So, I’m scanning the news today, per usual, looking for some bizarre or funny story to bring you. And you know what? There’s nothing funny out there right now. Everyone’s hurting and, naturally, there are no immediate answers because, while life is documented through stories, the complications of life are not a simple story.
There’s no simple ending to wrap up two years of documented indifference — at best — and hostility to black lives (and who knows how many years undocumented). There also isn’t a nice, neat resolution where the police officers who are fixtures of their respective communities go to work without wondering if they’re coming home again.
So, rather than try to say something trite about how it’s all going to be okay, and since I don’t have a story about whatever stupid thing Pepsi did today, I’ll tell you a story about something stupid that I did that led to a doctor shoving a tampon up my nose for a week.
Because, f*ck it, man.
Back in, eh, let’s say 2001, I was trimming my nose hairs with a pair of little scissors. And since foolishness and vanity are one and the same, I somehow cut the inside of my nostril. It bled a little, and I stopped it with a little wad of toilet paper.
And, that, I thought was the end of that story. Nobody ever need know that I trim my nose hairs and that I’m not particularly adept at it.
Except, for months after, I started getting nosebleeds. Massive ones. Shirt-ruiners.
And because I was a vain little twerp, I never made the connection to my early nose hair trimming accident. I just figured, “OK, I’m a nosebleed guy now,” and that they would eventually stop as suddenly as they started.
The nosebleeds didn’t stop, though. They kept getting triggered in weird ways, like sneezing, scratching my nose (no, not picking), washing my face and even temperature changes. And they kept getting worse in volume, location and peripheral damage. And by “peripheral damage,” I mean on a girlfriend’s shirt as we hugged at the end of a breakup conversation. (Either I beat Taking Back Sunday to the Most Emo Song Lyric in the World or 2001-me sucked that bad.)
Finally, after one so bad at work — from resting my face on my hand — that I had to go home, I scheduled an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
After shoving once of those scopes they normally use to look in your ears during physicals up my nostrils, she found the cut. (It wasn’t until she found it that I even remembered cutting myself in the first place.) Because the nose is usually damp inside, the cut never fully healed, so it kept opening up with the slightest agitation.
Fortunately, she had a plan. As with werewolves, incurable cuts can be burned shut using silver nitrate. Once seared shut, no problem, the cut heals.
It stung like a bee sting, and the inside of my nose smelled like blackened bacon, but I made it through without crying (because I really wanted a sticker, and only brave boys get those). And then, moments later, it gushed worse than ever.
So, there was only one option left. Since the cut was too deep on flexible, highly trafficked tissue, searing wouldn’t be enough. They’d need to sear it again, and then keep direct pressure on the cut for five days.
How do apply direct pressure to the inside of your nose? You have to insert a splint into the cavity. The splint starts out flat and rigid so that it doesn’t bend or bunch up while the doctor shoves it high enough into the sinuses that it won’t fall out. It then absorbs the mucus that prevented my cut from healing in the first place, softening and expanding like a muffin that blocks up half of your nose.
To eventually remove it — in my case, five full work days later — it has a pair of threads that dangle out of the bottom. So, it’s a tampon. For your nose.
Those threads are also black — so they stand out against my face — and, because they’re long, I had to tape them to my cheek to keep them out of my mouth.
It’s probably worth reminding you at this point that I got myself into this situation because my vanity wouldn’t allow me to leave home with slightly visible nostril hair hanging out of my nose.
It’s also worth mentioning that I had a date planned for day five of having a tampon up my nose and taped to my face. So I did mention that to my doctor. Since she probably figured she’d done enough to me that day, she agreed to schedule my follow-up that morning and, if the cut had healed enough, not put a new splint in there.
She also warned me that
- If I need to sneeze, to sneeze out of my mouth.
- Having a foreign body shoved into your sinus cavity triggers sneezing, so GOTO 1 repeatedly.
For five days, I learned how to navigate and position myself at work so that the right side of my face was always towards the wall. I also focused on my sneezing more than ever because, like Gremlins, there were now rules to observe, and — dammit — I only wanted to ever have a splint in my nose either never or, having failed that, once. Plus: my date, man.
And then, on the fourth night, I experienced the worst sneezing jag of my life. Five sneezes in a row and, on the fifth, I felt a tug on my cheek. I ran to the bathroom, and there, dangling from my face, was my flaccid, disgusting nose tampon.
Two thoughts occurred in panicked succession:
- Can I get it back in?
- Will the doctor believe that this wasn’t intentional and that I really, really tried to only sneeze out of my mouth?
No, I didn’t try to put it back in. We’ve all been disappointed by pushed rope. And it was so foul that I only handled it by the strings.
I went to my follow-up appointment the next morning and, while the doctor didn’t believe it was an accident, she said it had healed enough to not shove more things up my nose. My
five four days with a nose tampon were over.
I got into the elevator to leave and heard a call to hold the door. I held it for a couple, and the guy, no joke, had tampons in both nostrils.
“Both nostrils? That sucks,” I said. “I just got mine out.”
“Any advice?” he asked, nasally.
“Sneeze out of your mouth, man.”