Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sparing you the details

For about a week now I have been fighting a nasty illness. It started with a fever and sore throat but quickly settled into something quite sinusy. I'd describe it as cement nose. Know what I'm talking about? Like, I was so clogged up that if you had duct taped my mouth shut, I'd suffocate and die right then and there. And this sickness was ruining everything. My sleep was crappy since I couldn't breathe right. I had a splitting headache, especially at night. And breastfeeding a baby while hacking and coughing all over the place? Not fun for either one of us.

My method of dealing with this problem (ignore, ignore, ignore) wasn't working, so today I called Kaiser hoping to get an appointment early this week. I figured I just needed an antibiotic, since that's always what happens when I get a sickness like this.

Well, the Kaiser woman first asked me a bunch of questions about my symptoms. And then she goes, "I'm sorry, we have no appointments available. Would you like to speak to an advice nurse?"

I was confused, especially since to get an antibiotic, don't you have to see the doctor? "What do you mean, there are no appointments available?"

"I mean I can offer you no appointments," she said. "But there is no wait to speak to an advice nurse."

This pissed me off. Like she judged my symptoms and felt I wasn't quite ill enough to see a real doctor. "So, what you're telling me is that ALL OF KAISER is booked for appointments?" I sputtered. "That ... that there are no appointments EVER?"

I hear a heavy sigh, and then she said, "Ma'am, the only thing I can tell you is that there are no appointments. But AGAIN, there is no wait to speak to the nurse."

At this point I feel like I may burst into tears, so fine, bring on your stupid nurse.

Well, it turns out my frustration was kind of ridiculous, and I wasn't giving Kaiser nearly enough credit for being awesome. As it turns out, when you call Kaiser on a Sunday for an appointment because you are feeling terrible? They try to fit you in ON THAT SUNDAY. So the woman I was snotty to (haha, snotty) was merely telling me that SUNDAY was booked. Well, cripes, lady, of course it is! Sunday is today!

Anyway. So the advice nurse suggests that even though they are booked for in-person visits, I can have a phone appointment with a doctor that afternoon. A phone appointment! I didn't even know such a thing existed. But I'm fine with anything that means I don't have to find a spare hour in my life to drive to a doctor's office.

A couple hours later, a doctor calls and asks me a bunch of questions. Finally, I think, I'll get my prescription. But no! Instead she tells me that an over-the-counter sinus-rinse kit would solve all my problems. Instantly. All you do is take a little squirt bottle and shoot warm salty water up into your nose. You inhale it through your sinuses, then let it drain out through your mouth. (Yes, this means you'd essentially be hurling up the contents of your own nose, but let's not think about that too much.) "Let's say you have a gutter filled with leaves," she said. "If you sprinkle some water on them, it's not going to do anything. What you need to do is blast those leaves out with a HIGH-PRESSURE FIREHOSE."

Then she pointed me to a demonstration video on the Kaiser web site. She said the kits are available everywhere, and that I should do a rinse twice a day, morning and night, until I'm better.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love hippie crap like this. And I'm totally impressed that Kaiser suggested a natural home remedy first. HOWEVER. I have a thing about water going up my nose. The thought of it scares my pants off. Like, I'm that sissy at the pool who has to use one hand to pinch her nose shut at all times when underwater. But I was desperate, so even though I could not possibly fathom doing what they are asking me to do, I went and bought this kit at Walgreens for about $12.

The doctor had warned me that it would be unpleasant at first, and that was true. REAL true. It felt slightly like drowning. Tears sprang to my eyes, and I coughed and gagged quite a bit. But (and here's where I'd recommend setting aside your oatmeal or whatever you're enjoying for breakfast) oh my god, the stuff that fell out of my head! OK, on second thought, I have decided not to go into details. But be assured that the details are dramatic and plentiful. And the relief is indeed almost instant.

For the first night in almost a week, I could breathe comfortably while I slept. It was heaven. This morning I did another rinse, and it was a little easier. Again, there were LOTS and LOTS of ... um ... "results."

I just can't belive I've gone though my whole life - and many, many head colds like this one - without knowing about this. And, just think about about all the future days and nights of suffering I have saved myself by learning this trick. The kit comes with 50 packets of the salt solution, so it'll last me forever. And you know what else? I've even read that you can kill a cold right away if you do some good ol' sinus flushing at the first sign of a sickness. This means hours and hours added into my life, you guys!

Thanks, Kaiser, for teaching me how to fish. In my nose.


Robyn said...

I love that stuff. Although since becoming pregnant, it burns like fire. I have to use half a packet right now.
But I prefer to use a netipot instead of the squirt bottle.
Other weird thing is that I've always been told to let it go up one side of the nose and out the other side of the nose, not through the mouth. Then again, I've never had anything really awful come out, so maybe I did it wrong.

Amy said...

What?! But Robyn, you're like the daintiest, most ladylike person I know! And doing a sinus rinse was the least ladylike I have ever been.

I think the out-the-other-nostril thing is for when you aren't sick. That's what the doc said, anyway. And for what it's worth, all the, um, business did come out my mouth. Maybe I was just too stuffed up for the nose thing to work!