**HIDEOUS GRAPHIC PHOTOS ACCOMPANY THE FOLLOWING POST. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED**
A very disturbing thing happened to me this past spring/summer. Well, okay, several crappy things…. but there was one thing in particular that really seriously affected me deeply and earned me the short term nickname “Puffy” (if you call me that now, you will die a slow and painful death. You have been warned.)
I mean, I don’t think of myself as a particularly vain person, however, this life altering event made me question how I truly saw myself.
It started in May… at least the major episodes. I woke up one morning….. horribly disfigured.
It was hideous. My eyes were essentially swollen shut. Not freakin’ pretty. I had had minor swelling of the eyes before …. waking up a little puffy.. late nights, couple of drinks.. to be expected. But this was catastrophic. And gross. Mostly ugly. And puffy.
It appeared to be an allergic reaction, so I took antihistamines, iced my eyes and rested. Went down a BIT… but…. still puffy. I thought that perhaps Witch Hazel might help (relieves swelling and bruising.) NOT a good plan.. dried out the skin around my eyes so badly that I looked about 70. And it wasn’t just the visual that hurt.. my pride mostly.. it physically hurt as well.
The skin around my eyes felt as if it had been badly sunburned… ick.
That evening, my roommates had a party. Fun. Me.. the forty fuckin’ four year old, surrounded by 20 somethings…. always an ego boost. Compounded with the fact that I appeared to have been roughed up by loan sharks…. not the best evening for me. The eyes hurt and therefore I wore my extra fancy eye mask. At least I retained my self deprecating sense of humour if not my good looks.
This was a freak occurrence. Except….. several years earlier I had awoken one morning in December.. my face looking like Monica from Friends when they are doing a flashback and she’s wearing the fat suit. Not pretty. And of course, I had to work. In fact, I had to be in a freakin’ Santa Claus Parade. On TV. Believe you me, there is NOTHING more attractive than someone with a giant swollen head wearing a Santa hat driving a parade float. Like the Christmas version of freakin’ Onkel Hans. THEN getting a close up on TV. “BOB! You’ll need the extreme wide angle for that chick’s fat head!” Zoom in. Close up. Nice.
Later in the day, Fernando was worried about me as antihistamines didn’t seem to work and he took me to the hospital. After 12 hours, and much testing and the assurance that my liver was NOT shutting down (THANK YOU JEEBUS!), they determined that I had some severe allergic reaction, gave me a shot of Epinephrine and a prescription for an EpiPen.. but couldnt’ tell me what the hell caused the severe reaction.
So, this past spring these episodes of eye swelling continued…. May, June, July… every couple of weeks…. WHAM! I would wake up with the worst swelling imaginable. I kept trying to find links… drank wine one night….. woke up looking like I had been attacked by bees. Didn’t drink wine.. didn’t drink ANYTHING.. next morning. I bore a strong resemblance to Violet Beauregard from Willy Wonka.. just not purple…. .. Slept in Barrie… PUFF!.. Slept in Waterloo.. PUFF! There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason behind it.
At one point I thought it was environmental.. like a neighbour had their lawn sprayed. Tried to find a correlation between what I had eaten and my sudden facial weight gain… nuthin.
I searched on the internet to find causes of eye puffiness…. lack of sleep, heredity, infection, crying, allergies, fluid retention… and tried various methods of trying to get the swelling to subside. Nothing. Nada. Denied.
Each episode would start in the morning… I’d wake up all swollen and puffy.. and it would take DAYS to get back to normal.. then once I did, the skin around my eyes would be all dry and messed and yucky. During the course of one month I had to use my Epipen 3 times when I felt like I was having some trouble breathing.. went to the hospital a few times… no one could tell me what the fuck was going on.
One day I woke up and all was normal.. looked pretty decent, etc. Went to work and was having some back pain so I took some Ibuprofen. After I took it, I thought about it and realized I had taken it too soon…. should have waited longer…. within 20 minutes I started feeling itchy…
and my eyes started puffing…and swelling shut.
I immediately shot myself in the leg AGAIN with the EpiPen and headed for the hospital. On the way, I called my mother and told her about my reaction… as it turns out, my youngest sister is allergic to Aspirin and Ibuprofen (it’s derived from the same source as aspirin). What happens when she reacts? I ask….. Her eyes swell up. Super. Aren’t I the detective. I mean, I KNEW my sister was allergic to Ibuprofen and it didn’t even occur to me. Duh.
Since discovering this, I haven’t had an “episode” however, had a minor reaction on the weekend to dust mites so made me think about this…….
I no longer take any sort of aspirin or Ibuprofen nor can I take NSAIDS (Non steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs) which kind of sucks since I have the arthritis. I have gone on herbal stuff for that in the hopes that it would not get worse or flare up and so far so good. I’ve also discovered the link between cutting back on coffee and the swelling (coffee has antihistamine properties)… and wine/Ibuprofen (seemingly the worst combination.. wine is a histamine…).
However, the most disturbing part of all this is that I discovered how incredibly vain I am. I didn’t really think of myself that way… but when faced with the possibility of looking ugly… I realized that a) I do think of myself as being reasonably attractive … and b)I do not wish to NOT be reasonably attractive. LOL. Yup. I’m so vain. I probably think this blog is about me..
Perhaps they were being kind, but once the swelling would go down, my family and friends would tell me that they didn’t see any difference (Oh, I did…) and that I still looked lovely. I think they were lying to spare my feelings. Thank you.
Regardless, I count my blessings….. the damage to the tissue around my eyes does not appear to be long term. I believe I’ve narrowed down all the triggers and can avoid them and therefore not permanently look bloated and puffy. And hopefully this is a lesson learned that I must take better care of myself and watch what I put into my body. I try to drink more water. I try to drink less wine (unless I am with one of my many BFF’s.. LOL) And I’m thankful that it wasn’t something more serious.
Like an allergy to ALL alcohol. THAT my friends, would be a fate worse than death.
Life: Nothing exciting to report. Still looking for a gig. Still plugging away.
Love: Nothing to see here…. move along.
Pants: Pretty good progress here. Overall down 20 pounds.. have reached a bit of a plateau, but I’ll get past it.