5am. Just as the birds have decided on which song to sing to welcome the day, she barges into my bedroom, crying.
“Muuum! I can’t breathe!” she gurgles, a hand held to her nose.
Thanks to many years of being woken up by a child running into my room in the middle of the night like the bogeyman has come to visit, I automatically wake up, ready for action.
“What happened? Did you throw up again?” I ask, dreading the answer. I’ve also had years of practise scrubbing carpets in the middle of the night.
A mumbled response followed by a deep cough which sounds like a knife wound to the gut. There’s a slippery wet sound to it as blood collects in the throat.
Her next words confirm my gut instinct. “By dose ith bleedin’,” she chokes.
Her little body comes into focus and I notice the droplets down her pyjama top. Her hands have a dull crimson colour splashed across them and the clumped tissue held to her face is leaking red fluid.
I jump into action. Gently pulling her down to sit on the bed, she leans against my chest. Two fingers pinch her soft tissue forming a stent just below the bridge of her tiny nose and fresh tissue is wedged under to catch the residual drip. She sighs. My nails dig into the sides of her nose and she complains, moving my hand away. A large glob of clotted blood shifts with the tissue and plops out. Urgh! We have to start another clot.
Her feverish body feels limp and tired against me so I keep the conversation going, getting a background to the start of the blood loss and where I’ll find the mess in her room. Turns out she was sleeping when the bleeding began and decided to use her hands to catch it. The drops form a blood trail to the bathroom where she stopped to top up on tissues. My hands are full so the Hubble gets up to start the clean up.
“Mum? I feel Ike throwing up!”
You know, blood is fine. Let it run everywhere and I’ll deal with it. Easy to clean with a good detergent and a metallic smell which isn’t as unpleasant as vomit! I beg her not to throw up on me (again, like she does whenever she’s sick) or my bed. She nods, shaking the tissue. It’s okay because I’ve managed to stop the main flow. Clotting must have begun again. The Hubble returns just in time to receive more instructions: go to the freezer and get ice cubes to cool her down.
He returns in time to see her hacking another cough good enough to emulate a 30-a-day smoker. His face is grim in the gloomy lamplight straining to reach the recesses of the bedroom. I smile, reassuring both that it will be fine. The ice will cool her down, probably stop the nausea and help the bloody nose stop.
We gently remove the tissue and check for any leakages. Nothing. I check her cough response to see if anything comes out. All good. She rewards me with a big sneeze. Crap! Will the clot hold? I hold my breath waiting for another crimson flood. Nothing but mucus. Phew!
We settle into a more comfortable position giving her body more room to breathe and cool and after a few minutes I feel it’s safe enough for her to go wash up in the bathroom.
“See how long it takes to wash the blood off, as if you were a murderer, and remember the details for the next time you write.” I’m impressed with her gusto to find out. She’ll make a good writer or reporter.
Within minutes she returns, looking as though she’s going to blow.
“Mum? Can I sneeze? I need to sneeze!”
My mind crunches probabilities. It’s worth the risk. “Go for it. If the clot blows, we’ll start again – it’s not a problem. Blow hard and make it worthwhile.” I kid. I’m worried we will be here for another half hour.
She does as she’s told, making gross noises as big lumps of black clot ooze out with every blow. It’s either hit or miss once you’ve cooled the body. It will either reset itself or keep bleeding for other reasons: a blown vein, a cut somewhere up the nostril or a need to relieve the pressure built up with the heat from her body. I’m not a doctor. It’s five in the morning and I’m guessing.
She walks in, a big grin on her pale face.
“I can breathe again!”
The Hubble and I sigh with relief. Is there any point in trying to go back to sleep? No. Happy Friday.