Standing in the shower the other morning, shampooing my hair (1), I'm a bit confused when I look down at my hand and it seems to have changed colour.
The shampoo is clear so why is it suddenly red? It takes me a minute to work it out. I've got a nose bleed. Again.
Big scarlet poppy blooms of blood are plopping on to my palm and on to the white ceramic floor of the shower. All of a sudden, it looks like the shower scene from Psycho.
I get myself out, grab a wad of toilet paper and once the blood flow has eased I stuff a pellet of scrunched-up tissue up my left nostril in a bid to absorb any remaining claret. I spend the next two days trying to get it back down again.
This is the first nosebleed I've had in ages. When I was younger, in my twenties, they used to be a regular occurrence. I twice had to get my nose cauterised as a result.
My memory is that a doctor at Stirling Royal Infirmary would stick a sulphur stick up my nose and burn the popped blood vessel. It was necessary then because I was constantly bleeding; at home, at work, on trains, planes and automobiles (a nuisance if you're driving at the time). I was a bleeding liability, in every sense.
The problem has eased over the years. Maybe once or twice a year now I'll have to get my hanky out. It's too irregular to be a nuisance. Except on the blood-letting day itself. On this particular day in question, I mention that I'd had a nosebleed to someone I'm interviewing (I'm paranoid that the tissue paper up my nose is distorting my profile). "It's nothing," I say. She doesn't look convinced. "Maybe you should go to a doctor." It hadn't occurred to me. It rarely does.
I've been to my doctor maybe five or six times in the past 15 years (2). I always think I'll be better the next day. I'm usually right. This is a dangerous attitude, I realise. And a typically male one. What's worse is it's not even that I'm embarrassed to ask for help. It's more that I'm too lazy. Pathetic really. Anyway, I'm still breathing as I write this. So that's a good sign.
For two days after the shower I'm tasting and smelling the metallic tang of rusty blood. But walking down Lothian Road in Edinburgh I sneeze and dislodge the tissue up my nose. Having circled my sinuses it bobs up in the back of my mouth. At first I think it's a last globule of phlegmy blood, but my taste buds soon tell me otherwise. What does toilet paper that's been up your nose for two days taste like? Chewy.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.