Not for the faint of heart

Are you familiar with the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” If you replace the last part with “makes you writhe in pain, become feverish and chilled simultaneously, hyperventilate, lapse into a pain-induced temporary coma, become delusional and end up feeling like a used, wet, smelly dish rag that somebody forget to wring out and left on the kitchen floor to be repeatedly stepped on” I would wholeheartedly agree because that pretty much sums up my weekend. All while we had incredible, gorgeous weather: mid-upper seventies, low humidity, blue sky and sun with white, puffy clouds and a slight, cool breeze. Sometimes, God just has a sick sense of humor.

Let’s back up a bit. I was already dealing with a horrendous back spasm that had come on earlier in the week and had dropped me to my knees while sorting out laundry. I was hunched over like a 90 year old woman shuffling around the house and it got so bad that I actually popped a muscle relaxant which, within ten minutes, made me stop in mid-sentence and fall sideways onto the couch and into a coma for about three hours at which time I woke up with a huge face indentation from my glasses and felt like overcooked spaghetti for the next ten hours. I hate muscle relaxants. I wound up being driven to the doctor the next day by Nate and discussing my options for immediate pain relief with my doctor, which options are severely limited given the fact that I won’t take a narcotic (they all make me throw up something fierce) and I abhor relaxants (see above) and basically, hate all medication of all kind and do everything in my power not to take any and, actually, not to visit any doctors of any kind if I can at all avoid doing so and my doctor knows this and still continues to treat me.

As a side note, I love my doctor. He’s the one I go to when I get to the point that death is a viable option. He’s been my doctor for the last couple of years, having been referred to him by my aunt who was eighty at the time. Every time I go there, the waiting room is filled with people of the white hair/balding/wrinkly/stooped over persuasion, making me suspicious that he took me on simply as a favor to my aunt, but it doesn’t really matter because if you ignored the age difference, I actually look like a lot of them and how sad is that? My doctor is so nice, he actually apologizes when he’s running late and he actually spends time with me, talking about what’s happening with this decrepit body of mine and he actually listens to what I have to say. He doesn’t run me out the door and dare I say it, he might actually know the color of my eyes because he takes the time to actually look at me when he speaks to me. Can I possibly use the word “actually” any more frequently?

This is the same doctor that a year ago diagnosed my aunt with a staph infection and drove her to the hospital himself in his own car and admitted her himself to ensure she was OK. The same doctor that held my hand when he diagnosed me with Bells Palsy a few years ago and told me that I didn’t have to suffer through it alone, that he would be with me every step of the way and he let me lay my disfigured face on his shoulder and cry. If I could, I’d adopt him, even if he is older than me.

So anyway, while there for my back, he also diagnosed a bladder infection. That’s like standing in the shop and being told your 2000 Honda Civic with 85,000 miles and an expired warranty needs about $1800 worth of work to pass inspection and before the mechanic can even finish telling you whether the car is going to be ready before your next kid’s birthday, your bumper completely falls off, crashing to the ground right at your feet and even though you try kicking it under your car and acting like it didn’t even happen, it does no good because he already saw it and is busy scribbling away on his estimate sheet. Stupid bladder.

So I shuffled out of there $60 lighter, with a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and an antibiotic, neither of which were wanted, both of which were necessary. And what really pissed me off is that I had to go back there three days later and pay another co-pay for a physical that I had scheduled about five months prior. Because my back and bladder just could not have waited three more lousy days before they putrified.

So I go back to my doctor for my physical and am told that my cholesterol is bordering on the high side and because he knows my reluctance for all things prescription and how hard it was for me to actually take the two from three days ago, we agreed that I would forgo medicine at this point and watch my diet for the next six months and try to lose about twenty pounds to see if that has any effect whatsoever on my cholesterol. Considering that I’m at least 35 pounds overweight, I could have kissed him. The fact that high cholesterol runs rampant in my family means that the odds that I’m eventually going to have to take some sort of medication to treat it are pretty high but still, my doctor supported my decision to hold off for now, saying that just because he’s allowed to prescribe pills doesn’t mean he likes to do it. I swear to God, if he had four legs and didn’t shed and did his business in the toilet and flushed, he’d be sleeping at the foot of my bed this very instant.

