The Case of the Puffy Face

Even before I looked in the mirror, I knew my face was puffy. It might have had something to do with the fact that I could feel my cheeks touching my eyebrows, or maybe that my lips felt like they were the size of eggplants. I knew some women paid good money for lips that looked like mine, but at that moment, I suspected it was probably not a good look for me.

When I finally did take a peek in the mirror, I realized it wasn’t just regular old “I probably slept on my face” puffy. It was more like “I look like the Pillsbury Doughboy” puffy. It was clear something dramatic had happened while I slept. It was like the tooth fairy had taken out a hit on me.

“What happened to your face?” my husband asked when I emerged from the bathroom.
“What do you mean?” I said, feigning ignorance.

“You’re all, um, puffy.”

“Oh?” I said. “I hadn’t noticed.”

“Really?” he said.

“OF COURSE NOT,” I boomed. “How could I not notice that I woke up looking like a popover?”

He backed up slowly out of the bedroom, realizing this was one land mine he did not want to step on.

“Call the doctor,” he shouted from the other room.

I should mention that this wasn’t the first time I’ve had a puffy face. I experienced something similar years ago when I had my kids. When most women get pregnant, their feet swell. For me, it was my face. Of course, this may have had more to do with all the doughnuts I ate while I was pregnant than the pregnancy itself, but for arguments sake we’ll just say it was pregnancy.

However, I was not pregnant now, and unless, by some miracle of middle age magic, wouldn’t ever be again, so it clearly wasn’t a hormonal thing. I also didn’t recall eating anything the day before that I might have had a reaction to, such as blowfish poison, which could leave you looking like an actual blowfish, assuming you didn’t die first.

Realizing I couldn’t figure this out myself, I scheduled a televisit with my doctor.
“Your face is very puffy,” my doctor said to me when she came on screen.

“See, that’s why I chose you as my doctor,” I said. “Because of your keen observational skills and masterful assessments.”

“It’s my superpower,” she said. “So, what did you eat last night?”

“Nothing out of the ordinary.”

“New cosmetics?” she said.


“Well, I’d say it definitely looks like an allergic reaction.” She stared at my face in silence for a few moments.

“What did you wear yesterday?” she asked.

“Um, a new wool sweater. A turtleneck.”

“Is your neck itchy?”

“Yes, actually, it is,” I said. I had been so busy fretting about my puffy face that I hadn’t noticed my itchy neck.

“You had an allergic reaction to the wool,” she concluded.

“Wow. OK,” I said, recalling how uncomfortable I’d been at the end of the day. “So, that’s something new. Are you sure?”

“Did you snore last night?” she asked.

“Actually, I did.”

“Well, that’s that,” she said. “You either had a reaction to the sweater, or your husband tried to smother you with a pillow.”



Tracy Beckerman is the author of the Amazon Bestseller, “Barking at the Moon: A Story of Life, Love, and Kibble,” available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online! You can visit her at