My head hurt.
I don’t know whether I picked up one of the viruses that was making the rounds, or came down with the Man’s cold (Thank you, Man. Sharing is the cornerstone of a happy relationship), or whether it was seasonal allergies. As far as my head was concerned, it didn’t matter. It was a pounding, stuffed-up mess, and nothing I did seemed to change it.
I have a laundry list of remedies that have worked in the past, so at first I wasn’t overly worried. But when aspirin, chicken soup thickened with black pepper, hot showers, and fizzy soda didn’t work their magic, I grew desperate.
Desperate enough to open the box hidden in the dark recesses of the bathroom closet in the hopes of never having to use it: the box containing the (drumroll, please) Neti-pot.
Our relationship was ill-fated from the beginning, way back last winter. The up-and-down temperatures of a Louisiana winter wreaked havoc in our household, and we (and therefore, I) got cold after cold. “Neti-pot!” said half of Everyone. “The Neti-pot is horrible!” claimed the other half. A head cold is horrible enough in itself, so adding even a half-horrible experience to the mix didn’t sound appealing. I refused to purchase it.
Finally, after a particularly bad sinus infection, I succumbed and bought It. But then, I didn’t get sick. For months. I was pleasantly pleased and surprised. Wow, what healing powers did this thing have, if it could reach through layers of cardboard and plastic to envelop me in a protective bubble? It sat on the shelf for the better part of a year.
Fast-forward to this week. As the days progressed and the sinus pressure didn’t go away, I began to consider dusting off the box and giving the Neti-pot a try. Yet something held me back: old habits die hard, and my fear of the Neti-pot had resurfaced in a vague, swimming-head sort of way. Plus, I was annoyed. It was the Neti’s fault I was sick; if it had been doing its job in keeping me well, I wouldn’t have been in this situation in the first place.
I opened the box, expecting to find some cool little setup which lovingly puffed steam into my nasal passages. What fell out looked like the love child of a plastic watering can and a teapot. It was like something the Maiden would have played with in her bathtub when she was 15 months old. I stuffed it back in the box, banishing it back to the bathroom cupboard. What a disappointment.
But pressure from my sinuses, and pressure from my friends to use the Neti-pot, for goodness’ sake, was I insane? caused me to reevaluate. I took out the box, this time reading the directions.
I was aghast. Do you know how a Neti-pot works? It’s primitive, and I suppose therein lies its charm, although it didn’t seem especially charming to me. You fill the pot part of it with water and a little salt, and stir it around. So far, no problem, right?
That’s when it gets bad. You tilt your head to one side, squinting to ensure the spout is at the right level. You insert the spout into one nostril, and you pour. Do you remember biology class, where you learned that the nose and throat are connected, but you never really believed the professor (or else you weren’t paying attention and flunked that portion of the test)? Well, guess what: they really are connected.
As you pour the saline solution into your nose, it gurgles through your nasal passages and out the other nostril. Your nose is like a hose, and you can feel the water moving through it. As you try to process the utter shudderworthiness of this fact, you taste salt, and then more salt, and then an ocean wave. Your head wasn’t tilted just so, and water has seeped down from your nostrils, through the back of your throat, and into your mouth.
You are tasting virus-laden, mucous-tinged saltwater that came from your nose.
You gag, choke, and sputter, splashing the contents of your nose, mouth, and the now-tilted Neti-pot all over the clean sink, clean counter, and your hair. You very nearly lose your dinner too. Is this for real? You reread the directions. “Just keep adjusting the way you tilt your head until you no longer taste salt,” it says. You adjust, but there are a whole lot of unsuccessful angles before you finally no longer taste salt.
Then you realize it’s because the pot is empty, and it’s time to refill it and do it all again on the other side.
After ten minutes of anatomy-lesson hell, you’re done. You think it might have helped; you can more clearly smell the taco spices from that night’s dinner, although you later realize it’s probably because the thing you madly grabbed to wipe your face was the sponge you’d used to clean the taco beef pot.
Whether or not it was successful, you’re not sure you care. You’re not shy about informing Everyone that the Neti-pot was the worst invention of all time and you wish it had remained buried in the pages of history. They’re not shy about telling you you’re ridiculous. In fact, you need to use it quite frequently for it to be really effective.
More? You start thinking of alternative ways to relieve sinus pressure, mostly involving an ax and your nose. Then suddenly, you notice you may be on the mend. Your body was clearly terrified of both options, and decided to declare a truce. You put the Neti-pot and ax back in their respective closets, firmly overcoming the temptation to apply the ax to the Neti and burn both in a taco-scented bonfire. You feel the tiniest bit of gratitude, although you pretend you don’t.
Then, you blog.