The Most Expensive Dose of Benadryl Ever

I suffer from allergies and receive regular allergy shots to build up my tolerance against various atrocities that assault my immune system. It’s nothing deadly like licking a shrimp will cause me to balloon up and die, or being within three square miles of a bumblebee will result in a development of cankles and neck fat which will consequently cause me to balloon up and die. Nonetheless, my allergies have made me uncomfortable enough since childhood that my allergist determined weekly injections were the best course of action.

While I have no food allergies, I’m allergic to a ton of pollens and mildews and grasses and some pet dander (cat being the worst). I get two shots, one for cat dander and one that’s a cocktail of trees, grasses, dust mites and mildew. Right now I’m in “maintenance” mode for the cat shot, meaning I only get that shot once a month. I’m still building up the other shot though so I receive that once a week.

Yesterday I went to the medical center to receive my weekly injection. The nurse was someone I hadn’t seen before and I was less than impressed with her needlework. After a more-uncomfortable-than-usual shot, I texted Jas:

Stupid new nurse pulled the needle out at an angle. Blood ensued. Come on, junkies take more care than this.

Whenever I get a shot I have to wait around for 30 minutes afterwards to make sure I don’t have a systemic reaction from the allergens that were injected, so I wiped the blood from my arm and waited until my time was up, not knowing that the botched shot would serve as ominous foreshadowing to how the rest of my day would go.

As I was driving home, I started to feel a pain in the middle of my chest. Not like a heart attack-type pain, but like a really bad bout of acid reflux or like there was a wad of something stuck in my esophagus. By the time I got home the pain would sharply flare up every few minutes and course from the middle of my chest up to my throat. I told Jas about my discomfort and he gave me a “WTF call the doctor” look. The ensuing conversation went as follows:

Receptionist (in a bored, flat voice): “Medical Specialties.”

Me: “Hi, I just came in for an allergy shot and I think I’m having an adverse reaction.”

Receptionist (slightly less bored now): “Uh, okay, what’s your name?”

Me: “Rebecca Kelley. K-E-L-L-E-Y.”

Receptionist: “One moment.”

Abrupt silence.



Jean is one of the head nurses who typically administers my shots. She is very sweet and exceptionally cautious, as I came to find out from our phone call.

Me: “Whuh–”

Jean: “CALL 911 AND TELL THEM YOU’RE HAVING A SYSTEMIC REACTION! …then call us and schedule a follow up appointment, mkay?”

Me: “Uh, my boyfriend is right here, can’t he just drive me to the–”


Me: “Well where should I go, should I go back to the UW Medical Center?”

Jean: “Whereever’sclosestI’mhangingupnowcall911bye.”

I hung up the phone and looked at Jason to relay the conversation, but considering that Jean was shouting at me in a panicked Jack Bauer state, he had heard everything and the look on his face went from “WTF” to “Jesus Christ WTF was that?!!!”

Me: “Screw it, I’m not calling an ambulance to take me half a mile. Jason, can you drive me to Swedish?”

We headed to the hospital. The pain in my chest continued intermittently and I was feeling a bit feverish. I wasn’t having problems breathing or swallowing but the pain kept getting more intense. When we got to the ER, I checked in and answered a barrage of questions from a nurse who kept trying to trick me into admitting I was some sort of misfit:

Nurse: “Do you smoke?”

Me: “No.”

Nurse: “Chewing tobacco?”

Me: “No.”

Nurse: “Alcohol?”

Me: “Uh, occasionally.”

Nurse: “Recreational drugs?”

Me: “No.”

Nurse: “Smoke?”

Me: “What? Still no.” As if she’d catch me in a lie and I’d be like, “Yes, I smoke ALL the cigarettes…oops, I mean no, I don’t smoke,” and she’d jump out of her chair and exclaim, “A-HA! I got you, you smoking fuck!”

After I got checked in and my blood pressure and temperature were taken, a nurse (who I shall refer to as “First Best Nurse”) took me to a room.

First Best Nurse: “So what happened?”

I explained that I had gotten an allergy shot and was having a reaction.

First Best Nurse: “What’s your level of pain on a scale of 0-10?”

I never know how to answer that because pain is so subjective. My 4 could be someone else’s 9 and some hardcore dude’s -7.

Me: “Uh, it’s not pants-crappingly bad, just kind of shitty.”

