Tag Archive | sinus rinsing

Pneumonia again?!!

Well has this been a rough health year for me or what? I am writing this from bed with pneumonia for the second time since  April. I’m also packed in pillows and ice because I coughed so hard we think I have a cracked rib. Because why not, right? I had a little pity party today. Ok it was more of a big one because I’m so incredibly frustrated. But because I’ve had so much time alone to think today, I realized I’ve been through a lot this year and perhaps would be better served being a little more kind to myself and cut myself some slack. And I also reminded myself what others think doesn’t matter. Other people’s misconceptions about my health are their problem, not mine, and I need to let that go. Easier said than done, right? But I’m working on it. Fortunately for me, I have a wonderfully supportive family and the best friends anyone could ask for. And a strong will that never keeps me down for long.

So the treatment process this time around? Bed rest for one. I am under strict instructions by my doctor to stay in bed and rest. I’m on another round of prednisone (40mg a day for five days), breathing treatments every 4 hours, codeine cough syrup so I can sleep and Tesslon Pearls during the day for cough. And Tylenol for my rib and the fever I can’t seem to completely shake. The non-traditional cures I’m incorporating? I’m working hard to stay hydrated and doing lots of sinus rinses.  I’m steeping astragalus root in my tea, I’m drinking my gut healing smoothies (recipe below), I make sure I incorporate a probiotic, I’m drinking lots of Kombucha and I have been meditating – something VERY hard for me but I’m trying.

  • 2 bananas
  • 2 cups frozen organic berries  ( I prefer blueberry and strawberry)
  • 1/2 lemon, including rind, seeds removed
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, unskinned
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh kale or spinach leaves or cabbage
  • 1-2 carrots if desired (nope)
  • 1/2-1 cup sprouts if desired (eg, broccoli sprouts, micro-greens, etc – available at Whole Foods or Trader Joes). (not desired in my house)
  • 1 cup organic plain Lifeway kefir (my preference is strawberry kefir)
  • Protein powder, 20-30 gm or 4 oz organic tofu (allergic to soy so I use Vital Proteins)
  • 1/2 cup full-fat canned organic coconut milk
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, or other spices of your choice (I don’t use any of this)
  • 1-2 tbsp organic cocoa powder if desired (so not desired)

Add in soluble fiber right before you drink your smoothie, eg, organic flaxseed meal, hempseed meal, psyllium husk, or chia seeds – start with 2 tsp and slowly build up to 4-6 tbsp per day. (I prefer chia)

I’ve played around with this a bit and my go to on a daily basis has become bananas, berries, 2 tbs lemon juice, 1 cup spinach, Vital Proteins collagen (great source of protein), Probiotic powder (I use VSL3), kefir, coconut milk and chia seeds.  I take ginger daily and add to food so I’m ok with not adding to the smoothie as I hate the taste.

When you have an autoimmune disease, there will be flares. Mine are exacerbated by stress, this year grief – lots of grief- and complacency. And sometimes, for no reason other than I have an autoimmune disease. By following  a Paleo diet, however, I know I am doing the best I can do for my body. I’m also re-reading “The Wahl’s Protocol.” (You can click on link below to purchase. It’s an amazing book for anyone suffering from an autoimmune disease).

Life happens. Sometimes it’s fantastic and others, not so much. What’s important is what we do in those “not so much” times that count. I could continue to wallow in self pity but what point is that? It won’t change the fact I’m lying in bed with pneumonia and a cracked rib. It’s not going to make me feel better. What will is by helping myself. By being active and in charge of my health. By being kind to myself and getting back to basics. For me that is by following a very strict Paleo diet until I’m feeling strong again. By removing foods from my diet and then reincorporating slowly to allow my body to heal. There was one positive this week. I had a 102 degree fever. I know, you’re probably wondering how that could be positive. Well, I’m excited because even though I came down with pneumonia, my body is actually working. It’s actively fighting. So while it may seem like my efforts have been for naught, it’s quite the opposite. Four years ago, I was very ill and my body wasn’t fighting. I’m still going to have blips because my immune system isn’t like a “healthy” person’s. The difference is even during the blips, my body is fighting. So, pity party aside. I’m choosing to look on the bright side of things. And you can too. I promise!

