I had to wait a while before I could write about our New Year’s Eve celebration. Not because I drank so much that I was still hung over. Not because I had so much fun that I am only now sending out thank you notes and finishing up my photo books.
No, it’s so I could get a solid hold on what reality I was living that weekend and when I told you, I wanted to get it exactly right.
My husband had a nosebleed in the middle of December. He suffered in silence, as it started in the middle of the night and all evidence of it was gone by the morning. It was no more than a footnote over our morning coffee.
That weekend he had another. I raised an eyebrow and have to wash a load of towels.
Still, only two nosebleeds. Not a huge deal but certainly strange because I haven’t seen a nosebleed from him since his sinus surgery five years ago, which will live on in infamy. Because I will never forget what a nightmare it was and I want to ensure he doesn’t either.
Christmas Eve comes, and my husband’s schnozzle decides it has had enough of its quiet lifestyle and erupts like a volcano. This one has my attention. It’s everywhere, it’s never-ending, and most importantly, it’s getting our clean, ready-for-company house all dirty. Time to deploy the big girl panties.
We finish cleaning for the party and I wash my hands eleven times (get it? Eleven? Nosebleeds?) and our Christmas Eve celebration continues.
That night, we agree he has to talk to his doctor after the holidays about the nosebleeds. My Own Darling drives almost 3000 miles a month for work and does NOT want to get that type of nosebleed while driving.
I boil water and run a vaporizer until our walls are dripping so I can put moisture in the air. He not only has been dealing with the nosebleeds but also got the same illness* I had and has been coughing up a lung for the past two nights. It’s the dreaded man cold and I mentally gird my loins. He visits a quick care and gets some Tessalon Pearls. He mentions the nosebleeds but they’re not concerned since he’s not having one right then.
The moist air doesn’t help. That Saturday I hear him skittering down the hall to the bathroom and I just know it’s another geyser. A half hour doesn’t seem like a very long time normally but when he’s losing what looks like a gallon of blood, it’s an eternity. We’re getting to be experts at managing them but definitely not happy about it. Plans to call the doctor have been moved out of “maybe” into talks of Immediate Care instead, but it stops and doesn’t come back. Talks stall.
New Years’ Eve dawns and over morning coffee, Joe decides to celebrate early by having a party in his nose, with lots of streamers. It’s made worse because he’s coughing so much but finally this one stops too. I suggest a quick care visit but it’s vetoed. The nosebleed stops…
…only to start up again around seven that night and this time, we don’t even need to discuss it before piling into the car to go to the ER. We can’t get it stopped.
They put a sexy plastic ring on his nose that pinches his nostrils shut but that doesn’t work. He graduates to level two; a nurse fashions another one out of two tongue depressors which does the trick but pinches his nose so tightly that he feels like he’s choking. He is, actually, because since he can’t breathe through his nose, he’s got to breathe through his mouth but guess what’s starting to clog his airway? Our friend, the helpful blood clot, trying valiantly to stop the nosebleed.
I’m going to pause here to confide that Joe doesn’t do well with swallowing vitamins in the morning. One multivitamin and he’s choking and gagging on it and can barely get it down. The sounds he makes are unlike anything heard in nature, and they’re coupled with his bare foot pounding the kitchen floor as if that will help. I’m pretty sure our neighbors hear this morning routine. It cracks me up because I’m evil like that but at least I know he’s taking his vitamins.
There are four ER nurses in the room with us now, all telling my darling Pookie Pants to stay calm but when Joe feels the gigantic choking blob in the back of his throat, despite the instructions, he most certainly does not stay calm.
To my untrained eye, it appears our room has become the site of a horrible butchering but boy howdy, does that gets us ushered immediately and with all due haste into an exam room. I realize that I’m going to have to burn my clothes and Joe’s, but at least I know where all the antibacterial gel is in the emergency room.
