Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (or more likely, Hell’s Gate)

I made it through my life without ever having the flu until 2008. What a horrible illness that is. High fever. No energy. No appetite. Sore throat. Runny nose. You pretty much feel like Jabba the Hutt looks when you have the flu.

I went to the doctor on a Thursday afternoon. The initial flu test came back negative, so the doctor diagnosed me with sinusitis, I think. He prescribed me an antibiotic and some Clarinex.

The Clarinex wasn’t really helping my symptoms. In fact, it made me feel even worse, though in my foggy state of mind it didn’t occur to me to stop taking it. Instead, I called the pharmacist the next day (Friday) and asked if it would be okay to take some Advil Cold and Sinus since I know my body responds well to that medicine. The pharmacist knew I was taking Clarinex, obviously, because he filled the prescription. Plus, I told him so.

Big mistake, Indy!

The next thing I know my body is on fire. I took my temperature and it was almost 104 degrees. My throat and face began to swell. My breathing became labored. I could barely talk. I freaked the fuck out.

I first called my wife. She wasn’t working that day and was out shopping. I asked her to come home so she could take me to the emergency room. She seemed irritated by my request, but agreed to do it. After such a reassuring phone call, I didn’t feel like I was going much support from her other than a ride to the hospital, so I called my mommy.

Yeah, I’m a momma’s boy. No shame.

My mom didn’t even recognize my voice on the phone. It was cracking and squeaky. I mean, I could barely breathe. I told her what was going on and asked her if she would meet me at the hospital, and she obviously agreed.

I was dressed by the time my wife got home. She wasn’t hiding her irritation at all. On the drive to the hospital I gave in to my panic. I had never had an allergic reaction before. I didn’t have the slightest idea what was happening to me. My throat was almost completely closed and I could barely breathe or talk. With the words I did manage to get out I said some things about my children losing their father and how I wasn’t ready to leave my kids. As I said, I was panicking. Obviously.

My wife responded with annoyance. She pretty much implied that I was being stupid for thinking that I was knocking on death’s door.  She irritably, instead of reassuringly, insisted repeatedly that I wasn’t going to die, which is clearly the only appropriate way to deal with someone in a severe state of panic. Sigh…

My mom was already in the waiting room when we finally got to the hospital. The intake nurse brought me to a small examination room to take my vitals and question me. That particular nurse was a moron who didn’t even know how to use a thermometer. She took my temperature, and gave me a “bitch, please” look when it only registered a little over 100. Despite the fact that my breath was labored, my face swollen and red, and my assurance that my thermometer at home told me I was running a dangerously high fever, she didn’t think to retry taking my temperature.

I told the nurse that I had taken both Clarinex and Advil Cold and Sinus. I also told her that my pharmacist had told me it would be okay to do so since they contained different ingredients. She told me that they’re both decongestants and probably shouldn’t have been taken at the same time.

“So I can sue my pharmacist for this ER bill?” I asked her.

She stuttered and backtracked and gave me a noncommittal response. I then had to explain to her that I was joking. It’s kinda my thing.

My panic attack continued even after I had been taken back and put in a room. Nobody had done anything yet to reassure me that I was going to be fine and would live to continue making stupid jokes. While we waited for the doctor to come in and see me, my wife, who had a lot of nurse training because she worked with special needs children, grabbed a thermometer off the wall and took my temperature. It read almost 104. It was comforting to know the intake nurse couldn’t even properly use a thermometer. It really builds confidence in the rest of the staff.

They took some blood (they missed the first time) and I waited rather impatiently while they tested my blood to see what the hell was wrong with me. I remember a tear escaping my eyes while I waited and I felt it burn its way down my cheek.

I’m not sure how long we waited for the doctor to return with the results of the blood test, but by the time he had my temperature and swelling had gone down. I was breathing and speaking normally again and had a manageable fever of about 100. The blood tests came back normal (because allergic reaction – duh). They gave me some motrin and sent me home.

I have no idea if I nearly died that day, but I know for a while I feared I would. Having an anxiety attack on top of an allergic reaction on top of the flu is the perfect recipe for a visit to the ER best described as a clusterfuck. Of course, I didn’t know I had the flu until the following Monday, when the doctor called me and said that the culture they left over the weekend tested positive. At least, I think that’s how he explained it.