The day after my physical was July Fourth. At about 9:00 am, I noticed my bottom lip was a bit hard and I knew immediately that a cold sore was coming on and let me tell you, I could NOT have been more pissed that this stupid thing waited until the morning AFTER my physical because I would have loved to have been able to have my doctor see it without having to pay yet another co-pay. This cold sore was the last squirt of pee atop the pile of doggie doo that was my weekend, health wise. If you remember, the weather was awesome. Let’s review: God + sick sense of humor = me.

I got my first cold sore years ago and now I get them at least two or three times a year, often enough so that they’ve become almost like a member of our family, an unwelcome, disgusting member who drops by unannounced just before a holiday or special occasion with no estimated departure date and two pieces of luggage that she just drops in our driveway and who proceeds to puts her dirty feet on my coffee table and demand my last piece of cherry pie and who eventually leaves used tampons on the floor and a half bitten pickle in the fridge, but a member nonetheless. I think I’ll name this one Bernice.

When I got my first cold sore, I had no idea what it was, because it looked nothing at all like the cold sores they show on Abreva commercials. Are they serious? A small red dot? Wait a second, I actually have to squint to see it. And that little speck is going to ruin her romantic dinner and cause her to go into hiding like a leper? And a little Abreva is going to make it disappear, allowing her to raise her glass in a toast with her date, inferring that a lot of sex, a lot of good sex, is in her future? Where do I sign up?

Do they think I was born yesterday? I was not born yesterday and the reason I know that is because it is physically impossible for brand new skin to become this spotted and wrinkly and flabby within a twenty-four period without the use of 50,000 heat lamps, a wind machine, two c-sections and a multitude of donuts, and for your information, I do not even own a heat lamp. Or a wind machine.

Abreva, get real. You have got to be kidding me. How long did your model have to sit in her makeup chair to get that speck painted on her face … three seconds? Where’s the seeping, swollen, chapped, gross lip? The swollen glands? The achy face and ear? The body that feels like it’s been slammed by a derailed freight train transporting hazardous waste? You want to see a real cold sore? Take note:

No, I am not pouting, even though I had every right to. This is what happens to my lip when I get a cold sore. This is me, about six hours after onset, coincidentally about the same time we were due at the picnic. Notice the ginormous amount of swelling of the lip and all surrounding areas? The multiple weeping blisters underneath the lip? The swollen glands? I’m not exactly sure which part of this monstrosity is the “sore.” Oh, and by the way … cold sores cause double chins. I kid you not.

I bet Abreva won’t be knocking on my doorstep anytime soon to model for them and there goes any chance I may have had to earn some extra money for Zoe’s college education.

Did I mention that the July Fourth picnic was a picnic where I knew no one except the host/hostess so it would be my first time meeting the remaining 35 guests? You can imagine how wonderful of an experience that was for me. Luckily, everyone was exceptionally nice and waited until after I left the room to vomit into the gardens. I jest! Everyone was very nice and if they felt like vomiting, they didn’t show it and made me and my big, fat, horrid lip feel right at home.

And if you feel like you’re going to vomit, quick, look at this:

These were my anniversary flowers from Nate. Aren’t they pretty?

This is what my lip looked like yesterday, a full two days after the onset of the cold sore, after a mega 4 GM dose of Valtrex and after icing it for hours on end. What you can’t see in this photo is the bright red swelling inside of my lip which looks like raw hamburger as it’s constantly irritated by brushing up against my teeth. You also can’t see the 15+ canker sores that are currently eating away at the inside of my lip. From past experience, if all goes as expected, these canker sores will, within hours, melt into one big huge canker sore that will span the width of my lip and remain there for about 24 hours. By the time you read this post today, my chapped lips will have cracked and bled over and over, the blisters will have popped and leaked multiple times and my mouth will basically look like an oily, burnt pepperoni pizza and I’m sorry if that turns you off pizza for awhile, but really, you should thank me for that as pizza is just ten pounds waiting to happen. Oh, and I can’t forget the mammoth monsoon of a headache and the feeling of lockjaw that I will have by this afternoon. Just run a jackhammer over my entire body and be done with it already.

