Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Here's Blood in Your Eye

Blood, just a small drop, barely noticeable welled up in the left corner of her right eye. She coughed hard several times as just a tiny bit of blood began in the right corner of her right eye and slowly started to trail down her cheek as she continued to cough. I carefully pulled the long thin catheter from her nose as the blood from her eye moved further down her right cheek.

Erica quickly took a soft tissue and dabbed the tiny bit of blood from Marty’s cheek and said, “That’s new.”

“Yeah”, I said, thinking, “I hate new.”

We sat Marty up from her supine position in her bed as she gasped for the air I had just suctioned from her lungs along with the sticky phlegm. I looked at her right eye and didn’t see any more blood pooling in the eye. I didn’t see any sign of broken blood vessels or any redness in her eye, only the tiniest remnants of blood and tears.

Marty struggled to catch her breath and to breathe normally as I looked at her and as calmly as I could I got her attention on me and said, “Everything’s okay, take slow deep breaths.” Erica gently placed the nasal cannula under her nose and turned on the oxygen. Marty’s breathing slowly began to return to normal as the trauma from the suctioning abated.

I looked at her eye again and could not see any sign of blood and I internally decided to ignore this new event. I was an experienced caregiver, I had seen “new” before and in most cases it was nothing more than an anomaly, a one-off, I could be cool for a change and not obsess about this little event.

It was late. Marty had settled into her bed comfortably, Erica was with her, I went to get ready for bed. I sat in the living room and ruminated on what had just happened. It was bound to be something simple. She had coughed, she had coughed really hard as I had suctioned, it must have been just a small capillary that had burst and leaked a little bit of blood. That was the simplest, most straight forward explanation. I checked on Marty and Erica one more time, they were resting, I went to sleep.

By the next morning I was patting myself on the back for my practical coolness in the face of “new”. I really wasn’t all that cool. Virtually every thought I was having focused on why Marty had blood in her eye. I was beginning to obsess and coming up with all kinds of very unlikely scenarios. It was time to call Great and Wise and see if he could see her today and make sure she wasn’t going blind in her right eye or having a hemorrhagic stroke or some other exotic ailment. I called and one of our friends at the office, Angie, figured out how to squeeze us in to see the good doctor.

When we got into the office I told Great and Wise about our rather harrowing experience and he began to examine Marty, looking at her eye, looking in her ears and last taking his little light and looking in her nose. He kissed Marty on the cheek and looked at me asking, “You ever seen the guy on David Letterman that can suck milk in his nose and shoot it out his eyes?”

He walked over to the ubiquitous chart on the wall diagramming the face, the nose, and the sinuses and pointed to where the tear duct runs down into the nose. He explained, “She has just a small cut in her nose where it bled just a little last night. I imagine when you put the catheter in her nose you nicked it just bit. When she was coughing so hard it probably pushed the blood up the tear duct into her eye pushing a bit of blood out the tear ducts. Just like the guy with the milk only with blood.” The man is a genius.

We left with me thinking better thoughts while talking to Marty about how weird and interesting this whole event was. My initial intuition was right in that it was an anomaly, but it was a really strange anomaly I could not over look. I guess that sort of defines anomaly.

I later relayed this story to Jerry and Luann, Marty’s brother and his wife. Jerry immediately identified with the story in that Jean, Marty and Jerry’s mom, used to literally shot smoke out of her eyes. She would inhale the smoke from her cigarette in her nose and push it through the tear ducts out of her eyes. Jerry said she didn’t do it often because it hurt. I bet it did.

Clearly the body will do some amazing things if you can shoot milk, smoke or blood out of your eyes. I have to tell you it’s really freaky to see it and I’m about tired of learning of new and fascinating body facts. I have become a veritable font of useless anatomical information. If I’m ever on a game show or if you need a phone-a-friend just let me know it may have happened to Marty.

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