My Strange Addiction. A Public Service Announcement for The Season!

Due to the chaos of the Holiday season—what with shopping, baking, cleaning (ugh), and watching all those Christmas movies, I managed to catch up on fellow bloggers’ posts.  One of the blogs I enjoy, Kaboodlemum  posted about her “Winter Blues”   And while reading her post, not only did I find myself wishing I could go to her house and fix her a nice, stiff  Hot Toddy and bring her some soup,  but I found myself focused on two words as I read them:    “Nasal Sprays”.

These words brought to mind my obsession, overuse, addiction to this wonderful form of over-the-counter medicine from years ago.  I’ve been “clean” for over twenty years now.

I gift you with yet, another one of my stories.

I was that kid who would constantly get into trouble for the trail of used tissues that would follow me wherever I went.   These snot-ridden nuggets of soft paper would escape from their hidden prison of shirtsleeves and fall behind me.

My mother would have to repeat loads of laundry due to the tissues she missed in my pockets. Have you ever seen what a tissue in the laundry does to the rest of the clothing?


…actually, my mother’s reaction was more like running after me with a wooden spoon–and I still managed to leave a trail of tissues…..

I’ll tell you, Felix Unger simply cannot hold a candle to the way I clear MY sinuses.

Yes. I’m even worse than Felix. We could have a sinus clearing competition and I would win!

My left upper arm, as well as my right upper arm had bruises from both my grandmother and my mother poking me when I cleared my sinuses during Sunday Mass.   They should have just prayed for me instead.

Most of my life was spent with one clogged nostril.  In the summer my nose ran faster than an Olympic sprinter. In the winter, my nose dried up so that I couldn’t even breathe through it.  I think that’s what made my “Lawn Eyelind” accent even more annoying.

LI accent

I’ve been told on MANY occasions that I have a particularly heavy accent. A large part is due to sinus issues!

Every now and then my mother would give me a dose of Neosynephrine nose drops but the drops were not strong enough to break through the clogging. She gave me a little Vicks inhaler to carry around during the day.


One for each nostril. I’ll tell you, I looked pretty darn weird! No wonder I wasn’t one of the “popular” kids!

In the evening she would place a dab of “Vicks Vapo-Rub” under my nose, and for good measure, she would place a bit of this glop on a spoon and make me swallow it. (Which could explain the GERD I now suffer from).


I don’t know how making me swallow this would help unclog my nose. Guess what? It didn’t!

All for naught. I still suffered from a stuffed up nose.

Then I reached adulthood and discovered Afrin Nasal Spray!  My nasal passages opened up like the parting of the Red Sea. Afrin was my Moses!


Moses supposes he really helped my noses!  Yes. Afrin parted the red sea of clogged nasal passages!

Never again would I suffer from a stuffed nose!  I had little spray bottles of Afrin in the kitchen cabinets, in the bathroom, in my bedroom AND one in each of my purses.

Cant get enough

Some women collect jewelry. I collected Afrin.  Side effects?  I did not know there would be any!

If I ever ran out, I would immediately replace. Sometimes, I would be in a place where Afrin Nasal Spray was all sold out or not sold at all–and I would have to use dupes.  I became a connoisseur of brands nasal sprays.

Can I just tell you that the “Pathmark” brand was the next best thing? And far less expensive! Alas Pathmark is no longer around. What a shame because their nasal spray was excellent!


The Pathmark brand of nasal spray was just as good as Afrin and a lot less expensive.  It’s too bad Pathmark is no longer in business!

Yes. I was addicted.  And kind of not in a good way. I would freak out if that last bit of Afrin that I had hidden in the glove compartment was gone.


Basically, I turned into THIS when I ran out of my beloved Afrin!

My boys were late for school on more than one many occasions because I had to stop at an Upper East Side Pharmacy for my nasal contraband.

After years and years of shoving this controlled substance up my nose, it came to an end.

It was winter. Just after Christmas.  I had a horrific cold.  My nose was stuffed. My nose was flowing like beer out of a tap. Stuffed. Flowing. Stuffed. Flowing…

More and more Afrin.