And because I care about my readers and don’t want to gross you out to the extent that you never visit again, here:

Pretty, pretty, pretty.

As you can imagine, it’s very difficult to eat. Actually, it’s very difficult to EXIST but eating is quite a painful adventure and the fact that this cold sore came on within twenty-four hours of being told to lose weight by my doctor is making me wonder if this cold sore thinks it’s serving a purpose other than simply driving me insane. If so, it’s got another think coming because despite the massive amount of crumbs currently scattered across my keyboard and my shirt, I managed to consume most of a chocolate chip cookie. It was low fat, I admit, but a cookie nonetheless. Take that, you piece of shit cold sore.

And yes, I know that in the whole scheme of things, a cold sore is simply a microscopic speck on the banquet that is human suffering but for now, it’s a speck that is irritating the bejesus out of me and causing me to question my will to live.

photo from

And while I know that this is a standard of beauty in some parts of the world, it isn’t where I live so I feel it’s not too insensitive of me to say OUCH. From one big-lip to another … WHY? Why stretch your lip to these proportions willingly? Mine is completely involuntary and it’s killing me.

You can’t tell me she’s comfortable. She looks the way I feel – rather horrid. While this photo makes my stomach heave, I’m weirdly comforted by the fact that her lip is slightly bigger than mine. Regardless, I feel a big-lip kinship with her. If it weren’t for the fact that she is carrying an assault weapon, and her iPod is white whereas mine is red, and she has better taste in accessories than I, we could be twins.

Where’s that jackhammer I asked for?

Share this post

51 thoughts on “Not for the faint of heart”

  1. Avatar

    OMG, you seriously almost made me pee my pants reading this I was laughing so hard! While you might not find the same level of humor in your situation as I did, I hope you at least find some comfort in knowing that I too believe that my life might just be one giant practical joke. 🙂

  2. Avatar

    Oh boy.. I hope you’re feeling better, and I have to say, that fella at the end with the body art, ipod and scary gun made me actually laugh out loud. My husband gets cold sores, and they are pretty bad, but not as bad as the one you got this weekend. I’m going to have to show him your picture so he stops complaining.
    Of course right now he has pleurisy, so ….. I suppose complaints are in order..

    Glad you can still laugh!

    Very pretty flowers!

  3. Avatar

    holy cow, i thought i was the only one who got cold sores like that – and i ALWAYS get them right before big events! your post had me rolling! chin up, babe!

  4. Avatar

    Oh wow, I’m sooooo sorry you’ve been afflicted in such a manner! That just really looks dreadful. Hope you can make it to some Acyclovir soon!

    The picture of the woman’s body adornment was just perfect. Liked the lilies, too! And thank you for turning your misery into my hilarity this morning… and I hope your back feels better soon!

  5. Avatar

    OMG Andy! I get cold sores but never as bad as that! I SO feel for ya girl! I had one about 6 weeks ago that got pretty bit and expanded down my chin a bit…so digusting! The next time I started to feel one, I went to the pharmacy and got my 4 little Valtrex pills to take within the next 12 hours and the thing never got any bigger than it was! It was great! The pills (4 for one bout of cold sore) would have cost me $35 but because of our med plan, I payed nada! Awesome! LOL I have 2 refills I think but they expire in November. Let’s hope I won’t need them before then. I hope your lip gets better real soon! I can’t imagine how hard it must be to eat!

    Very pretty lilies too. 🙂

  6. Avatar

    Ah no, I’m so sorry this happened to you! How painful and awful! I don’t get them on the outside but have been known to suffer major ulcers inside the mouth, at times up to four or five . . . so I know the pain, though luckily mine are where only I know they are. When I was pregnant I had them for the first trimester, several at a time!

    Ah hon, hope you are feeling better today.

