Category Archives: Ear



Man, I have been slacking with posting here (or anywhere, really) lately. I actually thought about taking a little hiatus while I try to focus on some other aspects of my life, but that just seems too severe. Plus I want to be able to write when I feel like it, and the moment I say “I’m taking a hiatus” I will probably be struck with an uncontrollable urge to write.

Let me just give you a little update on things here. First of all, today I FINALLY called the Cheyenne Mountain Resort to book the extra nights we’ll be staying for this summer’s NFED Family Conference. I called the reservation line and it automatically puts you on hold while you wait in the queue.

I’d like to just mention that the hold music was so fantastic that I wanted to sit there on hold for as long as I could. I’m serious! As I listened to it (and did a robot-like dance in my chair), I wondered if it was the hold music that they talked about on an episode of This American Life, which I used to listen to religiously. After I got off the phone I googled “awesome hold music” and found out that yes, it was the same tune.

Now that I’ve piqued your interest, check it out for yourself here. I’m actually listening to it as I’m writing this post.

Also, if you’ve never listened to This American Life on NPR, you might want to take a gander. An auditory gander.

Speaking of auditory. Yesterday I had a routine visit to my ENT. Good news! My ear is stable. Not that I really expected anything different, but it’s always nice to get confirmation that you don’t have a diseased inner ear. I also had a hearing test. Blah.

I’m not terribly fond of the audiologist my doctor uses. This is the same woman who got the silicone stuck in my ear last year, but even before that I found her annoying. First of all, she speaks really softly, which is a bad quality in a person who is working with hearing impaired people, right?

One of the other things that makes me not take her seriously is that when she does the test where she says a word and I have to repeat it, she doesn’t do a very job of covering her mouth, so I can see her forming the words on the other side of the booth.

Also, it’s the SAME WORDS over and over! They are going to think I had a miraculous regeneration of my hearing because I know it’s:

Ice cream. Toothbrush. Sidewalk. Hot dog. Backpack. Lollipop.

Add a wind sound in my good ear.

Hot dog. Ice cream. Toothbrush. Backpack. Lollipop. Sidewalk

I’ll admit it gets hard when it is just one syllable words. Sometimes I have literally no idea what she said, and I can’t even think of a word to repeat back so I just shake my head in defeat.

At a couple of moments during the test, she turned up the wind sound SO loud in my good ear that I actually had to pull the headphone away from my ear. What the hell. Maybe this is what I don’t like about her the most. She does not seem to notice how sensitive my ears are.

It seems like a paradox that I could be so hard of hearing, yet so sensitive at the same time. I have been thinking about it a lot in the last 24 hours. I am not sure if it’s because I have to struggle to hear sometimes that I am so sensitive, or if I would be this sensitive even if I could hear perfectly. In fact, maybe it’s a blessing that I can’t hear perfectly, because maybe all the loudness in the world would drive me insane.

I really don’t like loud noises. I never have. When I was growing up, my dad had a dirt bike. I don’t think I ever got within 50 feet of it when it was turned on because it was so loud. In fact, when I knew he was going to start it up, I would run into the house and cover my ears. Even now, I practically have a heart attack when a motorcycle drives by me and revs the engine.

Come to think of it, maybe I am just a huge wimp…

Well, that’s enough of an update for now. I need to hit the hay! Goodnight and good luck!

Fun Times with Nasal Irrigation

Mmm, now there’s an appetizing title if I ever saw one!

Don’t worry, I’ll try not to get too graphic with the details. I just wanted to share the joy of the neti pot as I alluded to in my last post.

I bought my neti pot in the spring of 2008. I was finishing up my last semester at UConn, and thanks to springtime in New England, I was stuffy, sneezy and generally in a sad sinus state. A friend mentioned that she used a neti pot. She explained how you’d fill it with saline solution and rinse your nose with it.

Ew, I thought. That does not sound pleasant. But being stuffed up and simultaneously runny wasn’t exactly the best feeling either so I decided to give it a shot. I went to the CVS on the corner and searched. On the bottom shelf in the ‘sinus’ aisle I found a box containing a plastic neti pot and little packets of salts.

This is the modern version of the one I have. This one is prettier.

Returning to the condo that I shared with two (sometimes three) friends, I locked myself in the bathroom to commence the nasal irrigation procedure. I mixed the salts with warm tap water** and stirred it with the little plastic spoon, right in the neti pot.

**Seeing as we were right up against a farm and we had well water, it’s pretty much a miracle that I was not immediately stricken with brain-eating amoebas. I don’t use tap water anymore, but I’ll get to that later. Let me get back to the story!

I tilted my head to the side, as indicated in the instructions, and began pouring the solution in one nostril. My nose was so stuffy that the water had nowhere to go but down my throat. There was a lot of gagging and sputtering, but after a few tries I was able to get the water to flow through one nostril and out the other.

There was a mild sense of being violated the first couple of times using the neti pot. It was also a bit of a challenge to get the salt content just right and the water temperature right. But after using the neti pot for so many years, I consider myself a pro. So here is my method.

1. Use clean water

Either boil tap water (and let it cool before using, obviously), or buy distilled water. I usually get by with about 1 gallon a week, because I don’t use it every day.

You shouldn’t use raw tap water because it can contain bacteria that can cause infections. (Your stomach is better equipped at handling that bacteria than your nose is.)

2. Warm up the water

I keep my distilled water in a cabinet, so it is at room temperature. I use a 24 oz Mason jar to warm it up. I fill it to just below the mouth (so it’s probably close to 30 oz of water) and put it in the microwave for about a minute. If the water is really cold to start with you might need to go a little bit longer, but be careful not to get it too hot. In the summer, I don’t need to warm it up much, if at all.

3. Add salt

I use one level teaspoon of plain, fine sea salt for my saline solution. I’ve seen recipes that call for baking soda as well but I’m lazy. I just dump that tablespoon into the warm water and mix it up real good.

4. Prepare the sink area

I take the Mason jar of water, the neti pot, a box of tissues and a towel to the sink. The less experienced you are, the more towel you’re going to need. Close the bathroom door. No one wants to see you do this.

5. Do it

Pour some of the water from the mason jar into the neti pot. I’m able to get about 4 neti pots of water out of it.

Lean over the sink like you’re going to spit out your toothpaste. Tilt your head so your chin is in line with your shoulder. Put the tip of the neti pot against your nostril and angle it so the water pours into your nose. This takes some adjusting to get the right angle. For me, it can also depend on how stuffy my nose is.

Don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t work or doesn’t feel right at first. Keep trying and it will get better.

After you’ve done one side, gently blow your nose. Don’t hold one side closed or try to force anything out. Just kind of a heavy breath out through your nose is good.

Repeat on the other side.

6. The Aftermath

Blow gently to get excess water out. It may continue to leak out for a few minutes after. Or maybe that’s just me.

Wipe up the wet counter top with the towel.

Rinse the neti pot and the jar and let air dry.

Why do it?

Ok, maybe you read all this and you still don’t see the appeal. Maybe you’re one of those lucky people who does not have any problems with your nose, and in that case, you probably don’t need to do this. Why are you even bothering to read this?

Do you remember going swimming as a kid, either in a pool or in the ocean, and having water forced up your nose when you did a sweet cannonball, or maybe when a wave hit you in the face? Yeah, it might have hurt for a moment, but do you remember how it felt afterwards? Your nose was clear and every breath was delicious.

The neti pot gives you that kind of relief without the pain of cold water being forced up your face. It’s like a controlled nasal flush.

Have you tried the neti pot? What did you think? Are my instructions helpful?