I woke up on Christmas morning at 1:00 a.m., 2:00 a.m., 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. I have an 8 year old who really, really wanted to see what Santa brought, so he kept coming in to check on us to let us know he thought it was morning. To his credit, he did come in to check with us, instead of just running up and grabbing the full stocking while we were sleeping. He is a good boy, after all.
We finally rolled out of bed at the 7:00 a.m. call.
So, I was tired, but doing my best at faking good cheer and excitement when we finished the stockings and convinced the kids to let us go potty and brush our teeth before the big present opening binge started at 7:30. I could smell my own bad breath for heaven's sake. I'm not ready to face the world until I brush my teeth. I don't even let the dog out, despite her best potty dance antics, before I brush my teeth. I like clean teeth.
Imagine my surprise when I noticed my black spit. I swear I hadn't sneaked even one holiday mini Reese's cup out of my stocking. That's odd, I thought. So I brushed and spit again. Still black. I looked in the mirror and stuck out my tongue.
It was black. My tongue was BLACK!
I brushed it. Still black. I rinsed it. Black, black, black.
Weird. I went out and told my family. They didn't believe me. I showed them. They screeched. We laughed. I assured the children it was nothing. I didn't want to spoil their Christmas joy. I mean, what if it was a mysterious disease, like Ebola or something, and I'd keel over in a half an hour? I wanted to give them this last bit of joy, this last happy Christmas morning with their beloved mother. Whatever I had couldn't be helped before they opened their presents.
I'm a martyr that way.
But my mind was spinning. What the heck caused this? I had cut out white food for a while, but that didn't seem a likely cause. I hadn't taken any medicines, I haven't had a licorice martini since that one I made near Halloween. I hadn't even red wine the night before.
I started feeling a bit ill. I knew it was just my mind telling my body to watch for signs of Ebola. I figured I wasn't really sick. But I couldn't help it. I had 15 people coming over for breakfast. How was I going to cook for them if I had a serious illness?
Finally, after the presents were opened and the children were upstairs installing their new computer games, I logged on to Web MD and typed "Black Tongue." Here's what it said:
"Hairy tongue is an uncommon, benign condition that is also known as black hairy tongue or lingua nigra. It is characterized by abnormal elongation and blackish or dark brownish discoloration or "staining" of the thread-like elevations (filiform papillae) that cover most of the tongue's surface (dorsum linguae). Such changes often begin at the back (posterior) region of the top of the tongue and extend toward the front (anterior) of the tongue's surface but never involve the undersurface. The specific underlying cause of hairy tongue is unknown. However, possible predisposing factors may include poor oral hygiene and overgrowth of pigment-producing bacteria or fungi in the mouth, treatment with certain antibiotic medications, smoking, chewing tobacco, and/or mouthwash use."
My tongue was fine on Christmas Eve. I don't smoke or chew tobacco (gross!) and I'm nearly obsessive about my oral hygiene, as I mentioned on this blog before.
Hey. Wait a minute. I got a comment on that "Addicted to the Dentist?" blog I wrote awhile back from a hygienist who said I should try some of that sensitive teeth mouthwash. I bought some last week, and have used it a few times. I did use it on Christmas Eve. That must have been it. It tastes like cloves. Cloves are black, right?
My black tongue lasted all day. It was a fun little party trick, showing everyone. After they shrieked at the sight, I told them it was uncommon but benign. And not contagious, that I could tell.
Slowly, throughout the day, my tonuge color faded back to it's normal pink color. By bedtime last night, all the black was gone. No more mouthwash for me. Except if I need something creepy to show off to friends and family some time.
It's always good to have something a little different to talk about at family gatherings, I think. It keeps the conversation fresh. Otherwise, you end up talking about the same old thing. I'll see what I can come up next Christmas, but black tongue will be hard to beat.