  7. Avatar

    You were SO not kidding with your title. NEXT time, I’ll listen and be a bit more prepared! So, so sorry about your weekend and your sore, although “your sore” sounds so mild compared to what you dealt with! Hope you are feeling back to normal SOON!

  8. Avatar

    After reading this,
    my weekend with 5 sometimes 8 – 20 somethings , one baby, and one grumpy 76 year old was a breeze.

    Hope you feel better soon!

  9. Avatar

    WOW, what an ordeal you had to endure..but despite it all, I found a good chuckle…your humour is almost identical to mine…love it! I hope you have a wonderful week and boo to Abreva *LMAO* Great post!

  10. Avatar

    Oh my word!
    All I can think is ouch!
    I hope it will be on the mend for you soon.

    I can so relate to not wanting to pay the co-pay again at the docs! lol

    Some days you are the dog and other days the tail.

  11. Avatar

    Oh my GAWD. I’m sorry, or an “oh that sucks big time” doesn’t even scratch the surface. But I am very sorry and that really does suck. I survived my own Hell this weekend, but at least the only thing I had to medicate with was alcohol, and plenty of it. Hope you feel better soon, Andy!

  12. Avatar

    Oh dear, that is some cold sore! I bet you were one of those kids that had to be better so you had to have the bigger and oozier cold sore!! JUst kidding of course. Hope you are feeling much better today!

  13. Avatar

    Oh my word, you weren’t kidding. I couldn’t take my eyes off it, thinking of the pain and the discomfort. Your flowers are beautiful. I love your blog, just started reading it. Thanks for the good laughs.

  14. Avatar

    Oh Andy! I feel so bad for you. You somehow managed to keep that stellar sense of humor throught all of that…you are my idol! I hope you get better really fast, my friend!

  15. Avatar

    Hi Andy,

    Owwie! Poor thing, but glad it gave you another piece of material for your blog. Just glad the pic didn’t have to do with your bladder infection, or are you saving that for another post? 😉 Get well soon!

  16. Avatar

    I think we may be sisters separated by different parents . . . as I nurse a cold sore of my own.


    I’m having pretty painful back problems and those pain killers are doing nothing for me. I sure wish I could pass out with some muscle relaxers. Unfortunately, they do nothing for me! So I avoid them all as well!

    Great post . . . as always!

  17. Avatar
    Christy (a.k.a. Krissynae)

    Oh you poor thing. I am sorry you had such and uncomfortable weekend. You flowers are beautiful. Happy Anniversary.

  18. Avatar

    I’m so sorry – I look/feel like that when I get a cold sore, so I can empathize completely. I have big lips to begin with and add one of those monstrosities and I feel like crater-mouth. I so hope you feel better in the morning.

  19. Avatar

    Holy crap!! WTH??? I’ll see you in a couple of hours with the jackhammer-Bob put it in the back of my jeep. He says I should get it over with quickly…it would be inhumane to prolong the inevitable…

  20. Avatar

    Hey Andy, you could always say you just had a botox injection. Some women pay big bucks for that look!
    Kidding aside, I get cold sores too but I’ve never had my lip swell up like that. Next time I get one, I’ll think of you & count my blessings that mine is just the painful red sore.

  21. Pingback: Pages tagged "hazardous"

  22. Avatar

    I get the same kind of cold sore but NO WHERE that size!!!!!

    As soon as I feel the tingling sensation of one coming I put on Zovirax nonstop. It still last days but without it it’s at least a week or more.

    I’m gonna have to pass these pics around.

  23. Avatar

    OMGosh!!!! You are so funny…I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing with you. Oh, wait, you’re not laughing. Oh, well, thanks for the funny!

  24. Avatar

    Well all I can say is you should be thankful it’s not genital herpes, I know I’m am because otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to sit down and write that unbelievably funny post.

