January 11

Last night I blew my nose lightly and triggered a four-hour nosebleed. Using constant pressure for 10, then 15, then 20 minutes, I’d get it to stop. Then I’d inadvertently sniff, or get up to to do something, or change position in bed, and it would start gushing again. Ugh. After much experimentation and literally hours of research, this is what I learned:

  1. Prepare all supplies and get comfortable. Have an ice pack or cold compress handy to cool off your head and upper nose during the process. Have lot of tissues and a few slightly damp washcloths handy. It’s okay to gush everywhere as you prepare all this stuff. Then start out sitting up, leaning forward slightly, or leaning back very slightly. Make sure you’re as cool and as comfortable as possible.
  2. Maintain steady pressure. When you’re ready and settled in a comfortable spot, use two fingers on one hand to firmly press the entire soft part of your nose under your bridge. Constant pressure is essential, so if you find that your fingers are tiring, gently support them with the fingers on your other hand, but don‘t release the tired hand if possible or, if necessary, do so while slowly increasing pressure with the fresh hand while gently sliding the tired hand down off the tip of your nose. Click this link for a photo on ideal pressure placement: womens-health-advice.com/treatments/nosebleeds.html.
  3. Keep it up at least 10–20 minutes. Ten minutes of constant pressure might be enough, but go up to 15, then 20 minutes if needed. You shouldn’t need more than twenty.
  4. Release gently. When you let go, do it ever so gently so as not to cause the clot to open up again.
  5. Lightly dab, then let it be. Lightly dab any light leftover bleeding by holding a barely damp tissue up under your nostrils. Don’t be tempted to clean any further in your nostril. Just let it be.
  6. Don’t move for at least 15 minutes. Try to stay very still after this. Don’t sniff. Don’t move. Just be there for 15 minutes, or if possible half an hour or so. This is a good time to meditate. Or take an Ativan and finally fall asleep at 1am.

This morning I woke up nose bleed free. Whew! But my eyes were still stinging, so the doctors decided that it may be a chemo side effect after all, and not due to antibiotics. They put me back on some special eyedrops, and also changed my antibiotics for good measure. Starting to feel better now, so something is working.

Since my eyes were too sensitive to use devices or read for a while, I was able to finish my first attempt at a hand knit chemo cap. I also got to hang out with my friend Julie. One of the things we talked about quite a bit was mindfulness, a topic that has been coming up a lot around me. Of course we all can’t help but prepare for the future, but it’s also essential that we live fully in the present. It’s actually a way of prolonging our lives in the moment. Thanks to my friend Carrie for recommending this 60 Minutes segment: cbsnews.com/news/mindfulness-anderson-cooper-60-minutes.