For the past few year or so I have been suffering from the delightful affliction known as "Post Nasal Drip". Big apologies if you were mid-mouthful when you read that.
I had a cough that started over a year ago that wouldn't shift, and a 'lump' in my throat when I swallowed and eventually I was concerned enough to go to the doctor, thinking that I could possibly be ignoring some life threatening disease. In truth I wasn't so much concerned as embarrassed by the prospect of hacking up a lump in the middle of a job interview.
I was sent to the asthma nurse (who confirmed it was not asthma), the blood clinic (who confirmed there was nothing lurking in my blood) and the radiologists (who confirmed that there were no scary shadows on my chest x-ray). My grandfather died from severe bronchitis and emphesema - but they turn out to be non-hereditory - so they were ruled out too.
So what was I left with? Post Nasal Drip. What a fantastic term.
Something is obviously 'getting up my nose'. I can't say that I was very surprised at this, given that neither my Dad or my brother can breathe without the aid of a Vicks Sinex permanently jammed up each nostril, and I am, come to think of it, allergic to just about everything (cats, dogs - oh the hell with it "everything with fur", early flowering trees, late flowering trees, grass pollen, dust mites and fungal spores). My sinuses are a tad over-protective, methinks.
Unfortunately the only solution that the doctor suggests (and I haven't yet been to see the ENT specialist - not really wanting a standard medical solution of drilling out my sinuses so that my nose runs without notice) is to use Beconase nasal spray and antihistamines. But I can't say that I really want a lifetime of pumping steroid spray up each nostril, especially given the warning "if symptoms persist for longer than 6 weeks, consult your doctor". What's the point?
So there has to be an alternative solution. The first one being that I could cut down on - or remove - dairy from my diet, and the second to inhale methol vapours.
Now, I refuse to give up chocolate (because that is a crucial element of my five a day: Chocolate, Tea, Sweets, Coffee, Mashed Potato) and I have a hard time refusing cheese and real butter when offered, but I've switched to soy milk and spread (soy milk and spread in mashed potato - bleh!!!!) and I haven't bought any ice-cream for a long while (the winter is helping with that one). But as a general rule I am eating less dairy than I was and I have noticed a slight improvement.
As luck would have it, my step-mother had a Carmen Facial Steamer sitting in a kitchen cupboard, unused. And for a couple of weeks, until this morning, it was sitting in my kitchen cupboard, unused. But after a few uncomfortably snotty days, (after spending time at a friend's on Friday where I had more butter, cheese, full fat milk and chocolate than you could shake a stick at) I decided to give it a whirl.
It is a simple appliance, but the instructions are lacking somewhat. You can either choose to 'Mist' (recommended for inhalation) or 'Steam' (which could potentially spit hot oil mix in to your face) and this is controlled by a simple rocker switch. One way 'mist', the other way 'steam'. But is the switch up or down when the option is selected? I know that I should know this, but the instructions don't say and I really didn't want to find out the hard way.
Also, the measuring cup on which all of the timings are based, is missing. And the instructions only refer to 'level one' and 'level two' on the cup and don't actually provide any measurement. So I looked at the drawing - how big does this cup look? Is it drawn to scale? It looks bigger than a medicine cup, but smaller than the cup that fills up the iron...
Oh sod it, how hard can it be? I filled the chamber to halfway, switched the appliance to what I hoped was 'mist', stuck a tea-towel over my hair and, leaning my elbows on the side of the kitchen counter, lightly rested my face in the mask. And waited.
By the time that the machine was properly 'misting', my shoulders had locked, I had red marks on my elbows and a deep line carved in to my forehead. Top marks for selecting 'mist', but zero marks for over-filling and for using cold water. I think I took about two deep breaths of warm steam before giving up and making a cup of tea.
Which leads me to the kettle. I have a lovely kettle. It is a very expensive kettle made by Bosch, selected partly for its aesthetic appeal, partly because it is so solid and partly because it looked so reliable. Oh, that and the fact that I was 'doing my bit for the environment' and wanted a jug kettle that would boil only enough water for one cup of tea, which it does - extremely quickly (so it is great in 'tea' emergencies too).
In fact, the description of my kettle sounds like the kind of man I am looking for.
And then yesterday, the bits of plastic that held the lid springs broke. And at first I panicked, because if I had to buy a new kettle I would have to settle for second best - and that just wouldn't do. But after a short time trying to fix it and failing, I realised that the lid still holds shut firmly when clipped in to place and still boils as much water as I choose. It just has to be opened manually, rather than gently pressing the button and watching the lid rise like a hydraulic door opening on a space craft.
And then I realised that only now does my kettle represent the kind of man I am looking for: reliable, aesthetically pleasing, solid, cares about the environment, still functional, flexible.... and slightly unhinged....