From the Blog

Adventures With Sinus Cavities

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I seem to have developed a new pattern of getting sick. Or rather, NOT getting sick. I haven’t had a full-on cold in quite a long time. However, I have had many, many instances where I felt like I was coming down with something. I felt the irritation in my throat, or I got sniffly, or I’d get a little cough and figured I was getting sick. I would prepare by becoming preemptively miserable and whiny that I was coming down with something.

But then, nothing would happen. I would have a few days of a vague sore throat, or my nose might be a little stuffy, but that was it. And then it would go away. It was baffling. In the past, when got a sore throat, it was always, ALWAYS, the beginning of a cold. There was no way out of it. Now I get these on and off little symptoms that come and go. It’s kind of bullcrap. I would almost rather get fully snotty, sloppy sick and then recover completely and be healthy after that.

I was explaining all this the last time I went to my doctor. She asked me if I had tried a Neti pot. I had never heard of such a thing. She wrote it down for me and said it was the greatest thing ever. Everyone in Oregon should use one.

I went home and Googled it (fair warning, there’s slightly revolting photo of a guy that looks like James Doohan flushing out his nose). This looked like a way to recreate the stinging water-up-the-nose experience I had as a kid. And Dave was positively grossed out by James Doohan. So I didn’t buy a neti pot.

But my on/off sinus and throat irritation continued, with a flare up last week. Again, I thought for sure I was coming down with a bad cold. I was even tired, achy and feverish. Everyone seems to be sick lately. But my throat never got any worse than mildly irritated and I never got more than a little stuffy. With a dry tickle cough that kept me from sleeping. Not debilitating, just fricken annoying.

And the SUPER annoying part was that I’m eating really healthy. I’m taking vitamins everyday. And fish oil pills. And I’m drinking green tea. I’m doing all kinds of healthy stuff I’ve never done on a regular basis. And after all that, I get this stupid little illness. It’s bullcrap.

So I resolved to get a neti pot. I didn’t care how much it grossed Dave out. My doctor recommended it. And I can’t help but think this string of low grade sicky episodes might be some kind of ongoing infection that just hasn’t completely gone away. I just want to be over it.

I got a neti pot and I brought it home. I mixed up a store bought solution. You can make your own with salt and baking powder (I think), but I didn’t want to experiment during my first attempt. I didn’t need a layer of complication or excitement while shoving this thing up my nose. It seemed like a lot of liquid. I tilted my head to the side and shoved the end of the neti pot into a nostril.

And the first sensation is that panicky “Water up the nose! Water up the nose!” emergency feeling from childhood. I had never really fathomed, until that point, that one nostril was even connected to the other, somewhere in my skull. I just thought they were two separate roller coaster tunnels leading off somewhere. But here I was, pouring water into one nostril, and it was coming out the other. Neat.

The box talked about flushing out allergens, pollution, debris, extra mucus. This makes it sound like shipwrecks were going to come out of my nose, so I was a little disappointed that it was just clear water.  After a short amount of time, I stopped to see how much liquid was gone. More than half. I tilted my head the other way and used the rest up the other nostril. Imagine, this is a religious ceremony in India.

When I was all done, I spent 10 minutes blowing my nose. I was still waiting for shipwrecks to come out. But it was all water. And what I really wanted to flush out was the back of my throat, behind the soft palate, where I suspect my trouble lies. I fight with this region a lot. I’m sure there’s bad stuff going on back there.

Dave did not want to witness any of this and I don’t blame him. But like any former little boy, he was equally grossed out and fascinated by this whole process. I mean, I’m shoving something up my nose. And blowing it out the other side. These are the kind of things that would have gotten a kid sent to detention.

I continued to blow my nose and tell him all about it. I was expecting more booger action. I was glad that it didn’t make me feel worse, because that’s always a possibility. There was still a lot of water up there, and I kept blowing until it felt like it was all out. Sort of a non event. I was hoping it would be more exciting.

