Delays and more

I'm sitting at Gate L2B at ORD (Chicago O'Hare airport). It's 7:12 PM and I'm waiting for my 3:35 PM flight to Seattle (AS 23) to start boarding. Right now, we are due to leave at 9:05 PM, after a 5.5 hour delay.

The delay started out as a two hour weather delay. Due to pending snow in ORD, Air Traffic Control wouldn't let our in bound plane take off from SEA (Seattle). When it finally arrived, they discovered something was wrong with the engine and put us on a mechanical delay. Personally, I'm not sure what the big deal is with an engine problem. After all, there's another one right on the other wing.

Of course they couldn't find the part here. They started calling around because it's not something that NAPA typically stocks. They finally found at part at MDW (Midway, the airport on the opposite side of Chicago). I'm guessing they got the part from SW (Southwest Airlines). Now they are driving this part from MDW to ORD. Through Chicago traffic. At rush hour. Good luck, guys.

But, after all, it's ORD. It's an extremely reliable airport. Your flight is guaranteed to be late. It's just a question how late. if you are flying though ORD, you should just accept it.

This lateness is not just about the flights though. The decorators are also delayed, which would explain why the Christmas decorations are still up in the K terminal.

2008-01-17 ORD Decorations

While the delay is annoying, it's not the worst thing to happen to me today. Things got off to a rough start.

Now, before I go on, I'm going to recommend that those of you who have a weak stomach or are squeamish about blood click away. You will not be interested in the rest of this post. I'm fine. I'm uninjured, but if you don't like to read about those sorts of things, don't. I won't mind. Seriously. You won't hurt my feelings.
Are you sure you want to keep reading? It gets kind of nasty.
Okay. You are an intrepid interneter.

There are a lot of ways to wake up at 5:30 AM in a hotel. You can use your hotel alarm clock. You can get a wakeup call. You can use an alarm clock you brought from home. You can use your watch. You can use the timer on the hotel TV. You can even use your cell phone alarm.

But none of them are quite as effective or as unrecommended as waking up with a mouthful of your own blood.

You know how hot water heaters start spilling water out through a safety valve if there is too much in the system? I think that's what happened to my circulatory system. It seems to have overflowed.

Some where high up in my nose or sinuses, a blood vessel apparently broke. I don't know why. i felt fine the night before, and because of my flight schedule, I though I might actually get a full 8 hours of sleep. Then I got my 5:30 wakeup call. I woke up, coughed and felt something wet on my arm. I knew that wasn't good, and turned on the light. Then I saw the blood on the pillow from my nose and what had come down the back of my throat and out my mouth. I was mildly annoyed and still half asleep when I grabbed some tissues from the nightstand. They started to soak up some of the bright red liquid (from a tiny artery, I guess) and quickly became useless. I stumbled to the bathroom to assess the damage and contemplate my next step.

I stood in front of the sink and tried using tissue to slow the bleeding. At this point it was coming out in large fast drops that were splashing all over the sink and the little hotel shampoos. I've never had this happen before, and quickly abandoned the paper products, and turned to the cotton ones. I'm sorry Hilton. I grabbed a hand towel not so much to stop the flow as at to contain the damage.

By now, I was also spitting out blood that was coming from my sinuses. It spattered all over the sink, shelf above the sink, floor, bathmat, and toilet. It coagulated in the sink forming this weird gelatinous goo that wasn't washing down easily. I found a clean spot on the towel and leaned over the tub where I figured I would do less damage due to the larger target.

After about 20 minutes, the flow hadn't really stopped, but I had an effective blotting/capture system in place. My higher brain functions had come on line and I was out of bare survival mode. I began contemplating my next steps and whether I needed medical attention. I decided to give it a couple hours and if the problem didn't go away, I'd ask the front desk to call their house doctor or paramedics.

Since it was forming that goo in the tub now, I knew I did not have a clotting problem. Since it was bright red, I assumed it was arterial and full of oxygen. I figured my body would probably heal itself given enough time.

