I Am Allergic To Codeine. Please Don’t Kill Me.

I have a medical procedure coming up tomorrow. It’s a pretty straightforward thing, done in the doctor’s office. It will take about 20 minutes start to finish. I’m excited to have this done because the problem being addressed has caused me problems for quite a long time (years) and those problems have recently gotten much worse. So I’m looking forward to it.

Right. I’m looking forward to it. As much as you can look forward to something that requires you to hyperdose on ibuprofen and take a Valium ahead of time. Sure, this is how some people prep for the dentist, but I’m not one of them. Anyway, it might be more accurate to say I’m looking forward to being done with this and being recovered from this problem.

I am a little nervous though. Here’s why –

Scene: Initial consultation at doctor’s office.

Medical History – after telling us your life story and the stories of both parents and all blood-related grandparents (thanks for being adopted, Mom), please tell us are you allergic to any medications?


Nurse: The doctor will see you now.

After waiting 20 minutes for doctor to come into the room.

Doctor: Well you seem to have a hyperattenuated torvalizing malfluence. But we can do an intervenous thrombostalysis and there’s a 90% chance it will fix your problem for good. Are you allergic to any medications?

Me: Yes. I am allergic to codeine.

Doctor: Okay. Well let’s talk to the nurse and have her schedule your procedure.

Nurse at desk: It looks as though the doctor will be out of the office for the next six weeks, but we can fit you in on February 16. Are you allergic to any medications?

Me: Yes. I am allergic to codeine.

Nurse: Okay. We will call you the during the week before the in-office procedure and tell you what time you’ll need to come in and get you the prescriptions you’ll need.

Two days before the scheduled procedure. Phone Rings.

Me: Hello?

Nurse: Hi, this is the doctor’s nurse. We are still working out the schedule for the doctor so we’ll have to get back to you about the time, but I needed to review the preparation you’ll need to follow the night before and the morning of the procedure.

Me: Okay.

Nurse: The night before you’ll have to take this special pill to help prepare your body to better accommodate the instruments the doctor will be using. This medication may cause some pain, so you’ll also need to take a high-dose ibuprofen.

Me: Sounds like so much fun.

Nurse: Yes. Well. In the morning you’ll need to take a Valium before you come in, so be sure you have someone drive you here and home again afterward.

Me: Okay.

Nurse: And then when you go home, you’ll want to take more ibuprofen and also a Lortab.

Me: I’m allergic to codeine.

Nurse: Okay. Then not the Lortab.

Me: Right. Just ibuprofen. (thinking “this sounds SO fun”)

Nurse: There’s an informational brochure that I need to give you. Can I fax it?

Me: No. I don’t have a fax machine, but I have email.

Nurse: We don’t have email here. I could just read it to you.

Me: How about I come by the office and pick it up?

Nurse: That would work out well.

Me: Okay, see you in a little while.

Later at the doctor’s office.

Nurse: Here is the brochure and the little pill you’ll need for the night before. We’ll phone in the prescription for the Valium and the Lortab for you.

Me: I’m allergic to codeine.

Nurse: Okay. Which pharmacy do you want us to call it into?

Me: The Rite-Aide at the north end of town, please.

Nurse: Okay, see you on Thursday.

Wednesday evening Mr. Hot Stuff runs to the pharmacy to pick up my Valium.

Phone rings.

Me: Hello?

Mr. Hot Stuff: Uh, they have three prescriptions here.

Me: What? What are they for?

Mr. Hot Stuff: Valium, Big Guns Ibuprofen, and Lortab.

Me: WHAT?!

Mr. Hot Stuff repeats.

Me: I don’t need a prescription for stinkin’ ibuprofen – I can just take 4 of what we have here. And LORTAB!!!? I’M ALLERGIC TO CODEINE, ARE THEY TRYING TO KILL ME?

Mr. Hot Stuff: I’m just telling you what they have here for you.

Me: Well you tell them I only want the Valium. One pill.

Hang up. Call the doctor’s office even though it’s after hours. Leave a message for the nurse.

Me: This is “winner-winner, chicken dinner”, and I am scheduled for a procedure tomorrow morning. I’ll be there, but I am very concerned that after repeatedly telling you and putting it on my medical forms that I’M ALLERGIC TO CODEINE, you still called in a prescription for Lortab to my pharmacy. I am worried that I will show up tomorrow to have the procedure done and not be aware enough to stop anyone from giving me codeine. I’ll be there for the procedure, BUT I’M ALLERGIC TO CODEINE! PLEASE DON’T KILL ME! See you tomorrow.

Dear Mr. Hot Stuff. I love you. Don’t let them give me codeine.

Just now I’m not so “winner-winner, chicken dinner” :/



  1. Hey there darlin’, don’t you worry at all, you will be fine. I had a talk with the Guy upstairs and he said there are way to many people here on earth that love you and think you are freaking awesome so you cant die any time soon. (Yes, the Guy upstairs says freaking)

    I’m pretty sure you wont read this until long after your procedure so,I will tell you something funny that happen to me as I was being years ago when I too had to have surgery.

    I was going in to have my gal bladder out. I had all the same repetitive questions and gave the same answers each time. Finally, as they were just waiting for the guy to come in and put me to sleep, the main nurse smiled, patted me on the arm and said “Don’t worry, honey. Women have Hystorectomy’s all the time without any problems”. Have you ever seen a frantic, basicly naked, drugged up woman who is numb from the waist down, freak out and try and jump off a table? Those nurses have.

    Now, just in case you are reading this right before you get wheeled in to surgery here is my short encouraging comment…… (AHem)…..

    —-Heather, from the very first time I met you and many times since then, it has been very easy to see that you are one of those people who has the spirit & strength of a Esther or Joan-of-Arc type superhero. True story. You inspire me all the time. Sorry, but I think Heavenly Father has big plans for you. You’re not going anywhere my friend.

    Have that wonderful hubby of yours let me know when you are up for visitors and I’ll come visit and bring you a treat. I have an awesome recipie for Lortab Brownies.


  2. Lortab is hydrocodone, its not codeine. Codiene is tylenol 2 through 4. Thats why they ignored you when you said you were allergic to codeine. A lot of people who have a reaction to codeine are really not allergic, they just have a bad reaction to it. I get a bad rash when i take codeine for a while. Hydrocodone I am fine with though.


    • Codeine and hydrocodone are derivatives of morphine. While my body processes morphine just fine, codeine and hydrocodone are metabolized by the liver, requiring a specific enzyme to do it. If this enzyme is not present, the drug is not metabolized properly and severe, frightening psychological symptoms are the result. True, this is not technically an allergy, but in my experience most doctors are unaware of this situation and don’t listen well when I try to “teach them their business”. Hence, I call it an allergy and they usually pay better attention to me.


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