The following post is rather graphic in nature. If you don’t like talk of blood and such, please skip this one.
Where’ve I been? Well, lemme tell ya’ …
Sunday March 9th, I got up first thing in the morning and headed to the loo. Grabbing some toilet paper, I blew my nose.
I am never blowing my nose again for as long as I live.
There was blood everywhere. I was gagging as it ran down my throat. The little bit of toilet paper I had in my hand was far from enough and I panicked as I tried to stop the flow. It wouldn’t stop, only getting worse. I yelled for help, and 9-1-1 was immediately called.
There were eight people in that bathroom from all over town before the firehouse siren even went off. They couldn’t stop the flow either. One of them commented later that it was spurting, as though an artery had been severed. At one point I felt a pop. There was blood running from my right eye. The EMT who had taken charge looked at it, and told me it had come from the left nostril, through the tear duct into that right eye.
After the ambulance ride to the hospital the next couple days faded in-and-out. I came home once, only to go back in a few hours, bleeding just as badly as earlier. The E.R. docs tried every trick they knew, including a foley catheter jammed through my nose into my throat, the end inflated, the ballooned end pulled back against the sinus, packed and held in-place by inflatable bladders jammed into my left nostril, the inflated catheter clamped off with a 5″ hemostat laying against my left cheek.
I’d lost so much blood I ended up hallucinating for a while.
Through all of it there was a towel in my right hand. I went through dozens of those towels, feeling as though I was in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and someone had asked me if I knew where my towel was.
They escalated me to the O.R. and E.N.T. teams by the next morning.
24 hours later, after three emergency surgeries, and an angio where they tried inserting coils into my nasal arteries (which also failed to work), they finally severed the ethmoidal artery that feeds blood into the left side of my nose from the cranium.
The flow finally stopped, almost 56 hours after it had started.
That was Tuesday evening.
Wednesday afternoon I passed a little gas. Really, not much gas at all.
It was as though someone had flipped a switch. My heart went into atrial fibrillation, my pulse going to 170 almost instantly and my blood pressure bottoming out to 80/50. I spent till yesterday in cardiac ICU. They wanted to shock me into a cardio-conversion using paddles, but because of my nosebleed they ultimately decided it was too risky.
So here I sit, finally at home, towel nearby just-in-case, my heart still in a-fib, three units down on blood, weak and light-headed from losing 24 pounds in that first four days.
Am I alright? I don’t know the answer to that. When people ask I answer, “For now.” What was the cause? No one knows. When the ambulance folks arrived my BP was 213/138 … but there was serious debate whether that was from prior to the bleed or from my panicked state at the time.
One doc removed all the packing from my left nostril on Sunday. I told him I could feel something was still in there. He looked and said “No, there isn’t.”
I change the packing in that nostril three times each day. This morning when I pulled the cotton out to spray the nostil and replace the cotton, something was stuck to it.
Mary stood by with my towel as I took probably a full five minutes to gingerly pull a full six feet of bloody, mucused 1/4″ cloth packing tape from within my left sinus.
Really, don’t do that unless you absolutely have to. It’s still raw up in there. It would help if I didn’t have to breathe.
Sure, I’m ok. For now.
But really, you never know what might happen.
Just make sure you know where your towel is.