He laughed, then started to clean the crook of my right arm.

First Best Nurse: “They’re going to administer an IV to counteract your reaction. I’m going to put a line in and draw some blood…they’re probably not going to do anything with it but now’s the time to draw it.”

Awesome, I got to have five vials of blood drawn in the off chance that they’d need some of it for testing, cloning, demonic sacrifice, or to frame me for a crime. Yaay.

First Best Nurse hooked me up to a heart monitor and then was all “Peace out bitches, I’m out. Rico’s your nurse now” and left. (Okay, he didn’t exactly put it in those terms but he did leave.)

I sat there for a long while, the beeps of the heart monitor keeping me company. It kept annoyingly alerting that my heart rate was low (it hovered between 48-51), and after a while I wanted to punch through the screen and shout “I’m not dying I just work out a lot and have a low resting heart raaaaaate!” At one point the machine went super apeshit when my heart rate got down to 37. I expected nurses to rush in all Code Blue style with defibrillators in their hands but nobody appeared, which made me wonder what purpose the alerts even served if they didn’t actually alert anyone. The super loud alarm did scare me into producing a higher heart rate and the machine went from going crazy to returning to the annoying “Hey, your heart rate is low what’s up with that” beeps.

While I waited, Nurse Rico came in.

Nurse Rico: “So what happened?”

Me: “Uh…”

Seriously, was I going to have to give the backstory to every person who came into the room? What happened to patient charts and knowing about a situation beforehand?

I got him caught up on Chest Tightness 2011 and he took my blood pressure, entered some stuff into the computer and left. After more waiting a woman came in who I’ll refer to as Paperwork Patty.

Paperwork Patty: “Hi, I’m just here to enter some information so we can process some paperwork.”

Me: “Okay.”

Paperwork Patty: “So what happened?”

God damnit.

I summarized the ordeal again and she asked me for emergency contact information, religious preferences, and some other inane information.

Me: “Do you know when the doctor will be in? And what’s with this heart monitor making so much noise?”

Paperwork Patty: “Uh, I…don’t know. I’m not a nurse, I’ll get someone for you.”

By this time Jason was able to make his way back to my room and kept me company while we waited an eon for the doctor to arrive. She finally graced me with her presence and shall now be referred to as Dr. Shitty Bedside Manner.

Dr. Shitty Bedside Manner: “Hi there! So you’re having an adverse reaction to an allergy shot?”

Ugh, finally someone who knows why I was admitted.

Me: “Yeah.”

Dr. Shitty Bedside Manner: “Ooh, I can see that the right side of your face is swollen.”

Me: “It is?” I touched my face. “I…don’t think so.”

Dr. Shitty Bedside Manner: “Really?” She squinted at my face. I turned to Jas and he shrugged.

Me: “It doesn’t feel swollen…”

Dr. Shitty Bedside Manner: “Look at me.” She inspected my face and then frowned. “Well, some people have asymmetrical faces, maybe your right side is just naturally puffier.”

My reaction:


Here I was thinking that I’d lost weight and was looking kind of good lately and some shitty doctor takes it upon herself to tell me that half of my face is inherently fat. Awesome.

Dr. SBM: “Okay, here’s what we’re gonna do…”

Ah, finally, the remedy. I was gonna get a shot of adrenaline or something, right? We’d recreate that scene from Pulp Fiction and it’d be all hardcore and shit.

"I gotta stab her three times?"

Dr. SBM: “We’re going to give you a dose of Benadryl and then we’ll keep an eye on you for observation.”

Me: “Wait, what?” Benadryl? Benadryl?! Nurse Jean freaked the fuck out on the phone and told me to dial 911 so I could take a dose of Benadryl?

My disappointment was akin to this:

"Be drink...your...ovaltine?"

Me: “Is it different that the stuff you buy over the counter?” Throw me a bone, doc, and tell me that it’s at least some hospital-grade industrial strength Benadryl that’s used to wipe out allergies in rhinos or something.

Dr. SBM: “Nope, it’s the same stuff you can buy at the grocery store!”

Fuck my life.

And, to add insult to injury:

Dr. SBM: “We can even give you a children’s liquid dose in case you have trouble swallowing pills.”


“Uh no, the pills are fine.” Benadryl was bad enough, but going to the ER for a dose of Children’s Benadryl? I might as well just give up on life.

