I woke up around 3 AM for a quick piss. It was one of those late-night zombie walks to the bathroom, the kind you don't even remember happens. As I finished up, I noticed the telltale taste and feel of a trickle of blood down the back of my throat. I thought, fuck me, last thing I need to do is drive to the hospital in the middle of the night. I crossed my fingers in hopes it would die down and got back in bed. With too much blood in my mouth to simply swallow, I turned to the bedside trashcan. A single mouthful blackened that entire heap of tissues - that was about the moment I started to get nervous. I headed back to the bathroom, leaned over the toilet, and watched in distress as my mouth became a running blood faucet. That, of course, was the easy part.
Bleeding from the throat is a piece of cake. A bloody mess, sure, but that's what flushing the toilet is for. It's stopping the bleeding that causes the trouble. Your body, ever helpful, kinda wants to form a blood clot. Now, I say "kinda", because the body is also determined to fight against this. See, when a hunk of coagulated blood starts to form at the back of my tongue, in the exact location where my gag reflex is triggered, I'm gonna have a tendency to gag. As a matter of fact, I can't not gag; my course of action is hardwired, designed to keep my breathing passage clear. So in a horrific situation like Tuesday night, I have two automatic functions battling each other: my blood trying to clot in a lump at the back of my throat, and my throat trying to remain clear of breathing obstructions. The result is an approximately 30-second cycle in which blood spews from my mouth until a clot slowly forms, I choke and gag on the clot until I vomit it forth, I reach back into my throat to drag forth the remaining slimy tendrils of the clot causing me to further gag, and blood begins to spew again. The largest clot I choked out was nearly golf-ball-sized.
|In a nutshell, this^|
By the time I had the doc on the phone, the intensity of the bleeding had died down a bit. I was only gagging out clots every two or three minutes. He instructed me to proceed by gargling hydrogen peroxide. If you're lucky, you've never had to put peroxide in your mouth - this is mostly because it's toxic and tastes like pencil lead. I had to pour a full glass of it (mixed with ice water) and gargle through it one mouthful at a time. It turns out that gargling (an activity I already hate with a passion) is even harder when your throat is bearing open wounds and actively bleeding. It also turns out that hydrogen peroxide forms a kind of soapy foam when bubbled, making it completely impossible to avoid tasting, which of course caused further gagging. Between the blood and foam dripping from my lips, I'm sure I was bearing the countenance of one with rabies.
The gargling slowed the bleeding to a manageable level, but I ended up in the ER anyway, where a torturous session of clot suctioning (dragging one of those suction tubes - like the dentist has - across my wounds) thankfully led to sedation, stomach pumping, and emergency cauterization surgery. Again, I can't express enough appreciation to my surgeon for showing up for that, and to my dad too, for coming to pick me up at 5AM to spend his day with me at the hospital.
Today, Friday, I'm feeling back to normal (that is, pre-throat-bleeding normal, which is still post-tonsillectomy normal, which is crappy), so I thought it would be fun to share my nasty little story. Next week is probably gonna be quiet here, because I don't have any posts at the ready - I was expecting to be healthy again. But when I do get back to it, I'll regale you with tales of all the games I've finished while I've been out of work! Check out this list: Sleeping Dogs, SMB3: Warioland, Mutant Mudds, and Darksiders. Hm, I actually thought it was more than that. Oh well, still a lot!