  25. Pingback: Frozen peas and a bike ride go hand in hand |

  26. Avatar

    Okay, my husband is trying to prepare to leave for an important business meeting, the twins are cranky and needing to nurse, the other monkeys are going wild, but I HAD to stop my husband’s preparations and read him this post and laugh and laugh and laugh–I adore great storytellers and you are one of the greats, my dear, even when it costs you in terms of physical health and comfort–

    and then I got to the last picture and just about snorted up my beverage–

    okay, I’m stil giggling–hope you’re all healed up!

  27. Pingback: I have an eight year old peanut |

  28. Avatar

    i have this same thing. im 13 and i woke up with a tiny little cold sore and by the end of the day the whole right side of my face was swollen so my mom was freaking out and had to go to the ER because we had no idea what it was. the doctor subscribed me 150$ medicine for it so i put it on before i went to bed and when i woke up MY LIP WAS FATTER. and your right they do give double chins. i look like a flippen chunky monkey. and dont know what to do and i bet by the end of the day my whole face will be fat. 🙁

    if anyone knows what i can do please tell me!!

  29. Avatar

    I was just searching the web for some info that may help the swelling of my sore. This is my second day of my outbreak and at present im finding it hard to drink, even with the use of a straw as i cant put my lips together, i too got the pout going on! I come across this post, giggling it made my blisters weep! Fortunately its not the whole of my lip just half my top lip but swollen to about the same size….. my 3 yr old keeps asking me to repeat myself ” what mommy, what you say mommy”? I guess your feeling better now and hopefully havent had another outbreak. As for me, after reading your post, im feeling less sorry for myself and contemplating food, in solid form… well if you can eat cookies with a swollen lip, surely i can with a half swollen lip? Take care xx

  30. Avatar

    reading this was a great source of humor and comfort just now when i needed it most. my lip looks like something out of ripley’s believe it or not. i was supposed to have dinner at a swanky restaurant and go wine tasting with my boyfriend tomorrow, but my sudden and extreme onset of cold sores has changed my plans. i will now hide from the world until my acyclovir does its job! really enjoyed your writing and hope you kicked that sore’s ass! 🙂

  31. Avatar

    i can second the previous poster’s feelings. i’m having my first outbreak and my lip is looking frightening to say the least.. will my wife ever kiss me again? 🙂 i love finding people who keep a sense of humor when things are going funky. i needed to be reminded of that this morning. thanks for your post and hope you’re doing well.

  32. Avatar

    Okay, so like, I’m not gonna die!

    About a month ago my daughter had what I thought was a spider bite, but yep, it was a fever blister(did I get the terminology right?) Anywho, to the Dr. we went, and I thought, yeah right…but got the prescription anyway. She swallowed large doses of I can’t remember what, and it went away.

    Now, a month later, I have a spiderbite on my lip (yep, denial). And I’m thinking…Dang Girl! She used my chapstick!! I’m on day 2 and my burts beeswax can hardly keep up
    with the overly dry feeling I have on my large pouty upperlip. Tonight my lymph nodes started to hurt and are swelling…of course…under the chin! If I relax my jaw it hurts, so I’m clenching my teeth(probably headache bound) but it helps the sore lymph nodes.

    My fear is, if these coldsores cause double chins, what happens if we already have a double chin? Don’t even tell me we’re talking triplets!

    This is my 1st episode, and I’m 50. My words of wisdom….”guard your chapstick with yourlife!!”

    Betcha didn’t think you were starting a support group didja.

    My name is NotCho Mama and I have a cold sore…go ahead say it….”Hi NotCho Mama”
    .-= NotCho Mama’s last blog post is here ..Black Light Rave in my lil cave =-.

  33. Avatar

    Now you might not want to think your experience was helpful after a year and a half but it was!!! I found your blog with what keywords I can’t remember now but nonetheless it had something to do with face rash, lip swelling, etc. I had a bought of illnesses for two months with more antibiotics than I had put in my body for 5 years, stomach problems which led to prilosec, not to mention the flu and a cold. You can imagine that after all that my resistance was near the bottom. During the last bout which was a sinus infection and cold, I was getting what I thought just a raw area around my mouth and nose from constant rubbing with tissues. But it suddenly exploded into a swollen lip and blisters that freaked me out. By your pictures alone I was able to determine I needed to get to the Dr. fast and thankfully within two hours of taking 200 mg of acyclovir and after one day vastly improved. Thankfully I did not get the whole mess with the interior of my mouth!! I’d never had a fever blister/canker sore in my life and I hope this is noting that will become a nuisance. Thanks for being willing to post the pics.

