apparently a side effect of percocet is dehydration. since surgery, and my subsequent steady stream of oral percocet, i’ve been having sporadic bloody noses. they’re teeny-tiny – a drop or two of blood and then they’re over – but enough that i keep napkins on hand in bed with me, just in case.
i must have tucked one under the corner of my pillow during the night, and just now i scooted my pillow over and saw it. napkin folded over and over, rust-colored spots of blood on every layer.
it’s been years, but i can still feel the panic pounding heavy at the base of my stomach. standing trembling in the bathroom stall, tucking neatly-folded squares of toilet paper into the waistband of my underwear, hoping they would catch the last droplets of blood that refused to stop blooming even though i had to go to class and i was out of bandages.
we’re in AP government and i drop my pencil, lean over the side of my desk to pick it up. the pain shoots across my hip like a flame, taking my breath away. slowly, ever so cautiously, i ease my way back down into my seat, pencil hanging limply between my fingers. once i’m seated i immediately slide into what, over the years, has become my new position: slouched down in my seat, legs long out in front of me. no bending at the hip, no need to worry about denim raking open scabs.
i remember standing in the bathroom of our house, feet gone numb because i’ve been there for so long, shower water running cold. blood snakes down my leg in five, six, ten little streams. i stand, blandly mesmerized, watching as two join and rush twice as quickly down my calf. i hobble-hop my way to the shower and add hot water to the freezing jet streams, get in with my back facing the spray. as the water hits the scarlet rivulets on my leg, pink droplets spatter the tile in front of me.
last wednesday at the doctor for my one-week post-op, i asked the nurse if i could have more gauze to cover the steri-strips still covering my incision, before i covered that in a compression sleeve. she smiled and asked if i was squeamish. still fighting to keep down my chocolate milk, i responded with a weak grin, ‘oh, you have no idea.’