And then.  I felt a flow coming from the roof of my mouth. It was salty but not phlegmy.  I opened my big mouth and blood oozed  spewed out.

Naturally, being a drama queen, I completely freaked out and figured I was about to die.

Instead, I called my girlfriend Jeannie.  The most logical person I knew. Jeannie also worked at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital at the time. Luckily for me, I have friends in high places because she was able to snag an appointment for me with an eye, ear and nose specialist that afternoon.

Thinking I had a tumor or worse, I never, ever, expected the diagnosis I was given.

The good doctor told me that my nasal passages were worse than a cocaine addict’s.  In fact, he asked me if I regularly used cocaine! I told him the only things I placed up my nose were my fingers and nasal spray. I never even used snuff!


The thought of putting THIS up my nose is scary. Ewwww.  Only nasal spray and my fingers for MY precious schnoz!

The nasal spray caused incredible damage to the tissue lining my nasal cavity. NOT the tissues that were falling on the doctor’s floor.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  I was more concerned with saying good bye to Afrin more than the damage the stuff caused.

When I asked him why nasal spray was allowed to be sold to people when it does that much damage, he looked at me and sternly replied that when used properly, for short-term use, as directed, it was a great help.  He also went on to say that “Type A personalities, such as you, young lady” should be kept far away from any OTC drug.  (Did he know that I swallowed 4 Tylenol at a time too?).

doctor meme

Get dirty thoughts out of your mind. He looked like this when he saw my NASAL cavity. OK?

He then told me that I was no longer allowed to use any nasal spray except for the prescription he wrote out for me. It was a steroid that I would spray into my nose to help heal the tissue.

STERIOD? ME?  Screw that shit! I’m not turning into a man! It’s bad enough people have mistaken me for a guy when I’m out and about WITHOUT cosmetics!   Don’t Call Me Sir–OK?


No thank you. I may be out of shape, but I don’t want to look like these guys (and lady at the end)!

I thanked him profusely and ran out of his office.  And no. I did NOT take the steroid. It’s bad enough that I am mistaken for a man when I’m out and about with no makeup.  Do you honestly think I would take a steroid? Forcrissakes no!

That day I stopped taking nasal spray cold turkey.  I’m not gonna lie. It’s been a struggle at times.

I still live with a stuffed nostril. I still  drop a trail of tissues, but luckily Chippy gets to them before Bonaparte sees them and freaks out.

The only way I breathe

As I write this, my left nostril is clogged. But I focus on the positive and being ever-optimistic, my right nostril is breathing just fine!

And when I enter a pharmacy, I wax sentimental over the aisle selling nasal sprays.  I look longingly at the packaging, and I can close my eyes and envision my shoving that spray as far up my nose as I can.

But…I would rather have my nasal passages in tact!

So that’s my story.  If you have a cold, don’t overdo the nasal spray! OK?  I realize that addiction isn’t a laughing matter but even so, I have to look back at this with a laugh because I was silly to allow myself become so dependent on this little spray! XOXOXOXOXO!!!

As I continue to listen to Neil Diamond’s Christmas CD, I’m reminded of the one song that made me love him. “Cherry, Cherry” 1967. I was eleven!




About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
This entry was posted in Allergies, Sinuses, The Odd Couple, Afrin, Nasal Spray,, Clearing sinuses, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to My Strange Addiction. A Public Service Announcement for The Season!

  1. Jane Billman says:

    OMG memories of my mother with tissues and the Afrin tucked in every pocket of her plaid house dresses …….and she always had a fresh one handy …..and got me loving the Afrin to open up the nose…….I totally understand …..sniff sniff sniff as I now use the saline spray. XOXO Jane

    • Catherine says:

      This is great! I’m so happy that you and others are finding this totally relatable! Honestly. I’m still laughing, though, at that clip of Jack Lemon because it’s like me and Bonaparte. He BEGS me to stop clearing my sinuses in public! You just gave me a visual of my mom with her house dress with the pockets! XOXOXO!!!

