I’ve had it. Three solid weeks of sniffling and mouth-breathing and tonight was the last straw. In yoga, during a pose where I bent all the way down to the floor, letting my hands rest next to my feet, my nose clogged up irreparably and I gave up. Since I went out with friends three weeks ago to a club, I have been stuffed up without respite, other than an addictive nightly nose spray and somewhat less addictive nose drops that have me on such a cycle of use I dare call myself a slave to their powers. They’ve got me in their grip, those chemicals, and they will ruin me if I don’t break free. (True story: when I was little I was seriously addicted to nose spray, so much so that I had to hide my “stash”, and yes I did have a “stash,” from my mother and she once searched my room for the goods. This is not a joke. I’d hidden them—-practically empty plastic bottles of Afrin and Nasonex—-around my room, taking squirts here and there, and eventually kept them in a tall red cookie tin next to my bed. For the record, I wholeheartedly disagree with this article because I am living proof that I was an addict. I even threw a temper tantrum to get my bottles back from my mom once she confiscated them. I was 10. I believe I’ve seen movies wherein heroin addicts act similarly.) In any case, now I am very wary of using any kind of sprays for nasal congestion.
However, when you can’t breathe, you can’t breath. And I can’t do yoga if I can’t breathe, so there I was, all bent over and stressing about not being able to breathe and then my mind floated to the neti pot. Have you heard of this? I read in the Times a few months ago about them, and my friend Catherine suggested I try it out as a healthy alternative to medicines. The yoga studio where I go had one for sale and so there, bent over and feeling the pressure the equivalent of a thousand bags of rice weighing my sinuses down, I vowed there and then to purchase it.
Which I did, and just now de-virginized (can you virginize something?) the pot and my nose, and it was the strangest feeling I’ve had in a long time. Continuing to breathe through my mouth, I tilted the pot into my left nostril, the one that was terribly congested all day. I could feel the warm salty water sit there in my nostril waiting for some pressure to release, which it did eventually, and after which evidence of the releasing came in the form of drops of water out my right nostril. I remember coughing, trying to get my breathing down, while remaining fascinated at the fact that water was going in one nostril and out the other, and then, feeling the sensation of hot water in between nostrils, I laughed through my nose and blew a bubble into the neti pot, at which point I laughed out loud and got nose water all in my throat and down my chin. There was a lot of spitting involved that first go-round.
I got the hang of it after a while and soon enough there were cascades of water coming out of the nostril that didn’t have the pot spout in it. I wanted it to just flow right out of my nose and into the sink, but it appeared that the path of least resistance for the water exiting my nasal cavity was straight down my lips, over my chin, and then into the sink. Kind of invoked my gag reflex at times, but I got over it because it was at least my own sinuses flushing down my face, and not someone else’s. I can’t even imagine that scenario, but I’m sure there’s a kinky website out there for it somewhere.
But I think there’s been some good change, afterall, because the water was able to flow out quickly after a while. That must be a good sign and while I’m not back to breathing normally (nor would I expect this effect after just one use) I do feel like some space has been cleared up, if only temporarily. So we’ll see. Have I found a cure for my chronic congestion? Or is it a strange new aged (actually, old aged because this thing has been around for centuries I think) remedy that yogis and my friend Catherine have devised? I’ll give it a shot and see what comes of it. Anything’s better than not being able to breathe. Even the occasional sinus flushing down the face. Not ideal, but at least it’s something. I’ll get the hang of it soon.