This post contains some medical information that may be TMI; but I try to softball it. Also: The picture to the side is fake. This is not what I looked like during the episode.

This morning I awoke to an annoying feeling that there was something in my mouth. Sadly that object was my tongue; but it was assuredly the wrong size. The left side was noticeably larger than it should be.

When I was in my graduate school years, I began experiencing random episodes of Angioedema. Initially I’d believed that my arches were falling from doing too much folk dancing on a paved drill deck. I’d feel swelling on the bottoms of my feet. Then it spread to my hands, and at rare times my face. The usual target was my lips. The most entertaining episode was a swelling of my eyelids the day I was helping to teach a class on Origami. My friend in the group who was Japanese took one look at me and said, “You’ve gone a bit overboard for this.” I replied, “Ironically timed illness.” The worst episode had my face swollen to the point that my eyes wouldn’t open. My ex-gf to this day tells me it wasn’t as bad as I think. (I still believe she lies really well.)

I didn’t know what it was because typically by the time I’d gotten to a doctor, it had faded. After a FULL battery of scratch tests, I came back negative on all counts. Allergists put me on Zyrtec and Zantac as sort of a “Hopeful Guardian”. The random flares subsided but never went away. For the longest time the culprit remained unknown.

We turn the clock forward a smidge over a decade and now I have a 6 month old child. One night the child is really crying. We call the doctor and he says it could be teething or a mild fever and to give him children’s liquid Motrin. Filling the alligator dosage spoon is a very messy job. Motrin is also annoyingly sticky. And about 30 minutes after dosing the infant… my hands were hurting. No, they were swelling. The reason I didn’t place a link for Motrin is because of what it is. Motrin is liquid Ibuprofen. Ibuprofen was something we used in abundance in my grad school days.

It turns out that Ibuprofen only has a half-life of 1.8 – 2 hrs. This of course is based on how it is distributed to the system. You don’t take “Ibuprofen” directly, you take it in a pill that releases it over a certain amount of time. Liquid and gel forms are more fast-acting. This would explain why one or two ibuprofen tablets wouldn’t show a reaction for several hours and not be really noticeable for making a connection. It would also explain that taking one or two maximum dosage tablets (and why would a college student ever think of exceeding the daily dosage of a painkiller) might have a cascade effect.

So with the reaction to my hands from the Motrin and the thoughts back to college. Okay… cut out ibuprofen. Easy. And the number of episodes of Angioedema became negligible.

The clock of reminiscence returns to today.

I woke up this morning and my tongue was very swollen. I went to the bathroom and opened my mouth to look. This caused my tongue to move back in my throat. Bad plan. I choked for about 45 seconds trying to clear my airways. This I fortunately succeeded at. Blessings upon the great Saint Demosthenes and his determination to fight a speech impediment. I was only concerned with maintaing a slow and calmed breathing pattern. I knew that if I couldn’t muster that, well… I had to muster there was really no choice.

I woke Heather calmly and signed to her that I was swelling and having difficulty breathing. It was also obvious that Demosthenes be damned, it was nearly impossible for me to talk. Swallowing and/or talking led to me having to re-adjust or choke a little.

In her words “I’m not panicking, I’m just energized.” I kept mouthing to her with a smile, “You lie.” She was determined to convince me that she wasn’t panicked and works great in a crisis. It was tense as we located the nearest hospital. The problem with Yogic breathing and concentration is that when you tell the drone at the emergency room, “My husband is having an allergic reaction, his tongue is swelled and he’s having difficulty breathing.” they tend not to get very fazed. She was about as deadpan and dis-interested as imaginable. In retrospect, understandable. At the time in question ANNOYING! She paged the staff and said, “Triage: Patient has swollen tongue and difficulty breathing.” And a nurse and tech appeared within about 15 seconds. Yay medically trained people.

Within about 10 minutes I was in a room and being prepped for an IV. My BP was 158/88. My BP NEVER goes above 132/76. The nurse looked at me and said, “Do you usually take your BP when suffocating from anaphylaxis?” She also said I’d be good as new and I asked if I’d be able to play the piano again to which she responded, “Absolutely, and pitch for the Yankees as well as you did before as well.” She was good.

The IV cocktail was a combination of Benadryl, Pepcid (Similar to Ranitidine) and some steroid that I don’t remember. They three kept (and to the moment still keep) me kinda loopy with waves of clarity. As of 6pm the bouts of clarity are much better. Thank you to EVERYONE who commented.

As a result, I am now the owner of an EpiPen. I’ve known people who’ve had them. However, until about 15 minutes ago when my prescription was handed to me, I’d never seen one, seen one used, etc. And no, “Pulp Fiction” used Adrenaline. So the chance of something like this happening again are much more reduced.

The cause is still up in the air and as mentioned, we’ve already begun scheduling my trip to an allergist.

Thank you one last time for all your good wishes. All is well.

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