Wednesday, May 24, 2006

confessions of a phlegmatic

pain can make you (by 'you' i mean 'me') do strange things. similar to what i like to call 'pee panic,' when you (me) really have to pee and, being a girl, cannot simply unzip and turn your back and relieve yourself in all manner of convenient alleys or shrubbery in view of the general public. so you walk/drive/ride around with increasing anxiety with no appropriate place to go, and get jittery and distracted and uncoordinated as all of your mental power is concentrated on not. peeing. your pants. or maybe that's just me.

anyhoo, i think i have a decently high threshold of pain, but the malingering cold that thoughtfully went away before i hied me to yosemite decided to swoop back down with a vengeance once i got home, and it settled excruciatingly heavily in my sinuses. i wouldn't say it compared to a migraine (which i used to get frequently from junior high through my early twenties), but when every slight tip of your head causes the pressurized contents inside your skull to suddenly feel like they're seizing on themselves like a vacuum, then perhaps that is the time to consider medication.

all i had in the house that first night was a foil packet of expired sudafed and a couple of expired vicodin. i took both in desperation, and it helped a little, but not enough for me to feel OK enough to go out to buy new drugs at the fluorescent-lit hell of a supermarket. instead i consulted the interweb, with the contrast on the screen way low, and looked up jala neti, a yogic practice i'd learned about in passing at various hippie-love health food stores. this practice involves irrigating the nasal passages or even the sinus cavity with a saline solution balanced to blood salinity.

couldn't hurt, i thought, especially since i was almost ready to bang myself in the foot with a ball-peen hammer to detract from the pain in my head.* i measured out the salt, boiled some water, swished in some filtered cold water, and then shuffled into the bathroom to irrigate my head. after resting the nape of my neck on the smooth rim of the tub, i started to carefully pour the solution into one nostril from my tiny tin teapot – then basically just poured it up my nose and all over my face. (and shirt.) undaunted, i leaned my head farther back and sort of slowly shook my head back and forth (as if in disbelief that i had just poured salt water into my breathing holes). this was actually a messed-up combination of the two stages of jala neti that i had misremembered from my foggy consultation of the web minutes before. i was attempting stage two, in which you (me) introduce the saline solution via the nose and then spit it out via the mouth – without drowning yourself – but, tripped out by the odd sensation of water sloshing around in there, i drained the water out my nose into the tub.

so to finish it all off with the appropriate flourish of ridiculousness, i did some kundalini-style snort-exhaling to get all the water out of my nose, and along with it went some of the gunk that i am still in the process of eliminating from the cavernous recesses of my not-currently-empty head. i did feel a little better afterwards, but ultimately i have sudafed to thank for saving me from the ball-peen hammer alternative.

and though i had to cancel the little birthday brewery gathering i'd thrown together, i felt well enough by saturday evening for dos equis to take me to the park chalet to meet the friends and brother he'd rounded up to surprise me there. there was lounging in adirondack chairs, and lots of small plates, excellent wine and beer, and homemade chocolate cake composed mostly of chocolate, heavy cream, chocolate, butter and chocolate (my favorite!).

in sum, thus far, 33 is feeling quite OK.

* good thing i don't own a ball-peen hammer.


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