

It was not stress.

A couple of weeks after that, I was still having hives and facial swelling, and had even had to take days off from work because my face was so disfigured many times when I woke up in the morning. A lot of my stress factors had been relieved, but my symptoms hadn’t gone away. I came home early one day because of a winter storm, and as ice fell outside, my throat started to swell up. I was terrified, since if I could not breathe, I didn’t think an ambulance could get to me on the ice-slicked roads. I searched for Benadryl in our bathroom closet and found that our bottle was two years past the date. I took it anyway, and in a couple of hours, the swelling went down. I went to my doctor the next day and she immediately took me off my blood pressure medication, Lisinopril, as my symptoms are a typical allergic reaction to that drug, even though I’d been on it for ten years. When I told this to a group of people the following week, I didn’t even have to name the drug. Everyone in the room said, “Oh, I’ll bet it was Lisinopril.” I was so relieved to have found an answer.

But it was not Lisinopril.

To be continued…

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