If you had asked me 48 hours ago, I would have told you I'd be leaving about now on a journey to California. This trip has been planned for months and it was special; I was going there to perform a wedding. My cousin's son (second cousin? first cousin once removed?) is marrying his beloved in the mountains southeast of Sacramento. Shanna (my cousin) and I grew up together and I performed her wedding to Frank many years ago. They have often shown love and encouragement to Cathy and me, so it was an honor to perform this ceremony for their son Billy and his bride.
How quickly things change! Cathy departed early Wednesday to spend some time with her parents. That night, just as I was falling asleep, I awoke to a feeling of sinus drainage way up inside my nose. I got up to blow my nose in the semi-dark, then realized that it wasn't normal sinus fluid; it was blood. Blood on the pillow case, blood dripping on the floor, a tissue full of blood. I'm not prone to bloody noses, but I had one similar to this about two weeks before. I mentally reviewed, then took the steps to stop the flow, waited a while, then checked; I was still bleeding. I walked into the living room, typed with one finger (my other hand was holding my nose shut) and discovered on an internet site that I was responding correctly. I waited awhile longer; still bleeding.
Finally, not knowing what else I had to do, I got my phone and dialed 9-1-1. I had to repeat my address three times for the emergency dispatcher to understand me with my nose closed and covered with tissue. The paramedics came, gave me further instructions, checked my vitals and, after a while, we still couldn't stop the bleeding. They said I would need to go to the ER at the hospital. They could call an ambulance, but I could ask a friend if I chose. I called Tom from our staff and he came right over. (Bless him!)
At the hospital, the physician told me I just need to apply more pressure. The bleeding stopped about then and they had me lie there for over an hour, with them occasionally taking care of their normal tests. The Dr. cauterized a small place just inside my nose and pronounced me ready to go home. As I was being disconnected from their monitors, I suddenly started bleeding again from way up in my sinuses. The Dr. returned and I explained to him it was just like the bleeding that woke me up. He said, "I didn't want to have to do this. You're not going to like me very much." He then took a long, tight roll of absorbent material, coated it with saline and shoved it up my nose. I thought it might just come out through the top of my head (not really!). Jesus' words about getting the log out of your eye (except this was my nose) came to mind.
This is the way I looked. I felt even uglier.
By the time I got through Wednesday night, I realized I had a problem. I couldn't rest but a few minutes at a time. I was also concerned about the trip scheduled for the next day. Even before I called my Dr. for a follow-up, I called Shanna to tell her what was going on. I was shaken by the suddenness of the bleeding as well as not being able to stop it. I could imagine scenarios on a plane, in a rental car on the highway or in the wedding itself.
My Dr. concurred that I definitely shouldn't travel for 24 hours and that we didn't know if or when it would happen again. He referred me to a specialist next week. (I'm not worried about the long-term outcome, just the short-term uncertainty of a nose that might just start bleeding at a horrible time.)
I'm grateful that Shanna's family was able to find another local pastor who would step in and do the wedding. I'm just sorry that I couldn't be there this weekend. In questioning times like this, I am drawn back to the amazing relevance of the Scriptures: 5 Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. 6 Listen for GOD's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Proverbs 3:5-6 (THE MESSAGE)