Disclaimer: Do not read this while eating, or sipping a Bloody Mary.
Hello nosebleed, my old friend.
Guess what? Nosebleeds are scary. One minute you’re surfing mentalfloss.com and giggling like a loon, and the next minute Widdle walks in to offer you some black grapes (they’re delicious) and staggers back screaming, “Oh my God!”
Nosebleeds are sneaky, too. I don’t feel them “coming on.” There’s no itch or tingle. I’m just going about my bidness when suddenly my upper lip is damp and a rivulet drips briskly into my lap, like a faucet someone forgot to turn all the way off.
I never had a nosebleed until eight years ago. Unfortunately, my husband discovered it. I was cleaning the bathroom and heard him come in the house. I threw open the door and yelled, “Daddy’s home!” (That’s for the dog’s benefit, in case you were wondering.)
I rushed into the hallway and into his arms—or I would have, if he hadn’t grabbed my shoulders and yelled, “Oh, my God!”
I had a half-dozen more nosebleeds, but shrugged them off. (Here’s my personal health policy: I won’t go to the doctor for anything less than a sucking chest wound or visible bone shards.)
Then one morning Widdle woke up before me, rolled over for a kiss and was treated to the lovely vision of his wife’s bloody face stuck to the pillowcase.
He woke me up shouting, “Oh, my God!” (Widdle is nothing if not consistent.)
Even I thought it was odd to have sleeping nosebleeds, so I went to a highly-respected ear, nose and throat specialist. I explained that I didn’t take aspirin or any other blood thinners, drink to excess or have untreated high blood pressure. (My BP is actually so low I make a sloth look manic.)
He pinched and probed and peered up my nose and then announced, “Some people just have nosebleeds. No big deal. But if you have three per week for a month, come back.” Now, I get light-headed giving blood for a physical. Three nosebleeds a week for a month, and I’d be dead. But who am I to argue? When a doctor says don’t worry, I don’t worry.
I went home and told Widdle, “Some people just have nosebleeds. No big deal.” And I didn’t have another one for eight years.
My sister, Moonbeam, used to get nosebleeds when she was upset. It was quite dramatic: Her green eyes welled with tears, her perfect complexion turned chalky and blood would dribble down her chin. Once she got one during a loud argument with Mom, who yelled, “Nosebleed my eye, you’re STILL grounded!”
Then there was an editor in North Carolina who had nosebleeds every Tuesday, on deadline. The staff used to bring in Kleenex, but he preferred his old-school pocket handkerchiefs. (They went with his old-school bowties.)
He was an excellent editor and a gentleman. He’d always announce: “You know what day it is, my friends. Stand back!” And he never once bled on the layout pages. That’s professionalism.
A Google search for “nosebleeds” reveals that they’re quite common, more so among men. Famous bleeders include Gary Busey, Elton John and Attila the Hun, who strangled on his own blood. Knowing this does not make me feel better. Nor does reading about an Englishman who actually died from a nosebleed in 2011.
I think I’ll stay off Google for a while. And go check my upper lip, while I’m at it.
Julie R. Smith, who’s way more squeamish than she lets on, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.