M. Giant's
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Thursday, March 20, 2008  

Neti Gain

Confidential to Trash: don't read this.

My cat allergies have been getting out of control lately. Yes, we technically only have two cats instead of three now, but Excavator is long-haired enough and aggressively affectionate enough that he counts as four or five felines, histamine-wise. I bought him a shedding comb, but he refuses to use it, the lazy little fucker.

It's gotten to the point where it's affecting my home life. We have to have a box of tissues in every room at all times, and Trash begins to get annoyed when we're in the middle of doing something and I have to drop what I'm doing to blow my nose. Which becomes a vicious cycle: my nose itches, causing me to sneeze, causing me to have to blow my nose, which makes my nose itch all over again, which triggers another sneeze, which requires further nose-blowing, which leads to more sneezing and eventually divorce and even more nose-blowing as a result of crying all the time.

So I asked my doctor for advice at my physical last week. Could she give me stronger medication? More of it? Perhaps refer me to a reputable specialist who could perform a radical rhinectomy?

But she simply suggested getting a neti pot. Everyone knows about these by now, thanks to Six Feet Under and Omar, and I was beginning to think that one might be in my future as well. But I had been hoping to avoid it, since the one thing I hate most about swimming (aside from being legally blind without my glasses and publicly exposing my pasty doughboy physique) is getting water up my nose. Why would I want to pursue that sensation without any of the attendant benefits?

But then I got home and told Trash what he doctor had said about the neti pot, and she told me that lots of her coworkers use them. "They say you get used to it," she assured me. Maybe she was only saying that because she didn't want to have a repeat of the situation when I had to drop my end of the grand piano we were carrying up a ladder to reach for a Puff Plus, but suddenly I couldn't wait to try it. Trash only had one rule: "Don't do it in front of me, don't tell me about it, don't do it when I'm home, I don't want to know." That's only one rule, right?

So on Sunday night, when I went to the drugstore to pick up my grocery bag full of new prescriptions, I was all ready to go look for one. Except they had a stack of them right there on the pharmacy counter. "One of these, too," I told the cashier, and spirited it home to hide in my bathroom cabinet.

After Trash had gone upstairs for the night, I gave it a try. And while it was a little weird to pour water up my nose on purpose, and to be standing at my sink in Minnesota with the taste of warm seawater welling up in the back of my throat, the thing really worked.

So I didn't just get used to it. I'm fucking addicted.

I did it again on Monday morning, and instead of spending the day at work trapped in my typical miserable cycle of cubemate-annoying sneezing and blowing, I sat there reveling at how uncongested I was. It was like having the sinuses of Sarah Jessica Parker without all of her haters. The doctor told me to use it twice a day, and I'm considering calling her to ask if I can make it three.

I just wish that doing it repeatedly had some kind of longer-lasting cumulative effect, like exercise and flossing do (I've heard). I had to skip the neti this morning because I was running late, and now I’m feeling as bereft as M. Small without his Rocket. And almost as nose-runny. I'm considering calling Trash before I get home so she can have it waiting for me at the front door.

Yes, I know that violates her one rule, but she already found the neti pot yesterday. I tried to claim that I was only using it to stash illegal drugs, but she didn't buy it. Fortunately she's too pleased by the change in my nasal status to mind too much. I considered offering to let her try it out, but I didn't want to push my luck.

posted by M. Giant 2:09 PM 15 comments

15 Comments:

Ah, another convert! I swear my neti pot is the only thing that gets me through my spring pollen allergies.

By Anonymous Average Jane, at March 20, 2008 at 2:39 PM  

I, too, love mine with a passion bordering on desperation.

By Blogger Ali, at March 20, 2008 at 2:43 PM  

Dang it, I was hoping you'd say it was voodoo hokum, because my mom wants me to do it and I'm insisting a)it can't work and b)its just a wrong thing to do.

By Blogger KellynGal, at March 20, 2008 at 2:48 PM  

I read the DHAK blurb, and I was like, "Oh, sweet Jesus, they got another cat."