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This is only a blip

It has been a while since I’ve written an update and I’m currently writing this from bed. Because I’m on Dr.-ordered bed rest. And you know what? This time I didn’t argue. It has been an incredibly difficult nine months for me, filled with a lot of loss, grief, change and stress. And I’ve not been kind to myself. And, because of that, here I am in bed trying to get my strength back. But rather than wallow in self pity for this latest blip, I’m looking at this as a positive. A reminder that we MUST take time to care for the most important ones… and that is OURSELVES!!!  It’s like when you are on a plane and the oxygen masks drop. You must first put on the oxygen mask before you are any good to anyone else. The same thing goes for life. You must always come first. And I mean that by eating right, exercising, getting the rest you body needs. So what am I doing as my body heals? You know besides naps, checking in with my family and friends and cheesy lifetime movies? I’m back to the basics – a completely clean AIP (autoimmune protocol) diet to heal my gut, I listen to my body and am resting and napping when I’m tired and have bumped my supplements back to the blip I had a few years ago. A complete and total re-set.

1 – Probiotics: I use VSL3 at the recommendation of my dr. You can only get it with a prescription (actually my doc said it can now be found at Costco) but it is the best I’ve come across. It is rather expensive but is the only one which really works for me. I put it in my smoothies each morning.

2 – Vital Proteins Collagen: I love this stuff!  I put a scoop in my coffee or smoothies, water, etc. It’s water-soluble and tasteless. I’ve been using for the last three months and LOVE it! I have eyelashes for days, my hair is healthier and I’ve seen a change in my nails and skin. I also believe this is one of the reasons my blip is just that and not what it could have been.

3 – Supplements: I take tumeric, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and ginger. I also add Soothing Calm when I’m sick. Please do not take this because I say so, check with your doc First before starting any supplement regimen. I also add astragalus root to my tea. It is great for an immune system boost. Licorice root is also good for  gut health and inflammation. And because my RA and fibromyalgia is also acting up, I’ve added ashwaganda back to the mix.

4 – I can’t say it enough, people. SINUS RINSING!!! I do this religiously. I’ll save you the gory details but this is a must!

5 – Food: Right now I’m just keeping it simple: scrambled eggs, green waffles from the natural nurturer’s website (check them out – soooo good), smoothies, bone broth. And if I want gluten free toast, I’m having that too. I also made a giant pot of my chicken noodle soup GF style. YUM!  But everything I ingest right now is purposeful. Chia seeds, collagen and probiotics in my smoothies. Turmeric in my eggs. Simple things that will heal my gut and strengthen my immune system. By mindfully eating, I am allowing my body to not have to work as hard and rest.  Because, let’s face it, I’m in chaos because I didn’t follow this as well as I should have when I had the flu in January or the respiratory infection earlier this month. So here I am.

But here’s the thing. Isn’t life full of ups and downs? It’s how you handle the downs that matter. Use them as learning experiences. I’ve learned I can’t slack on clean eating. Ever. That a piece of fudge at Christmas or an occasional beer or bagel, etc. are things I just can’t indulge in. And while that’s may sound difficult to you, let me tell you a health crisis is more so. And now I rest, reflect and heal. From the inside out.

And now I want to talk a little about “from the outside in.” You know I believe it’s important, not only what goes in your body but what goes ON your body as well. I’ve been looking for quite some time for products that are clean and safe. And I found them! Totally vegan, cruelty free, natural products made in the good ole US of A and none of the products cost over $25. What?!!! I KNOW! I will be sharing more about these products as I’m planning to join and sell. I never thought I would say such a thing but these products are something I believe in. I have been trying them for a bit and am in love. These are amazing products I can’t wait to share. Stay tuned…

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A Happy Anniversary to Me and My Blog!

It has been one year since I started this blog. Amazing how time flies! Because of the health issues I’ve experienced and how I learned to cope and heal, I felt the need to help others. To share what I learned and not only be an inspiration to others but a resource as well. And I hope I have done just that.

