I received an unexpected Mother’s Day gift from my sweet, adorable, youngest grandson, who may well be a walking petri dish containing infinitesimal amounts of bacteria and viruses. He gave me a cold—a nasty and tenacious pre-summer summer cold that gives every indication of hanging on until summer officially begins and far beyond.
More than two weeks have gone by since the little plague-carrying ankle-biter infected me. This cold exhibited every indication of being impervious to all known cold remedies, so I went online and researched the common cold. According to WebMD, more than 200 different viruses are known to cause the common cold. I believe I have all 200.
I suppose it could be worse. Several years ago, before the little plague-carrying ankle-biter was born, I had a vicious summer cold that morphed into an even more vicious sinus infection. I was taking antibiotics, antihistamines, and decongestants. I sipped tea and honey and slurped chicken noodle soup until both threatened to pour out my ears. Nothing relieved my symptoms.
I called my doctor to whine about my misery. She suggested I try using a neti pot to relieve the sinus pressure and open the nasal passages. At first, I thought she was suggesting that I smoke pot. After she stopped laughing at my misinterpretation, she cleared up that embarrassing misunderstanding.
Neither Macho Guy nor I had heard of a Neti Pot before, but I was so desperate for relief at that point I was willing to try anything. MG dutifully drove to the local pharmacy to obtain a neti pot for me. I opened the box he handed to me upon his return.
ME: Are you sure this is it? It looks like a little plastic teapot.
MG: I asked the pharmacist. That’s it, all right. See, it says “Neti Pot” on the box.
ME: What am I supposed to do with it?
MG: The directions are in the box. The pharmacist said you mix one of the packets with water in the pot, and then you rinse out your sinuses one side at a time.
ME: With a mini teapot? How?
MG: He said you bend over the sink, tilt your head to the side, and you stick that spout up your nose and pour the stuff in one nostril and it comes out the other.
ME: [laughing] Oh, right. Very funny. So tell me how it really works.
MG: That’s the way it works, Honey. Really.
ME: [no longer laughing] You’re kidding, right? That’s gross. Please tell me you’re kidding.
ME: [sighing] Why me, Lord?
I’ve learned since then that the neti pot is the oldest form of nasal irrigation and was developed as an ayurvedic yoga tradition in ancient India. The word “neti” means “nasal cleansing” and comes from the historical Indian language, Sanskrit. Apparently, they came up with this apparatus because authoring the Kama Sutra wasn’t achievement enough.
The whole neti pot procedure sounded altogether disgusting and evoked a nauseating mental image. MG didn’t want to watch. I didn’t blame him. I didn’t want to watch either, and I had to do it. MG gave me a sympathetic pat on the shoulder and left the master bathroom.
I mixed the saline solution according to directions and proceeded to do the unthinkable. The solution entered my right nostril and began trickling out the left. Eventually, something that shall not be named joined that trickle.
I shut my eyes until the deed was done, at which time I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I could breathe through my nose—for a while, at least. I regarded the neti pot with surprising admiration. Yes, using the neti pot was gross—absolutely gross—but it worked.
I hope it works as well on this nasty cold that has taken on a hellish life of its own. As I write this post, I am simultaneously slurping chicken noodle soup. When I finish, I’ll have a cup of tea with honey, and then I will rinse my poor stuffed sinuses using the grossest and the oldest form of nasal irrigation.
With my eyes shut, of course.