I actually wrote this in 2008, but I’ve recently seen several people on Facebook talking about their Neti Pots and I thought it was time for a re-post. 🙂
Currently, I am busy coping with a double sinus infection, which comes with a sore throat, unbearable sinus headaches, a low-grade fever and the inability to breathe through my nose. Early this morning, my doctor gave me a prescription for antibiotics and suggested that I buy something called a Neti Pot, which is an over-the-counter treatment that my husband and friends have suggested to me many times.
If you are not familiar with the Neti Pot, allow me to enlighten you. A Neti Pot is this little blue plastic teapot with an obscenely shaped spout (let’s just say that I’ve decided to name mine Mr. Potts) and a screw-top lid. You fill it with a warm water saline solution, shove the inappropriate-looking tip up your nose and pour the mixture into your head until it comes rushing out of your other nostril, like Niagara Falls. For a more in-depth explanation, I encourage you to watch this video.
Just to clarify, you pour warm water up your nose until it comes out of the other side. This so-called “treatment” was recommended to me by a highly respected physician and my gadget-centric husband. This is advanced medicine, people. No longer do we let blood to cure indigestion, nor do we snort cocaine to ease the pain of a toothache. We, my friends of the 21st century, are an advanced society with robot surgeons and vitamin-enriched bubblegum. We pay good money to pour saltwater up our own noses.
I don’t need to tell you that I didn’t look half as graceful Neti-Potting as the lady in the video. Then again, I am a first-timer and she is obviously a seasoned professional. The model in the video is dressed for work with a perfectly smooth ponytail and a face full of makeup. She performs this unusual task with the greatest of ease, acting like it’s the most natural thing in the world. She even pulls one perfectly fluffed tissue out of a ceramic tissue box and gently pats her nose with it, as though she were applying powder. (Did anyone else notice that there wasn’t even a second tissue waiting to pop out of the box? Who was DP for this project?) When she’s finished pouring water out of her nose, she trots out of the house with a big smile on her face.
There are only 5 crucial steps to this whole process.
Step One: Fill pot with water.
Step Two: Stir in saline solution and screw on top.
Step 3: Pour up nose.
Step 4: Blow nose.
Step 5: Repeat steps 3 & 4 on opposite nostril.
There are more than five steps to the way I apply mascara; this should be a piece of cake. Really, really advanced cake, like the kind you see on Food Network Challenge.
Step one: I unwrap the pot and carefully read the instructional pamphlet in my pajamas with my hair piled high on top of my head. The directions call for me to use distilled water, but to be honest, I’m not sure about the technical definition of ‘distilled.’ I’m pretty sure that distilled water isn’t what comes out of my refrigerator, and the only other thing I have that says “distilled” on the label is white wine vinegar. Fortunately, I do have a Brita water pitcher and I’m pretty sure that Shannon gave us a new filter for Christmas. Good enough. I filled the Brita pitcher with warm water from the kitchen sink, transferred eight ounces of it into a measuring cup and poured it into the pot.
Step two: After adding the package of saline solution, I fasten the top and take a deep breath.
Step three: As I lean over the sink to pour the solution into my nose, I have the following thoughts: Wow, that is a lot warmer than I expected. It did not seem that warm when it was outside of my nose. Should I stop? No, just keep going. Maybe I should have used distilled water. I wonder if this is what it feels like to be a baby breathing amniotic fluid? Oh my gosh, I’m breathing fluid for the first time since I was born! Is this what it feels like to drown? I think it is. More specifically, I think this is what it would feel like to drown in the ocean, as opposed to drowning in a fresh water pond. I just remembered I have a fear of drowning. Oh my gosh. I’m drowning myself in my kitchen and nobody knows. I should have called somebody before I did this. The last thing I said to Vann was “I’ll do that tomorrow.” Obviously I will not be doing that tomorrow and the last thing I’ve said to my husband is a lie. Get yourself together, Doubleday. Focus. You are not drowning. You are just treating your sinuses…by self-waterboarding. What the…whoa! It’s coming out of the other side, just like in the video! I’m doing it right! It is raining from my nose. Eww. While this is admittedly not the grossest thing that I’ve put down my kitchen sink, it is definitely in the top ten. I wonder when I’m supposed to stop. The directions did not specify a time limit. I need a sign. Shoot, I forgot to get shaving cream while I was at the store. What is that? Ack! Gurgle! Blech! They said not to swallow the solution! Spit it out! Spit it out! It tastes like melted pretzels and vomit, and I hate pretzels. Okay, that must be the sign for me to stop. I hope it doesn’t hurt when I pull this thing out of my nose. Oof.
All that took about ten seconds. I put down the pot and stood up, which, in retrospect, was not the best idea I’ve ever had. Once I was standing upright, all the warm water that was still up my nasal cavities came rushing down my face and onto my shirt. Do you remember Nickelodeon slime? I think this is what that feels like.
At this point in the proceedings, I am on step four, which is to gently blow my nose while tilting my head. It would have been really great if I had prepared for this experience by laying out all of the materials ahead of time. Yep. That would have been awesome. Instead, I found myself running to the other side of the kitchen and rifling through my CVS Pharmacy bags, frantically trying to open a box of tissues, all while irrigating my kitchen floor with nose-water.
Step five. Repeat steps three and four on the opposite nostril. This time, I was much more prepared for the experience and had a handful of tissues waiting at the ready. I did not worry about drowning myself, although I did have the thought that this was kind of like a nose enema, which made me laugh and caused a whole bunch of stuff to come out of my nose all at once.
For about ninety minutes, I could feel water trickling down the inside of my face, which is an interesting sensation. I honestly can’t say that I felt any better or worse after the treatment, though I did feel different. Anyone would feel different after doing that to their nose. The directions said to discard the leftover solution, if there was any. My Neti-Pot was about half-full after I had finished with both nostrils, which leads me to believe that I didn’t tough it out as long as I was supposed to. Maybe next time, I’ll put on really nice clothes, do my hair and makeup and invite a camera crew into my bathroom. Maybe then I’ll be cured.