I remember being handed information as to what to eat and not eat to manage my illness and I felt lost and overwhelmed. Thankfully I’m ever the planner and did a lot of research on how to eat this way – especially when my diet was very restricted. But I felt so alone on my journey. And it’s not that I didn’t have the support of my family and friends. But unless you’ve been there. Truly been there, you don’t know. You can still eat like a normal person. You can choose to eat the way I do or not. I don’t have that luxury. I mean, I can choose to ignore the plan but the consequences for me are serious.

What have I learned/done this past year?

1 –  I LOVE trying new recipies. I’ve continued to follow Against all Grain but I’ve also discovered resources such as the Whole30, Nom Nom Paleo, Physicalkitchness, Iheartumami and countless others. I follow them religiously and love their recipes and encouragement. I also just finished reading The Wahl’s Protocol and am having fun incorporating what I learned into my diet. Yes, this CAN be done!

2 – I’ve discovered a love for things such as my instant pot and spiralizer and the importance of having the right tools for the job. Unfortunately I have a love for all things kitchen-related. But these tools I’m addicted to are used often and loved. I did NOT blow up my house with the instant pot as I feared last year. Instead it has cut my Sunday prep time in half. And Kitchenaid mixer and all your attachments, where have you been all my life?

3 – Organization is key! Each week I sit down and plan my meals. ALL of my meals for each day of the week. By planning and shopping accordingly, we do not have food waste in our house. One meal turns into the next and last night’s dinner can become tomorrow’s lunch or even breakfast. And when all else fails and I’m tired at the end of the day, we have “clean out the fridge” night and I put an egg on it! Those dinner bowls with a fried egg on top have become some of my favorite meals.

4 – This isn’t always easy but that’s ok. I’ve learned to cut myself some slack. And a minor setback is just that.

5 – I rediscovered my love for running. It keeps my mind clear and my body active. I was told, because of my RA, I needed to stop running. I was devastated and then came across this wonderful support group  of people with RA WHO STILL RUN!! They inspire me. We inspire and support one another. They were one of my lifelines and I’m forever grateful. In this past year I’ve run countless 5k’s, two 10 k’s, a 12k and a half marathon. I mentored a running group and ran through illness, arthritic pain, a cracked rib and a separated shoulder. I ran when I was happy, angry or sad. I always say my integrative doctor saved my life two years ago but this past year it was running that saved me. Find what activity makes you happy and DO IT! Movement is so important. Especially for something as debilitating as RA and fibromyalgia. My body used to be so stiff and it hurt to the touch. I’m not saying I don’t still have those days but they are few and far between because I stay in motion.

6 – I’ve learned patience with myself. And to accept and love myself as I am. This past year I finally learned that what others think doesn’t matter. What counts is how I feel about myself. That I’m strong and capable and can do anything I set my mind to. I’m my own damn superhero! And you can be as well. Positive self talk and a positive attitude are everything!

7 – Real food, HEALTHY food tastes good. Paleo, along with my other food limitations doesn’t mean eating styrofoam. We eat a balanced, healthy diet that was created for me to remove inflammation from my body and keep my immune system intact. Everything tastes AMAZING! And most of the time, my family doesn’t realize they are eating “healthy.”

8 – Thanks to three very special people in my life (all colleagues and dear friends), I rediscovered my faith. I spent so much time being angry. I kept saying Why me,  It’s not fair. And then one day it all clicked. I realized I wasn’t being punished. That there maybe was a reason to all of this and I was meant to help people. I went from being unable to pray to being so incredibly thankful for the many gifts in my life, including my life. It was in that moment of clarity I decided to create this blog. That my purpose was to help others struggling with their health. To provide the love and support that was shown me.

Life is this crazy journey of ups and downs and even sideways. And it’s what we learn from those moments that count. There will be failures but so many more gifts and successes than not. I’ve discovered my voice and that people want to hear what I have to say. That you CAN change the course of your health by eating deliberately. I’m living proof. I’m alive because of those changes.

I thank all of you for your love and support of my blog. This year has been a journey and a HUGE learning curve for me, and it continues to be. But it has been a gift and a joy to share my life with you. I don’t know what’s next but I do know I want to continue to teach and inspire people. The how and what I haven’t yet quite figured out. So until I do, I will continue to write and share and encourage because eating to change your health is something I feel strongly about. And a happy anniversary to me and my blog. And remember, if I CAN do it, so CAN you!

