When I was a little girl, I had a problem with nosebleeds. It wasn’t enough that I already socially maimed, being weird and half-feral and creepily thin and of a kind of fish flavored superimmigrant stock that even being born here had no effect on, I also had to profusely bleed from my nose without warning or reason, bloodying polyester hand-me-downs and dresses my mom made and orange berets that made me look like a little decorative pumpkin and buster brown shoes and small desk/chair combinations and jungle gyms and brown paper bag covered school books and even other children(!).

Now I realize it was because even then my sinuses were dry and worn out and inflamed from the monstrous amount of dust I would breathe in at the constantly under construction site of my ancestral home, but doctors in the 70s didn’t really think about the dangers of dust, and we had limited money for office visits and preventive medication. It wouldn’t be until I was well into my adulthood that I would discover neti pots and the sinu-pulse and inhalers and nasal steroids and blessed loratadine and develop a passionate love-hate relationship with prednisone.

So for most of my formative years, I just bled out of my fucking face. I could tell when it was starting, the copper penny itchy trickle that would start down the back of my throat first. I could taste it and I could smell it and I knew it was happening again and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I would optimistically try to just tilt my head back and allow the blood to just flow uninterrupted down my throat, and if I looked in the mirror I could see the back of my mouth fill with red, my tongue brown from the saliva mixing with it. my vision was good enough then that I could see clots develop and slip thickly down into my gullet, and I swallowed them anxiously, not wanting anyone to have witnessed yet again my bloody wet masses of elementary school paper towels, which had a texture so rough that if you blew your nose on them, they would take your whole face off with it.

There was also the option of putting cotton balls up your nose too, but these were as useless as slim regular tampons, as I would come to find as a teenager. I bleed out of my body hard, whatever hole it happens to be. Maybe because I am more alive than everyone else.

My mother wept about it and teachers were concerned but not all that concerned because back then bodily fluids weren’t as atomically taboo as they are now and so it was less of a biohazard and more of a bio-hassle and finally the doctor said that it was due to chocolate, which was odd because as a child I barely consumed it, yet the restriction from what would become my favorite food of all sealed my devotion to it. how could the delicious extract from a glorious bean, mixed with milk and sugar and nuts and caramels and toffees and whatever other fantastic substance wreak such havoc on my nostrils? It seemed impossible and terrible and when I was first told I was forbidden to eat chocolate I couldn’t believe it.

I’d stand outside of a candy shop about a block from school on the other side of an ominous intersection where an older girl from my school had been killed in a car accident.  It was an unguarded crosswalk with no stoplight and poor visibility with bushes on the street that were exactly a 10 year old girl’s height and so it was a very real death trap for underage pedestrians. Still, I would make that perilous journey at least once a day so I could look at the ever-changing seasonal variety of chocolates. In spring there would be valentines, huge heart shaped boxes filled with luscious assortments for new and old lovers and the forgotten lonely who I suspected would have the plush velvety organs mailed to themselves, and then fat foil covered eggs and hollow bunnies for easter. in winter there would be chocolate logs or yuletide logs and chocolate coated gingerbread men. I would stare at the forbidden sweets in the window, leering at the candies through the glass wishing I could talk to the chocolates on a phone, like I was long overdue for a conjugal visit yet had no luck with the appeals process.

The white chocolates my mother bought me as a kind of apologia were unimpressive. There was nothing to them. I felt no passion for the vapid buttery sugar. it was lifeless and drab and meaningless to me. it wasn’t chocolate as far as I was concerned. It didn’t fill my wanting mouth with deep pleasure and satiety. The sweetness was empty and bland, barely warranting the title of ‘chocolate’ at all in its moniker. I still think white chocolate is bullshit, although I now acknowledge that it can have its (sparse) merits, especially if combined with some sort of truffle, or used in a sauce, but in general, I am still married to the hard stuff, dark chocolate, with a cocoa content of over 85% – yeah I am hardcore.

Taking away the chocolate as a child didn’t cure me of my nosebleeds, which eventually faded as I got older and changed schools and started to have friends and bad grades, but it did make me addicted to the stuff, and I recently procured a bar of 99% – a Lindt rarity, with almost no sugar cut with it, virtually unstepped on, like hard white or china white or ice or that kind of smoke-able crystal meth that makes people go crazy and lose their teeth. The 99% tasted exactly like the beginning of the nosebleeds of my youth. Go figure.

9 thoughts on “Nosebleeding

  1. I still have the same problem, but I’m younger than you, so people were flipped out about getting the HIV or something. So all through high school, I’d bleed out my nose about once a week, and have to go to the nurse and sit on a stool in the corner next to the biohazard bin and toss the used tissues in there and then scrub my hands and face down. It was like I was the monkey in Outbreak.

  2. Reading this made me think of my childhood. I was pretty much at odds with my body, I didn’t like anything about it. My primary problem in the first and second grades was pooping in my pants. It would occur without warning, and I was absolutely mortified. I was teased about that for years afterward. Even now, whenever I feel something about to happen I freak out and have to get to a bathroom right away, although I haven’t had any accidents since I was a kid. I was also very thin, and that never went away. I had nosebleeds which I ignored. Of course, for a boy, it was totally cool. You could imagine you were a soldier and had gotten wounded. I still remember that taste you mentioned. Actually blood doesn’t taste half bad, a little salty. I would only want to drink my own, though. I can remember playing and then suddenly for no reason, throw up. I didn’t feel sick, and would just go back to playing. It totally grossed out the other kids. They thought I was pretty weird anyway, so this was just another example.
    I’m not supposed to eat a lot of chocolate because of the fat content, but I still love dark chocolate. It gives me the same rush as black coffee. It feels hard core. I’d like to try the almost pure dark chocolate you wrote about. Maybe I can find someone to hook me up with some.

  3. White chocolate actually has no coco in it at all. I was very saddened finding out in culinary school. The same with espresso not having as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.

    Stupid marketing.

  4. Its like we live some weird parallel life. I think I am the bizarro cho! I suffered from chronic nosebleeds when I was young too. I never knew when or where it would happen, but it would always happen at the most inopportune moment. I remember one particulary bad bleed in the hallway on the way to the cafeteria – must have been 5th grade – when some adult handed me a wet paper towel when they saw my nose bleeding, and the water on the towel made the blood spread more quickly, which made me think I was bleeding worse than I was…you can imagine the hysterics of a nelly gay 5th grader…AHHHH! I endured doctor after doctor poking around inside my nose and up into my sinuses, chemical cauterization of the blood vessels in my nose, and other fun treatments. What they didn’t take into consideration was that I would move from a relatively dry area of the midwest to the humid climate of Florida, which would provide some relief, and eventually grow out of it. I still panic a little bit when my nose tickles or runs, and I do have a nosebleed from time to time, and even though I don’t let anyone hear him, that little nelly boy is still a nervous wreck on the inside! =)

  5. I used to suffer nosebleeds as a teen and into my thirties when I was diagnosed with a severe allergy to cigarette smoke – I didn’t smoke but was exposed to it everywhere. I had surgery to remove the scar tissue from my sinus passages and the nosebleeds stopped for a long time (this was also around the time that workplaces banned smoking).

    But then I started coming out in bruises and my menstrual cycles became horrendous. Testing revealed – you guessed it – a chocolate allergy. I tried to deny it at first but eventually it became quite clear and I’ve had to give it up.

    I used to test myself once a year by trying it, thinking maybe my body had healed enough but no, I cannot eat it at all due to the pain and bleeding.

    Our bodies are such weird and amazing things!

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