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  • kendall emmert

Stopping a Nose Bleed with a Tampon and What God had to Say

Updated: Dec 28, 2020

Shoving the third tampon up my fifteen year old son’s nose while we sat in the doctor’s office got me giggling. He wasn’t dying. We were there because we were pretty sure that he had the flu. The nurse wanted to swab his nose for an influenza test, but asked him to blow first.


Huge mistake!

At first it seemed like a regular nose bleed, but then as the tissue box was suddenly empty, the nurse handed him a red, biohazard bag. Okay. Wow.

Then she left.

He held his face over the bio bag and the blood fell in at a fast drip. Blood was dripping all over the bag, his fingers were covered, smears across his face . . . I’m opening and closing cabinets, sliding out drawers, looking for something more absorbent when I remember: I have tampons!

Starting with the Ultra size, we quickly realized that the capability of that huge mass of cotton was expanding at an alarming rate . . . he looks up.


“Okay, so just pull it out with the string. Over the bag.”

Upon trying, he starts yelling, “Ahhhh, ow! It hurts!”

(Like a dry tampon hurts. Yikes.)

“Sorry! You just have to pull it out!”

I hold the bag to catch it, and immediately blood starts pouring into the bio bag. I grab my purse and push things around until I find the “light days” absorbency option.

“Here, this one’s smaller.”

That did the trick. He went through three tampons before it finally stopped.

In the background of this mess, there was another mess, beeping at me from my phone.

Throughout our four hour experience at Urgent Care, Luke, the sixteen year old who we had taken into our home two years ago, had been texting me.

About two weeks ago, he had decided to cut me out of his life. Again. Even so, I answered a phone call from a lock down facility to which he’d been taken. Mine was the only number he remembered.

Luke had begun to emotionally bleed out. The wounds of his wretched childhood and lack of love and care weren’t healing. He was dripping everywhere while turning into a boy-man, drowning in a puddle of his own blood.

It had happened before. Each time, everyone we knew came running with their first aid kits: teachers, friends, sisters, counselors, DHS, Families First. Some only had bandaids, others had wound care bandages, while others came with expertise in stitching. I mean, if it is possible to cauterize an emotional wound of that magnitude, it had been offered.

But his default was to take everything handed to him and well . . . throw it away. That way, I guess, he could convince himself he didn’t need it. All the while, though, he picked at his scabs, stuck his fingers in deep gashes around his torso, scratched his neck and face and said, “See, I can’t help what I’m doing. Help me.”

But unlike my son in the doctor’s office, he didn’t want a biohazard bag or wads of tissues.

He wanted to bleed.


All over me. All over my children. All over my family. All over his friends. All over anyone who came to help.

But this morning, while grabbing anything at all that I could find to soak up my son’s unending river of blood, I decided not to reply to Luke's text. He had simply said, “Hey.”

He was trying to beckon me back into this story in which we have tried a thousand times, unsuccessfully, to clean up the horrid, clotted mess. Maybe he hopes I don’t notice the smears of dried flaky blood all over his face. Or maybe he believes that they will cause empathy and I’ll have to respond with a warm washcloth.

But looking at this new text I wonder, “Does he need to bleed out? Does he need to get to the point where there is no strength left in him? To bleed out beyond the help of a kleenex, stitches, blood transfusions, and cauterization?”

I look down into my own hands and find, for the first time, they are empty. I have nothing to offer him. I don’t even have words.

I’m actually very preoccupied helping my own son clean up this other, very tangible, bloody mess.

But as I wipe, wad, and dab, I ask God, “What am I responsible for?”

He is quiet today. He is asking me to take my pathetic attempts to love Luke and set. them. down.

As I stuff the bio bag in the trashcan (is this where I put it?), He reminds me that He has already bled out. Bled out and survived the death that came as a result of nails pounded through bones.

Bled out for me.

Bled out for Luke.

I can only point Luke to the One who knows: “Here, broken boy. When you’re so tired and can’t go on, go to the One who sees you, who bled out for you to keep you from dying inside this shameful, defective, miserable mess. The only one who can heal your gaping wounds.”

By his wounds you are healed. (1 Peter 2:24c)


Mark writes a story in 5: 25-29 about a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years.

As soon as she reached to touch Jesus, she was healed.

  • Write a scene where you are in the crowd following Jesus, reaching out hoping to just touch his clothes. What does it feel like to be there? What are the people around you doing? Is Jesus close or far? What does it take for you to get to him? Reflect on a time when you have been so desperate that all you could do is reach out? What if you had the chance to touch Jesus—what would you be desperate for him to heal?

  • Or write about someone else in that scenario.

  • Place yourself or someone else at the cross, looking up and watching Jesus bleed out. What would you/they say to Him? Offer Him? What does He say to you/them? Write this as a story, a dialogue, or prayer.

  • Are you bleeding out right now? Write a poem about this experience and about how you may be healed.

  • Look up the lyrics to Imagine Dragons, “Bleeding Out.” Listen to it. Is there an image or picture in your mind? Write about it or sketch it out.

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