Monday, 12 February 2018

I used to imagine "fat lip" was something you got in a fight or an accident - I've recently learned otherwise

Some time between Christmas lunch and a late night turkey sandwich, I became aware of a bump on the inside of my lower lip. Although the skin wasn't broken, I assumed I'd bitten down on it earlier while negotiating a chipolata or a spoonful of Christmas pudding. But a cursory examination revealed that the skin wasn't broken, and by 3am the whole of my lower lip was very red and absolutely enormous - it looked like it had been turned inside out.  It wasn't painful, but slightly worried I'd developed some form of irreversible elephantiasis, I checked online and discovered that I was suffering from a condition known as "fat lip".  The only remedies...

...were cold compresses (frozen peas in a freezer bag worked best, I found) regularly applied to the swollen area for no more than ten minutes at a time because of the danger of frostbite - and an aloe vera gel of some kind.

By lunchtime the next day - having amused my family no end - my lower lip began to decrease in size. But, simultaneously, my upper lip started to swell, with the result that, for several hours, I sported a genuine trout pout, to the point where I looked like a cross between the former BBC political correspondent John Sergeant and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. I had to wait until darkness descended before venturing out for a stroll. The lower half of my face swathed in a scarf so I wouldn't cause everyone I met to scream and run away, and to avoid our house being besieged by angry peasants wielding flaming torches and pitchforks, shouting "Kill the monster!". By the next morning, everything was back to normal.

The online articles I read suggested it was more than likely an allergic reaction to something I'd eaten on Christmas Day. Lot of help that was, because, of course, it's the one day on which we all eat food we don't tend to eat at any other time. Was it the turkey, the brussels sprouts, bread sauce, brandy butter, figs, dates, weird nuts? Could have been any of them.

A week ago, I noticed the same damned bump on my lower lip, in the same damned place. This time, I leapt into action - obsessive application of a cold compress, plus regular slatherings of aloe vera and vaseline did the trick: it was gone by lunchtime the next day, without spreading to my upper lip.

I went into full Sherlock Holmes mode - but it wasn't really a two-vape sort of problem. Within about 30 seconds, I'd realised that the culprit was supermarket custard. True, at Christmas we'd had the ready-made super-duper deluxe variety, while this time round it had been the bog-standard powdered stuff that you mix with boiling water and whisk for a couple of minutes. And, true, the constituent elements - the chemicals - weren't identical, but as both involved own-brand supermarket custard from the same store, I think even Holmes would concede that I'd managed to identify the guilty party.

I'm sticking with Bird's from now on.


  1. A lesson for all of us, Scott; be wary of own brands. Personally (and only when I think my diabetes might let me get away with it) I stir up the Birds custard (low fat) version and have never suffered from fat lip. It's the fat in other areas that gives me pause for thought. Happy stirring!

    1. To be fair to Sainsbury's, their ready made deluxe custard was superb. Their packet version wasn't a patch on Birds, which is no doubt why they make the latter so hard to buy in their stores (in ours, at least - ditto Walls Pork Sausages). I suspect 10,000 other buyers could wolf down Sainsbury's custard without any adverse effects - it was probably one its constituent chemicals getting into a punch-up with one of the chemicals in the bewildering array of pills and supplements I ingest every day.