We changed the subject and Dave showed me a new website he was working on. He was sitting and I was standing over his work station, behind him. When he was done, I leaned over to give him a kiss. And leaning, tilting my head, I somehow matched the angle I just used with the neti pot. And I went to kiss him, but instead, a bunch of water dripped out of my nose onto my boyfriend.

Oh. My. God.

“It’s just water! It’s just water!” I veered away and ran for a tissue. The look on his face. The horror! The horror! He was stunned. He was the one grossed out by all this in the first place. He showed me where I dripped on his sleeve. “It’s just water!” I am remarkably competent at embarrassing myself intentionally. But I have no idea how to handle embarrassing myself unintentionally. I almost couldn’t look at him. He was both horrified and amused.

And really? Yes, it was water. But it had been up my nose. So really, it was booger juice. IT WAS MOSTLY WATER. But it had still up my nose. I dripped booger juice on my boyfriend.


  1. Meredith says

    I’d like to see a reenactment, please!

  2. I went to bed last night, probably a full six hours later, and still dribbled water all over my pillow. Awesome. At least I can flip over my pillow and not sleep in the wet spot.

  3. That is FUNNY! I have been doing this for about 6 months now it had some of the same problems. Well, I didn’t drip on my husband, but I did drip. I now have gotten the technique down for hanging my head over the sink and turning it from side to side and up and down and draining out all of the water and hardly ever have drips later. The draining only takes about a minute and then one little nose blow later and my pillow stays dry all night.

    I also switched systems from a Netipot to a pressured rinse called Neil Med They have it at Costco and Rite Aid.

    Not only do I like the idea of a little pressure behind the irrigation, but you do it with your head exactly face down and as soon as I am done (before draining) I tilt my head back and sniff a little, which kind of gets the back of my throat.

    But, it all becomes faster, easier and less drippy with practice.

    About 25 years ago I had symptoms similar to yours, but I was also incredible tired when they came on. After a lot of visits to doctors with no answers, I happened to see a substitute doctor one day and he knew the answer right away because he had the same problem. I was getting canker sores on my throat and my immune system was kicking in as if I had some big throat infection to fight off. It turns out that canker sores on the throat don’t really hurt. I wasn’t able to cure the problem, but do know I get them when I do not get enough sleep and I since I know I am not getting sick, I don’t panic. So, maybe your immune system is kicking into high gear and causing those symptoms.

  4. Oh, you have to read my friend Shannon’s post on the neti pot: And make sure you watch the video (if you haven’t already). It’s a classic. CLASSIC.

  5. I am an avid neti pot user and I freely sing the praises of the neti pot.

    I’m here to tell you.

    You’re kidding yourself and Dave.

    It’s NOT just water.

    It’s NEVER just water.

    I repeat… it’s never JUST water.

  6. eating better equals flushing toxins outof your system. that is part of the reason you feel so crappy off and on.

    btw, i mentioned the neti pot to you during my visit. nice to know you were listening =)

  7. Dave is such a pansy! Ha ha. Funny thing, as soon as I started reading your post I thought to myself “she needs to flush her nose and sinuses out”. They also make saline solutions in a spray can that you can just shoot up your nose to flush yourself out occasionally if you don’t want to mess with the whole neti pot thing. It really is the most amazing thing ever. Colds disappear in a couple of days instead of lingering for a week or more. Winter sinus issues disappear as if by magic. The crazy thing is that this is an ancient remedy. My uncle was in the navy back in WWII and whenever they’d get a cold they’d stick their heads in a bucket of sea water, suck up as much of it as they could through their nose and spit it out through the mouth. They’d do that a few times and be all better. So he says.

  8. You had me laughing out loud! I have a neti pot languishing in my bathroom. I couldn’t stand the lingering drippage and, AND, while I’m using it, I have a sensation of drowning. Drowning is my most feared form of death. So, shudder, I don’t love my neti pot. But I want to.

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