Wednesday, September 28, 2005


9:28 a.m. I am getting ready to head to the MEO for an autopsy this morning. Last night they brought in an alcoholic who likely died from what is called esphogeal verices. (I don't have time to spell check that, so be gentle.)

Esphogeal verices is a tear in the esophegus that is brought on from years of constant alcohol burn. Esentially, the person bleeds to death. Exsanguination. People don't realize what a horrific death that is.

I remember the first time I walked into an alcoholic death. I thought at first it was as murder scene because of all the blood. The guy had been living in a motor home for about a month after his wife kicked him out of the house when he refused to quit drinking. She'd finally had enough.

I remember opening the door to the trailer and finding the floor, walls, bathroom, victim..smeared with bright red blood. Generally, the bleed is so sudden and severe that the person doesn't even have time to call 911. They take off their clothes (I never once found one who wasn't naked) because they start bleeding from every orifice...nose, mouth, anus.

The toilet is usually full of blood. The sink. Trails of bloody footprints run from one room to another as the panicking victim tries to figure out what is happening to them.

And when I find them, their wasted, malnourished bodies (never once found a fat one, either) are as pale as a sheet. Usually collapsed on the floor face-down amongst a collection of bottles and cans.

It is horrible.

I had to jump up on the couch and a table and straddle them to get pictures of the guy. He was lying on the floor right in the middle of a narrow walk-through. When I walked out, his estranged wife was there. I had to talk to her to get some medical history and find out more about his condition.

I'll never forget the wife telling me, "I don't feel sorry for him. He got what he deserved. He chose alcohol over his family."

I remember thinking that I understood her anger, but that if she'd seen that trailer...his pathetic last he must have been terrified and yet realized that he'd done this to himself... maybe she would feel sorry for him.

I did.


Olga said...

Ugh. Blood
*squeamish and nauseated, she shudders*

I can't stand blood. Couldn't you have warned us about all of the blood, like saying "Warning: Bloody Graphic/Disturbing"? Or would that constitute as a swear word? (Hi Mom! How are you? I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to come visit while Polly was there!)

There really IS something that causes people to bleed out of every orifice when they die? Alcohol can be a factor? I'm never drinking again...

Tamara said...

I learn something new here every day!!

Esophageal Varices

Bleeding esophageal varices result from dilated veins in the walls of the lower part of the esophagus and sometimes the upper part of the stomach.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
Bleeding varices are a life-threatening complication of portal hypertension (increased blood pressure in the portal vein caused by liver disease). Increased pressure causes the veins to balloon outward. The vessels may rupture, causing vomiting of blood and bloody stools or tarry black stools. If a large volume of blood is lost, signs of shock will develop. Any cause of chronic liver disease can cause bleeding varices.

I am also now afraid of alcohol! Whee!

(Remembers: "Everything in moderation")

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

It may sound ghoulish to say it but reading accounts such as this are what make this blog so interesting. You are what make it so humane.

Anonymous-2 said...

What cap' bob napier said. x 10 to the 23rd or something that sounds mathematically savvy.

My mom used to take one look at blood (ours - her kids), and she would hit the ground before you could count 10.

Thankfully you can handle yourself in that kind of situation, Polly.

Bleeding from every orifice - Ewwwww, I thought that was ebola or something. (What tamara said about learning stuff).

Mike Weasel said...


Olga said...

"everything in moderation"
Thanks Tamara. I had forgotten for a second that since I only enjoy alcohol in moderation (with a couple of overindulgences here and there), I am not in any danger of developing liver disease, and therefore won't be bleeding to death anytime soon.
Although Esophageal Varices is now at the top of my list for the worst way to die.

motw said...

I imagine that the estranged wife had gone through years of hell. How many times did he forget the kids' birthdays, anniversary, ball games, special events? How many times was there not enough money for electricity, rent, or presents because he selfishly drank the dollars away? Did she have to put her kids to bed hungry because daddy had drank all their food money?

Her heart had been seared from all she had invested in him, from all she had done to shield others (kids) from knowing about how bad it really was, from all her own tears. I can understand how she could be so detached at his death, however horrific it was.

tvgirl13 said...

Wow, that is intense.

This is random but Polly have you ever seen a show called Veronica Mars, it's on UPN. The season premiere is tonight, I think you would like it. I am obsessed with it!

Jeff Meyerson said...

What MOTW says is undoubterdly true and I'm sure the wife was right - he did do it to himself and undoubtedly put his family through hell for years.

But that doesn't mean it wasn't a horrible way to go and that Polly wasn't right to feel bad for the guy.

Would Esophageal Varices BAGNFARB?

Probably not.

motw said...

I did not mean to say anything against Polly or her feelings, nor that having your veins involuntarily unplugged (even if of your own devices) is a good thing. Just that I can understand the wife's perspective. It's never easy watching someone you care for self-destruct.

Higgy said...

Wild story. I'm with Olga as to that now being on my list of the worst way to die.

The best way, of course, continues to be of a massive brain aneurysm IMMEDIATELY after having sex with the entire Dallas Cheerleading squad...

What??? A guy can have dreams, can't he???

Eleanor said...

Worst way to die: check.

Maybe AGNFA(Ozzie Osbourne)RB.

Steve Westphal said...

I like your blog. You should go visit drug rehab news and contribute some news or info about drug and alcohol rehabilitation

lloyd moore said...

About nearly a month ago I had a esophageal varices and I bleed out. I wasn't an acholic, not drunk in 26 years, and even then it just once. But, I nearly died from this as they had me on life support for 4 days, even my kidneys were failing due to the shock of blood lost. All I remember was getting to the university of Louisville ICU unit, and throwing up blood, & it was lights out.