Readers who don’t care to read about someone else’s health woes may want to skip this column and next week’s column. Fair enough. This sad gory story seemed worth writing because it began on Anna Maria Island in Florida, a state teeming with medical supply stores, plastic surgery centers, knee replacement specialists and hospitals, a place where the media lives by the if-it-bleeds-it-leads mantra and personal injury lawyers pop out like gophers from everywhere, hawking their services.

It started innocently enough. We were walking to the beach from our condominium when, suddenly, dark red blood started oozing from my nose. My ever-ready wife Tina was right there with tissue to stop the bleeding until we sat down in our chairs on the beach. Two hours later, the nose began bleeding again, even harder. I wrapped it in tissue paper while checking the internet to see what to do. “Firmly squeeze the fleshy part of the nose together for 15 minutes. Put some ice on the bridge of the nose. If that fails, try Afrin.” I got it stopped.

The next morning (a Thursday) at 4:45 a.m. I woke up, feeling a hot liquid above my lip. I went to the kitchen, leaned over the sink and then deep rep blood started gushing out in a stream. I pinched my nose and called for Tina. We agreed that a call to 911 was in order. The ambulance came within five minutes and transported me to the hospital six miles away, with Tina following in the car behind. The EMT took my blood pressure during the ride, and it was very high, not surprising given the stress I was under.

The ER doctor put in my right nostril a “rapid rhino,” a long tube with a rubber bulb at the end which is inflated to prevent further bleeding. The other end of the rhino was taped to the side of my face. It’s most uncomfortable to have a rhino inserted or to wear. Not a good look, not a photo one might post on a dating site. The doctor gave me the name of an ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor) in Sarasota, 40 minutes away, noting that the rhino should be taken out in a day or two. The person at the ENT office said the rhino should be in place for at least 72 hours, and scheduled an appointment for the following Monday.which was four days away. Four days to eat soft foods like Ensure, bananas and yogurt. Four days to sip drinks (including coffee) through a straw. Four days to stop taking Eliquis a blood thinner which, if taken, makes bleeding more likely.

Fortunately, being covered with a mask during this time was a godsend, as people didn’t need to see my swollen nose with the odd contraption sticking out of it.

That said, we stopped at a grocery store on the way back from the ER to get something to eat. The check-out person asked if we needed help getting to the car, and I didn’t know why he was being so solicitous. Then I looked down and noticed my Bowdoin t-shirt which was still soaked with wide swatches of blood from the ER visit. (The shirt got retired that night).

Incidentally, it is impossible to tell what caused my severe nosebleed, because it started to bleed spontaneously. Someone suggested that a blood vessel had burst. In any case, again, taking Eliquis aggravates the situation. On the other hand, not taking Eliquis for someone like me increases the chance of a stroke. It’s a tradeoff.

The ENT in Sarasota removed the uncomfortable rhino and said if the bleeding returned, I should call. Sure enough, bleeding started later that day, and I returned to Sarasota that afternoon where the doctor put in a cotton blocker, less uncomfortable but still no picnic.

The next morning (Tuesday), the bleeding continued heavily and I returned to the ER, per the instructions of the ENT. The ER doctor put a rhino in both nostrils, causing the most severe physical pain I’ve ever experienced. During the procedure, he muttered something like, “I’ve seen worse nose bleeds — I think.” The two rhinos stopped the bleeding, but I wanted to get home as soon as possible to have the rhinos removed. I called my ENT doctor here in Brunswick on Wednesday morning and was told they could see me on Friday at 3 p.m.

So….there we were on Anna Maria Island, at mid-morning on a Wednesday about 1,500 miles away from home and we needed to be in Brunswick, Maine by. 3 p.m. on Friday. “Let’s do it,” I said to Tina, so we packed up quickly and began the long drive home. My sons and stepsons were not thrilled about our plan.

Part II will tell the rest of the story.

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary and suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns. [email protected]

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