Nostrils

I have a number of peculiarities, most of which I try to keep a secret because they make me appear weird or odd. One of these is that I really hate listening to other people's breathing noises.

I have been this way at least since the age of five - probably earlier. As a little girl I had a feather pillow which I could fold over my ears to keep out the nighttime breathing noises of my little brother. (When you're young you can also actually fold your ears over under the pillow too. I've discovered that as you get older, this begins to hurt!)

As time went on and I went to boarding school, sharing a room with five or six other girls, I graduated to using earplugs with the pillow.

When I met my husband I had to check that he wasn't a snorer*. If he had been, the romance would have been off.

My biggest fear in life was going to hospital and having to share a room with people who snored or breathed loud. This has come true several times in the last few years - and it is every bit as bad as I anticipated. I stalk the halls angrily if I'm able to walk, dying from lack of sleep, yet absolutely unable to go to bed and relax with such noises beside me.

Other situations to avoid are: exam rooms (if you're stuck next to a sniffer it's a nightmare), crowded public transport seats, camps where I have to share a room. In church, meetings and social groups, I tend to look for the seat on the outside or the corner, where I can edge away from potential threats.

If I do get stuck next to a loud breather, my blood pressure rises, I start to feel angry and anxious, fidgety and cross and I start thinking about hitting the offender in the head. (I've never actually done it, although I have woken up my brother in earlier years, said "Stop Breathing!" and then pretended not to remember in the morning. I kept that lie going for years. Sorry Pete.)

Why is it such a problem? I have absolutely no idea - and if I did know, it probably wouldn't help. Does it affect my life? Absolutely! Can I do anything about it? I've tried counselling, resetting my thoughts about the meaning of breathing, 'just getting over it', even hypnotherapy... and all of it has been absolutely ineffective.

Anyway... the point of this blog was going to be to tell you that today my nostrils were whistling. It is an involuntary thing that happens to me every so often. And it is utterly infuriating. When other people breathe loud I can usually walk away. But when it's my own nose making the noise, I can't escape.

I have recently found a solution for it though! Hold closed the offending nostril and try to breathe through the other, off-duty one. Eventually it will clear, the whistling one will go off duty and your problem should be solved. Unless, of course, the whistle switches to the second nostril... as mine did today. Grrr.

*Bet you all want to know how I did this.