Back in October, 2011, about 4-5 months ago, I had a cold. I was in the midst of a total clean-out as we had a signed purchase & sales and little time left to prepare for the move into the RV. After a day or two of a stuffed nose and headache, I succumbed to what I KNEW was a mistake, and sprayed Afrin into each of my nostrils. Ah, the euphoria that comes with that blast of mist entering the nasal cavity and immediately opening the passages to allow that huge rush of air directly to your foggy brain! The next 11 - 12 hours would be lovely.
That's when the horrific cycle began. The need for another blast was there, and I willingly took that second squirt. Just 2 days and I'll be fine. No problem. I have been here before and I KNOW not to exceed 3 days, just like the package warns.
Over four months later and I am into my 11th hour of sheer agony.
November was a stressful whirlwind of purging, selling, donating, cleaning, and packing. I had no time to become a zombie mouth-breather. I needed a clear head. Oh, I'd try to go longer, but the urge to spray is so strong, and the relief so intense, it is hard to deny oneself.
As December came and went, and the holiday madness was over, I tried again to mentally prepare for the Big Quit. That never came.
You see, that once awesome, exhilarating feeling of the blast diminishes in time. By January, the need to use came every 6 hours, sometimes less, sometimes more, and was depressingly unsatisfactory if not completely pointless.
The heavy head, dry mouth, cranial pressure, bloody noses, and lack of smell are all punishment for allowing myself to continue (or even start) using something I knew I shouldn't have.
If you have never been the victim of this product, what happens is, after that lovely 11-12 hours of easy-breathing, you begin to stuff up again; a phenomenon known as rebound congestion. It happens fairly quickly and without warning, so in order to function, as most of us need to do, that next blast is needed. What seems like a continuously stuffy, mucous-filled nose, is, in fact, a nose with severely swollen membranes. So swollen, that breathing in air is impossible. Trying to go a few hours living with no nose use is very stressful. It's amazing how much we breathe through our noses. And when that choice is eliminated, how tremendously awful it is to have to breathe through your mouth. Each duration becomes increasingly shorter, by minutes, until a week later, you admit you are in the midst of an addiction.
This addiction, and I firmly believe the word addiction applies...
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/addiction: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful
is so prevalent, that there are numerous websites devoted to tips and stories about people's years of use and dependancy.
You know you have a problem when there is a bottle of spray in your pocket book, one in the medicine cabinet, and one in the car. And when you cannot find any of them, you feel spastic; turning things inside out so you can have that much needed hit.
So, as of 11pm, Friday, February 10, I have been Afrin-free. It has sucked, (Something my nose can't do.). But, I think I can say that, even though 11 hours later I still cannot breathe, my head doesn't feel as heavy. I hope I am not just imagining this. And I am quite sure I will get absolutely NO sleep tonight. That's the problem with sleeping with a completely closed nose. Your mouth dries out and your throat closes, which wakes you up with a start. You try to blow your nose for relief, but the only outcome is a practically blown-out eardrum.
The posts I have read by other sufferers vary in recovery-time. People, some addicted as long as ten years, have taken months to recover. Others, weeks. Still some, a day or two. I hope I am in the latter group.
So what DO you do when you cannot breathe?
Saline spray is your best bet.
Vicks helps, too.
A hot shower.
Drink lots of water to thin out the mucous.
A cold-mist humidifier.
Just NO AFRIN and AFRIN-TYPE nasal sprays.
I had debated writing this, but, if I can stop at least one person from enduring this unhealthy, all-encomapssing, and expensive addiction, it was worth telling.
UPDATE: As of March 1, 2012, I am completely cured. For a little over a week now I have not felt any remnants of what will now be known as That Awful Time. So, hang in there and fight through it if you need to disengage.