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Of all the things I’m bad at, breathing is at the top of the list!

Asthma. I have had it pretty well under control… until this week. I’ve been suffering the granddaddy of all asthma attacks all week and now also have oral thrush. Really?!! Because of course I do. I finally gave in and went to urgent care today because my peak flow was hovering around 150.  My personal best for all you knowing asthma sufferers is between 480 and 500. For those of you not in the know, we people who suck at breathing have to stay on top of this and have an action plan in place for what to do as the numbers drop that goes something like this and In this order:  emergency inhalers, breathing treatments, urgent care, emergency room then ambulance. To put this in perspective for you, I was floating between needing the urgent care and emergency room and not quite yet an ambulance. And because I’m stubborn, had I not let my husband talk me into urgent care there was going to be an ambulance in my near future. Because I’m dumb and stubborn.

Actually that’s not completely true. Those of us who suck at breathing always second guess ourselves. Is this attack really that severe? Am I going to look stupid going to the ER or calling an ambulance? Am I making a big deal out of nothing and if I just relax it’ll go away? We’ve all been there. We also know how exhausting it is not being able to breathe. I explained it to my husband like this: I feel like I have an elephant standing on my chest and I can only manage short breaths and those short breaths hurt and are laborious which exhaust me. It’s like I’m slowly suffocating and can’t get enough air. And then I panic which makes it worse. And asthma is serious folks. You can DIE from it.  And yet we tell ourselves not us. Mine isn’t THAT bad. This attack isn’t THAT bad. But let’s face it. At this point we are oxygen deprived and shouldn’t be allowed to make any decisions on our own. Right? That’s why it’s important to share with a trusted friend or loved one the warning signs and your action plan so they make sure you get the help you need and quickly.

I am now back home after spending the morning at Urgent Care. The doctor asked if I’m a nurse because I’m so knowledgeable about my illness and health and what I need to feel better. I told him I’m well-versed and have found it makes Dr. Visits more efficient by me staying organized and up-to-date on my health. He agreed and said it was making treating me easier and faster. He was able to get me a breathing treatment quickly with the right medicine and dosage that would work for me as well as the barrage of inhalers and drugs I’ll need for the next week or so. Including prednisone. Ugh! On top of asthma I also have chronic ABPA (allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis) so my lungs are damaged. While I was weaned of prednisone and have been in remission I know there will be times when I will need a prednisone burst to get over the hump. And as much as I hate prednisone, I’m quite knowledgeable  in how to survive it. I picked up a very strong probiotic (VSL3), stocked up on kombucha and licorice tea and am steeping astragalus root in my tea. I will also make sure I give my body plenty of rest the next few days. And, most important, to take my prednisone in the morning so it does NOT affect my sleep. All things I’ve learned after being on prednisone for 9 years (been weaned off since January). I will also behave and do breathing treatments every 3-4 hours for the next few days.

And I rushed home to tell you all of this because what I really wanted to share with you is, one, the importance of listening to your body and, two, the importance of understanding your health and the care you need and to be prepared for Dr visits- Keep a list of your current meds, and any allergies and what has and has not worked in the past. It is important you take an active role in your care. Ask questions. Make sure you understand all instructions and that you have everything you need before you leave. If your Dr forgot to prescribe something. Say something! Honest, it’s ok! It’s totally ok! Because in the end, your health is your responsibility.

And now that the shakes have stopped from my treatment I’m going to take a nap.

May the breathing gods ever be in your favor!

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Making it through illness without prednisone or antibiotics

Before when I would get sick, I would go downhill so quickly the doctors would pump me up full of prednisone and antibiotics. In fact because I came to know the drill so well, they gave me refills on my antibiotics and prednisone so I could self treat. Because, they said it was the only way. Can’t make this stuff up…

Fast forward to now. Here I was with the flu and what I believe to have been a sinus infection. What to do… well I know what NOT to do and prednisone and antibiotics was not the answer. So here is how I’m handling things:

Sinus rinsing – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – sinus rinsing is your friend. You can safely rinse your sinuses as many times a day as you need. See my blog post on sinus rinsing for more info/tips. I swear by it!

