Friday afternoon, I found myself in a considerable amount of pain. It wasn’t quite a headache…like, my face hurt. Finally I realized that this must be my sinuses. I wondered if it was time to take your advice and try a Neti Pot.
In all honesty, I wasn’t quite sure how a Neti Pot worked. It’s one of those things I’ve been vaguely aware of for a while as a silly thing that people do, but I hadn’t ever seen commercials or anything. I threw it out to my coworkers; like me, they had heard good things about it but hadn’t ever actually tried it or thought about how it worked. So then I made the mistake of looking for a demonstration on YouTube.
Moments after announcing that I would be looking for a video, my coworkers laughed as they heard me screeching all sorts of versions of “OH MY GODDDDDD!” over at my desk. If you hadn’t known what I was watching, you might have thought I was viewing “Two Girls, One Cup” for the first time. I was traumatized. “Don’t look at this video,” I told everyone. “If I do use the Neti Pot, I don’t want you to imagine me…doing that.”
(Seriously, writing this post is not easy; I’d rather write about my experience with a sex toy than publicly describe what it was like using this thing.)
If you haven’t used one or seen how it works via the World Wide Web, let me tell you what you’ve been missing while sparing you some of the disturbing visuals. It started off OK. There was a neutral-seeming woman circa 1994 in a pink shirt. I thought it was going to be infomercial-style and was waiting for a man to shout, “SINUSES GOT YOU DOWN?!?!” but a soothing voiceover came on instead. I watched the woman put the little teapot to her nose and tip her head to the side. OK, no big deal. The soothing voiceover continued as she stared blankly forward in a zombie-like state, tipped her head to the side, and appeared to drool from her fucking nostril. The stream of drool coupled with the blank stare was too much for me; I felt like a little kid who had just walked in as her old, age-spotted great-grandma pulled down her pants and started peeing on the kid’s bedroom floor (true story). I was traumatized.
I don’t know what I thought. I guess I thought you poured the water in and it…didn’t run right back out…the other side?
I swore I’d never think about this torture device again, but the pain in my head persisted all weekend. I took allergy medicine and extra strength ibuprofen, but it wouldn’t go away. Finally I decided to give myself, as Eric described it, “a nasal enema.” (He described it as such after he accidentally saw the back of the box in line at Walgreens and therefore saw the friendly, cartoonish drawing of the woman peeing out of her nose. I intended to keep him in the dark about what I was going to do to myself. Sorry, I don’t want my boyfriend having a mental image of me doing certain things like getting a bikini wax, poking at blemishes on my face, or shooting snot rockets for medical purposes. We’re shut-the-door-when-you-pee kind of people, so a steady stream of water coming out of my nose was definitely going to require locking.)
Anyway, Walgreens had a bunch of options that all seemed pretty similar — around $14 with 30-60 salt packets included — but I chose the Waterpik Neti Pot over the one that looked like it was the last one on the shelf at the dollar store. (Note to product developers: fonts matter!) Once I got home, I warmed up some water, mixed in the salt packet, and prepared to be repulsed. “I don’t want to see myself like this,” I told Eric. “I’m afraid I’ll be so disgusted I won’t even be able to masturbate.”
I locked myself in my bathroom and assumed the position: I let my eyes go glassy and my mouth hang open slightly like I was a backup dancer in the “Thriller” video. I let the water flow for about one second before I got freaked out not by the feeling of drowning, but by the drooling freak staring back at me. Who was this girl and why was she expelling sea water out of her eyes, nose, and mouth? (Yes, eyes. Anyone else?) Did she just wash up on a desert island after a stormy shipwreck?
I managed to get through all four ounces on the right side and then switched the pot to the left side where…surprise, surprise, my nasal passage was apparently like a hose with a kink in it. Nothing would come out. It just came right back out the same side, which left me with water all over my face and mouth. Well, now at least I knew why my head felt like it did.
I managed to get a few drops out; the rest flowed down my face like I was a winning athlete in a Gatorade commercial. I dried off and took note of all the sensations in my head and neck. I felt…like I’d gargled in my face. But I felt better somehow. My throat felt sore and salty, but in a kind of good way. My face didn’t feel quite as puffy and swollen. Over the next couple hours, the sensation that I had somehow been sunburned under my skin started to subside and I actually felt a lot better. All right, Neti Pot. I now see that you’re like a Pap smear: violating but necessary.
Unfortunately the good feeling didn’t last as long as I’d hoped, so it’s apparent that I’m going to have to use this thing regularly to start feeling better. But on the other hand, if it works, and I no longer have to buy so many decongestants that the Feds start investigating me for running a meth lab out of my apartment, I guess it’s worth it.