Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25, 2011 ~ Day 137
The Great Quinoa Emergency

Only I could do something quite so ridiculous as get a single grain of cooked quinoa stuck in my nose.

Yes, you read that right. Quinoa.

(And yes, today's topic is gross!)

So I apologize in advance for having passed along that excessive bit of information.

In the end, I blame the whole thing squarely on my husband for being too darn funny. He said something last night while we were eating dinner that made me laugh so hard I managed to inhale that one little grain. (Just call me the Queen of Grace.)

Who knew that something the size of a quarter grain of rice could possibly be so darn irritating? So resilient? So stuck!

More than twenty-four hours in, you can actually see puffiness along my cheekbone where the area is inflamed. I'm sure my nasal passage is just as annoyed as I am. I can feel it sitting there, refusing to dislodge, and even though I'm so frustrated I have to laugh. This quinoa definitely belongs in our family all right - it's stubborn, cute and tenacious!

Thanks to this little nuisance I've had a nasty sinus headache all day and when I saw the puffiness I decided it might be time to call our insurance company's home health nurse. This is a GREAT little service where you place a call for free to the insurance company nurse and they give background information about the condition to help you decide whether or not a visit to the doctor is merited.

I really value having a line like this to call because I figure that my insurance company doesn't want to spend any more money than it has to, in order to take care of me. They're not going to advise me to go to a doctor or urgent care unless it is merited... but if they think a situation has the potential to head downhill fast they might send me to see the regular GP before things turn ugly.

When I called today though, the nurse laughed along with me at the grain of quinoa but was less conservative than I'd expected.

"Well, any foreign body in the nose can potentially become an emergency,"
she said.

"An emergency? Really? Over a single grain of quinoa?"

"Well typically with organic material it isn't as worrisome. The real risk you run would be of developing infection. If you start to see atypical drainage, yellow or green drainage, or if your nose begins to smell... you should suspect sinus infection around the foreign body and it would make sense to see a doctor right away."

"Ewwwww. It's going to smell???

I don't have any of those things right now,"
I added quickly, "My sinus passage just seems irritated and the sensation is uncomfortable."

"Why don't you place a telephone call to your on-call ENT?"
she suggested. "They might be able to give you more concrete strategies for ejecting the foreign body."

I asked. "You think it's worth calling the ENT after hours? Is this really an emergency?"

"Ma'am, I would call your doctor if I were you."

"Okay then, thanks. I appreciate your time."

I ended the telephone call feeling slightly less comfortable than I had five minutes before. Could this lousy little piece of quinoa truly represent a medical emergency? Frustrated, I looked up the number for an ENT I have only seen once in my life.

"Only I could do something this stupid," I grumbled to myself. "Quinoa. Humph!"

After leaving a message for the ENT on their private pager line, I went back about my business - rescuing my 23 month old daughter from the top of a dresser where she'd managed to climb and was DANCING and singing because she couldn't get back down by herself.

Soon thereafter the telephone rang.

"Hello, this is Dr. Randsom* and I'm returning your call about the TERRIBLE QUINOA EMERGENCY!" he chuckled.

I busted out laughing.

"It's really shocking, isn't it Dr. Randsom? I honestly don't know if I'll make it through the night."
I then apologized for disturbing him and explained about the insurance company nurse and her view that the stuck quinoa might be causing a real problem in my sinuses.

"What the heck did she think you had in there?"
he wondered aloud. "I wonder if she knows what quinoa is?"

"Okay. So here's what you do," he said. "You go get a Neti Pot or sinus rinse. Pour it into your nose and flush everything out. And you're going to need to do some throat clearing. You know, the kind that teenage boys do? You know the sound I'm talking about?"

"Um, yes,"
I laughed out loud again. "So I have to make a 'hocking' sound?"

"Exactly. I would try this. Rinsing and hocking. I mean, you're welcome to come in tomorrow and I can try to poke the scope down there to force it down. But if I were you, I'd definitely start with the Neti pot."

"Great. Thanks. So, I'll rest easy tonight even with this lousy little grain in my head."

"Oh no, you definitely shouldn't rest. Really, this is a terrible emergency! That grain might actually grow into your brain stem and take over your body!" he laughed out loud.

"How tragic that would be," I assented, and we got off of the phone laughing like old friends.

"Who was that?" my husband asked as he came into the house. I told him about the quinoa, the Aetna nurse and the ENT. Instantly he adored the ENT.

"I love that doctor. He is my new favorite doctor," my husband smiled. "Finally, a medical professional that doesn't freak out or insist that you come into the office just to cover his own butt."

"Yeah, I like him too," I added. "He's about our age and he's got a great sense of humor."

While we were out on our date night, my husband and I picked up a Neti pot which (good to know) can be purchased at the local grocery store. We trundled it home in high hopes that soon, my irritated nasal passage would be a thing of the past.

If you've never used a Neti pot, it's just an INCREDIBLY ATTRACTIVE process guaranteed to bring the romance right into any date night. First, you fill a small plastic watering can that looks like it's the perfect gardening tool for a Smurf with lukewarm saline water. Then you place the watering can's spout into one of the nostrils of your nose and squeeze it until the water starts coming out the other nostril.


You do this bent over a sink because chances are you're going to be spitting out salt water WHILE it also comes out one side of your head. It is a truly lovely process that *any* man would wish to watch his lady go through, especially on date night. WHAT a turn-on.

So here we are, home from the movies with my husband sound asleep and me pouring salt water through my head. I don't think there's anything left in my head to come out!

Except that single lame piece of quinoa, which is still stuck. I feel like the dratted Princess and the Pea... except rather than laying on a rock hard pea under a hundred mattresses, I've got a miniscule grain of food lodged somewhere in my nasal orifice. Does this make me royalty? Have I passed the great quinoa challenge of 2011?

I've got to say that as the mother of three children under the age of six, I always knew there was a remote possibility that someone in our home was going to end up sticking something unusual up their nose. A crayon, perhaps... preferably not a magnet or battery. Maybe a bean.

But no. My sons have now passed the age of sticking anything into their nose, not even their fingers. They have excellent manners in that regard. Instead, it is I, their absurd mother who has found my way to the land of saline, long pincers, and nuisance headaches.

Recently when I got that spider bite one of my friends asked, "Honestly, how do these things keep HAPPENING to you?"

"Luck, I guess."

We both laughed.

Sometimes life is great. Sometimes life hands you lemons. Other times, life shoves a grain of quinoa up your nose and leaves it there long enough for you to appreciate how nice it was to be able to breathe in and out normally.

When these kinds of things happen, you have two choices. You can get bitter and upset, or laugh about it. I hope that if my own children ever have to deal with absurd health challenges of one kind or another, they'll remember that it really helps to find the humor in an irritating or difficult situation.

Laughter is the best medicine there is.

*Name of the parties in question changed to protect their privacy.

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