Chronicles in Ordinary Time 98: My 12-hour nosebleed; and what I learned…

watson's brain_sinusesInside Dr. Watson’s Head

I’ve never had a 12-hour nosebleed before.

For years I had a sticker stuck to our bathroom countertop: DO NOT NAIL HEAD

This came about after a project involving the installation of vinyl windows in my sister’s house. When one installs a vinyl window, it is very important to not nail the topmost horizontal portion of the window: the ‘head’. The window is not designed to carry any vertical loads; if the top of the window is nailed to the house, and the house settles, the window panes will break. Consequently, window manufacturers attach a sticker: DO NOT NAIL HEAD

Prior to getting to the ‘install’ part there was some demolition needed. I pulled down a sheet of paneling attached to a ceiling, and one of the nails in the plywood caught me in the middle of my forehead, around my hairline. There was a fairly impressive puddle of blood on the ground before one of my sons could get my forehead bandaged. Head wounds bleed A LOT, because of all the blood vessels in our heads.

I had gotten out of bed around noon last Thursday [I’d gone to bed after 3a], got ready for my daily walk, and blew my nose… I’d been having 2 nosebleeds every 2-3 weeks for a few months. Figured my CPAP machine was drying out my sinuses. The nosebleeds stopped in a couple of minutes. I opted not to take my walk [something about an old guy with Kleenex up his nose, dripping blood…too early for Halloween]. When the nosebleed wasn’t stopping, I figured that a larger blood vessel than usual, or maybe a number of blood vessels were involved; and the nosebleed had evolved into ‘head wound’. I wasn’t overly concerned.

I tend to get focused on tasks, so I wasn’t surprised when 3 o’clock had rolled around [several trips to the bathroom for new Kleenex]; I had to leave around 4:15p, so I decided it was time to get serious about the nosebleed—I laid down with a block of ice on my nose. Around 4:30p I called the guy I was meeting with, to tell him I’d be late. Around 5:01p I called my Family Medicine clinic, and was informed that I should have called a few hours before… I was advised to go to an Urgent Care clinic. After an hour’s wait, I saw a doc who introduced me to a ‘Rhino Rocket;’ also known as a ‘nasal tampon’ [ladies, my respect for you has grown immeasurably].

Because of my Idiopathic Polyneuropathy, and the sensory nerves I continue to lose, having a bunch of fabric shoved up my nose wasn’t that uncomfortable, nor was the second one, when the overflow started coming out of the other nostril. The Doc told me I needed to go to an ER. I declined the ambulance; drove to 2 miles to my house, and my wife drove me to the ER. It’s now around 7p. The particular hospital I went to has a Triage section set up in the waiting room. I was checked in, and asked to wait until I could see a Medical Assistant. That was about an hour. She added notes to my chart, and sent me back to the waiting area.
About that time, the nasal packing became saturated, and my wife started bringing me Kleenex. Not wanting to be a spectacle of leaking blood in public, I covered my nose with my hand…and used more Kleenex every few minutes. It was Midnight by the time I saw the ER doc, who is not an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist [they didn’t have an ENT on call]. The doc sprayed my nose with Afrin, a decongestant [which shrinks the blood vessels, causing the sinuses to open up, allowing for breathing]; and had me clamp my nose for 20 minutes. The bleeding had stopped; although I think it might have stopped somewhere after 11p; the Kleenex saturated more slowly… By the time we got home at 2a, I was ready for bed.

So why didn’t my platelets do the job they were supposed to? I clipped a hangnail a little while ago, and the platelets are working fine. The bleeding finger stopped bleeding. Maybe when I see the ENT this week, I’ll learn something.

So what did I learn from this exercise?

  1. If your bloody nose lasts more than an hour call for medical assistance/advice. You’ll probably be told to lean forward and clamp your nose, below the bone, for 10 minutes on the clock. If that doesn’t work, do it again; and do it one more time if that hasn’t stopped the bleeding.
  2. This, of course, only works if you have a doctor you can call. If you have health insurance, you can probably call a doc.
  3. If you do not have health insurance, your physical condition will steal A LOT OF TIME. Time you won’t get back. Emergency Rooms are required to treat patients that need medical assistance, regardless of insurance coverage. No one asked to see my insurance card until after Midnight, around 5 hours after I arrived at the ER.

The ER has become the Primary Care facility for a vast number of people who need medical attention. It isn’t just for accident victims and ‘poor slobs who don’t want to work’ –homeless people that don’t have medical insurance. A large portion of Americans cannot afford medical insurance; even with the assistance of the Affordable Care Act. The Emergency Room has become ‘the doctor’s office.’

America is the ONLY ‘developed’ country in the world that does not provide medical care to its citizens, as a right. In America, medical care is a privilege reserved for the wealthy. Yes; I am retired, working part time, and on a global scale I am wealthy. I don’t foresee yachts or even canoes; I don’t foresee Cruises or a second home in a warmer climate; yet I am wealthy because I have a home. I have food in the refrigerator and the freezer. I have health insurance. We donate to charity. I am able to assist my adult children financially, when they need it; and I do it gladly. My wife and I made it through our child-raising years with a lot of financial help from our parents. We are passing on the gift.

Our country can afford to spend $1,699,458,350,999 fighting wars since 2001 [the number will have changed drastically by the time you read this] but “we can’t afford” public health care.

There is no shortage of money to solve our social problems; the problem is in the way our spending priorities are arranged. Every hour, taxpayers in United States are paying $3.42 million for cost of the Pentagon Slush Fund. The total as of this writing: $124,225,890,000. It will have changed drastically by the time you read this. This isn’t $124 BILLION budgeted for defense spending; this is the slush fund—the ‘tips’ can sitting on the sidewalk. The ‘oops’ fund. The ‘let’s save money for a vacation’ fund.

$2 BillionPallets of $10,000 bills. A semi can carry $2 Billion

We have spent more than a Trillion dollars on War in the last 15 years and have only created corpses; we have not created peace anywhere in the world. Yet we still make War.

This isn’t a problem of ‘too little’ money; this is a problem of Will. This isn’t a problem of ‘can’t afford’; this is a problem of ‘don’t want to.’

And we wonder why God does not bless us; surely we trust in Him. It says so on every one of those $10,000 bills. No, it doesn’t. Apparently we don’t trust God for more than $1000…



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