By Alex Howard, Nov 20 2017 10:18PM

I’ve had a grim week. Sunday afternoon-nosebleed. Kept getting worse and on the third bad bleed I decided to measure blood loss and collected about 50 ml in a plastic measuring jug before reluctantly letting J take me to Wycombe Minor Accident Unit. 8.00pm.Seen immediately, hospital impressed with my jug.Nurse inserts a tampon thing up my nostril (ow), wets it, it dilates, blood starts coming out my mouth.I get sent to Oxford John Radcliffe by ambulance where I’m put on a trolley and another tampon put in.(pic1)

Monday morning 2.00 am.See Dr.Removes tampon, lots of blood, tells me there are 3 things they do in order and he will do Step 1,fit a pack to stop bleeding,it has balloons inside you can inflate once its in.

‘This will be very painful, we will give you morphine after and codeine.’

Agonising.Pack in filling nostril, then pain relief and lie on trolley in A&E (pic2)


Mon/Tues morning. Transferred to small,nice ward.Lie there all day in pain and dazed while fluids given, b.p monitored etc. Tues morning 2.00am funtime

Blood starts pouring out of left nose, down throat, out of mouth.Dr called. Pack has failed, balloons burst, time for Step 2, insert catheter (tube) up nose, now a Niagara of blood, down throat, out mouth.Does so. I have (I know now) unusually wide air way.Catheter tube is too small.It is withdrawn and a larger one replaced.This is v sore, and nasal stimulation provides a vomiting reaction so I start throwing up.Then pack replaced (ow) then ‘that won’t do it,we need 2 packs up there !’ another pack (ow) and then another pack for the other nostril. Blood stops coming.(pic3)


Tues. Everything seems fine.Lie in bed being monitored.Weds packs out, if ok, home.Fine by me. Tues night, 10 pm, wake in bed feeling fine, warm, relaxed then BLEEEUGH! Puking blood. Dr in again, thank god multi-pack is fine so just one pack on left replaced, v. sore but no need to scream.


Weds. Steps 1 & 2 didn’t work. Time for step 3, surgery. Not keen to do as twiddly and very close to brain with obvious v high risk factor.(See pic4, I so did not care about any risk ! Also everything, pads etc will be removed under anaesthetic so NO PAIN YAY !).Surgery is usually scheduled ages in advance but I get added on as emergency, about 5pm.

6pm postponed-last op took long time

8pm theatre needed for guy near death, do me later

9pm postponed – 2 year baby brought in, priority ( I really wanted to say ‘but I’m 56 and I’m more aware of what’s happening, he’s tough and young and resilient…please let me go first,’ but I smiled and said of course) Admin woman said we’ll try to fit you in tonight,but probably tomorrow.Me; but the pads will stay in and be removed under anaesthetic ? Yes ?

Admin woman, ‘oh no, they’ll have to come out first thing & the catheter and then we’ll replace them, or otherwise there’s a risk of necrosis.’ FUCK. Having them put in was excruciating, now it was going to be twice as long, twice as painful.8 individual slices of agony. Me, oh…ok then.

9-11 pm. A very long 2 hours of gloom.

11.01 MIRACLE guy comes in my room, ‘right, we’re taking you to theatre now !’ and off we go.The best journey of my life. Ever. Prep room, another canula, we’re just giving you the anaesthetic . Look ahead and…..BLACK

Whenever. Wake up.Am breathing thru nose (pic5) first time since Sunday. Packs are gone, pain is gone.


Thurs. Discharge day. Cruel Admin woman visits me.She’s wearing surgical gear, ‘I operated on you last night, you had a tear in your Spheno-Palatine artery which I clamped off, so the bleeding was arterial .’

She could so easily at the end of a busy shift with 2 unexpected ops done just thought, fuck it, that’ll do for today,we’ll do him tomorrow’ but hadn’t. Oh, and of course she sort of saved my life. So it’s all been quite hectic. xh





By Alex Howard, Nov 2 2017 11:21PM

I am giving a talk at Wendover Library on November 14 so if you're free, do come along !

By Alex Howard, Nov 1 2017 10:17PM

A while ago I wrote a Victorian thriller which, although it enthused my agent, failed to rouse a similar level of interest in my publishers. So I am about to incorporate it into a new book where the action shifts from today, back to Victorian times and then backwards and forwards. It should be fun !

By Alex Howard, Sep 10 2017 10:58PM

Back to Dumbarton, this time to move my mother who has dementia, from a home at Cardross down to a home here where I live in Bucks.

So I hired a private ambulance and off we went on our 400 mile journey. The Paramedics were great and a day which I had, in all honesty been dreading, went well.

So far, in my life, nothing has been as bad as I expected, except peridontal surgery which was far, far worse.

By Alex Howard, Aug 8 2017 10:57PM

Up early tomorrow morning to drive the four hundred miles up to Glasgow to visit my mother in a care home. It's an all too common problem, just about everyone I know has got an elderly relative with dementia.

As I'm driving, rather than flying, it makes packing so much easier, you can just keep flinging things into the car, 'oh, that'll come in handy....'

The dog is coming too. He is full of nervous excitement. He hates it if I go away, he's pretty sure he is going too, his basket and bowls are in the car, but he doesn't know for certain.

He loves car journeys and is ever so good. He just lies down in the back and goes to sleep. Wish I could !

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