DEAR DR. ROACH: I have just returned from seeing my doctor, and was told that the cause of what I experienced is a mystery!
In the late afternoon, my husband and I were sitting at the kitchen table. He noticed that a bruise was forming on my right temple — a dime-size purple mark, with a bump near the hairline. Over the next few hours the bruise grew larger, with red discoloration down the right side of my face, to the jaw. I had not been injured in any way, and it did not hurt! I called a 24-hour advice nurse, and was told I probably had broken a blood vessel.
The next day, I called my doctor for an appointment, just to be on the safe side, but my doctor didn’t have anything to look at. When I got up, all the bruising and discoloration was gone! She told me that there would still be some discoloration if it had been a broken blood vessel, so therefore it was a mystery. — C.C.
ANSWER: I agree with the nurse that it likely was a broken blood vessel, which can happen spontaneously to anyone. Once the blood is under the skin, it gets cleaned away by cells with enzymes that break down the blood. The color typically goes from dark red to green to yellow. This way, we can tell approximately how old a bruise is.
Very superficial bleeding also can move, as the blood literally gets pulled by gravity (which is why you had a darkening down to the jaw). I suspect that while asleep, the remainder got pulled into the hairline or lower down, where it could no longer be seen.
Many people have come down with another mysterious illness, chronic fatigue syndrome. The booklet on it explains the illness and its treatment. To obtain a copy, write: Dr. Roach — No. 304, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.