By Blogger Linda, at March 20, 2008 at 2:54 PM  

I've been considering trying those things. Perhaps I will now.

I overhead my allergist (thin walls) instructing another patient in using a Water Pik to accomplish basically the same thing (but with pressure!) more than 15 years ago.

I find that a new cat in the house bothers me for about 4-6 months, then I get used to it (but other people's cats still bother me). I think I get desensitized from repeated exposure, kind of like with allergy shots. And some cats are definitely worse than others, allergy-wise.

Good luck maintaining your neti pot results!

By Blogger Bunny, at March 20, 2008 at 4:54 PM  

I bought a neti pot in 2003. Finally used in a year ago when I was pregnant and couldn't take allergy meds. It was glorious! I didn't get the dreaded swimming headache at all. I adore my neti pot now.

- JeniMull

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 20, 2008 at 8:47 PM  

My boyfriend has a neti pot. I've always wanted to see him use it but I am not allowed. Ever.

By Blogger Wendy, at March 20, 2008 at 9:02 PM  

It's one of those weird things that I brought into the house because a friend at work recommended it, and now Rebecca uses it much more than I do. We have separate ones. Mine is blue.

I really only use it now if my allergies are really bad. She uses it every day whether she needs to or not.

Different strokes for different snouts, I always say.

By Blogger Omar, at March 20, 2008 at 9:56 PM  

OK, I thought I was the only idiot who is severly allergic to cats, but owns two of them.

I'm headed to the drug store right now to find one of those neti pots...

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 21, 2008 at 6:42 AM  

I use a squeeze-bottle version of the neti pot, because I'm a wimp. And my husband's not allowed to watch me use it either. I highly recommend rinsing your sinuses, blowing your nose THOROUGHLY, and then using a prescription steroid nasal spray, such as Nasonex. This is pretty much the only way I can avoid chronic sinus infections.

A small study was published not too long ago in which people (I think they were children, actually) rinsed their sinuses *six* times a day and got fewer upper respiratory infections. So I think M. Giant can use his neti pot all he wants. Just be sure to sterilize your equipment regularly with boiling water. (An electric kettle makes this a faster, easier process, at least for me.)

By Blogger Katherine, at March 21, 2008 at 9:02 AM  

Like another commenter I got one when pregnant and avoiding cold medicines, after putting it off for years, and found it was like a spa for my nose.

By Anonymous Girl Detective, at March 22, 2008 at 2:46 PM  

One of the neti pot makes also makes something like a squeeze bottle which allows you to rinse your sinunses without tilting your head and also allows for a bit of pressure behind it. It's supposed to be more effective. My wife loves it compared to the neti pot.

By Anonymous Will Stanton, at March 24, 2008 at 8:18 PM  

I've never used a neti pot, but in the throes of a wicked cold this past December, I finally caved and started using the nasal saline I've been recommending to patients for years. I. could. not. stop. In addition to the amazing lack of congestion, I was sort of obsessed with what came out of my head. Not that I stared at it for minutes on end. That was someone else.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 25, 2008 at 5:02 PM  

Interesting to read all the praise for the neti pot. I got one a few weeks ago because I had a ridiculous head cold and am pregnant. I tried it twice but found that it not only didn't help, within a couple of minutes of use I was blocked up even more solidly than before (and I didn't think that would be possible until it happened). It never actually rinsed my nose out though - I never got that flow down my throat or out the other side. Maybe you need to start using it before your nose gets so blocked up that the saline can't actually flow freely?

By Anonymous Shawna, at March 26, 2008 at 10:18 AM  

My mother used a neti pot for about a year and then they discovered fungus growing in her sinus cavities.

No way to know whether the neti pot caused the fungus or whether the fungus is what caused the need for the neti pot in the first place, but it's something to consider.

Unless you want to give your children the extraordinary pleasure of calling you "Fungus Head".

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 26, 2008 at 8:26 PM  

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