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Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Swamp in My Head Needs Draining

So, it all started two weeks ago with neck aches so bad that I could hardly turn my head. I figured I'd slept funny and gotten a crick. But nothing could get rid of it -- not heat, or massage, or long showers, or ibuprofen, or cursing, or tea. Then, just when I thought I might lose my mind or hurt something if I had to go one more day with the throbbing can't-move-my-head pain (supa' fun while chasing a toddler at the play place, by the way), the congestion hit. And because I have asthma, it went straight to my chest--as it always does. And, predictably, in a few short days, I sounded just like Mae West.

Why don't you come up and see me sometime?

When I'm good, I'm very good, but when I'm bad I'm better...


Ahh...if only I could pull those lines off. But while I sound like Mae West, the closest I'm getting to lingerie right now is flannel pajamas and lavendar fuzzy socks. And we all know how I feel about my thighs. No to mention that the voice is so wasted on someone who just wants to use the bed for sleeping. Preferably with a whole box of tissues under her pillow. Thing is, although I always get laryngitis when I'm sick, the voice goes one of two ways: Mae West or 100% Minnie Mouse. And even though I can't do anything with it, deep and sexy is preferable to shrill and mouse-like.

Anyhoo...about a week ago, I suddenly felt better. And lo, the sun was shining. And the head would turn, and the voice came back, and it was all good. For one or two diabolically evil days of health before the REST of this cold came down upon me like a vengeance. Yes, everyone at work has had this thing too, and they all say it has two waves.

For me, wave 2 is sinus infection. You don't have to be a doctor to diagnose this. It's a sinus infection when the stuff that comes out of your nose is thick and the color of a beeswax candle, it hurts to lean forward to pick up your daughter, and your forehead feels like it's filled with small angry men who live in your sinuses and are trying to punch their way out. Throbbing pain that radiates between your eyes and down towards your cheeks? Sinus infection. If you're really lucky, it makes it all the way to your teeth and you want to KILL the dentist's office for being closed on a Sunday.

But I'm here to tell you: don't call your dentist. Just do what I did. (Gross alert: if you are easily freaked out by bodily gunk, stop reading now. The following isn't pretty and may be seriously too much information for some people. Fair warning.)

I remembered about the neti pot. If you've never seen one, here's a picture. Looks harmless, right? Even perhaps pretty in its soothing blue glaze. But here's what you do with it: you fill it with warm salt water and use it to irrigate your sinuses.

Which is a fancy way of saying that you tip your head over, pour the water into your nose, let it slosh around in your head, and then hope it rinses out all the dark yellow gunk that is making you want to hit yourself in the face to make the pain subside. That girl in the picture? The one smiling? She's not me. She came from Google Images. Here's why: (1) I don't own a neti pot; (2) I DID slosh a whole lot of warm water around inside my head (I'll tell you how in a minute) -- but I was not smiling during the process; (3) It's gross enough to do this in the peace and quiet of your own bathroom without asking someone to document the event in photos; (4) You obviously can't take the photos yourself because you are too busy trying to hold the water receptacle and keep your head tipped at the correct angle so that you don't accidentally drown while trying to home-cure your sinus infection.

Since I don't own one of these fancy schmancy pots, I improvised. I made a bowl of nice hot salt water, pulled out one of the 1,437 bulb syringes we were given when our children were infants, and launched an experiment. I figured, it's blue, right? It can hold warm water? It can direct it up my nose. Why not? Mistake #1, however, was not bothering to read any directions whatsoever on my friend the Internet before starting. So, I hung my head upside down over the sink--which hurt more than I can put into words even BEFORE I poured the water in--closed off one nostril gently with my finger, and slowly squirted the warm water into the other side. I did sort of feel like I could tell it was draining into my head. Or something. And when I tipped upright again? Great. Caesar's. Ghost. The junk that came pouring into the sink was more hideous to behold than you can possibly imagine. I blew my nose gently to help out the process. Oh. Disgusting. Hell. But? I felt a little better. So I did it again. Several times. And then I did it for the other nostril.

And THEN I went and read some directions on the Internet and found out you're not actually supposed to hang upside down. You're supposed to tilt sideways so the stuff goes in one nostril and out the other. Like that smiling chick up there is doing. And there are lots of lovely diagrams online that will show you the path this salty water will take as it washes out your sinuses. So I tried that too. Frankly, my way worked better for gunk removal, but I'm not a yogi, so what do I know? Then you do a few stretches where you bend down to touch the floor and hang your head to drain out the last of the water. Which is nothing compared to the horror that has already come out of your head. But the thing is, before doing this little exercise, there was no way on this green earth that I could have bent down to touch my toes because the angry little hammering men in my sinuses would have kicked up such a ruckus that I would have fainted from the pain. But after washing out with salt water, I could do it.