Long story short, we were there four hours. For three of those hours, Joe’s nose was pinched shut and he still felt as if he were suffocating. He paced. He griped. He paced. He complained. He fretted. He bled. However, all his bloodwork is fine and the doctor finally comes in and numbs his offending nostril so she can insert this long tampon cigarette-looking thing into his nose. Once inserted, she is able to pump air into it and it conforms into the shape of his nose voila, end of nosebleed. He’s much happier and we get to leave. However, by this time it’s 10:30 p.m. and I don’t feel like cooking but we stop at two different places and nothing’s open. Because it’s New Year’s Eve.
I am so crabby. Sulky. I’m starving and at 10:45 p.m. I heat up beef for sandwiches. We eat in relative silence and stonily clink glasses at midnight.
The next day is January 1, which is the day my side of the family celebrates Christmas. Joe has, up until now, said he was going to go (even with that…thing in his nose) but now he has changed his mind because he’s not “breathing” right. This brings back horrid memories and PTSD flashbacks of his deviated septum surgery. It was a truly dark week in history in the Cacciatore household.
Still, I go through the motions of preparing for the ninety minute trek into town. I make the jambalaya I am supposed to bring. I have all the presents I’m supposed to bring all wrapped and organized, so I go take a long bath while having a hot cup of tea. But I know what’s coming.
Joe is still not feeling well. He doesn’t want to go which is bad enough, but now, he doesn’t want me to go. He looks like a deer caught in the headlights at the thought of me leaving for the day. He is panicking with a capital P.
I will refrain from comment here because sometimes time does not heal all wounds, and I was super upset because CHRISTMAS WITH MY FAMILY and I’m about to miss it.
However, I know a panic attack when I see one, and Joe is having a big one. The look in my poor Honey’s eyes when I say I’m leaving him all day long is pure terror. I wouldn’t do this to my worst enemy; I certainly wouldn’t do it to my husband. Whom I love. It’s a three hour round trip and my husband, my true love, is convinced that he doesn’t have enough air.
NOTE: HE DOES. HE DOES HAVE ENOUGH AIR. HE REALLY, REALLY DOES. REALLY.
He just thinks he doesn’t because we can’t take out the packing from his right nostril, and his left is congested. For all of the soothing, understanding sounds I make, I don’t get why he can’t OPEN HIS MOUTH TO BREATHE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE DOES WHEN THEY HAVE A COLD.
However, see: panic attack. I get it. I stay home.
I also pout and cry that day. I am miserable because I work so hard to get just the perfect gifts, the funniest things, the most thoughtful; and I have to send my jambalaya and my gifts into Joliet with my girls. I miss seeing my brother open his “favorite child” pin, and don’t get to see his kids open presents that were on their Toys r Us wish list. I miss my sister and her kids opening carefully chosen silly mugs. I miss sitting and joking around with my other five siblings because I just don’t see them nearly enough and I like to be snarky in person, not just on Facebook.
But enough about me. I do what any good wife would do. I take my husband’s concerns seriously and hold his hand while we sit on the reclining loveseat so he can relax enough to sleep because did I forget to mention? It’s Monday afternoon, and Joe has not slept in about five days between his terrible cough and the inability to breath. He hasn’t slept, like, at all. He can’t fall asleep because he’s certain that the second he does, he’s going to stop breathing altogether. (Guess who else hasn’t slept? Me.)
I think of all the soothing things I can do to calm the panic attack he’s having. I give him ONE of my TWO XANAX which as anyone knows is a terrible second only to missing Christmas. I pour him a lavender scented bath and put on soothing music which helps for approximately seven seconds. He’s back to panic mode before he’s even dried off and has his jammies on.
I find my blog on his deviated septum surgery, reread it, and cannot believe the similarities between then and now. Folks, this is a nightmare.
EXCEPT IT GETS SO MUCH WORSE.
