My Mum took me to the doctor once about my nosebleeds. I was hoping for some kind of cauterising operation because I knew other people had had this. But for one reason or another, my nosebleeds were not the kind that would be treatable by this course of action.
So on I went with my nosebleeds. At secondary school I had a nosebleed that required me to be sent to the nurse in the Sanatorium. Yes, I went to a school that had a Sanatorium – not as you might imagine an area where they sent the criminally insane, but a small upstairs room where a nurse would liberally hand out aspirin and clips around the ear.
I normally managed my nosebleeds by clutching my nose and tilting my head back. This allowed the blood to dribble down the back of my throat where it would be swallowed and then sit in my stomach making me feel sick. I’ve just checked in with Dr Google again and she says that this is not the correct technique- you should lean forwards so the blood is not swallowed, because it can make you sick. But honestly, this advice ends up with blood everywhere and, even for someone as messy as me, seems unnecessarily sparing of the victims feelings. How many people are actually sick from swallowing their own blood? Ridiculous. Then again, would you rather clean up blood or blood and vomit?
Anyway, for some reason my usual technique had not worked and so the teacher had sent me along to see Nurse.
When I entered the room clutching a bloody hanky to my face the nurse had known exactly what to do.
In the sensible world she would have just made me pinch my nose and lean forwards and eventually the bleeding would have stopped.
In the Sanatorium world, this is not what happened.
The nurse had eyeballed my bubbling nose and had reached for her surgical implements. She had detected that something was hanging from my nose and in her crazed InSanatorial world she had deduced that this red thing was unnatural, was not in the right place, and should therefore be removed.
This red thing, this blood clot, this natural mechanism for stopping the blood flowing freely from my nose.
She took out some tweezers and she grabbed hold of the blood clot and she pulled…
And she pulled…
And she pulled…
There was the feeling of something that was wrapped around my brain growing tighter and tighter as it was stretched and pulled…
The plug of blood and mucus and brain extended from my nose and stretched. The bit still around my brain resisted the pulling and tightened its grip…
Nurse was having none of it. She placed her foot firmly in the middle of my chest and gripped her tweezers with both hands and she gave the blood clot a mighty heave.
With a final squeeze on my brain before it let go, the clot and mucus and whatnot burst free from my nose.
Nurse held it up in front of me.
She said, ‘And that is why you shouldn’t get into fights!’
I hadn’t been in a fight. It was a spontaneous nose bleed.
But she was right. I was definitely never getting into a fight.
Not with her anyway.