"Blood may be thicker than water but you can't live without either of 'em."
-Merican Fiend(some guy on Twitter)
It took what seemed like hours but I finally managed to stop the bleeding. It wasn't anything serious but it was one of the worst gushers Jiro, my second oldest, has had in a while. The cause was the same as usual, internal laceration of the nasal passage lining. In other words he was picking his nose and a little too vigorously. It happens from time to time and experience has taught me to remain calm, cool and collected.
A few years ago I would have been calling the ambulance at the first sign of life's juices flowing over to the exterior side of the body wall. Now I know exactly how to overreact without involving the paramedics and I've learned from the best in the business.
I got my first lesson a few years ago while I was shaving. It was then that I nicked the surface of the skin covering an area so uncharted by modern anatomy that few dare speak it's name, the philtrum. If you've ever cut the skin in this area you'll know how difficult it can be to stop the bloodshed that ensues. Even if you do manage to clot the leak, the slightest movement of the upper lip (like a smile, a frown, etc.) will open the floodgates again.
It all went down on a Saturday morning, I had promised to take my oldest son, Ichiro, to the pool. I was shaving by the glow of dawn's early light when Ichiro called to me from behind. My head turned faster than I could move my hand holding the razor away from my face, resulting in a huge gash stretching from below the opening of one nasal passage across to the other. There was no way I could stop the flow of blood with simple pressure or a styptic pencil. I knew that I would have to bandage the whole lower proboscis and breathe through my mouth if we ever hoped to get to the pool before it got too crowded.
That's just what I did and it worked pretty well. I was no longer bleeding all over and I was breathing so we were good to go. Our local city pool is wonderful. It's like a little slice of paradise only probably much more crowded than the real one. It boasts a myriad of different cement swimming holes all moderated at varying temperatures with the higher ranges designed to suit the most cold-blooded of human beings. There is a pool for serious swimmers, a kiddie pool with a slide resembling a cliff, a lagoon with a swift moving current that surrounds a jacuzzi and a couple of more bubbling bodies of water that are the natural habitat of the elders of the swimming species. The most amazing thing about the whole place is that the hot air bubbles that get infused into the water all come from an adjacent city garbage incinerator. It's a virtual oasis smack dab in the middle of Japan's famed Keihin industrial belt of which it has the most exquisite view. Above all the pool has a crack squad of the most intrepid senior citizen life guards this side of the Pacific. I know because I've seen them in action, up close and personal.
I originally planned to keep my bandage dry by watching over Ichiro from the confines of a glass enclosure that overlooks the entire pool area. Since Ichiro is the clinging kind he wouldn't go along with the plan and insisted that I join him. I agreed on the condition that I would remain poolside.
He accepted the deal but that still meant I had to get through a gauntlet of shower heads standing between the locker/changing room and the pool area. Fortunately the shower heads are set at an average height which I just manage to tower over so staying dry wasn't that much of a challenge. When we finally got to the pools, Clingy (that's Ichiro) refused to get in the water without me. Well, I hadn't just spent eleven hundred yen and braved the Scylla and Charybdis of showers for nothing, so I grabbed Ichiro's hand and we plunged into the lagoon.
Everything was going swimmingly until one of the septuagenarian lifeguards blew the whistle and waved me out of the pool. It was then I realized that I had sprung a leak and that I was being taken to the security headquarters where I would no doubt be charged with some crime, perhaps attempted manslaughter or worse, for exposing the community to a potential bio hazard. He zoomed in for closer examination of my nose and motioned for me to follow after calling over a younger, perhaps stronger, aquatic savior who escorted me to the lifesaver station (not security headquarters as I had feared).
Once safely inside lifesaver central the pair laid me down on a gurney and went to work removing the blood and chlorine-rich water soaked bandage from my nose. The chemical content in the pool water must have acted as an anti-coagulant because I was once again hemorrhaging like a fountain.
After applying enormous amounts of pressure to no avail the team consulted with the head honcho who manning the pools' temperature control booth. After the brief meeting they retrieved and broke the seal on what appeared to be some sort of miniature fire extinguisher. As I stood there face to face with the business end of the device, the elder life guard gave the order to let it rip. It released this miraculous white powder that manage to gum up my broken circulatory system. I don't know exactly what effect it may have had on my respiratory system but I was breathing a lot easier just knowing that the bleeding had been put to a stop for good. To finish the job they wrapped my nose in gauze, circling the bandage around my head for extra good measure.
Job done, my new found friends and saviors immediately returned me to the pool, releasing me back into the watery environment from which they had plucked my wounded body. There I was soon reunited with my young fry who upon spying me smiled and said, "Da, did you see what I just did?" He hadn't even noticed that I was gone or that I was sporting a stylish new bandage around my head.
We had both learned a couple of valuable lessons. Ichiro had learned to become a little more cling-free and swim without me, under the watchful gaze of the ever-vigilant grandparently lifeguards. Me, after having my life saved by total strangers, I learned that while blood may be thicker than water you really need both to swim in this world.
More from an Inquiring Mind
Anonymous asks (in the comment section below):
Okay, so is the part about the bandage wrapped around your head really true?
The author responds:
Oh Anonymous you doubting Thomas! This time (see end of previous post, "Forget You Not") it's all true believe it or not. It's a very difficult location to apply an adhesive bandage, especially if you are in a watery environment. The wrap made perfect sense and it wasn't done in the fashion of the ancient Egyptians or anything like that. It was noticeable but subdued. Yet I never once thought they would let me back into the pool in that condition, let alone escort me! The ordeal was all over in a few minutes though. At the time 800 yen entitled an adult to a a two-hour swimming session (300 yen for kids) at Yokohama's Fureyu swimming pool. Once you subtract all the time I spent on the gurney in the life guard's office plus navigating around Scylla & Charybdis, etc., there wasn't a whole lot of splash time left.