Fluids – Drink lots of fluids. Non alcoholic fluids that is… Water is really the best thing for you but add a little honey and some lemon and perfection! The honey is soothing for a cough and the lemon has antibacterial qualities. Plus the hot water will help to open your sinuses and thin the mucus which is more than likely causing your cough in the first place. I also like to add some green tea to the equation and drink lots of Magic Mineral Broth created by Rebecca Katz.

Probiotics – I take a daily probiotic. A doctor friend of mine recommended inner-eco and I love it. You can find it in the refrigerated section at your local grocery store or at Whole Foods. When I feel I’m getting sick and need an extra boost of probiotic, I switch to VSL-3. It’s a bit pricey and you need a prescription from your doctor but I have found it to give my body the extra boost it needs. I buy the cachets and mix in my smoothies. I also drink kombucha. I prefer the kombucha with chia seeds when I’m sick. It just feels soothing on my throat.

Supplements – I’m on a daily regimen and you can read more about what I take by going to an earlier blog post. However when sick, I bump things up a notch and add in more vitamin C, drink turmeric milk and GI Revive. I also make sure my smoothies have a boost by adding chia and gelatin, as well as lemon juice. This is when I drink my healing smoothies.

Rest – I’m one to tell you about rest but it really is important and something I’ve had to learn. Make sure to listen to your body and give it the rest it needs. For the first time ever I actually spent the weekend in bed and willingly. I’ve been working out with a trainer and working out hard up to my getting sick. And while exercise is important, so is rest.

Amazingly and for the first time, my body is doing its job and fighting back. And without prednisone and antibiotics as the first option like before. Now there is a time and a place for both and there will be times I will need one or the other or both because of my condition. But, if I can boost my immune system enough to lessen an infection, I also lessen my need for either medication. That’s a win/win in my book!

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Body, mind and spirit

It appears I have a raging fungal infection in my sinuses and am developing another round of oral thrush. Because, of course I do. All stress-related, I’m sure. Fortunately, I know what to do when this happens so I’ve bumped up my supplements and probiotic intake and am drinking lots of water and herbal tea to flush this out.  And then there’s the sinus rinsing.  Lots and lots of sinus rinsing.  I also bumped up my workout routine.  That may seem counter intuitive to you since I’m fighting off infection but it has been really great for me. I have a trainer pushing me and I feel so accomplished and strong after each workout.  Right now, it’s vital that I continue to push myself and fight mind, body, and spirit.

Body – During this time, I’ve been playing around with food. Now that I’m working out harder, I find I need more protein. My latest favorite is lettuce wraps.  How can something so easy be so fantastically wonderful?  Really, I’m addicted to them. And they are so portable.  I fill mine up with turkey, ham, peppers, a pickle, a little mustard and avocado…    And they are super easy to make: just lay out some parchment paper and then place your lettuce and start stacking your fillings.  And then roll, while tucking in your ends.  Once it is rolled, slice in two like a deli sandwich.  I can’t eat the whole thing, so this gives me two sandwiches.  And, they are filling.  If I feel like I need something else or something crunchy, I’ll have an apple. Snacks for me now consist of a hardboiled egg or maybe some tuna or walnuts.  I never realized how tasty plain walnuts are and the healthy fat is good for you. I’m also very deliberate with my breakfast as well, ensuring I have enough protein to tide me over until lunch.  And, water.  I drink lots and lots of water.  I’m lucky in that the women’s restroom is in very close proximity to my office, that’s how much water I consume each day.

Mind and Spirit – A weekend getaway to the ocean allowed me to clear my head and breathe and reflect. I was reminded I am strong in spirit. Maybe a little too strong in spirit because, on the way home from that trip, I registered for a 10k and my second half marathon. I’m also running a 12k in three months. I continue to push myself to run and swim because it makes me feel good – normal. And it’s my way to say to my illness “you aren’t going to win this battle. You are NOT getting the best of me.”

I swam Alcatraz a couple of years ago (850 of my closest friends and I jumped off the boat at Alcatraz and swam back). And I share this because that was THE hardest thing I’ve ever done. And now, when things get tough or I doubt myself, I remember what an amazing thing I accomplished and that no matter what I end up facing, I will do so with the same grace and determination.  Find that one thing which makes you feel strong and embrace it.  Hang on to it tightly and when the going gets tough, remind yourself you are strong, you can do this, whatever “this” happens to be. We all have that inner fight inside us.  We just have to believe enough in ourselves to listen and act upon it. If I can do it, so can you!