I’m not sure if it was the Clarinex (which made me feel weird both times I had taken it to that point) or the combination of the Clarinex, Advil, and the flu that put me in the hospital that day, but since then I’ve told every doctor and pharmacist I’ve seen that I’m allergic to Clarinex. That is an experience I don’t wish to repeat.


This has been a

post, where writers and bloggers link up with
relevant posts. This week’s sentence
is “I thought I might die when…”

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About Twindaddy (332 Articles)
Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. Always genuine.

66 Comments on Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (or more likely, Hell’s Gate)

  1. I thought I might die when I took Celebrex. I went into anaphylactic shock and had to be given epinephrine. I don’t remember the episode. I have bad ju-ju with prescription medications and live virus vaccines. I don’t know what the future holds with medical advancements, but with the side effects and reactions possible, sometimes I think the cure may be coming at a higher cost than the disease.

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  2. um jiaks. Well you ofcause know what happend when my hubby landed in the hospital (you know that post i did a while back on why never got to watch Star Wars in the cinema). I always try to act in the most compassionate manner when he is sick…

    I never really had a “I thought I might have died when…” moments.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I rememer when I was in college. I had gum infection and was prescribed with antibiotics, I took them religiously but what I failed to remember was that I was supposed to take them twice a day not 3 times a day and I was also taking pain relievers. No wonder I had palpitations and felt dizzy the whole time. Pfft.

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  4. Allergic reactions are no joke. Your wife deserves a bitchslap for the attitude… not that I’m advocating domestic violence.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your (then) wife’s response … yikes.

    The doctor suggested I steer clear of peanuts after a terrible reaction to something last month. I was pretty darn sure that MSG, not peanuts, was the culprit. And yet … I was full of jitters when I realized peanuts were an ingredient in something I ate at Wednesday’s party. Glad to be here to report peanuts were not the problem!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. OMG…that is scary, I know my hubby is allergic to some strains of antibiotics too and we learned that the hard way. I think I would have reacted the same way when my hubby called me on the phone too, he tends to over react at times…but I do know when he’s serious and when he’s being a baby.

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  7. Stupid ass nurse! That was probably a rectal thermometer…

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  8. I can empathize Scott. Allegic reactions are scary. I was in the hospital at one point for a small procedure and they decided to give me the anit-biotic Ancef pior to the procedure to prevent any possible infection. They started to inject it, and my stomache went -FLIP, FLOP, and I could feel the heat rising in my face. The nurses were chatting as they injected and I looked down and I could see these huge red welts growing on my arms. I said: “Excuse me” to the nurses, and one looked down and went “Oh, Oh” Not a great thing to hear from your medical professional. Ha! She hollered at the other nurse to get the epinephrine – they had some syringes already loaded (it was a pre-op and observation unit so i suppose they had run across this before). They had a line in and just switched the syringes and injected the epi within a few seconds. Immediately the welts started to disappear, my stomache settled and I could feel my face getting cooler. The nurse just smiled at me and said “Oops, you’re allergic to Ancef, better mark that down.” I wondered why the nurses were so jolted by the reaction, so I asked.She explained that the welts on my arms were also on all my internal organs, including my windpipe If two happened to grow opposite each other and met in the middle of my windpipe, I would suffocate in a matter of minutes. She told me that epi injections were kept prepared in all the pre-op and surgical units in case of this sort of reaction.

    I’m glad your reaction subsided on its own Scott. The outcome could have been much worse. Hopefully you’ll never have that happen again – i know i don’t want it to.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. gosh! I dread such circumstances when the body plays like a detective.
    Glad you found the culprit and know what to avoid 🙂

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  10. How horrid. I did a similar med concoction (on my own advice, silly me) to hide from my future in-laws that I had a dreadful cough. Both aren’t fond of illness. Meal went fine but next morning? My bottom lip had puffed to 4000 times its normal size and I was covered in hives. No airway issues thank god. Man you must have been scared.

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  11. Lisa @ The Golden Spoons // November 21, 2014 at 4:42 pm // Reply

    Yikes! The flu is absolutely miserable. My two youngest daughters and I had it last year right before Christmas. I spent an entire 24 hour period in bed completely oblivious to anything else in my house. Everything hurt and I could not regulate my temperature at all. So, so miserable. I can only imagine such traumatic reaction on top of all that! Glad it all turned out ok.

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  12. Scary stuff …

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  13. Glad you didn’t die!

