Sometimes it’s hard to resist trends. Like last year when Kate fell prey to that wild nose picking fad. It’s big with the preschool set, don’t you know?
There were days where I seriously worried she might be developing a problem. Like when her nose would inexplicably bleed. She’d flip out at the sight of blood, yet appear completely puzzled with the concept that plunging a finger up her schnozzle was the root cause.
No amount of cajoling, shaming, or complete degradation deterred her. I tried so hard to ignore the whole situation and hoped it would pass, but that was tricky because of my serious issues with crusty bits of dried mucous. I couldn’t help but recall when Joe was in preschool and I happened upon his crunchy collection. He’d proudly displayed it right there on the wall next to his bed. It was one of those motherhood “firsts” that delivered a serious blow to the beauty of this little human I brought forth. My sweet, handsome little boy was smearing goobers on the wall! What next?
Anyway, at some point Kate just became really good at hiding her booger picking addiction. In fact, as summer approached, I thought she’d kicked that monkey off her back.
Well, I was stupid.
It was our last week in Maine. Dave and I were hustling to pack and coordinate real estate closings. He had just started his new job in Massachusetts which meant he was leaving early on Monday mornings and returning late Wednesday night. Life was pretty insane in those last few weeks. On the upside, I successfully managed to ignore Kate’s penchant for booger harvesting. That is, until the Sunday night when she appeared with a gusher.
This wasn’t any old nosebleed. This was hemorrhaging. This was enough blood to soak through two wash cloths and the hand towel I had pressed against her face while we drove to the hospital. By the time we reached Maine Medical Center’s ER, my hand had muscle spasms from pinching Kate’s nostrils closed. There was so much blood, the ER staff took one look, opened the doors and rushed her straight to a room. They probably thought, “Hey that kid definitely doesn’t have a bloody nose!”
Five minutes later a very bored looking doctor appeared with a clamp for Kate’s nose. Despite it being plastic and the loveliest shade of Cinderella-blue, from Kate’s perspective it probably looked like a torture device. The young doctor mistook our petite Katie for a delicate flower and, in a sing-song voice, suggested she might consider placing the clamp on her nose “so Mommy’s hand can have a rest.” Personally, I thought this was a fabulous idea. Kate did not.
No amount of coaxing or flattery from that poor guy (who probably didn’t enroll in medical school intending to one day to deal with obstinate five year olds and their nosebleeds) would change Kate’s mind. He finally rolled over after experiencing Kate’s withering glare – a squinty eyed, silent staring contest that she never loses.
And with that, he left us to wait for the ENT.
And wait we did…
Of course the bleeding eventually stopped and, as is typical of our ER visits with children, we began to feel as if we needed to explain exactly how awful this injury had been. That the sheer volume of blood was so insane! That we hadn’t over-reacted. No Sir, we absolutely weren’t a couple of idiots who hauled their kid to the emergency room because she had a bloody nose.
No matter how gracious and reassuring the ER staff appeared to be, I just knew – that deep down in my soul kind of knowing – that they were gathered around a coffee pot rolling their eyes and calling us assholes. Or maybe I’m just paranoid. Either way, the specialist came and pulled what he called “a good-sized blood clot” from Kate’s nostril. To me it looked more like a gruesome core sample. Roughly the size of my left arm, that thing just kept coming.
I felt vindicated but resisted the overwhelming desire to jab my finger at the eye-rolling nurses and scream, “IN YOUR FACE, BITCHES!”
Rather than aggressively confronting the emergency room staff, we held Kate’s precious little hand and listened as the ENT ordered us to stay for approximately 350 additional hours so Kate could be monitored.
During the 279th hour, Kate took on a bizarre appearance. Somehow oddly poised, her posture suggestive of a middle-aged woman in the act of judging someone’s newly decorated living room. She held her cup of ice water with its sippy straw carefully balanced beside lips painted with rusted streaks of blood and said, “I really wish they gave me a better room… this one is no good.”
I swear it was like my great-aunt Zelda rose from the dead. Well, if I had a great-aunt Zelda, but you catch my drift, right? Because it didn’t stop there. Within minutes, she was planning her funeral. For real. She was planning the whole thing just like my imaginary Aunt Zelda would have.
“When I die, I want my ashes put with kittens and God,” she declared, waving her cup of ice water in my general direction. Dave shifted uncomfortably and avoided my gaze, as if he’d somehow escaped this funeral mandate from his five year old daughter. I rolled my eyes and tried not to giggle because the kid was serious.
“Right, kittens and God,” I repeated. This pleased her. She laid her head back against that sub-par gurney they’d provided and resumed watching her program, Sam & Cat. Can we all take a moment here to thank God she wasn’t watching Lawrence Welk? Because that would have been truly freaky.
She watched the show for roughly 6.4 seconds before lifting her bloody face from the shitty pillow on the second-rate gurney to speak. Clearly, she had become delirious from blood loss… Sentences flew from her mouth machine gun style. There was nothing linear about the conversation. Statement upon statement, peppered with questions that had nothing to do with the words that had just gushed from her gore-painted mouth.
Hypnotized, I reached down to scratch an itch on my right shoulder and noticed my t-shirt had grown stiff with dried blood. My hands, no matter how many times I’d washed them, felt tacky. The copper smell of blood clung in my sinuses but by now, Kate was having a fantastic time.
I just wanted to go home. Hoping for some back-up, I looked at Dave, but he’d taken a trip to that far off state known as Catatonia. I know this because, though he looked like he was awake, he’d stopped blinking and his breathing was shallow.
“I have an idea, Kate…”
“You shut up your mouth!” she bellowed. Either she had entered some sort of iron deficient stupor or she was possessed. Either way, I cringed and apologized profusely for interrupting. She waved me off then immediately launched into a series of mind-numbing questions. Things like, “Those strings in the sky…are they made by God?”
In all honesty, she sounded like a freaky little hippie on mushrooms but I was too frightened to ignore her. I thought of my ex-father in law and how, when he had a bloody nose, he’d jam an OB tampon up his schnoz. At the time, I was mortified but I’ve begun to see that he was a wise man.