  34. Avatar

    This blog really made me laugh. You have a great sense of humor. Hang in there with the cold sores. They can be a real pain sometimes.

  35. Avatar

    i actually have the same exact thing right now.. does this mean i have herpes?? or is it just a cold sore??

  36. Avatar

    I’m so glad I found your blog after googling cold sore + swollen lip, laughing out loud surely lifted my spirits! At the moment I’m going through the worse outbreak I’ve had. It looks slightly worse than your picture and feels exactly like you describe it, and being 8 months pregnant doesn’t help one bit!

    Off to read the rest of your entries, finally something fun to do with my day! Thank you!

  37. Avatar

    I have identical pictures of myself from my first occurrence of a cold sore! I mean, when I saw this picture, I actually thought someone had hacked and gotten the pic out of my Snapfish account! Luckily, I haven’t had one since. I still keep plenty of L-Lysine and Eco Lips Medicated on hand just in case.

  38. Avatar

    Thank you to everyone out there for making me have tears of laughter instead of embarrassment. For the lady with triplets- TOO funny. I’m currently hiding from the world with the fattest lip I’ve ever seen. Went to the hospital last night and the doctor wouldn’t even come within 10 feet of me. I guess I get to just wait it out. I am on day 3 of this horrible outbreak and have found no relief. Abreeva, campo phenique, carmex, valtrex, antibiotics (just in case I’m dealing with a secondary infection), ibuprofen… UGH!!! But it does feel better knowing I’m not alone. So let me go wipe the drool off of my chin and keep searching the net for answers. Thank you, Andy!

  39. Avatar

    Use ICE. It really works. Put it on for 90 minuits as soon as you notice that the sores are coming, and it probably will go away. I have had major problems with this during the last 2 years, but now i dont have to deal with outbreaks anymore. Good luck!

  40. Avatar

    Dang it. Your words have made my cold sore split.

    I am currently trying to deal with my worst cold sore yet.
    It looks like half of my top lip contracted elephatiasis.

    I skipped my BA Thesis seminar cause of this thing on my lip and there you went to a PICNIC!
    How you can hold yourself together like that… I envy.

    Thank you so much for making this (brave) blog.

  41. Avatar

    i’m currently suffering the most painful cold sore i’ve ever had
    thank you for making this blog entry
    your writing is very funny and interesting
    this post made me feel a lot better.

  42. Avatar

    Here I am a couple of years late but thanks you for a funny as all get out post. I’ve had these before but not like right now, most of my bottom lip swollen to Angelina Jolie porportions (and no it doesn’t look good on me). I’m going to have to wait it out but at least you made me laugh albeit painfully! I think I will print out the pic of the lovely lady on the bottom, and if my dear husband tries to tease mea gain about getting collagen (which I have never done) I will give him that and say that is what I am aiming for.

  43. Avatar

    I just came across this years later, and so happy I found it! I now know what that horrible thing was that took over my lip last fall – THANK YOU!! None of the pictures of cold sores that I found on the internet came close to what I experienced until I just found yours! You and I coulda been twins! Thank you for putting tons of humor into an experience that I NEVER want to go through again, and pray everyday that I don’t. Now I know that I wasn’t insane when I told people at my son’s soccer game that I had a cold sore, and they looked at me like I was an alien. THAT’S a cold sore?!?! Sorry, no, I’m wrong…. Jaba the Hut has taken over my face!

  44. Avatar

    Yep, my upper lip always swells up horrendously with cold sores/ herpes outbreaks – to the point that it touches my nose. Lucky for me I only get them every 5 years or so. My doctor always wants to put me on antibiotics because when he sees me he always assumes a secondary bacterial infection on top of the virus outbreak. No thanks is my standard answer, just give me something antiviral please!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *