new old more book profile blog rings host

prev out of circulation next
2002-09-17 | 12:46 p.m.

I was already in bed. Duff came in and said "Where's my pillow?" and I said, "Jasper has it." Yes, Jasper still sleeps with us more often than not. We should probably start asking him to sleep in his bed but it is my habit to lie down with him and read and I don't fit in the fire engine bed.

Anyway it was late when Duff came to bed and asked for his pillow. I pulled it out from under Jasper's head and flopped it down in Duff's general vicinity. I think I was already asleep when he showed up. He says he turned the light on once, but I don't remember.

I know I was asleep a few minutes later when he asked, "Did Jasper drool all over this pillow or something?" I mumbled something incoherent to imply that I did not know. Jasper is not a big drooler, and I hadn't noticed any wet spots when I handed it over.

"I'm going to turn on the light," Duff said.

This struck me as vaguely funny, as if light were necessary to better discern wetness.

Then Duff turned the light on, and even with my eyes closed I flinched at its brightness. I slowly cracked open my lids and peered at Duff.

"Oh my GOD!" I shrieked. "Oh my God, Duff! Oh my God!"

There was blood everywhere, and a lot of it. Lines of blood streamed over his face in a cobweb pattern and down his neck, chest, and arms. It seemed to be coming from the general vicinity of his left ear, and the overall impression was that someone had just tried to cut his head off.

He saw all the stains on the pillow and mattress. "Do I have a nosebleed?" he wondered, dabbing at his nostrils. Nothing. He hopped out of bed and made his way toward the bathroom, blood dripping on the floor, his underwear, and all around the bathroom sink.

"I've had a zit on my face," he reported. This didn't seem like a mere pimple problem, but I interrogated him anyway. "Did you pick at it?" He admitted that he had been picking at it for the last two days. Sure enough, it appeared, that's where the blood was coming from. He said he didn't hurt at all.

"Didn't your mother teach you not to pick your face?" I badgered as I fumbled around in the hall closet for clean rags. Duff isn't prone to outbreaks, so it has never been a big issue in our house.

Time passed. I scrubbed the mattress and wiped up the floor. The spot on Duff's face continued to spurt blood at a healthy clip. I didn't know there were any major arteries running through the face, I thought flippantly. Duff, who is a bit of a hypochondriac, was worried.

"There must be a little vein there," he said.

I admonished him to put continuous pressure on it and stop checking it every two minutes, so it could clot.

"I am," he insisted. He was a lifeguard and took first aid training again this year as part of his soccer-coaching regimen, so he probably knows as much or more about first aid as I do.

We tried putting some Polysporin on it and a Band-Aid, but the blood just oozed right up over the top of the Band-Aid. Duff was afraid to lie down, for fear, I suppose, that he would bleed to death through his zit.

I started looking around for my family medical encyclopedia, which I couldn't find. Think, I thought. How do you stop bleeding? Stanch blood flow? Pressure, but that doesn't seem to be working. Tourniquet. I imagined putting a tourniquet around his neck. Nope, that wouldn't work, either. I giggled, and he guessed what I was thinking about.

After a good, I don't know, half-hour of this, I decided to go back to bed. If I had to drive him to the hospital, he could just wake me up later. I imagined him explaining the situation to the emergency room doctor and that made me laugh, too.

Eventually, he reported that the bleeding had slowed down. He had a fresh Band-Aid on it. But he was still worried.

"My face feels kind of numb," he said. Then he read the Polysporin tube and felt a little better, thinking the topical relief of the antibiotic cream might have contributed to the numbness. He came to bed.

"I don't know," he said. He told me he had read something in the paper about a man who went to sleep complaining of discomfort in his legs and woke up a week later with both his legs amputated. His girlfriend had called an ambulance because blood had started to pour out of his ears. Turns out he had a rare condition that blocked all blood circulation to his legs. Would have died if they hadn't amputated. Poor guy.

I promised not to cut Duff's head off no matter how much of a mess he made. I said, "And the moral of this story is: Don't pick your face!" And then we went back to sleep at last.

prev archive next

if you're not reading mawm you're not reading me