August 2, 2007 (JB’s birthday! Today my favorite provider of both affection and dutch ovens turns 34. Rejoice!)

After reading through the comments from the more sadistic of you motherfuckers fellow sinus-sufferers in the crowd who recommended “NeilMed Sinus Rinse”, I decided to give it a shot. What the hell, I thought. Can anything be worse than feeling as though a manatee has been lodged in each of my nostrils?

(Ha ha ha ha HAAAAAAAAAAyes.)

I found the kit at a local Walgreen’s, and the first thing I noticed is that the NeilMed comes in a disturbingly large box—disturbing when you consider its purpose, that is. If something is meant to go up my nose, I would prefer it come in some dainty, Hello-Kitty-sized packaging, you know? That sends a nice little message about the relative ease with which it will likely be inserted (excepting bathtub crank, live Texas fire ants, hunks of wasabi, etc), and in comparison a sinus kit the size of a shoebox doesn’t just sit there on the drugstore shelf, it looms.

After clearing my social calendar for the evening, I retreated to the bathroom and opened the kit, which included a largeish plastic bottle, a bunch of saline mix packets, and a fold-out set of instructions. I decided to skip the lengthy how-to in favor of the small laminated quick sheet, which opened with the following:

We strongly advise against the use of our kit for adults who have reduced comprehension.

So I immediately closed the kit and repeatedly attempted to flush it down the toilet, sobbing with frustration when the box refused to be suctioned down the drain.

Not really, but I did re-consider my decision to skip the longer instructions, and scanned through the helpful pamphlet to make sure I wasn’t missing anything crucial, like CONTENTS MAY EXPLODE IF INSERTED IN NOSTRIL.

As it turns out, the process is fairly basic: you fill the bottle with warm water, add the saline mix, shake it don’t stir it, and then it’s party time. Assuming you consider hosing out your snoot with warm salty water a party, and hey, who doesn’t?

Now, I don’t want to say that deliberately putting water in my nose is my, ha ha, worst nightmare or anything, but let me just say this: I have never once been able to jump into a pool without firmly pinching my nostrils shut. In fact, I can’t even dunk my head without holding my nose. Because water . . . in the nose . . . ohgodohgodohgod nooooooo. Okay, so it would be my worst nightmare if I were also speaking in public and being attacked by a grizzly who wasn’t really hungry enough to kill me right away, but rather slowly gnawed me over an hour or so.

Luckily, there were no bears or podiums nearby to contend with, so eventually, after a lot of hyperventilating and clabbering feebly at the bathroom door, I summoned the courage to lean over the sink and squeeze the bottle in one nostril.

Let me give you a piece of advice about the NeilMed Sinus Rinse Kit: if you decide to give it a try and you find yourself in the same virginal situation of feeling water warmly filling up your sinus cavity, resist the (nearly overpowering) urge to fling the bottle aside and scream “HOLY SHIT I AM DROWNING! IT’S JUST LIKE IT WAS DESCRIBED IN THE PERFECT STORM! OH MY GOD I AM HEADING INTO A DARK TUNNEL! HELP! HELP! HELP!” into your comically dripping mirrored reflection.

Yes, there is the slightest hint of a panicky drowning sort of feeling, but if you can wait a second or two, something even more horrible happens! The water that is being pumped into one of your nose-holes . . . will start to trickle out of your other nose-hole! And out of your mouth, a little!

Have you ever barfed so hard that the contents of your stomach came out your nose, and maybe also your eyesockets? Then you know the extreme wrongness that is the sensation of a nasal rinse, although I will concede that the saline mix isn’t burny in the least and is only intolerable if you accidentally swallow a big glurt of it.

It was a singularly unpleasant experience, yet in the name of science I repeated my self-flaggellation on the other nostril. Immediately afterwards I blew my nose—and half my brains came out. And oh my god, the sheer bliss of a productive nose-blow. I can’t even tell you. No, I really can’t, because I’m missing a good chunk of my cerebral cortex now, but I’m pretty sure it was nice.

Despite my reduced comprehension, I did the rinse again this morning. It doesn’t wholly solve the problem of what I think must be swollen nasal passages (thanks, increased blood flow during pregnancy!), but it truly does clear the head. I mean, literally.

Plus, now I can look back on those years of being the only kid in swimming lessons with nose-clips and feel no shame, for I have faced my nightmare, yea, and shoved it right the hell up my nose.


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16 years ago

Instead of nasal lavages, have you considered just seeing an ENT?

Your sinus/breathing/fatigue issues could be related; mine were. Dr. Eric Pinczower is an excellent ENT on the Eastside and easy to recommend.

16 years ago

It was worth recommending it just to get that hilarious recount – there are tears rolling down my cheeks I laughed so hard!

16 years ago

Happy birthday to JB! And many more…

16 years ago

Cracking up so hard I’m crying here!!! Thanks for the good belly laugh. This brings back awful memories of my experience with this “nasal cleansing pot”: The freakiest thing is seeing the stream of water coming out the other nostril. !!!gross!!!

16 years ago

OMG… had to come back to this post… a friend sent me to the neti pot search on Amazon… and OMG OMG OMG OMG… someone actually suggested filling the neti pot with 1/3 URINE. I wish I were making this up.

I’ll take my cup of coffee, tyvm.

Naomi Thompson
16 years ago

Oh good lord… I’ve had sinus problems for the past YEAR. I’m talking, constant runny nose, sinus tissues so swollen the mucus doesn’t flow properly leading to throat problems (post-nasal drip), chronic sinus infections, headaches, toothaches, etc. The doctors want to do surgery but I’m not down for that at the moment. It’s gotten better lately because I took a bunch of oral and nasal steroids… but I do the Neil Med sinus rinse w/ the bottle EVERY SINGLE MORNING. at first it was gross. Now it’s like “Ahh that’s nice!” LOL