Now at this point, I pulled the towel away, since my nostril felt clogged. With it came a thick plug of this goo, which was a nasty mix of mucous and clotting blood. I dumped that in the tub and the flow started again. I put the towel back to my nose and tried my other tried and true nose bleed technique.

I leaned my head back so gravity would not encourage the bleed. When I was a kid, this always helped. This time, it did not. Instead the blood flowed straight down the back of my throat. That was not the result I was looking for.

I tried stuffing tissues under my upper lip, another tried and true technique. That did not stop the bleeding. Instead it just made a ramp so when blood flowed out of my nose it could jump further an spatter in new places in the bathroom.

So I continued to close off my nostrils with the towel.

Since I was out of ideas, there were only two paths to choose. Call an ambulance, or wait it out. I wasn't in any pain; this was really just annoying. Sticky, wet, and annoying. I chose to wait it out since I had not yet become woozy from lack of blood. So I got dressed, and undid the dead bolt from the door. I figured this way, if I passed out, housekeeping could still get in and find me.

Then I started taking notes on my condition and writing out a timeline of these events. I wrote about what was happening and at what time. I wrote about the rest of my condition (height, weight, no known allergies, not on any medications, etc). I included my health insurance information and emergency contact numbers. I also finished packing my bags so if I did get taken away in an ambulance, the hotel could easily store my belongings.

I also decided to remain close to the floor. I didn't feel faint or dizzy but I figured if something takes a sudden turn, at least I won't have far to fall.

And I kept going back to the tub to cough up more of this excessively sweet and salty syrup. And to remove the occasional mucous/clot plug.

After an hour and a half, I though I might be feeling a little light headed, but the flow had definitely slowed down. By 7:15, I could retire the towel and rely on tissues. By 7:30, the incident was basically over.

I think there is still some leak in there someplace since I've been sneezing out some blood today and coughing up clotty phlegms every few hours. But over all I feel fine. I was a little light headed much of the day, but then had lunch at the airport and that helped.

I guess it's like the ham sandwiches and cookies they give out at blood drives. But I didn't get a cute sticker for my donation to the Chicago sewer system.

I'm glad my flight is delayed, though, it gives my body more time to make repairs before I have to contend with dry cabin air and changes in cabin pressure. Just in case, I have extra tissues and a stolen wash cloth in my carry on.

The final casualties included probably a pint of my blood, one pillow, three pillow cases, a bed sheet, a hand towel, possibly a bath mat and the good day the house keeper may have been having that day. I did tip them well for the mess they have to deal with.

The bathroom looks like something right out of CSI. I can just imagine the scene. Delco is looking down at the mess and says, "What do you think H?"

Horatio Cain hold on to his sunglasses. "I think someone nose what happened. And soon," he pause to put on his sunglasses, "so will we."

I do have pictures of the scene. I don't know why, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I'm not sure why I want to remember this though. It was just odd, random, and messy. It's not how I wanted to start the morning.

So. How was your day?


Leia said...

Oh wow. I can just imagine how pleasant waking up to THAT must have been! You describe it very well, I love your writing! Thanks for sharing, it was really interesting.


Unknown said...

Really loooong post. Some people just won't let go of Christmas will they?

RollerKaty said...

That sounds kind of scary - hope you don't have another one!

Amy Frushour Kelly said...

Was your room very dry? Recirculated dry, hot air can cause posterior bleeding (arterial, the nasty kind you had). Also, you might have hit your nose in your sleep.

I used to get nosebleeds a LOT when I was little. They eventually went away, but one thing I remember clearly from that time was that any nosebleed that lasted over ten minutes was worthy of medical attention by the ear nose and throat doctor.

Anyway, feel better. You might vomit blood later. Sometimes after a really bad bleed, that happens. Icky.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what amazes me more -- that you did your own thorough medical assessment, note taking, and preparation, --- or that you didn't call an ambulance!

That is very scary. I am glad you are ok.