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Sinus rinsing, aka water torture

Sinus rinsing.  Yup, this will be some exciting stuff. Bet you are on the edge of your seat just filled with anticipation, aren’t you?  So, let’s talk getting rid of snot.

Have you ever been told to do a sinus rinse by your doctor?  Did you look at him and think he completely lost his mind and there is no way on this planet you will comply?  Or are you one of those people who are willing to try anything if it will make you feel better?  All of the above apply to me.

When I was first dealing with all the craziness of sinus infections and sinus surgeries, I was told to do sinus rinses regularly. I thought they were crazy and refused to comply.  And then my doctor got stern with me.  So I tried it.  OH. MY. GOD.  I hated it and I think I almost drowned!  I had water everywhere, except for where it should have been, which was up my nose.  But I’m no quitter and I tried again, this time with better results because I actually followed the directions.  Go figure. And I kept up with the rinsing and found that maybe they were on to something because it actually worked and I found some relief.  And (I’m warning you this is gross but…) there is something satisfying about seeing what was trapped in my head.  A kind of “So that’s why my head hurt so bad” kind of thing. And so I’m a believer.  And I’m always telling everyone else to try it and now I’m telling you.  Really, it works and is so much better for you than taking a bunch of medication which just masks your problem. Sinus rinsing decreases your symptoms naturally and safely. And that’s a winner in my book. And now my tips:

  • Make sure to always use distilled water. You can also use boiled tap water.  But never, EVER, use water straight from the tap.  So many germs and you don’t want to introduce those directly into your body.
  • Never use hot water.  I know this from experience.  It hurts.  Warm water is soothing but room temp is good too.  Cold?  Just don’t. Talk about brain freeze.  Again, trust me on this one.
  • Make sure you sanitize everything and often. You can just throw your neti-pot, sinus rinse bottle, etc. into the dishwasher. I usually just throw my stuff into a pot of water and boil and then air dry – just the same as you would do for bottle nipples.
  • Make sure to wash your hands BEFORE doing a sinus rinse.  You don’t want to contaminate your sanitized equipment. And this goes without saying, I hope, but use soap and make sure you really wash your hands.  Sing the ABC’s to yourself while you do it and then you’ll be sure your hands are clean.
  • Follow the directions included in your rinse kit of choice so you get optimal use.
  • Do NOT do a sinus rinse directly before bed. Make sure you allow enough time for your sinuses to properly drain.  Otherwise you are going to bed with warm fluid in your sinuses – a perfect breeding ground for infection.
  • Do NOT be alarmed when you bend over and water leaks out your nose.  I’ve had this happen hours after a rinse.  It happens. You’re not dying. I promise.
  • When travelling, I like to buy the pre-mixed rinses in a can (make sure it’s a rinse or irrigation and not a saline spray).  That way you aren’t dealing with finding ways to sanitize everything.  When we traveled to Ireland, I threw a bunch in my suitcase and didn’t have any problems.

While home sick last year, I saw an ad for and interesting nasal rinse contraption called Navage. http://www.navage.com/  It’s a suction-based nasal rinse which takes all the mess and “yuck” out of sinus rinsing. I decided I had to have it and am so glad I bought it.   I love it and it was worth every penny.  Just pop the salt tab in, add water and let the machine do the work for you.  I can even walk around and talk while doing it but that kind of freaks my family out. When I’m finished, I just throw all the pieces into the dishwasher and I’m done.

When do I rinse?  All the time!  Why do I rinse?  Because it works! When I’m sick, I’ll do a sinus rinse 3-4 times per day! I’ll be honest, I’m supposed to do it daily and I don’t.  But I know my body and when I need to step it up. The moment I feel the slightest of sinus pressure or stuffiness, I’m on it.  It’s also great during allergy season or if I’ve been out doing yard work because I can flush the allergens right out.  Really, I swear by sinus rinsing and am sorry I hadn’t complied earlier.  Give it a shot. It’s really not bad and you might find you enjoy it.  And, I promise, you won’t drown.