Swine flu update (or, the miraculous neti pot)

November 4, 2009 at 11:20 am | Posted in little bug | 6 Comments
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Little Buggy and I are both considered high risk for the H1N1 virus. Tuesday morning, she was vaccinated. We were the first ones in line – at 9:10 a.m. – for the 10 a.m. flu clinic, and were out the door again by 9:30, before all the sick kids and impatient parents arrived en masse. Her eyes widened in surprise for a moment when the nurse stuck her with a needle, but she got her Tweety Bird band-aid and a princess sticker and was fine.

I am not fine. I am a paranoid wreck about this flu. Every other pregnant woman I know – literally, I am not exaggerating here *– has received the vaccine from her ob. Mine – yes, I’m calling you out Harvard Vanguard – claims not to have it yet. They claim this every time I call, which is three times a week. I’m seeing practitioners at two different offices, too (alternating appointments between my regular ob at one location and a midwife at another, closer to work), so I call both offices. How can Harvard Vanguard, one of the biggest practices in the state, not have the vaccine for their pregnant patients? I just don’t believe what they are telling me over the phone. “If you get sick, we’ll give you Tamiflu,” they try to appease me. I don’t want Tamiflu, the effects of which are unknown on the fetus. I want the vaccine, and I don’t care if it has trace amounts of mercury or whatever.

Lindsey had it; Pax Arcana had it, and they lived to tell the tale. And I’m so relieved that Little Bug has been vaccinated. I just don’t want to put myself or my unborn child in danger. A partner at my firm, with whom I work often, is greatly concerned for my well being. “Have you had the shot yet?” he asks, every time we meet. “Maybe you should stay home until you get it.” Agreed. Although impractical. Instead, I am following the old wives’ tales on how to keep the flu away by gargling twice a day with salt water (although I use Listerine, since I’ve also read that that works too) and using a netti pot to flush my nasal passages and sinuses with saline.

What is a neti pot, you ask? I’m so glad you did. In short: it’s a miracle. If you know me, you know that I have allergies. And I sniffle. All. The. Time. And even this is an understatement. I wake up in the middle of the night with a stuffy nose and itchy ears and throat. It takes about 10 minutes every morning for my sinuses to drain and clear. My husband often turns to me in bed and says, “This sniffling. Must. Stop. Now.”


This is not me, by the way.

A neti pot (or netti pot) is like a little tea pot. I’ve been aware of it for years – it’s a common Ayurvedic remedy (I used to be really into Ayurvedic remedies) – but have never tried it myself because the concept seemed so strange. You fill it with lukewarm water and salt. You pour it in one nostril and tilt your head down and to the side until the solution comes out the other nostril. It feels really weird and uncomfortable at first, like when you are in the ocean and get hit with a wave that goes right up your nose. I’ve been using it twice a day, and by day two my endemic, low-grade sniffles were gone.  FOR REAL. Let me re-emphasize: I do not sniffle anymore. I don’t wake up in the night with a stuffy nose and itchy throat and ears. I don’t sniffle in the morning, nor all day long at my desk. I am a new person, truly. And if you are familiar with my sniffling (and for that, a lifetime of apologies), you know what a big deal this is for me. Hopefully this will keep the pesky flu away, to boot.

*Update: Okay, I might have been exaggerating a bit, as it was just brought to my attention that two pregnant friends — physicians, no less — have not yet been vaccinated (pregnant doctors? Are you kidding me? One of them is an infectious disease specialist, too!). And more absurd than that is news that a friend in Ohio has had her whole family vaccinated, including her non-high risk husband. Not that I don’t want him to get the vaccine, of course, but what is up with the geographical distribution so that there’s plenty of vaccine in Ohio but not enough in Masschusetts for pregnant infectious disease doctors?



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  1. Have you tried calling the town? My work friend says his pregnant wife was having the same problem, but then called the town of Newton and got a vaccination through their health department — which was reserving them for at-risk people only.

  2. Well, not literally every pregnant woman you know.

    I think I am not so itnerested in trying the netti pot anymore. I didn’t realize that was how it works. Though it makes me think of those ear candle thingieis I have always wanted to try. Why a netti pot freaks me out but lighting a tube stuck into my ear on fire does, I can’t explain.

  3. I can’t even get seasonal flu shots for my kids but my sister (not pregnant) down in Charlotte, NC is getting her H1N1 tomorrow. And one for her daughther too. I’m not too worried about H1N1 because my husband had it last June so we’ve all been exposed. It was rough on him though.

  4. I too love the neti and sing its accolades to all my friends. But, beware of nosebleeds. I was using it frequently last year and I started getting nosebleeds every morning. The pot was drying my nose out. Granted, I am prone to nosebleeds, but the regularity with which they occurred was weird. Good luck getting the H1N1.

  5. This is not me BTW. Ah-ha-ha! You kill me! 😉

    (I actually JUST read this — my email was strictly me being concerned for your well-being!)

  6. My firm got the shot for anybody that wanted it, we just had to sign up and they came to our office to give them. You should ask your firm if they can offer the same. Hang in there!

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