18 Jun 2008

The instructions were less than straightforward

I’ve been sick for a month. First a cold. Then “allergies”. Finally, last week, a throat infection arrived that.. well, grabbed me by the throat. And kicked me around the house for good measure. I haven’t been this ill in ten years. Maybe fifteen. I was truly, horribly, pathetically ill, and not in my usual manflu, “I have a cold, I am certain I must be dying!” drama queen way. No, I have been I-L-L. Too ill to get out of bed. Too ill to check email. To ill to knit. Too ill to even feed myself, which was fine, as I couldn’t swallow much anyway.

Tonia stayed home and took care of me. She made me broth and brought me red Popsicles. When it came to making the broth, I am sorry to say, Mrs Beeton’s Guide to Household Management utterly failed us in our hour of need. Under Care and Feeding of the Invalid all the recipes begin with “Boil one cow.” We briefly considered whether the farmer next door would miss one of his (they’re black and white, and all look alike to us) and then gave up the idea as impractical, owing to the inadequacy of our largest stock pot.

It’s taken a while to sort out the reason for this really unusual spate of illness in my life, and I think it’s come down to the neti pot. It’s the only new thing in my life this month, other than mucus. My friend Cathy told me about these things, she said Oprah was using one, they’re all the rage, and people who use them never ever get sick. Also, if you have a stuffy nose, perhaps maybe from allergies, a neti pot will clear the problem right up. No drugs, just a little saline water up your nose, no kidding.

And what’s a neti pot? Well, if you have to ask, you maybe want to watch this video. Or maybe… you really just don’t. Seriously.

I bought a neti pot after we returned home from Alaska, and it was weird to use, but once you get beyond the feeling that you’re drowning, it’s not unpleasant. So I used it while I had the manflu. And it helped. And then I got over the manflu, but had those lingering “allergies”, remember? I used the neti pot then too, and it helped. And then I got a sore throat. And it got worse and worse. And then I had a fever of 102.2 for a while and so I stopped using the neti pot, and called a doctor. And she came to my house, and peered into me, and said I that had a very bad throat infection, and needed antibiotics immediately. And she also said you really can’t tell if it’s a viral infection or a bacterial infection, unless you do a culture, and the treatment is the same either way. Antibiotics.

How to use a neti pot And she wrote me a script and she left, but when she said “bacterial” the little light bulb went on, and I suddenly realized that maybe the bacteria, which I have been dutifully flushing out of my nasal passages, ended up somewhere it shouldn’t. And this might explain why I have been so ill. I did some checking on the interweb and, sure enough, despite the fact that neti pots bring great relief when you are stuffed up, apparently you’re not supposed to use one when you’re sick. Because all the bacteria from your nose swilling around in saline could wind up anywhere. Anywhere. Like your throat. Which is gross, if you think about it, so let’s not. All I’m saying is they might have included a cautionary paragraph in the instructions that came with the neti pot, and that I’m never using mine again. I have found a far better use for it.

I’ve moved from the bed to the sofa, and I’m knitting, working on a little pair of slippers; a sure sign of returning health. My toes have been cold for a month with this damned illness, and the old felted clogs are really beyond repair now. Time for something new. Something not felted. Something I can knit, weave in the ends of, and slip on my feet.

I went looking for slipper patterns, and then I remembered that Erika Knight has a very simple pattern for something she calls Yoga Slippers in her book, Classic Knits at Home. They’re darling little slippers, and I love the little circles of leather sewn on the soles. Very Zen. And I really like how decreases are worked along both sides of the upper, and the way the increases near the back of the heel shape the back of the slipper. I wouldn’t have thought to do that. Very clever.

Wow. Will you look at that. I am blogging my knitting. Something else I don’t usually think to do.

So I’m onto something, Erika’s slippers are close to what I want, but still not quite there. It’s the single layer of knit fabric for the sole that lets the pattern down for me. I want house slippers. I need thicker soles. So I decided to double knit the sole, so there are two layers of fabric, instead of one. I’m not actually using Erika’s pattern, so much as looking at the picture of her clever little slippers, and channeling Erika as I knit. The first sole is complete, the second I had to fiddle with because did I WRITE ANYTHING DOWN while I was knitting the first one? No. I did not. Blame the illness. I was too ill to know what I was doing. No pictures as I haven’t started the uppers yet, but maybe tomorrow.

As I wrote in my kayak journal***

Amy will make a knitting blogger of me yet.