  2. LOVE THAT PIC OF YOU AND YOU!!!! Those Vicks Sticks..had ’em. Nasal spray✔️ Actually it was all my fathers fault…he was a nasal spray attic for years, and he passed it on to me…..funny, I can’t remember when I finally kicked the habit, but seeing the picture of the sticks, which I haven’t thought about in a zillion years,,,feels like going through a time warp!!

  3. I’m glad I only ever need to use them when my nose is blocked!
    Glad you clicked the habit!

  4. calensariel says:

    ROFLMBO!!! You could have been telling MY story. The only thing left out was grandma rubbing Vicks all over my chest then covering it with a warm rag she’d heated on the hot air register! Oh, and I don’t think I ever tasted it. My particular favorite was the Vicks brand. I have walked away from the addiction — sort of. If I can’t sleep I get up and rub a little on my nose just for old time’s sake. I find the smell comforting. Reminds me of grandma.

    • Catherine says:

      The Vicks with the hot rag. Wow! You just opened another memory for me. Seriously–due to the taste of that stuff, it was like a melted gummy candy (if they melt) with menthol. I don’t know what was worse–THAT or the Fletcher’s Castoria that my mother made us swallow to keep us “regular”!!! XOXOXO!!

  5. gk says:

    have you tried a neti pot?

    • Catherine says:

      Hi gk. Oh. But of course I tried the neti pot? And I’ve done nothing but make big messes with it but it didn’t get me breathing. I have one in the bathroom for when the kids visit–YES..sinus issues affect all three kids–my genetic makeup really screwed up on the sinus DNA! XOXOXO!

  6. izabolinha says:

    We don’t need any Afrin when we can read you ! We laugh so hard we get unclogged pronto 🙂
    My mother used to rub us chest and back with the Vaporub when we had bad colds , and then made us put on flannel pajamas …yuck! they would get glued to the stuff …but the smell was good ! And I remember the little tubes too , but those were only for mom , we were not allowed to use them – mom always had sinus issues and first thing she did every time she visited the US was to buy Sine-Aid or similar and carry loads back home.
    What I always used with my kids were these pressurized “sea-water” saline solutions , as they supposedly are non-irritating and non-habit forming . But a good dive in the ocean is even better though not very appealing right now 😉
    Turtle Hugs <3

    • Catherine says:

      Oh boy. I remember getting my pj’s stuck to my skin from the Vaporub as well. What fond memories we all have! Oh..I remember Sine-Aid as well. I haven’t used that stuff in years, but Target has a very good generic sinus pill. I’m lovin’ the comments today because everyone has a sinus story to tell. Greatness! Hugs back atcha my dear! XOXOXO!

  7. Leslie Preston says:

    You are telling my story, too! I put down the Afrin when I was about 28, but I did still have allergies. So, I took various antihistamines for years. I’ve stopped those now, too. But one nostril gets congested when I lie down, so here’s my tip. If It’s your right nostril, lie on your left side. Your nostril will drain to the other side. Then flip to the other side. Fun? No. That’s what I do all night long. Sometimes I can flip to my back, mid drain, and breathe through both nostrils. You think I’m kidding? No ma’am! P.S. My mom would sing a song when she was rubbing Vicks on my chest…something like Rub a dub dub three men in a tub…. Then she’d safety pin a washcloth around my neck. Wait! Remember the episode in the Odd Couple when the one guy’s sinuses make a whistling sound and one of them says, “Happy New Year!”

    • Catherine says:

      Leslie. I do that same exact thing when I sleep. It’s amazing! ROTFLMAO! YES!!! I DO remember the Odd Couple whistling sinus’. I think that’s why I love Felix Unger so much–it’s because his sinus issues are so relatable!! XOXOXO!!

  8. Dawn Marie says:

    You had me at Vicks vapor rub… Blessings!

  9. BunKaryudo says:

    I feel very sorry for you because I know it’s no fun trying to get through the days with a blocked nostril. Looking on the bright side, at least you’ve still got an unblocked one too. (It’s not much of a bright side, but it was the best I could do at short notice. Sorry about that.) 🙁

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