Columns

2012.05.30 In one hole, out the other

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

It’s time for me to be sick again. It happens every spring, I’m sure of it. It happens year after year, but usually in June. The weather was different this year and I think it came on earlier.

It must be allergy related. When the cottonwood seeds blow or when the roses bloom or the plantain flowers are emitting pollen—something kicks off a reaction in my body and I get what seems like a regular cold. Sore throat, cough, sneezing, runny nose, sore body and great fatigue.

My wife has another theory: spider bites. That’s just wacky. I think she described it as a long-held suspicion. I have a large, itchy welt on the back of my neck which gives credence to her theory.

I need to do some record-keeping, to  keep track of what’s blooming (or crawling on my neck) from year to year and try to track this thing down.

I had an unpleasant night last night as I went from sick to really sick. Just general miserableness along with a fever.

When I got up this morning with aching sinuses, my thoughts turned to our neti pot. I suppose I should say “my” neti pot. I think it was a birthday gift from Colleen many years ago and not once have I used it. She’s prodded me many times, but I’ve never taken the plunge.

A neti pot is a little ceramic container with a long spout. It looks like an odd gravy boat and I remember suggesting that we use it for gravy last Thanksgiving.

Since I never used my neti, I’ve only imagined what the process is like. I know it involves salt water and I know the long, thin neck of the pot is inserted into a nostril. Beyond that I figured it must be something akin to waterboarding. I don’t like the concept of water up my nose.

Wikipedia has a couple of extensive writings about nasal irrigation and about the neti pot, in particular. The neti page includes an interesting drawing of sutra neti—an advanced nasal cleaning in which wet string is inserted into the nose and then down into the mouth. The practitioner pulls the string in and out, in and out to get things clean. “Sensations of gagging, nausea and weakness may occur.” That’s a good warning, enough to keep string out of my nose forever.

Jali neti, which is what my neti pot would involve, requires salt water to be poured into one nostril and then drained out the other. A more advanced technique is to sniff in the water and have it drain into the mouth, and an even more advanced stage is to drink in the water and snort it out the nose.

I was in sufficient misery to think about finally making Colleen happy by putting “the ancient Hindu practice” into practice.

I asked Mr. Google how to use one and I was presented with a variety of videos. First I watched a young woman insert the neck of the pot into one nostril and lean forward. The water streamed out her other nostril. It looked simple and painless; nothing like what I imagined. 

Next I watched a boy do the job with a regular plastic funnel. In one nostril, out the other. After that I chose the video titled “Three-year-old girl uses neti pot.”

That was enough. If a three-year-old can do it alone without the help of her mother, I knew I could handle this.

I went to our kitchen window where the neti pot is on display for some reason. Just an odd knickknack, I guess. My first step—not mentioned in any of the videos—was to wash out the dead insects that had collected while it was up on the windowsill.

I added warm water, I mixed in the salt, I stuck it up my nose and bent over and tilted my head. It’s not supposed to hurt, but it did. It just wasn’t a comfortable feeling at all. Maybe my sinuses were too packed with stuff.

Finally some water began running out the other nostril and after a while I switched and did the other side. I didn’t feel much relief and I kept thinking about that three-year-old. When her mother asked her if she felt better, a big smile came over her face and she said, “Yes!”

Wikipedia tells me that the use of tap water could lead to a rare but fatal brain infection. That’s probably a ridiculous warning, but it gives me something to think about as my spring affliction subsides.

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