One afternoon five years ago, my face swelled up like a helium balloon. My lips became tire-like, so thick I could no longer speak. At the ER, after deflating me with a cocktail of epinephrine, a steroid and an antihistamine, the doctors scolded me for not coming in more quickly: I could have died of asphyxiation.
It was a bizarre episode, unrelated to any discernible exposure, but it wasn’t isolated. In the time since, mounds have formed beneath my skin and ping-ponged up and down my limbs. Golf ball-sized lumps appear on my wrists, grapefruit on my hips. My fingers fatten into sausages; my labia distend. I’ve grown accustomed to bailing on dinners, bowing out of meetings, postponing travel. My kids try to mask their horror by making light of it, puffing up their cheeks, just like “mommy’s monster face”.
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