This week marks the two-year anniversary of our trip to Memphis, TN, to see The Nutcracker ballet at the Orpheum Theatre. You might wonder what on earth this has to do with Wellness Wednesday but I promise you it does. It just so happens that my darling children (then 6 & 8) chose this weekend to come down with a major winter cold. Of course they showed no signs of illness when we left Thursday night after I got off work to drive the 2 & ½ hours to Memphis.
That night I thought their sniffles and whining were just a result of allergies, unfamiliar surroundings, and a very long day of school and then travel. In the morning there was really no time to think about it as we ran off to spend the whole day at Graceland. Both of my girls are HUGE Elvis fans! Maybe it’s a result of having to listen to Elvis Radio during their entire time in the womb. So when they were trying to fall asleep on the benches outside one of the museums halfway through the day I realized something was wrong. Upon feeling their foreheads I could tell they had a low fever. They were also very congested and having difficulty breathing through their noses. They made it through the rest of the day, their enthusiasm for Elvis overriding their symptoms. But by dinnertime they were succumbing to their illness and I had no medication to treat them with other than some ibuprofen and allergy tablets.
We took them straight back to the hotel room and Dave went in search of dinner and pharmaceuticals. He left me in the hotel room with 2 exhausted kids whose noses were too congested to breathe, and I had nothing to alleviate their misery until my husband returned. In desperation I closed them up in the bathroom and turned the shower on HOT! Surely the steam would loosen the congestion enough for them to breathe. By the time Dave returned with dinner and cold-fighting supplies, the girls had emerged from their steam room and were breathing easier. Being the good father that he is, Dave had purchased anything he could think of that might help his little darlings survive the trip: vitamin C drops, saline nasal spray, Vicks vapor rub, decongestants, Afrin nasal spray, and even a Vicks inhaler. I am sure that some combination of these things did contribute to their recovery but I really think the steam did more good than anything else.
We made it through the next 2 days of sightseeing by “steaming” them before breakfast, dinner, and bedtime. In between we’d use whichever traditional treatment we had handy. To this day the girls only remember the fun things we did (like visiting the Jungle Room at Graceland, singing into the same microphone Elvis used at Sun Studios, eating Memphis BBQ, and, of course, seeing the The Nutcracker) and not how miserably sick they were. So I guess we did a few things right.
Even though only a few of us have our own steam rooms or an unlimited supply of hot water, we can still benefit from the use of steam to treat our congestion.
Simply fill a sink or large bowl with HOT water and lean over it with a towel over your head to trap the steam. Breathe deeply. I have since learned about the added advantages of adding essential oils to steam to increase its action. A few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil can increase the benefits. This simple, easily overlooked trick can be used while traveling or at home and can help make a huge difference in overcoming congestion and cold symptoms.