***On glacier watching day in Alaska the nature guy on the cruise used the loudspeaker to read inspirational nature quotes, reflecting the GRANDEUR and the MAJESTY of what we were looking at. Because we city folk don’t know quite how to appreciate a glacier unassisted. So he read quotes from John Muir and Jack London and, occasionally, himself, prefaced with “As I wrote in my kayak journal…” which kind of became a thing. I won’t use his name, because he’s a really nice guy, and very knowledgeable about things like the different ways that bears shit in the woods. And is even willing to demonstrate them for you. Seriously.

Posted on June 18, in Blog


  1. Renee wrote:

    Wow, Brenda, take care. Sounds like your body has been through it all…

    Posted on 6.19.08 ·
  2. Brenda, so glad you are up and around!

    About the Neti Pot, I use mine and like it, but now that you mention it I have had more colds than usual since I started using it. Last week was another sore throat which I thought was a reaction to wild fire smoke in our area. Hmmm, now I’ll have to think about it some more.

    About the slippers. There is a pattern I like that is done by a local knit friends. Here is her project on Ravelry:

    I wouldn’t do mine in pink, but I like the idea, and they are *really* easy for a sicko.

    Posted on 6.18.08 ·
  3. PaulaK wrote:

    Brenda, I read your account of your illness and boy, do I identify! I just got better two days ago. While ill, I had thought that my “advancing” age was the culprit and that I would never feel well again, only to find out that others were having similiar experiences to mine, including my son who lives in New York and my Mom, who lives in Arkansas. What prompted me to respond to your account, is that I have a neti pot, but have not used it for maybe 20 years, so my illness could not have been prolonged by using one. Not that that yours wasn’t, but I just wanted to suggest that there is some form of something going around that seems to really make people sick in a longer, different way than we expect. I think of myself as a robust person, but this bug I caught was hard to get rid of. I am still holding my breath that the sore throat does not return; that was the worse for me. Well, I hope you are better for good! I am going to go knit something since I FINALLY have energy again…

    Posted on 6.19.08 ·
  4. Angela wrote:

    I despise being sick and if I had been as ill as you have been lately I would have found a noose and stool already. I applaud your strength. I hope this wil leave you with enough health to regain your stamina. Do you think your sensitivity to whatever bug comes along lately has anything to do with your thyroid? Are your meds properly balanced for you or are you still working on that. While I believe that nasty neti pot has probably 95% of the guilt here, before my aunt’s thyroid meds were balanced if anyone sneezed within a mile of her she was sick. Just a thought. Sending prayers and good thoughts from Washington State!

    Posted on 6.19.08 ·
  5. Karen wrote:

    I hope you are feeling better faster than soon. I will take your precautionary advise and never try a netti pot. Love your pod cast! I am a big fan!

    Posted on 6.22.08 ·
  6. shelle wrote:

    Thank you Brenda, I thought last week that I had allergies kicking in, neti-ed as it always worked in the past. But ended up with something funky, fever and all. I hope you feel well soon.

    Posted on 6.22.08 ·
  7. Anne wrote:

    Same story here, years ago I bought a neti pot recommended in a yoga class – got a really bad three month long sinusitis as an immediate result. Never been ill that long, before or after, and no neti-poti over my threshold again.

    Posted on 6.23.08 ·
  8. Kristin wrote:

    Ouch. My sympathies. I’m so sorry to hear how sick you’ve been! I have to agree with some of the other commenters. It seems like illnesses are just lingering more than usual lately.

    I’ve never used a neti pot, but I do have a Nasopure bottle. It’s the same principle, but it’s much, much easier to use and I don’t think there’s any chance with it that the bad junk could wind up where it’s not wanted. It’s – ahem – a more forceful flushing sort of action, and while it’s far from pleasant I do have to admit that it’s very effective. If you ever decide to try it again, I would really recommend this! (No, I’m not with the Nasopure company, but the doctor who developed it is here in town with us.)

    Posted on 6.26.08 ·
  9. Joan wrote:

    Hi – your story of the neti pot reminded me of when my youngest (sixth) child was a newborn. You’d think I’d have learned how to care for a newborn by the time number six came around, wouldn’t you? But oh no, I decided I’d use those little plastic nose suction thingies to try to suction the excess mucus out of my baby’s nose. I thought if I rinsed the thing is very very hot water from the tap that I would avoid contaminating it. Nope. Poor little thing ended up with a SINUS infection AND bronchitis – she was sicker than any of my kids had ever been – and I was nursing her, too!
    Luckily, she got over the infection – and I my guilt – and now she is 22 and finishing college in the next year or so. I guess my stupidity left no lasting damage (I hope!)
    So I really really sympathize – I bet you were ungodly sick – bacterial infections actually feel worse than the viral ones, IMHO.
    By now you must be feeling better – I hope:)
    Take care,

    Posted on 9.5.08 ·

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