Friday, February 15, 2013

ER: Nosebleed #9

When I look at my blogger tracker thing, almost 90% of my traffic on this blog comes to my blog post about going to the ER to have stitches removed.  There is something intriguing about the emergency room, isn't there?  I used to watch Trauma: Life in the ER all the time.  It's one of those things that is more fun to watch on television than experience for yourself, though.

So, a few days ago the nosebleeds started.  Here's the rundown:

Monday: Two nosebleeds.  No big deal.  Welcome to winter.

4:47 PM  -  Dear Professor____, I am in the library with a nosebleed and I'll be late for class. 
5:25 PM  - (To Prof, again) Okay, I'm leaving the library to go get more Kleenex out of my truck because the stuff in the bathroom is sandpaper.
6:45 PM  -  There appears to have been an autopsy performed in my truck.  I won't be making it to class tonight.  
7:10 PM - Nosebleed stopped in the hospital parking lot.

Three not-so-bad bleeds throughout the day.  Twenty minutes before class, I had gone through two pocket packs of Kleenex and sat through an entire 3 hour lecture feeling pretty wiped out.

And then we come to Valentine's Day 2013.

I left work a little early and went and roamed around Barnes & Noble for a while.  Walked the mall a bit and bought a tea from Gloria Jean's!  (I love her!)  My tiny little weekly planner hasn't been working anymore between two classes, two jobs, and now booking photography again.  After the mall, I went to Office Max and bought a new (full size) planner.  The plan was to park my ass on the couch, organize my schedule, and watch Downton Abbey until my head exploded or I started talking with an accent - whichever came first.
4:32 PM --  I had just finished filling in the new planner and started checking e-mail when I noticed my white laptop was turning red. That's where the Valentine's Day massacre begins.

I did what I've been told to do and pinched my nose for fifteen minutes.  It slowed down, but as soon as I stood up, it started again - full force.  At 5:30, I called the nurse hotline and she politely told me to get my ass to the Urgent Care.  I did consider giving her the "Well, I've been in college for 8 years, so I'm practically a doctor" speech, but if I am practically a doctor, I would have had this stopped four days ago!  And, by this point, not only was the bleeding unstoppable, I had the shakes.  It wasn't until I was in the truck and on the way to the hospital that I realized how bad this looks - nosebleed and shaking - I looked like a druggie and I'm a behavioral health worker.  AWESOME.

By the time I parked, I didn't even care anymore.  I had my hands full of bloody Kleenex and walking into the hospital, not one person offered to help.  That's okay because I wouldn't have taken it anyway, but if you aren't going to offer help - don't stare.

The girls at the desk took my name and birthdate and had me sit down right away without going through all of the stuff they normally go through.  Within a minute or two, the nurse came around the corner.

"Are you Melissa?" She asked.

"Yes." I said.

"Nope -- it's not the actress!!!" She said loudly to let the other nurse know.

I had to laugh.  How disappointing to see "Melissa McCarthy" pop up on your patient list only to find it's the other one.  She wasted no time and was taking me back for vitals.  I just learned how to do that and I kind of wanted to do it myself, but I had one hand completely tied up with Kleenex duty, so I sat quietly.

And, after that - we bypassed the Urgent Care department and went straight to the ER.  All I kept thinking was, "Melissa -- nothing good is going to come out of this."  And, I was pretty much right on the money with that.

When you go into the ER with blood draining out of your nose and report that this has been a daily occurrence, the 72 minute waiting time on the website apparently does not apply to you.  I was put in an (awfully uncomfortable) exam chair.  The nurse was doing something and talking, but I was not paying attention until she said, "I've never had a nosebleed in my entire life."  It's a good thing I was drained, or I would have given her her very first.   That's like telling someone going in for gastric bypass, "I can eat whatever I want and stay skinny."

Within a minute or two, I had another nurse and a doctor taking my coat, purse, and all of the Kleenex off my lap.  The nurse covered me with a towel as the doctor started messing with a bunch of instruments.  In my head at that point, I was creating new swear words to add to the English language.  Blood started dripping down my mouth and instinct is to wipe it, but they took the Kleenex.

"Just leave it." He said.  Really?  I went to wipe my lip with my hand and he prompted me again.  "Don't touch."  I should maybe apologize for the things I called him in my head.  

He tilted my head back and put something metal in my nose and started to suction it.  He was talking the entire time, but I was singing the Gilligan's Island theme song in my head.  And, apparently not breathing because the nurse kept reminding me to do so.

After what felt like an hour of this, but was more like five minutes, he stuffed it full of gauze-type material and put a clamp on my nose.  Within ten seconds, my eye was twitching and started spewing water, the clamp was pushing everything upward, and the doctor thought I was crying.  It was a beautiful moment that needed a camera crew.  No, not really.  It was awful.

"We're just going to leave that for five minutes and see where we're at."  The nurse handed me the call button and I was already counting down the 300 seconds of hell I was about to go through.  They stepped out and I, of course, had to sneeze.  Luckily, I held it.  I watched the clock.  And watched the clock.  AND watched the clock.  Fifteen minutes later, the nurse came in and removed the clamp.  Her mouth was moving, but I'll be damned if I heard two words out of it.

The doctor came back in.  Took a look and started explaining the cauterization procedure to me.

"We can pack it again and wait, but if it doesn't stop, that will be the next step."

We played a waiting game once it finally stopped and the gauze was no longer bleeding through.  It was well after 7:00 when he came back in and took another look.

"Okay!  The nurse is going to come back with all of your paperwork.  No blowing your nose."

"You're not taking this stuff out?"

"No.  It will dissolve."  I was beyond grossed out.  

"Don't touch it and don't blow your nose.  If it starts up again, come back."  Umm.  He just told me about cauterization.  I'm pretty sure I'd bleed to death before that would ever happen.

Four hours later, it was done.  That was four hours of Downton Abbey I could have watched.  It's been 18 hours since I left the ER and my nose is trying desperately to get the gauze out of there.  It's been a rough day so far, but at least there has been no bleeding.

January was the month of the flu and truck issues.  February has been the nosebleed month.  March better be the month of lottery winnings.  Or, Barnes and Noble everyday?!