The Day my head swelled like a pumpkin!

Pumpkin Head

Let me set the scene…

I was 21 years old and about to leave home for the first time.  My parents were on holiday in Florida and I was due to start my new job in Edinburgh the next day.  I packed up my little Ford Fiesta car with all my worldly belongings and set off on the 160 mile journey.  It was a lovely day, the sun was shining and everything was great.

Edinburgh Here I come!

Photo of field full of rapeseed

Photo Source : Wikepedia. Author: Rror

I put my foot to the floor and made my way to Edinburgh in my little bone shaker of a car, it was a really hot day so once I was off the motorway I wound the windows down.  It was a pleasant drive and the fields I passed were looking really vibrant and pretty due to the rapeseed which we didn’t have near my hometown.  After around 2 hours I arrived at the holiday apartment I was due to stay in whilst looking for somewhere to live.  I unpacked and then decided to go into the city centre and have a walk around.  As I left the apartment I noticed a really pungent smell which I later discovered to be hops, as there were two breweries in close proximity.


Not so friendly locals

As I wandered around Edinburgh I noticed that my throat felt really scratchy and I felt as though I needed to keep coughing to try and clear it.  I had to go and buy a bottle of water to drink as my throat was really starting to irritate me.  I drank the water but it didn’t seem to help very much, so I decided to head off back to the apartment.  On my way back I tried to find out the bus times from the nearest bus shelter to the apartment. There wasn’t a timetable but there was a lady in the bus shelter so I asked her if she knew how often the buses ran?  She looked at me and started to back away, I was a bit shocked and remembered thinking to myself, “They aren’t very friendly round here!”

Pumpkin Head

I went back to the apartment thinking that I  had better get up really early in the morning and best prepare myself for a long wait at the bus stop as I didn’t want to be late on my first day. When I arrived at the apartment, I caught sight of myself in the mirror and I could not believe my eyes – I didn’t even recognise myself.  My face had swollen so much that my eyes were just slits.  To give an idea of just how much it had swollen, my nose had practically disappeared due to the fact that the rest of my face had swollen level with it.

I didn’t have a clue what was wrong with me or what to do.  My parents were on the other side of the world and everyone else I knew was at least 160 miles away.  I phoned my grandparents and cried down the phone to them but my grandfather had never driven more than a 20 mile radius of his home so they couldn’t help.  I phoned my boyfriend (now husband) but he didn’t have a car and as it was Sunday there was no further  train service that day.  I just took myself off to bed and cried myself to sleep.

Frankenstein’s Monster

When I woke up the next day I felt really ill but thankfully some of the swelling had subsided.  I had to phone my new boss and tell him that I couldn’t come into work as I looked like Frankenstein’s Monster!  My boss was very understanding and told me not to worry about it, which was a relief as I didn’t really relish the thought of  meeting my new colleagues for the first time looking like this (first impressions and all that!)

I went to a local doctors surgery where appointments weren’t necessary, you just had to wait your turn.  The other patients took pity on me (either that or they couldn’t stand the site of me for too long) and let me go to the front of the queue.  The Dr prescribed anti-histamines for me and said that I must’ve had a massive allergic reaction to something but what?  I was completely clueless,  I’d never even heard of allergies let alone know what had caused it.

Hindsight is a great thing

I lived in Edinburgh for a year and I felt constantly unwell for the whole time I was there.   I took anti-histamines daily but  despite this still suffered from feeling groggy and permanently exhausted.  This was the start of me developing hay-fever which I suffered from quite badly until after I had my first daughter (the one with several allergies).  I joke with her than she has taken my allergies from me because since being pregnant with her I am only bothered by my hay-fever if the pollen count is especially high.

I think that the reaction must’ve been either to the rapeseed or the hops, but most likely the hops because I  suffered from allergic symptoms for the whole year I lived there.

When I look back now on what happened to me, knowing what I do about allergies and anaphylaxis, I shudder to think of what could have been.  I consider myself  to have been very lucky.

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