Dr. SBM: Okay then, I’ll order that up for you–hey, you’ve already got a line started.”

I looked down at the line taped to the inside of my arm.

Me: “Yeah, one of the nurses drew blood and said I would be getting an IV.” (I never got one.)

Dr. SBM: “Oh! Well then, we can administer the Benadryl directly. Don’t want to waste that line!” She left the room. At least I was getting a form of Benadryl that’s not available at pharmacies. It was the barely silver lining in this shitfest of a day.

Jason popped out to call his parents and give them an update on my medical situation and Nurse #3 stepped in to take vitals.

Nurse #3: “So what happened?”


Me: “Allergic reaction.”

Nurse #3: “What are you allergic to?”

Me: “Uh, dust mites, trees, pollens, grass, mildew…nothing exciting, I’m afraid.”

Nurse #3: “…oh.” He seemed a bit confused, but whatever.

He typed some information into the computer and then started to wrap the blood pressure cuff around my left arm before he noticed the swollen and puffy area where my allergy shot had been administered earlier in the day.

Me: “That’s where I got the allergy shot.”

Nurse #3: “Ohhhhh, the reaction is from a shot!”

Me: “Wha–yes! What’d you think, I was belly sliding through a park or something?” That explained the funny look on his face–he thought I rushed myself to the ER after barrel rolling through the Arboretum and feeling itchy. At this point I was getting tired of nurses and wanted out of this damn place.

He left and returned with a shot of liquid Benadryl, which he then mainlined into my arm.

Nurse #3: “This will probably take effect in about five minutes or so.”

I felt the effects immediately. (Fat Rebecca would have needed the full five minutes.) Drowsiness kicked in and I started to feel a little cloudy and cottonmouthed. Jason hung out with me for an eternity while I was kept for observation, and I was getting tired and cranky and just wanted to go home. It was a waste of a trip and I was fearful of what the hospital bill would total and what little my “Greatest Country in the World Except For This Fucked Up Health Care System” insurance would cover.

A fourth nurse (a brusque, large woman) removed my line in a rough and terrifying manner, then scooped up all five vials of my blood and threw them away. I was a bit sad to see my blood go to waste. Jason joked that I should have snatched them from her, cracked them open and drank them all, exclaiming, “They’re all mine! MY BLOOOOODDDD!!” I opted not to and instead watched her chuck my precious liquids in the disposal bin.

Finally, after waiting around forever I was cleared to go. I spent about 2 1/2 to 3 hours at the hospital and emerged pumped full of Benadryl and feeling like the whole thing was a huge waste. If I had known some freaking Benadryl would have done the trick, I wouldn’t have spent the rest of my afternoon meeting every nurse who works at Swedish and having a doctor tell me my face is fat.

The rest of my evening was spent in a semi-drowsy, puffy armed state eating pizza and watching Breaking Bad. I’m currently taking bets on how much the hospital bill will be. Whatever the total, last night I took the most expensive dose of Benadryl ever.

12 Responses to “ “The Most Expensive Dose of Benadryl Ever”

  1. Mel says:

    “Whatever the total, last night I took the most expensive dose of Benadryl ever.”

    Probably. Let’s see if you beat my $6500 marathon 🙂

  2. Lauren says:

    This is an epic story–but I am so glad you’re okay! This reminds me of the time I rushed to the emergency room after slicing my finger with a kitchen knife. After waiting forever and bracing myself for stitches the doctor broke out the band-aid brand liquid bandage that you buy at Walgreens. I feel ya.

  3. George in Canada says:

    Wow, you need to move to Canada pronto. Don’t they charge you for every freaking person that steps into your room? I bet this costs more than an Ironman entry fee.

  4. Chippy says:

    @Rebecca. If you think that hospital visit is going to cost you some $$$, A friend of mine went to the Emergency room a couple of years ago to try and get some Percocets to catch a buzz on. So he went to the ER and told them he was having extremely severe Headaches. Well after they did all kinds of tests a CT Scan and I believe they did an MRI he got a bill for $9750.00 When he got out of the Er he was complaining of a severe headache that was brought on by all of the stuff that they did to him. Oh and the ER gave him 12 5mg percs! HAHAHAHA when we went to the pharmacy he took two of them and gave me the rest for a ride home!

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