First published on my Facebook profile in August 2017, this post is the opposite of “sugar and spice and all things nice”, this is “Pepper and snot and all things not”…
I post this as part warning part cautionary tale and part medical advice please people take care.
I have been suffering from a cold, a rather bad, snotty cold. The one where your head feels underwater and you cannot taste a thing. I don’t wish to moan about it, but I am going to give you some sage advice from something I learned over the past 24 hours.
Whilst talking to a business associate I made a passing mention of my runny, snotty, phlegm filled existence and he suggested emphatically that I should use bicarbonate of soda to “help reduce the mucus build up in the sinuses”.
Intrigued I asked, “So how does one do that?”
Here was his instructions
1) Mix bicarb of soda with water
2) Once fizzing has subsided cool with cold water to a comfortbale temperature.
3) Then introduce to your sinuses through your nose.
“oh” says I, how do I get it up my nose?
“Have at it like Scarface.” was his scholarly reply. His guidance was to just snort it wholesale up your nose and then relief would follow shortly thereafter.
Right, will do…
Went to bed with the intention of trying this the next day.
Friday, 3am; Woken by coughing and snotting everywhere so, the sage advice ringing in my ears I went down to kitchen to try and find bicarb of soda and some measure of relief.
On inspecting our kitchen supplies the closest thing we had was Epsom Salts, ingredients are bicarb of soda, citric acid and some other stuff. So I figure “what the heck”. I followed the instructions but getting the liquid from glass up my nose proved difficult. I used a teaspoon but was not making much difference and was just not getting enough fluid into the affected area. It was dribbling out and just making a mess.
Doing a little more due diligence, I looked at You Tube vids and saw most people had some kind of “nasal lavage” that they used to squirt the water up their nose, sometimes known as a ‘neti pot’. Furthermore various conk cocktails with bicarb of soda were recommended, some had honey, some used essential oils and one doctor recommended pepper.
So, I hatched a plan and on waking yesterday morning went directly to the local Boots the Chemist store and bought bicarb of soda, but they had nothing I could use to introduce the liquid up my nose.
Lady at Boots was very helpful and said “we don’t have any nasal lavage equipment, but have you tried Wilkinsons?”.
Wilkinsons for those who don’t know is also known as Wilkos and is a sort of all and sundry department full of hardware supplies, household cleaning goods and despair.
I duly paid for my bicarb anI went to Wilkinsons, lacking a medical department I looked in various other sections for inspiration. The brewery department had piping and funnels, the cookery department had squeezy ketchup bottles but I knew I’d found my thing in the picnic department.
A child’s drink bottle fit the bill exactly and exactly fit my bill as the spout was same diameter as nostrils making a good, tight seal and I thought it would allow a good “power wash” of my sinuses. Once I had tried the fit in Wilkinsons I felt that I had committed to the course of action and didn’t think they’d take kindly to me putting the bottle back, anyway it fit and would do the job of getting liquid to where it was needed.
So far, so good.
I got back home and in the kitchen whilst I was boiling the kettle I saw Jemma (my wife) had some fine ground pepper out and I thought, if Bicarb was good then I can see how pepper being added to the mix would act as a sort of “turbo-charging” agent and ensure my nasal cavities got a damned good scouring. The good doctor of You Tube was right, I needed the industrial strength good stuff and no messing.
He’d suggested a “pinch” of pepper but I’m no lilly livered wimp and decided this was no time for half measures I was totally blocked and needed dynamite. I mixed three teaspoons of pepper, 8 of bicarb and added half boiling and half cold water to make a lukewarm dark brown scouring liquor.
I placed the spout of the bottle up my right nostril and fired a burst of warm liquid up the passage with the intention of achieving liquid relief.
What happened next will be forever imprinted on my psyche. A burning, fireball of white hot lava spewed forth and consumed my temporal lobe, and I thought I had burnt my eyeballs out and given myself a lobotomy.
Instantly I was consumed by an agony akin to having your scrotum stapled to a board, whilst the board passed by at 100MPH tied to a motorbike. That would actually only be 1% of the total pain endured, if you are sans-scrota then think labour pains of childbirth, only double it.
I may have cried, I certainly tasted the rainbow and it tasted of black pepper.
After 10 minutes of wracked sobs, I regained my focus enough to realise that I perhaps had not quite got the angle correct. So whilst every sane fibre of my being shouted “FFS MAN NO! SRSLY NOOOOO.” I re-armed, re-aimed and squirted another shot of Devil’s Bovril into my nose.
Yep. Same result… I kissed god and the almighty tasted peppery, I talked in tongues and vibrated to a higher plane, hours passed in a few seconds, a lot happened much of which I was not aware.
As I was on the kitchen floor, on all fours shaking my head like a cat with a collar on for the first time, trying to get the wretched satanic stew out of my cranium my daughter walked into the room, stepped over me, got her cup of water and then stepped back over my prone, juddering form took one look at me and walked off, not a word spoken. In our house this is just normal operating conditions for Dad.
I eventually regained focus and some semblance of composure. However, my latent OCD kicked in. If I’d had two squirts up my right nostril, then I needed to “even thing sup on the left side” and things felt rather unbalanced. I should really give two shots to the left nostril to even things up, right?
Luckily a saner head prevailed and I realised two would be unbearable; however one long one would probably be acceptable to redress the imbalance. Relocating the spout, with a trembling hand and every fibre of my body screaming “noooooOOOOOO!”, I felt the fear and did it anyway. I gave it a good, long, double-hard squeeze and held on for dear life.
I lived many lifetimes, civilizations rose and fell, I saw the dinosaurs, Stonehenge being built and the Sex Pistols first gig. I went to the top of Everest, I plunged into the Marianas Trench. I was at one with everything and everything was me. It was beyond transcendental. It was also fucking hurting a fucking lot, fuck. It was like being waterboarded with chilli sauce, because effectively that was roughly what it was.
Whilst I looked down at my wracking, heaving form from my disembodied self I had a momentary leap of insight, and to pass on this wisdom let me share it with your dear, gentle reader; apparently not everyone on the Internet with a video camera giving ‘helpful’ medical advice might not be a fully qualified, degree wielding doctor. I know, right? Shocking.
I returned to my body and realised that I was sneezing, loudly, over and over.
Jem, my loyal, patient, loving wife, who’s witnessed all of this and more besides was raising a knowing eyebrow… “Really?”
Patience of a saint.
And so to leave you with a final life lesson, here’s my top tip, do NOT add pepper to any kind of rinsing solution for the nasal passages. 24 hours on and the ONLY thing I can smell is a musty pepper smell…
Pepper. The world smells of PEPPER. When will it end?
Pepper? Just Say NO!