One great thing about blogging is that I can easily scan through old posts and remember what I was doing this time last year. Because I wrote a certain post, I’m able to remember more about that experience than I would have without the post. This proved helpful this week.
When I posted about my freak swollen forehead last May, partly it was for me, partly it was hoping there was someone else out there who’d experienced the same thing. Well, that post has been and continues to be my most viewed post. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I documented it (and still have the photos on my phone).
Last summer, while visiting Alex in Florida, I found a very large swelling on my forehead one of the first days of my trip. As the swelling got bigger, I got scared and we went to the best rated ER in Fort Myers, Florida. After many hours spent waiting, the doctors assigned me a ‘catch all’ diagnosis (in my opinion) of Cellulitis, gave me a shot of antibiotics and showed us the door.
After doing certified Google research and reading the Cellulitis information sheet the hospital gave us, I was certain that I had not experienced Cellulitis. Besides having a large swelling, I did not have any of the other symptoms and none of the possible causes fit me.
Assuming that would be the first and last time I’d ever deal with a freak forehead swelling, I decided not to worry too much about a misdiagnosis of Cellulitis. The swelling went down, I felt fine – I didn’t care too much.
Enter Saturday night, post-bachelorette party.
After we’d gotten home for the night, I’d felt some raised skin at my hair line and called my sister in to feel it. ‘This is the same damn thing that happened last year!’ I told her. I chugged some water and hit the sack, hoping the swelling would stay put.
No such luck.
I woke up Sunday morning to find just about 1/2 of my forehead swollen. Again. The same damn thing that happened in Florida. This time, I knew for a fact it was NOT Cellulitis.
I debated Urgent Care vs. ER – which would be quicker so I could meet my brother who also happened to be in town visiting? – and decided on ER. We took Alex to Rose Hospital in Denver earlier in the year and had a fantastic experience, as far as ER visits go. Clean, efficient, high-quality care. If I was going to the hospital, I was going to Rose.
Photo at Rose Medical Center ER
[Chronological photos at bottom of the post]
Again, we received impeccable care at the Rose ER. I was checked in immediately and just as soon as I’d sat down to wait to be called, I was called and placed in a room. Minutes later, I was seen by a doctor (who actually LISTENED to me!), was given a prescription and was sent on my way. Just in time for brunch with my brother.
While the ER doctor couldn’t tell me exactly what was going on in my forehead or why this happened again, we identified 1 common theme: I’d been out in the sun for a few hours the day before each incident (paddleboarding in Florida, Fitness on the Rocks last weekend). Each time I’d put on sunscreen (different kinds, not an allergic reaction) but probably not enough.
The doctor surmised that this was a stress response to being in the sun for multiple hours, exercising, not having enough sunscreen, etc. It’s not an infection (Cellulitis) because my forehead did not hurt, was not tender and was not warm/hot like a sunburn in either instance. Likely not an allergic reaction because there was nothing that I’d done exactly the same both times this happened but that was different than any other day in my life or day in the sun. It basically felt like my forehead had popped out an inch. Like I’d been hit by a strong piece of wood.
The doctor also told me that because this was not an infection, antibiotics wouldn’t do anything to calm it. Instead he issued me a topical steroid cream to use to help the swelling go down.
On Sunday afternoon, I got a strong headache – a perfect storm of dehydration from Saturday night, heat from eating brunch outside and swelling in my face. I came home, took 2 ibuprofen, chugged water and slept with an ice pack on my forehead. And frankly, spent the beginning of the week doing only that.
Sunday overnight, the swelling moved from my forehead down to my eyebrows/eyes/nose region. For Monday night and Tuesday, I had no bridge of my nose due to swelling. I generally felt bad and tired – as these photos show. I look and felt rough.
But each day, the swelling reduced slightly and I’ve been feeling a tiny bit better. I even ventured out to a boxing class last night.
Today, I feel 100% again – I’m not tired, my eyes and head do not hurt and, most importantly, I don’t look like a Klingon anymore.
Because I’m not entirely sure what the culprit of this completely freakish forehead swelling is, I don’t know exactly what to avoid. I’m guessing extreme exposure to the sun, for one. I am pretty sure it has something to do with the sun and sunburns. (Can one be allergic to sunburns??) But outside of that, I’m at a loss to how to keep this from happening. As much as I love the side-eyed stares when I’m out, I’d prefer it not to be because I have a forehead twice the size of a Conehead.
So why am I posting these really unflattering photos of my forehead? Because so many people have found and commented on my initial Cellulitis post that I want to set the story straight. My forehead issue is NOT Cellulitis. If you Google ‘Cellulitis Photos’ (which I do not recommend unless you have a very strong stomach), my forehead does not even closely resemble a Cellulitis infection. So if you’ve found my post by searching ‘cellulitis + forehead’, ‘forehead + infection’, ‘swollen forehead’, etc (and many, many of you are!), please know that this is NOT cellulitis.
And if you’ve found my blog or post because you’re experincing a similar ailment, I recommend seeing your healthcare professional. I am not a doctor or have the any medical knowledge so nothing in my post should be taken as medical advice or fact. Only your doctor can access and diagnose you.
DAY 1: This is Sunday morning when I woke up. My forehead is 1/2 swollen.
DAY 1: Taken at the ER. Swelling has expanded slightly in the middle of my forehead. Does not hurt, is not tender. It feels hard, like my forehead is just popped out.
DAY 1: Sunday evening. Forehead is totally swollen. My head hurt and I generally felt sick Sunday – Wednesday morning. Fun story – I woke up at 4 a.m. on Sunday morning to find ONE SMALL SPOT of my forehead not swollen. Like, dented in. It was hideous. Fortunately, it went away by 7 a.m. when I woke up.
DAY 2: Still swollen. Feeling like magoo BIG TIME. Swelling has moved south from my forehead to more at my eyebrows/eye area. My eyes feel really tired Day 2 and 3, I’m sure due to swelling. All I can do is sleep – I sleep late in the morning, take a nap after I get home from work and go to bed early.
DAY 3: I could not take a photo showing how swollen the bridge of my nose was. Still feeling terrible but swelling is slowly going down. More sleeping. Also, allergies start kicking in. I can’t stop sneezing and hacking up crap. Thanks, body.
DAY 4: I woke up feeling a million times better. Swelling is almost entirely gone. I don’t feel like I need to sleep 78 hours. I felt well enough to try a short run and boxing class. Both felt good, felt great after, too. Like a normal person and not a zombie.
DAY 5: I’m ME again! Swelling is 100% gone, I feel great. Not tired, not sleepy, not anything but normal lgsmash. I could even put myself together today (ie – find clothes that matched and fit, put make up on, brush my hair) for the first time this week.
Just like last year, it took about 5 days for the swelling to dissipate.