So the moral of the story is: if your doctor's office is closed on the weekend, and you have a sinus infection that hurts so much that you either want to curl into a ball and cry or punch the wall--or maybe punch the wall and then curl into a ball and cry--you should try washing out your sinuses. Because after I did that, and took a nap, I went to a party! I didn't last as long as I normally would have, and I was a bit quieter than usual. But I actually had fun, and managed to convince everyone there that I was human and not ill or crazed with pain. So. You may think this is gross, but it totally works. I'm just sayin'...

12 comments:

Zoe's Dad said...

That does not look pleasant.

lattemommy said...

Hilarious! I see these things *everywhere* since Oprah and Dr. Oz did their little thing on them a few months back.

I'm really glad your home-spun version worked for you. I, however, don't think I'll be trying either method anytime soon. I'm fairly certain I'd drown.

Here's to feeling better soon!

Fawn said...

My Oma was doing this when I visited her in November. Her doctor told her to do it because it's far better more natural than going on antibiotics. Apparently one is actually supposed to do this daily, even when NOT infected - super healthy for the sinuses, I hear. Having said that, Oma said she was far to lazy to try it evey day. And I sure haven't taken to doing it every day. But I'll try to remember it for the next time the angry men come calling.

By the way, all Oma uses is a small bowl (like a rice bowl) - no fancy instruments required. Just lean over a bit and inhale the fluid in - it works.

MIQuilter said...

As fun as daily irrigating your sinuses sounds, I would have to side with your Oma, fawn. I'm happy to add it to my daily to-do list. It will just be one other thing that I'm "supposed to" do daily that I don't.

stephanie said...

My doc recommended a saline nasal spray. I think the "brand name" is Ocean, but I get the Walgreens version. Anyway, might not be *as* effective, but good for those of us who are scared of neti pots and bulb syringes. Fawn's steam method is good too. :)

P.S. MommyTime - Thanks for your kind comment on my blog!

MommyTime said...

LatteMommy, haha. You won't drown. But it won't be as fun as a day at the beach, either. (But then again, you can just prescribe yourself antibiotics for this kind of thing, right, so you have a bit of an edge over me! :)

MommyTime said...

Fawn and MIQ, yes, I won't be doing this daily. But I might do it once more while I'm sick right now. And I might try it again when I'm sick. Daily, though? I don't have time to wash my hair daily, let alone my sinuses...

Stephanie, the nasal spray is a good idea. I should try that too.

Steam, yes. I love the steam method. My mother used to have some herbal thing she'd put in the pot for steaming your head. It was great and smelled wonderful... hmmm must call her to find out what that was...

A Whole Lot of Nothing said...

I got a neti pot for Xmas (nice gift, eh?) but we LOST it! In my house, that's not hard to do. I'm running to Amazon right now to get another one. We are the house of perpetual sinus issues. We NEEEEED it.

foolery said...

Oh, Miss Swampy, you are a GODSEND. I rarely get colds, but when I do, they go RIGHT to my chest, and then within hours I have a sinus infection. Bada bing. And, since the last time I saw Oprah was one child ago, I would never have heard about this self-imposed waterboarding if it were not for you.

I will try it -- thanks!

MommyTime said...

So glad to help, Foolery. In fact, I heard about this nearly two years ago from a friend whose husband uses it as a snoring cure. (Apparently, if you use the neti pot nightly, you don't snore...go figure...) The only daytime TV I am allowed to watch involves small cartoon mice or Bob the Builder, so I didn't know about the Oprah thing either. Just kismet, I guess, that I happened to remember this right now. I have to tell you, though, that gross as this is, after two days I'm sure I don't need antibiotics, and I'm all about whatever can reduce antibiotic usage (not to mention make me feel better when the doc's office is closed!).

Fawn said...

I just realized how unclear I was (yes, a little late!) and came back to correct. I didn't mean inhale the steam (sorry Stephanie). I mean: hold the bowl of water in one hand, lean forward a bit over your little bowl (also preferable over a sink), plug one nostril, tilt water up to meet your nose, and snort that water (gently!) right up the other nostril. And then snort it out again. The water's just warm, so there shouldn't be any steam. Now, doesn't that sound like fun?

MommyTime said...

Fawn, thanks for clarifying. I get it. That's what I did. Fun is not exactly the word I'd choose... :) But effective? Very.

 

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