#235–No, not a crime scene . . .

For weeks our whole world has been turned upside down and seems so bizarre. But I took bizarre to a whole new level last Friday.

It was a day I had been looking forward to. Earlier in the week, I had completed physical therapy, and on Friday, I would be having my final post-op appointment with my orthopedic surgeon regarding my knee replacement done last January. My knee was healing well, and I was ready to be on my own. Because of the pandemic, it would be a phone appointment with the doctor.

The day started normally. After breakfast, I headed for the shower. I washed my face and arms and looked down and saw a pinkish cast to the water and then swirls of bright red. Yikes! I was bleeding, but from where? It took a moment, but I saw that it was right below the ankle bone on the inside of my left leg, not my surgical leg.

I turned off the water and could see a thin, stream of blood hitting about a foot away. It was steady like somebody turned on the spigot and I needed to find a way to turn it off. For just a second, I was mesmerized before I realized that my limited supply of blood was shooting out of my body without stopping.  I grabbed the washcloth and used it to staunch the bleeding. I hobbled out of the shower and over to the sinks. The washcloth became saturated almost immediately. I opened the cabinet and got some cotton pads, but they were totally useless. Then I went over to my cleaning stuff and grabbed a partial roll of paper towels. That worked.

I had to decide whether to apply enough direct pressure to stop the bleeding right now or get me dried off and some clothes on. I was wet and becoming colder by the minute and starting to shiver.

The paper towel roll did stop the bleeding–unless I moved. Illustration by Karen D. Nichols

I reached for the red stretchy band from physical therapy and used it to tie the paper towel roll to my leg. It held it there. I grabbed the bath towel and dried off in record time and then hobbled across the room to my clothes and got dressed. But with every step, blood squirted out. Not quite sure how I got underwear and long pants on, but I did and in record time.

Then I hobbled into the walk-in closet to get new paper towel roll cause first one was full and dripping. I was losing a fair amount of blood.

I grabbed my cell phone and hobbled into the guest bathroom. I sat on the toilet, put my leg up on the stool, and finally was able to apply direct pressure with the new roll of paper towels. Then I called Carole, the gal who rents my downstairs, which I had converted into an apartment years ago. On the first three tries, I heard no ring. Fourth try I did. She answered, I explained, and she said she would be right up after getting dressed. Then I hobbled into the kitchen to get the landline because my doctor would be calling soon.

Moments later, she arrived and said, “Wow, it looks like a crime scene up here.” She is a freelance caregiver and brought first aid supplies with her. She was the right person to call.

I removed the paper towel roll and she immediately placed a pad and kept up the pressure as she cleaned around the bleeding spot with alcohol. She then wrapped the ankle and foot with a whole roll of gauze. I hobbled into the bedroom and lay on top of the bed. She put pillows under my leg to elevate it and then put tape around the gauze. We cleaned up my feet and hands, and she wrapped an ice pack around the ankle. Then she brought me a blanket to put over me. The final touch was when Groucho settled himself next to me. Whew, what a bizarre experience!

We looked around. The floors in the closet, the master bedroom, the guest bathroom, the hallway, and the kitchen had spray patterns with small pools of blood and the occasional foot print, and the master bath had blood on the floor, the rug, and the small trash container had the two bloody paper towel rolls.  Carole figured I must have lost about eight ounces. It indeed looked like some terrible crime had taken place. The floors can be cleaned, but one area rug will have to be tossed.

What a relief to settle down with my foot upon pillows and Groucho next to me.
Illustration by Karen D. Nichols

The phone rang. I picked it up, and Carole found my mop and started cleaning the floors. As expected, it was the doctor. I explained what had just happened. He said that it was a vein that had ruptured and that we had done the right thing. He also said that if the bleeding didn’t stop, to go to the ER for stitches. He said that it always looked like more blood than it actually was, but if it was eight ounces of blood lost, I would still be okay because our bodies hold much more. Then we discussed my surgical leg, which was healing fine. I really felt fortunate to have a doctor to talk to at that precise moment.

I spent the day on my bed with the leg elevated. That evening, Carole unwrapped the ankle and we could see that it was a small round hole, that was not bleeding, and starting to look like it might form a scab. She put a new dressing on it.

The next morning, I unwrapped it, and it still had not done any bleeding. Then I put a new dressing on it.

Carole called a few minutes later. She had been thinking about it during the night and explained her theory. The fact that it was perfectly round, made her think that the skin had been irritated by the upper edge of my shoe and had rubbed a blister, which happened to be right on a vein. Then when the water from the shower hit the blister, it broke, and the vein ruptured.  Or something like that. 

I usually don’t keep my outside shoes on in the house, but the day before, I did. And it was a long day. I got up at 5, so I could be at Freddies before 7, so I could get some toilet paper. I succeeded and got lots of other groceries too. I kept on the shoes after arriving home because I would need them later. After lunch, I rode the exercise bike and walked a quarter mile with my two walking sticks. Then I walked around the yard talking to my yard guy, who was working in the yard that afternoon. I also cleaned out a space in the garage for a shipment of books that will be arriving in a few weeks. So on this Thursday, I was more active than any day since my surgery. Perhaps, I did irritate the skin on my ankle. Apparently, the skin has become quite thin in that area.

The hole caused by the rupture was about half the size of a pea––maybe a quarter inch across. And, yet, it made such a mess. Much of the house did indeed look like a crime scene. Thank goodness for Carole. She was my hero last Friday in more ways than one.

About crossingsauthor

Judy Fleagle spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.Since 2009, she has written five books: "Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges," "The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans," "Around Florence," "Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known," and "The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!."
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3 Responses to #235–No, not a crime scene . . .

  1. It’s been over a week, so I am feeling fine. I didn’t feel light-headed from loss of blood, but I did feel unusually tired. After trying several pairs of shoes on, I finally found a pair in my closet that I can wear that will not irritate ‘the spot.” Indeed, thank goodness for friends!

  2. Sue Martino says:

    Wow, that was a frightful ordeal. Glad you’re okay now!

  3. Phyllis Bright says:

    Scarey story and glad it turned out so well! Thank goodness for friends!

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