Lip service

It started with a feeling of numbness between my nose and lip. After the numb area seemed to have enlarged, I looked into the mirror and found the right side of my upper lip had swollen.

I went back to my normal routine until a few hours later I noticed the swelling had taken over about 2/3 of my upper lip. I wasn’t sure what I should do so I called the “tele-nurse” at the Houston VA Hospital. She asked me a few questions such as if I was having difficulty breathing or my tongue was swollen. I told her those things hadn’t happened yet. She advised me to go immediately to an emergency room, asking how far the nearest one was. I told her actually one ER was about two or three blocks from my home, but if I wanted to be seen during this same century I would have to go to the one about a mile away. The nurse told me that was fine but that I needed someone to drive me in case I suddenly went into shock.

So I called a friend. Got her voice mail. I called my brother who lives in the same town. Got his voice mail. I said “screw it” and took my chances driving.

In relative or hospital time, I actually was seen fairly soon after arriving — maybe 45 minutes. An older man came in and was seen ahead of me because he was having difficulty breathing, his son said it was from emphysema and asbestiosis. But that was okay. I would wait and feel my lip grow even larger. I finally was given a steroid shot in the butt as well as two Benadryl to take by mouth.

Even though I don’t remember any of the medical professionals I saw talk about it to me, I suppose it was some sort of allergy. And I’m not really sure what it was that made me have such a reaction. But I guess in hindsight I did the right thing by going to the ER. I’ve seen people stung by ants and bees who in the blink of an eye went into anaphylactic shock, which can kill you.

Just another day in the exciting world of eight feet deep.

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