I’ve been so bored. Thanks to chronic fatigue I live on my couch reading books, knitting and feeling terrible that I cannot participate in life the way I used to. So I’ve decided I should write something, something that I might have fun with that has nothing to do with my couch or my illness.
I get blood noses a lot.
This is an excellent topic, because whenever I draw a picture with blood-splatters I become ridiculously giggly and gleeful. I’m hoping that when they read this my friends and family won’t find this information disturbing and will instead shake their heads and think of it fondly as just another of my little quirks.
The blood nose issue was most pronounced when I was in school, although I had a stressful time in my first year of uni and ended up with a significant blood nose every day for about a month. One of those days my nose bleed lightly all day, and by ten o’clock at night I was light-headed and woozy and probably should have sought medical attention but didn’t (eighteen-year-olds are, of course, known for making sensible decisions regarding personal safety). During this month, every time I tried to practice clarinet for my performance exam my nose turned into the elevator scene from The Shining movie.
Perhaps it was an omen. That exam did not go well.
It could be very handy in school, though, and I managed to escape a number of lessons with tissues clamped to my face. My exits were most spectacular from classrooms that had run out of tissues. One time, I cupped my hands under my nose and they filled up and ran over before the teacher managed to usher me out the door. And then all I would have to do was exaggerate the time it took to stop, and voila! I could miss whole Maths lessons. Thank you, nose.
But it wasn’t all fun and games. My first blood nose was a horrifying experience. I was seven and, up until that day, I wasn’t aware that blood noses happened. The teacher sent me to the first aid room where I was instructed to clamp tissues to my nose, and then I was left by myself to wait for it to finish.
It had nearly stopped when all hell broke loose. I felt something weird, warm and large in my nose. It came out into the tissue, a lumpy bloody mess.
I knew what it must be. It was one of my internal organs. What else could it be? It was a slimy red lump and it came out from the inside of my body. Of course it was an organ. I was pretty sure it wasn’t my heart, but maybe it was my liver or a lung.
(Okay, so I clearly wasn’t the sharpest child. Most of my childhood felt dreamlike and drifting, because I didn’t understand most of what was happening around me and had worryingly little inclination to figure it out. At the time of my first blood nose, I only had a vague understanding that people were made up of tubes and wobbly-bits, and probably no awareness at all before that day that I might be made up of tubes and wobbly-bits. All things considered, I did a pretty good job of deducing that it wasn’t my heart. Seven-year-old me should get some credit for that.)
I sat for a minute, staring at it, and waited to drop dead.
But I didn’t die. I was pleased, but mostly confused. Although unaware of the actual probabilities of expelling my liver out of my nostrils, I was fairly confident that a person couldn’t expect to stay alive for long if it happened.
I began to worry about what adults would say when they returned to find me holding my liver in a bloody tissue in my hands. What if they said that having your liver drop out of your nose was always one hundred per cent fatal? I didn’t want to have to die to fit with the facts.
Surely if no one ever found out that I should be dead then I would be fine.
So I threw the damning tissue in the bin in the corner of the first aid room. But I was still worried that when someone emptied the bin they would find it and know. I was convinced that the minute my liver- or lung-less state was discovered I would drop dead. I half-emptied a tissue box into the bin on top of it, making sure it was covered.
And then I went back to class and never told anyone about any of it.
For years (yes, years) I was plagued by the uneasy memory of the internal organ that fell out. I often wondered which one it was and in what ways its loss was affecting my health.
And then one day I found out that blood noses sometimes make big, wobbly blood clots in your nostrils. I was almost disappointed.