Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Nurse Ratchett

By Mike Ratchett, Staff Nurse

APRIL 13, 1998:  I wish I was dead. It happens around this time every year, when every plant, spore and bacteria on the face of most of the Western Hemisphere starts going ape shit over rain and warming weather. The result? A headful of snot, watery eyes, sneezing fits and, quite often, cold-like symptoms from which there seems to be little or no reprieve. If you're one of the lucky ones and you're willing to weather either the murky haze caused by the "dryl" family or the hyper, gotta-take-a-pee-every-10-minutes chaos related to the "phed" family, then you've at least got a chance of living a healthy, happy and productive spring. I am not one of the lucky ones.

As I write this column, I find myself for the very first time thanking The Man for the rubberized keyboard condom He had installed on all the computers in the office. But I'm about to thank another man for inventing a device that promises to prevent my impending suicide and could do much to relieve your severe allergic reactions to all the stuff flying happily around in the air. His name is Dr. Murray Grossan, an ear, nose and throat specialist, and his invention is the Grossan Pulsatile Sinus Irrigator. I know what you're thinking, but be not afraid, fellow sufferer: The "new technology" is based on a 2,000-year-old Hindu technique that has yet to maim or kill. But that's not to say that either the old custom of rapidly sniffing salt water in and out or shoving the end of a plastic tube up your nose that sends pulsating jets of saline into your sinuses is particularly pleasant, but damned if it doesn't work like a charm.

It all started last year when I promised myself I wouldn't give in and just go for the trusty old steroid injection routine--effective, yes, but with the potential for a few undesirable side effects. Bunny (yes, that's her real name), the mother of a good friend, recommended that I fill my bathroom sink with warm salt water, bend over and snort small amounts of the gag serum into my nose and, therefore sinuses. The idea here being that the warm saline solution would cleanse the inflamed tissue of dust, pollen, bacteria and other reaction-causing substances. To employ an obvious pun, it sucked. I immediately wheeled around and vomited in the bathtub. But the process was quite effective, in the end, in relieving my terminal symptoms. Days later, I employed the same idea, this time with one of those baby snot aspirator bulb things, sucking the solution out of the sink with the bulb and then forcefully squirting it up my nose. Again, I threw up in the tub. As the weeks passed, I began to grow accustomed to the rather alarming sensation and ceased retching almost entirely.

Grossan's device attaches to the pick end of a Water-Pik, sending gently pulsating streams of warm saline into each nostril and sinus. Post-nasal drip occurs when mucus in the nose becomes too thick, the body's natural defense against invading allergens. In health, microscopic hairs in the nasal passages called cilia beat rapidly, moving mucus into the throat on its way to the stomach. Thickened mucus prevents the little boogers from doing their job, and you're stuck with a snot depository. The Grossan irrigating device is more effective than the more arcane methods because the pressure is gentle and regulated to mimic healthy cilia function and sink scum is eliminated. It is, in effect, the great wet hope for allergy sufferers.

For more information on the device or to order one for your nose, contact Hydro-Med at 4419 Van Nuys Boulevard, Suite 310, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403, or call (800) 560-9007.

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