Saturday, 17 December 2011


One of the things that literature does not seem to be dotted with is references to nose bleeds. There are no great nosebleed poems. No stage plays. No Great British nosebleed novel. The best I could come up with is Gary Alexander Azerier’s collection of short fiction, Nosebleeds From Washington Heights, which I haven’t read and is criticised on Amazon for being a “series of apparently pointless reminiscences of the author's relationships with his family and childhood friends” and having very little to do with Washington heights. It probably doesn’t have much to do with nosebleeds either.

I’ve never been a sufferer. In childhood I guess there were a few episodes. I can remember my mother’s new hand-made rug getting dotted with red and her being right annoyed but not wanting to show it because my distress was clearly worse. My father had put a big key down my back to stem the flow but I don’t think this had worked. Or maybe I’m mixing this memory up with the one about stopping a daylong session of hiccups. That had blowing into brown paper bags in it and drinking lots of glasses of cold water. I don’t really recall those techniques working either.

The current manifestation is another Prednisolone wonder. Start on the steroid and experience virtually no side effects and then , three weeks in, they all start arriving. The nosebleeds began as a mild handkerchief splattering while out walking. They’ve now developed into a day-long series of episodes that never really come to all that much but are troubling nonetheless.

I’ve now stationed boxes of tissues in every room and never leave the house without a supply in both pockets. The GP tells me that Prednisolone acts a little like Aspirin does in this respect. Thins the blood. Reduces its ability to clot. There’s no cure other than get the Prednisolone dose down. The workaround – and life seems to be increasingly full of workarounds – is to use a nasal spray that contains Oxymetazoline. The one I’ve got is Galpharm’s Nasal Decongestant Spray – Acts in Minutes – Lasts for Hours. One squirt and the epistaxis retreats. Epistaxis? That’s the condition’s formal name. There are always new things to learn at Adventures in Prednisolone.

How much of this stuff might I get away with if I were, say, sitting next to my friend Dave in the local pub and repeating it all to him between sips of drink? Would he have any interest in nosebleeds? I doubt it. But he’d listen, for a while, out of politeness. Then he’d change the subject back to politics or history or something like that.

In creative writing classes I’ve taught I’ve always been careful to mark out the distinction between stuff you write for an audience and stuff you write for yourself. The former needs to have a real information or entertainment value while the latter can just be therapy. Therapy is fine, I’d tell the class. Get life’s problems sorted out by writing them down. See how they look, how they turn out, where they go. Just don’t expect anyone else to be that interested. Keep it to yourself. And here I am, today, not taking my own advice. Blogging the problem.

But these are post-modern times. And maybe this is the post-modern way.

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