How To Ruin a Birthday in One Easy Step!


It is always best to listen to that inner voice – even when it is just a whisper.

Had I actually listened to that whisper of doubt I would have saved myself from frightening my family, ruining by daughter’s 11th birthday and most importantly an ambulance ride.

It all started with a month-long sinus infection that I just couldn’t seem to beat.  I had already done one course of antibiotics when I returned to the doctor.  He decided to prescribe me the same antibiotic that I was on the first time, but just for a longer amount of time.  I filled the prescription and proceeded to go about the evening business of feeding my family and taking care of some marking and planning for the next school day.  I took my antibiotic before getting ready for bed.  Within about an hour I had a marble sized hive on the inside of my lip.  It was tingly and felt like I actually had dental freezing in my mouth.

That was when the first whisper of doubt began to niggle in the back of my head.

So, I called the pharmacy and was reassured that because I had already taken this particular antibiotic before the hive was not a result of the medication.  I took some Benadryl and went to bed.  By the next morning the swelling really hadn’t receded and the left side of my face still felt ‘frozen’.  Nonetheless there was the business of my daughter’s birthday to attend to.  I got her birthday breakfast together and she opened her presents.  All in all it was an excellent start to her day.

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During these morning celebrations I paused, antibiotic in hand.  That little whisper was there again but I quashed it with the rationalization that the pharmacist said the medication was okay.  I popped it into my mouth and washed it down with a swig of water.

That is when things began to go horribly wrong.

Almost immediately I started to feel unwell.  I began to feel sweaty and I became nauseated.  Then it felt like my head was full of angry bees.  Most frighteningly I seemed to lose muscle control.  My husband helped me over to a chair and began making phone calls.  First he called our provincial health link line.  When they directed him to poison control, he simply called 911.

My eldest daughter was sent to put the dogs in another room, turn on the front lights and watch for the ambulance.  I could hear the screaming sirens in the distance as my now very frightened birthday girl begged me to stay awake.  The buzzing in my head made it almost impossible to pay attention to anything, but her desperation came through loud and clear and I kept my focus on her.

Once the paramedics arrived I was hooked up to an IV and Benadryl was pushed into my system.   I have fuzzy recollections of what followed.  I remember staring into my husband’s reassuring eyes as they loaded me onto the stretcher.  I remember feeling despair are they carried me out of my home into the bright sunlight of the morning.  I don’t remember seeing my daughters again once the paramedics had arrived.  My husband told me later that my youngest had disappeared upstairs and that my eldest had followed to comfort her.  Apparently the two girls stood together and watched from the window.  It pains me to know that the last glimpse my girls had of their mom that morning was of me being put into an ambulance.

The doctor in the ER confirmed that yes this was a reaction to the medication I had taken, but he did seemed a little perplexed that it would cause such a reaction.  What started as an almost amusing ‘Elvis twitch’ of my lips had by this point in time turned into the most profound facial spasms.  I had absolutely no control of my mouth and neck as the muscles pulled and tugged at my face.  The doctor finally prescribed a muscle relaxant and I was able to get some sleep.

I was released later that afternoon and happily returned home exhausted and twitchy.  My husband salvaged the day as best as he could and I heard them singing Happy Birthday to my daughter downstairs while I rested.  The sad part of it all is I was simply too exhausted to get out of bed and join them.  I have always prided myself on making my daughter’s birthdays extra special.  Bottom line I want them to have a day that is devoted entirely to them so they can feel extra special and cherished.  I fell completely short of that.  I didn’t listen to that niggling doubt and as a result my daughter’s 11th birthday was pretty much a complete bust.  I suppose I can just add it to the other layers of mother’s guilt that I carry around with me.

Currently I am on the mend and thankful that I am able to sit here at my computer to write this.  The muscle twitches have almost subsided and are really only prevalent when I am tired.  I am looking forward to when the headache and overall fuzziness abates.  I have spent a fair amount of time with my daughter reassuring her that I am okay and we were even able to continue with her big birthday party plans for the weekend.  By no means does this make up for the events of Wednesday, and in the quiet hours of the night I have worried over how this may affect my girls, not to mention my own health.

So the next time I am prescribed a medication and that inner voice starts to whisper, you can be guaranteed I will be listening!

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7 thoughts on “How To Ruin a Birthday in One Easy Step!

  1. So glad to hear your alright! It must have been such a scare for you and your family, but as the first poster said, your daughter is surely happy that uou are ok. I almost wonder if you were given the wrong medication, since you already had one course of it before and were fine…

    Feel fully well soon!

  2. I’m glad you’re okay, Sherene! I think all of us have ignored warning signals our body gives us because we want to think we’re okay. I wouldn’t feel guilty about your daughter’s birthday. I’m sure it gave her a scare, but she is certainly happy that you’re okay after all. Besides, you’ve given her many happy birthdays and will give her many more!! 🙂

  3. Glad you’re on the mend. What was it? When I was 11, I was given stemetil and ended up in hospital as it gave me lock jaw as a side effect

    I hope it clears completely soon and the headache scrams as well

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