Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sinus Issues and Triathlon

AKA "The stupid sh*t we do for the sport."

While this really happened, the idea for telling this story came from a blog that I follow.  One of the posts had me laughing so hard I nearly cried. Here's my version of going to the doctor's office for something with a race in the future.  

Race day is just over two weeks away, and for the first time I stand a chance of standing on the podium for a half iron distance race.  Unfortunately, I'm currently enjoying one of the benefits of having kids.

It started last week when Thing 2 got a stuffy nose.  Two days later, Thing 1's nose started dripping, too.  And like a freight train coming down the tracks in slow motion, I saw it headed towards me.  So, three days ago, when I started coughing, I knew.  I hadn't dodged it.  Whatever sinus-crud-that-goes-around decided to move into my sinuses and start setting up a shop.

So yesterday, when I woke up and both ears were hurting, it was time to call the doctor.  A good friend of mine recently went through this...  Then promptly lost nearly a month of training as one thing developed into another and she wound up with pneumonia.  She's finally recovering, and I am incredibly grateful for that, but I didn't want to wind up with the same thing.  So I called my doctor's office at 8:40 on a Thursday morning:

Nurse: "Hello?" (Wait...  Don't they usually answer with the name of the doctor's office?)
Me : "Um, yes," pause... "Did I call (doctor's office)?"
Nurse: "Yes, you did, this is (nurse's name), can I help you?"
Me: "Yes, I'd like to get in to see the doctor.  It's possible I have a sinus infection, and I want to keep it from getting worse. I have a race in two weeks, and don't want to wind up sicker than I am now."
Nurse: "Okay, can you give me your name and number and we'll call you back?"

So I gave her my information.  An hour later, since I needed to get a copy of some paperwork from the doctor, anyway, I drove up there.  There was no nurse there by the name I had been given.  What the h3ll is going on?  So I asked if they had time to see me, explaining that I have a race in two weeks, and I don't want whatever is going on to get any worse.  They were completely booked.

Since they were booked (I worked Friday and Monday, so I wouldn't be able to get back until Tuesday) I drove around the corner to the instant clinic at the grocery store.  Oooh yay.  A doctor nurse practitioner that doesn't know me and the ridiculous shi*t I do for endurance sports. This should be fun.

I went into the store and signed in and explained again,
Person checking me in: "Why don't you stay in bed and not do the race?"

Me: composing myself "I already paid for it, and besides, I still need to be a mom, go to work, and basically function between now and then anyway.  So how about that appointment?"
Person checking me in: "Alright, sign here and here, and...."

Finally, paperwork signed and my firstborn promised to the healthcare government, the person checking me in takes my information and vitals.

Person checking me in, "Height?"
Me, "Between 5'3" and 5'4"
Person checking me in, "Weight?"
Me, "127-128 depending"
The person checking me in frowns at me and taps the BMI poster on the wall. "You know, that puts your BMI at the top of healthy. You should be careful."
Me, "Wait, what?  What does that have to do with me needing to see the doctor?
Person checking me in, "Well, it does leave you more susceptible to getting sick when you're heavier."
Me, "Oh thanks.  I'll remember that. Cause BMI is soooo accurate."
Idiot checking me in gives me a dirty look.

So finally I get to see the nurse practitioner.  Once again...  Wait. Nope, not gonna do it.....
Her: "So what's going on today?"
Me: "I'm sick."
So we go through the whole song and dance again.  I'm in and out in about ten minutes.  Less time than it took for me to get checked in.  The only problem now is that this thing is likely viral, meaning no antibiotic in the world is going to do a damn bit of good for what's going on.  And the treatment is the most horrible thing in the world.

A neti pot.

Okay, I don't really care if you think it's the greatest thing in the world.  I do unintentional-sinus-rinse-by-swimming-pool at least twice a week, usually three. So what good is a neti pot going to do?

So I wander over to the pharmacy section of the grocery store, and stare at the neti pots.  Ooooooh look!!!  Something that I can pour water up  my nose!  Let's get one of each!

Not.  But I did find a battery operated one that eliminates the need to turn your head upside down over the sink.  I added some over the counter allergy medicine to the basket, and mosied over to the checkout (remember, hubby has the kids, who have been doing their best to redefine the meaning of "testing my patience" lately).

I took my time getting home, but opened the neti pot box as soon as I got there.  My desperation to breathe was increasing to the point where I'd try anything.  So...

I opened the box and read the directions "soothing sinus massage...."  Riiiiiggghhhtt...  And I'm a yeti.

I followed the directions, got everything together, bent over the sink so I wouldn't make a mess, put the spout of the neti pot to my nostril, pressed the button, and...

OMG WTF WAS I THINKING?!?!?!?!?!?!  I JUST SHOT WATER UP MY NOSE WITH A BATTERY POWERED STUPID LOOKING WATER GUN!  I should have saved the batteries (and my money) for something much more useful or entertaining, and used a $5 super soaker to accomplish the same damn thing!!!!!!!!

So then my husband tells me, "You're doing it wrong.  You're supposed to tilt your head to the side and do this..."  He then demonstrates with the neti pot he'd bought years ago that had been hiding at the back of the medicine cabinet.  It goes in one nostril, and out the other.  And he doesn't choke, no pressure on the inside of his eardrums, just a nice nostril wash.  WTH?!?

And then... I tried it again.  This time it went down my throat.  So now it's not only annoying as hell, it's gross, too!

Not that gross ever stopped anyone from being a triathlete.

It took a few tries, but I eventually figured it out. And to be honest, it's much more effective than the swimming pool sinus rinse that I usually wind up with. But let me just say that I would rather do another Ironman before I ever use another neti pot.

Hopefully the sinus crud will go away by race day, otherwise, I think there might be some unhappy/grossed out athletes behind me.  Although, the day does start with a nice swim, so maybe that will take care of the nose wash for me.

At least, though, the neti pot from hell wasn't entirely a wasted purchase.  My son is currently using it to surprise my daughter whenever she walks outside.  It shoots water a pretty good distance. (don't worry, I cleaned it before I let him "bathe" his sister, the dogs, the car, etc...)

Oh yeah, and I never DID get that call back from the mystery nurse at the doctor's office!


  1. I can't believe the nurse made that BMI comment--I've gone to doctor appointments with 20 lb weight swings and nobody has ever said anything. Yours sounded like my Korean mother (did she pinch your arm and stare at you accusingly?).

  2. Didn't get the pinch, but I did get the STARE!!!! I need to find your docs!