Oprah and Me, or How I Reluctantly Kicked the Habit of Being Sick

A little more than a year ago I traveled to Japan to do some volunteer work. While there, I shared an overnight train with someone who was very sick. He coughed and sniffed with a rumble that filled me with dread until he left the train car hours later. Three days later I was fighting the same noisy rumble in my chest and still fighting it two weeks later.

Months after I recovered I went to a business conference in Chicago during a winter cold front. For a week I shared a conference room with people who brought cold bugs from all over the country. I was miserable and in bed considering myself lucky that I happened to be waiting for an assignment while recovering.

Then there was the cold I got at the office here in Atlanta, no missed work, but it seemed to last forever and I didn’t want to be the person filling others with dread. With three nasty sinus problems in less than a year, I finally decided that home remedies were not doing the trick and it was time to seek antibiotics. I went to a local doc in a box and they didn’t have my medical records. It had been too long since I visited and they wanted to charge me as a new patient. I hung my head and said “You know, $150 is a lot to pay for permission to get a $7 drug.” Amoxicillin, has always done the trick for me and it’s the one time there’s a benefit to being uninsured. It costs less than half of a standard co-pay. So, they told me about the pharmacy clinic nearby and I was off to see their nurse practitioner.

The fee was less than half of what the doctor’s office was going to charge and I was thankful that they were nice enough to tell me. I asked the nurse practitioner about my mother’s favorite home remedy, the salt water nasal spay. She said that it was a good treatment, but that you needed to use it several times a day to get benefit and then recommended a neti pot as a better choice. I didn’t know anything about a neti pot. She described it as looking like a teapot and being used for nasal irrigation. She also told me that Oprah used it and had shown one on TV. I don’t think I’ve ever had another medical professional use Oprah.

My antibiotics worked and I was healthy, but I was curious. I always try to follow simple self help when I know about it. I wasn’t looking forward to pouring water “up my nose”, but I didn’t want the crud either, nor did I want to spend a lot of money on medical care.

I bought the plastic version sold in a kit with packets of rinse mixture. It took me a couple of months to decide to buy one. Then it took me a couple of months to get the nerve to use it. My boyfriend was teasing me about the whole thing while the kit sat in the bathroom unused.

Then a girlfriend was visiting. She tried to get me started. I successfully deflected with “Okay, if I’ve put it off this long, I’m not doing it with an audience for the very first time.” More delay…. but the winter cold season finally rolled around again and the pressure was on.

I finally did submit to the world of nasal irrigation and now I too am among the ranks of those who swear by the pot. My sister-in-law advised that I only needed half a packet of mix and that seemed to work. I used half a packet with half a pot for a while. There have been no sinus problems this winter and I am a believer! I graduated to ceramic neti pots. I like the lower one better because of the way it flows. I think the shape of the mass may create a little faster flow.



I have never used the syringe shown below, but if I take another extended trip like the one in Japan, I think I’ll consider taking one rather than trying to find something unusual in a country where I don’t speak the language.

Editors Update: The true test of something is longevity and I am still using my neti pot. I have now tried a few of the varieties above. I think I may prefer the long narrow design (the one that is a little like Alladin’s Lamp). It seems to put a little umph behind the flow with just a little bit of tilt and it packs well in a suitcase. I still recommend trying a variety though. Preferences are as individual as people.