Monday at bedtime, the most horrible night of all, I put on an ocean waves soundtrack, hoping that it will soothe his panic and allow him (and me) to sleep. Joe sleeps for ten minutes at a time. He wakes me up because he’s convinced there are subliminal messages in the ocean waves so I have to turn it off. I warn caution him that I have to work on Tuesday and that if he doesn’t let me sleep, I won’t be able to function. I make him swear he’s going to let me sleep. He goes out onto the couch.
He lets me have approximately two hours of sleep before he shakes me awake. “I’m not sure how I should be breathing.” It’s 1:30 a.m. and we’re both exhausted and one of us is very angry. He won’t take a shot of liquor to help him sleep. The Xanax has done nothing. He’s pacing like a caged animal so I wrestle him down and force feed him a double dose of Nyquil, which has absolutely no effect. As a matter of fact, it seems to wind him up even more.
The rest of the night is ghastly. We’re both hallucinating from lack of sleep. The only thing keeping us going is the fact that we’re going to the doctor’s in the morning so to get the packing out.
Tuesday morning, after a refreshing three hour rest, I dress for work, (I think?) shove him in the car and drive to his doctor’s office where we park our butts.
When the doctor finally is able to see him, he prescribed more cough syrup with codeine, and then—blessedly—Doctor takes out the packing. (look away if you’re squeamish, but gawd, I didn’t think he’d EVER finish pulling that thing out of Joe’s nose. It was about the size of a rolling pin and about as big around.)
The effect on my husband is galvanizing. It’s as if someone literally has flipped a switch. His color comes back almost immediately and he’s showing more clarity than I’ve seen in a week. I take him back home to drop him off because although he’s going to take a sick day so that he can sleep, I myself cannot call in sick. I am so tired I can barely see straight. I mainline coffee on the way to work.
Five hours later, I’m uneasy because I haven’t heard from him despite a few texts and a quick voicemail. Has he had another nosebleed? Is he even now face down in the hallway bleeding out? DID HE GET BLOOD ON OUR NEW COUCH?
The last one spurs me into action and I call him again. A different man answers the phone. He sounds—dare I say—perky. Happy. “Boy, I feel so much better,” he crows. “I was able to sleep.” I repress the urge to tell him he’s had more sleep in the past few hours than I got all night. Good thing I’m at work because I’m rolling my eyes.
“I don’t feel like I’m gasping for air anymore,” he continues happily. “Of course, the doctor did say my airway was probably compromised because of my cough.” Of course he did, I think. His doctor is a man so he is a little more likely to empathize with the man cold.
But here’s what matters; there’s no more panic in his voice. While still hoarse, his voice sounds hopeful, like there’s an end to the past couple weeks of wheezing, coughing, phlegm, and let’s not forget, nosebleeds.
His optimistic tone buoys me, much to my surprise. Sounds like sleep is on the horizon for me too. My eyes well up in gratitude. I tell Joe to try to get another nap in and turn on that ocean waves soundtrack—maybe it will tell him to sweep the floor and do the dishes before I get home from work.
*Not a man cold, though. Because no one can ever be as sick as a man.
About the author:
Christine Cacciatore is a multi-published author who lives—and loves—to write. Together with her sister, Jennifer Starkman, she has published the magical novels Baylyn, Bewitched and Cat, Charmed, with the third book Elise, Evermore coming out soon. On her own, she has written Noah Cane’s Candy, a sassy holiday short romance and Knew You’d Come, a spicy paranormal romance novella. Also, Chris ventured into the Kindle Worlds Mary O’Reilly paranormal series and has written Trouble Lake and Grave Injury. They’re the perfect books to curl up with any time of year but especially Halloween…because they’re chock full of ghosts!
Chris is a member of the In Print Professional Writer’s Group in Rockford, IL and the Chicago Writer’s Association. In her spare time, Chris enjoys writing, reading, and coloring in her grandchildren’s coloring books with the good crayons. Chris is married to a devastatingly handsome man she met on eHarmony, has three children and a gigantic black dog who helps her pack lunches in the morning. She also has four of the most beautiful, intelligent grandchildren in the world, and their antics keep her in stitches.