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  14. Kristi Campbell - findingninee // November 21, 2014 at 7:59 pm // Reply

    OMG Scott!! That is freaking terrifying and I’d have been freaking out (and what a bitch your wife was being!!). So glad you are not dead!!!

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  15. Ugh, what an awful experience! I have had some bad asthma attacks and can relate to the panic-factor adding to everything, in a horrible way. A little support is always nice, when you can get it. Your description of ‘the way Jabba the Hut looks’ is EXACTLY how I feel when I have the flu. Like BLLEEHH.
    Hope you never have to go through that again!

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  16. Oh man, I was feeling your panic as I read this! Believing you are about to die is SCARY SHIT!!!! I love that you called your Mama! I totally understand how you felt. I now have a panic attack at the thought of any medical procedure since my “episode” this summer. Even at the dentist today I was convinced that I would get some horrible tooth infection and that it would go to my blood and I would almost die – again. Sigh. 🙂

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  17. I’d freak out too! Too bad no one tried to calm you down :/

    That said, or there any more scary-things-happening-to-bodies stories coming up? 😉

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  18. Oh Scott!! I would have freaked the F OUT!!!!! Bless your heart!!! (Or boots- whatev)

    It sounds like such a terrible experience, and your wife’s support was just such a beautiful thing to witness. Oh wait- that didn’t happen. Geesh. At least she took you to the ER right? I mean she had to STOP shopping and all… and THEN she DID take your temp and confirm you were in fact dying, right? 😉

    I for one, am SO glad you are still around to entertain us all with your ‘stupid jokes’… Cause your humor is brilliant. 🙂

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  19. I am so glad you made it through to deliver more jokes. Although pretty sure they made you power through an allergic reaction. I didn’t think that was recommended medical procedure. (This post will also force me to be more concious of my behavior next time my hubs is sick. I want him to know I would totally drive him to the ER if he was in swollen 104degree temp shock).

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  20. Glad to hear that you made it through the allergic reaction without needing intervention. Usually, ER folks who aren’t sleepwalking their way through their job would be alert to that — flushed face, elevated respiration, difficulty breathing — umm,, YEAH that might be an allergic reaction! I’d ask your Mom to meet you at a different emergency room if you ever need emergency care again!

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  21. Hey, Scott. I decided to come visit and see who you are. I think I’ve been here before, though. I have total sympathy for this story. I would have been a basketcase!

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  22. shelharrington // November 23, 2014 at 12:30 pm // Reply

    Those drug combos can be scary stuff! The name of your post caught my attention – the last time I heard the song “Knock, knock, knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” I was having a radiation treatment and that was one of the random songs that came up on Pandora. A second insensitive Pandora selection during that process was “Another One Bites the Dust.” Both cracked me up – but I DID let the staff know in case Pandora belted out the tunes that might be jarring to someone who was a little too close to the pearly gates for comfort.

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  23. I’ve had anaphylaxis twice. It’s terrifying, and the adrenaline shot makes you feel even more like you’re dying than you already felt! I am so glad you’re ok. I am also glad to be back blogging and back here at your place. It’s hella different around here. I’m trying to get my bearings, the storm troopers are giving me a guided tour…. and wait….wife? That’s changed.

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  24. I’m “allergic” to Amoxicillin but I can’t remember the circumstances behind why. I just know a series of crazy stuff happened after dental work and bronchitis. It too was probably an allergic reaction to meds because I got sores in my mouth and then I couldn’t swallow anything. So abscess tooth, then bronchitis then a following medication for the sores. SMH. I am very hard headed about filling any prescription now. I have to be about to die!

    Does your wife feel bad? I had to giggle about that part because I’m not particularly sympathetic to my husband. I just give him the “really?” look and think to myself I delivered a 10 lb baby, you can’t hurt that bad.

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    • This actually happened years ago, and she is no longer my wife. I seriously doubt she feels bad about it, but she was more understanding once she took my temperature and saw for herself how high my fever was.

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  25. I’ve fortunately not had that sort of allergic reaction, but know a few folks who have to keep an epi pen on hand at all times. One of the Sisters is allergic to wasp stings, for example.

    The thing I really hate about viral infections is that there’s very little that can be done to treat them. I always seem to turn into a coughing snot monster with no energy and buggered hearing when I get a bad cold that’s on the borderline to flu.

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  26. I’m glad you two parted ways. No one should be annoyed when you’re going through something like that. She just wasn’t the right one.

    Liked by 1 person

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