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Close call.

2004-07-16 - 10:07 a.m.

There was a minor bit of drama in my life yesterday. For three days in a row Id had a funny feeling under the front of my upper lip when I got up. I hadnt thought much of it I figured it was maybe due to my retainer. (Yes, I wear a retainer. I had braces a couple of years ago when I had to have my front teeth rebuilt because Id thrown up too much over the years due to my migraines (and thats a different story entirely) and am still pretty religious about wearing it.)

Heres the thing though, it was getting worse every day instead of going away. Yesterday when I took my retainer off I could see the line where it had ended and my gums bulged redly above it. Under my lip was red and had a blotchy appearance. I went to lunch with a friend and the hot food (both thermally hot and spice-wise) really irritated the area. I decided to give my doctor a call.

I explained to the receptionist what the deal was thatd Id been taking amoxicillin until earlier this week and now had an area that was swelling and red at the front of my mouth. Did she think the doctor would want to take a look?

To be honest, I just thought that maybe the antibiotics had killed off some of my good, protective mouth flora and allowed a hostile bacteria to move in and infect me. I didnt think it was automatically something to go in for because I dont like to tax the health system unnecessarily. Id called because I knew my doctor wasnt going to be in the next day and it did seem to be getting progressively worse. The receptionist called back and said that the doctor wanted me to come in right away.

All the way over I fretted, thinking maybe it wasnt even that visible and Id be thought to be a big baby for mentioning it. That? I imagined her saying, You came in for that? or even worse, I dont see what youre describing. My fears were quickly put to rest. The doctor walked into the room, I smiled a greeting and she announced, Yep, definitely swollen. I can see it from here.

She quizzed me closely about the timeline. When did I finish taking the amoxicillin? When did I notice this swelling start? I remembered that the day before my lip started feeling weird Id spent the day feeling like I had a lump in my throat I couldnt swallow. Yes, I was still taking the pills at that point. I took them until Tuesday, and the lump feeling was Monday, the lip problem started Tuesday. Her verdict?


Im allergic to penicillin-type antibiotics.

She put a note in my file and Im never to take them again as the reaction could be far worse the next time. I was to go downstairs to the pharmacy and get an anti-histamine and take it right away and if I had any trouble breathing at any point I was to head straight for the hospital.

I was lucky. If it had been a severe reaction immediately and Id not been able to breathe I could have been in a very dire situation indeed. If Id not called about it this time and just waited for it to go away, I wouldnt have given it a second thought when they were prescribed again (as they probably would have been at some point) and taken them as instructed and that could have been the time I reacted severely. Instead, this was more like the warning shot across my bow and it was caught and heeded.

Disaster averted; the swelling and redness is down this morning.

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