My Big Fat Lip

For about a month now, I have watched a lump growing on my lower lip.

I’ve had many mouth ulcers in my life, and something about this did not strike me as an ulcer. I rubbed my tongue over it daily. Hoping it wasn’t anything bad. Praying it would be gone in the morning.

It didn’t go away; in fact, it grew. Uglier and bigger, seemingly daily. It was not inside my lip, but on the upper edge where it was visible all the time. I took photos, but I won’t ever show them. I’ve posted photos of some embarrassing and awful things. But some things are just… eww… And this was one of those things.

It didn’t hurt. At least not until it got large enough to rub across my teeth every time I swallowed or talked. Which is pretty much, you know, every second of the day. Then it became sore and raw.

When you Google “lump in mouth not going away”, most of the results are “cancer”. When you Google “lump in mouth that isn’t going away”, you learn about “mucocele“.

Obviously, I was hoping for the latter.

I have not had a dentist since moving to Alabama. Because I don’t have dental insurance, I like to pretend that my teeth are just fine on their own. (*side note: I will never understand why dental and orthodontic work is not covered under health insurance. As though your mouth really doesn’t affect or indicate your overall health. I also don’t have health insurance. But I digress…)

Last Friday, Randy called his dentist and asked if they could fit me in. By 10AM, I was sitting in a chair, waiting to have the lump examined, and I was nervous. Nervous because the lump had gotten so large and had drastically changed appearance over the course of just a few days. Nervous because I didn’t know how much it was going to cost, or what it would entail to remove it.


He examined it, told me he was optimistic that it was benign, based on the appearance of the skin surrounding the lump, and scheduled me to see an oral surgeon to have it removed and biopsied. So, by 1:30PM I was sitting in another chair, only slightly less nervous.

The oral surgeon came in, examined it, and sat down to discuss it with me. Since it was right on the edge of the outer/inner part of my lip, it would be a lot more sensitive than if it were inside, and did I want to be under for the procedure?

Without thinking (hello – no dental insurance), I said yes. The cheese stick I had just eaten voided the possibility of doing it that day, so we chatted a bit more about how he believed it was only a mucocele, but that it didn’t present exactly as they normally do. Then I went up front to schedule and ask about the cost difference in local and ‘going under’.

Holy gas mask.

Once I confirmed that I was understanding her correctly, by asking the same 3 questions about 20 times each, I asked for local.

And can we do it now?

Less than 30 minutes later, this was the result:


(you can see pretty much what they did here and here. Be warned. Blech. My lump did not look exactly like these, but very similar.)

I texted Randy and sent him a photo of me (a different one from above; the one I sent was even worse, since my mouth was stuffed with gauze) so he could prepare the children. Because, WOW!

Declan (the 4yo) asked me all sorts of questions, told me my “owie looked like throw up” and went back to playing.

The pain was tolerable and the only real issue was that I could not fully close my mouth, so drinking was impossible, even with a straw. (Just try to drink through a straw without your mouth completely closed around it). I could get water in my mouth, but it just ran right out. This made me laugh, which hurt. So I sucked on ice cubes instead.

Amazingly, it was even fatter and more bruised by Sunday morning:


Lisa Rinna, paid a lot of money for lips like these.

Admittedly, after both doctors felt confident it was benign I didn’t think too much about the lab results. But when I listened to the voicemail the Doctor’s office left on Tuesday, my heart stopped. She sounded so serious when she said she needed to speak with me about the results… I got a little woozy.


My lips are at a point where the swelling is minimal and they actually look nice. I think I might miss this look.


  1. Karla, I’m so relieved the outcome was good! It looks like it was a painful journey (in all respects), but I’m grateful the lump was benign and that you’re feeling well again.

    • Katherine – It was really painful that night, but I kept remembering child birth and that I made it through that 4 times!! lol

      And thank you — It was a big relief!

  2. Ow! The “nice” thing about being terrified in the dentist chair is that your body can’t maintain that level of anxiety for long & eventually, you’re like “WHATEV! Get this thing outta me!” ;)

    I also DO NOT understand why dental care isn’t covered under or with health care. It makes me insane.

    I’m relieved that you got good news back on it & that they didn’t make you wait too terribly long. I’m glad you resisted the urge to tell the kids you got in a bar fight.

    • Eryn – it was tempting to make up some really exciting story to go along with it. Unfortunately, they are the most perceptive and inquiring children you could ever meet and I knew they’d wear me down ;)

      Once I had more of a sense of the cost, it was a lot easier to relax. And honestly, the oral surgeon and his nurse were two of the nicest people. He even called me at home that night to check on me! I felt well taken care of!

  3. I know I said this on Facebook, but jeez, I nearly choked on my goldfish when I got to the last few sentences!

    So very glad this had a benign ending, but again, it must have been horrible to go through.

    Perspective though? I’ll never complain about another cold sore again!

    • It wasn’t fun to go through, but I’ll take it, because I know it could have been so much worse and uglier (thanks to my Googling :)

      And yeah – it was perspective reminder, for sure!

  4. Wow, how scary. So glad it was benign.

    • Thank you :) By the time I was in the office, I think (??) I was pretty resigned to accept whatever it was. It’s so easy to sound cavalier about it now… But yeah…

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