New Year’s Wake Up Call: How A Nose Bleed Forced Me To Grow Up In 2016
Yesterday I spent a chunk of the afternoon at urgent care after experiencing a pretty insane nosebleed. The night before, I dreamt that someone offered me the business card and referral of their therapist. My dad has been nagging me to see his internist. And, my horoscope for 2016 told me I should really focus on my health (Ok, it also said I was getting a house, getting married, having a baby, and adopting a pet but still), which… is also what it soothsayed for 2015 and I never really listened, so here we still are.
OK 2016 I GET IT.
Yesterday was the first day of the year I’ll officially be IN my thirties when I turn 31 in May. Being 30 is not being IN your thirties. Let’s be honest; I only have five more months to skate on this thin ice.
At New Year’s Day brunch with friends (for which we made a reservation because, ahem, thirties) I asked everyone what their resolutions were. Investing in lenses for my photographer friend, finding a hobby, said another already multi-talented creative friend, and having a better outlook and appreciating what he has, announced my boyfriend.
Me? I said I needed to get my fitness back in to shape. I’ve actually never been more comfortable in my own body, which is why I’ve let my exercise routine slip so far beyond my sight that my sports bras have developed a thick film of disappointment. My motivation levels are low.
See, I hate working out. Endorphins? I do NOT know what everyone is talking about. That great feeling AFTER you work out that makes it all worth it? Nope, not on my radar. I’m just tired and hungry and in pain.
For me, I get my ya-yas out by cleaning and organizing. Stressed? I wipe down the counters. Had a frustrating call with a parent? Vacuum the apartment where I’m cat-sitting because mine is already clean.
But, the thing is, it’s not enough. Even though I don’t feel stressed out, that’s not exactly how stress works, especially as you get older, I’m realizing.
I don’t feel upset and burnt-out. I’m generally happy, content, optimistic, and productive. And yet, my shoulders are always stiff. I’m anxious when I leave the house about the most ridiculous things. My stomach randomly hurts or feels upset more days out of the week than not, and then came yesterday’s nosebleed.
My boyfriend and I were sitting on the couch watching a movie when my nose started gushing blood, like… a lot of blood. Living with a deviated septum my whole life, I’m a veteran nose bleeder, and this one was bad. Like, my boyfriend almost passed out from the sight of it bad.
I’m typically an annoyingly, unmoved level headed person, but I began to get really scared.
Let me back up a little. Like I said, I was born with a deviated septum, but didn’t know it until I was 24 years old, when my ex-boyfriend forced me to go to the doctor after years of daily nose bleeds. I had resisted going for so long because I grew up in Southern California, and had just moved to Colorado. I lived in a dry climates, and I didn’t make enough money as a waitress to give up a $30 copay for the doctor to tell me to put Vaseline up my nose.
“Do you do coke,” the doctor asked me quite sincerely after taking one look up my nose? I hadn’t, and still never have tried cocaine, so I was a little blown away (no pun intended). “I can’t believe you have never noticed; you can see it. Let me show you.”
I almost passed out from looking at what I would affectionately refer to like an old friend, the hole in my nose.
Apparently, a symptom of a deviated septum can be perforations, or small holes. I had one, and it had gotten pretty big. This explained my nose bleeds. Instead of needing to put ointment in my nose, he told me I needed surgery, otherwise my nose would eventually collapse. That’s a frightening horror movie image, so in November 2009, I got surgery, and it sucked. Real bad. So bad, in fact, that it kind of traumatized me into not really going to the doctor past a couple follow ups a few months later. I moved back to LA, and never found a new doctor.
But…I’ve always been worried about it. I don’t get nose bleeds like I used to, except during the winter when the weather gets windy and dry, but I’ve had this nagging feeling that I should go back and get my nose checked. I’ve gotten referrals from multiple people over the years but I can’t seem to get myself to call because I am so damn scared of having another surgery.
I’ve had that nagging feeing for over six years now, and it was as overwhelming as ever as I held wads of paper towels to my face.
It lasted for 15 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity of blood loss. My boyfriend insisted we go to the urgent care and, for once, I didn’t protest. My worst fears were taking over and I was convinced my septum had collapsed and it was all because I had been a baby by putting off seeing a doctor.
Turns out, I am fine. The urgent care doctor looked up my nose, as my heart palpitated in anxiety. He isn’t an ENT, but he told me that nothing looked as severe as was in my head. In fact, he even suggested a case of psychosomatic feelings. I would be relieved to find out I’m crazy.
Nothing was actually terribly wrong with me and, six years later, I was actually pretty happy to fork over $30 to have someone tell me to put Vaseline up my nose. But, it was a wake up call.
I have to start listening to my horoscope and focus on my health. I’m not in my 20′s anymore. In your thirties, aches and pains aren’t something a bottle of water and a solid night’s sleep can cure, and putting things off won’t make them go away.
“I plan on spending the rest of a really long life with you,” my boyfriend told me in the car on the way to the urgent care. “This year we both need to take better care of ourselves and not put things off.”
I nodded. Later, as I was cleaning the apartment, because it had been a stressful day, I told him, “I’m scared that this is an omen.”
“An omen for what?” He asked.
“I’m nervous that this is how things are starting, that this is just a sign of what the rest of the year will be like for me.”
“It doesn’t have to be,” he said.
And he’s right.
2016 will be the year I go to all the doctors and get all the scary tests and shots I need. It will be the year I force myself to go on hikes and go to yoga. Hell, maybe I’ll even hire a cleaning service. “Getting in shape” means more than just a gym membership for me.
2016 is the first year I’ll be in my thirties for the entire year, and I don’t really have time to fuck around with putting off my health and diagnosing myself off the Internet.