ELVIS AND KATHY AND NASAL SALTWATER DOUCHES
I believe it was in January, 1974 when I was out on opening day in Vegas with the Sweets to pick up our costumes that we either had just purchased or had altered in Vegas for our that night's opening. All of a sudden I felt as if I had a Desert Rock on my chest, and had difficulty breathing. The Sweets noticed I didn't look right, suggested I sit down, then when we got back to the Hilton I laid down for "just a few minutes". I DID NOT WAKE UP THAT DAY... totally missed opening night and the next four days. I had the "LONDON FLU". The odd thing was that I was so delirious this time I thought only a day had passed, yet it had been FOUR! I vaguely remember in my high fever delusional state the Sweets coming into my room (they had insisted that housekeeping let them in) and rolling me from one side of the bed to the other, while changing the linens. God Bless them. They weren't afraid of catching it! They told me later that the linens were 'Drenched' each time they came in. I could not believe it had been four days. But... what I found out was that Elvis, too, had it. He had missed shows also! We both had a 'touch of pneumonia' but did not know it yet.
After each of us gained enough strength to return to the stage, we both still had hardly any voice - congested lungs. Not a good thing. Elvis decided that he and I should go through this regimen to clear our voices/NOSES/chest cold, etc. for a few days. Now this may seem a bit weird to you, but my father used to do this, and so did many other singers in my prior fifteen year professional singing career.
I just had never done it.
Elvis 'made' me come up to his room and had Dr. Nick prepare the right temperature for the warm water. Then added the precise amount of salt to it.
"Come here, Stuffy Nose," he said as he led me into his bathroom. Both of us 'sounded' awful, as if our noses were full of cotton. Come to think of it, I'll bet it's hard for you to even imagine Elvis talking with a badly stuffed up nose. So... it sounded more like... "CUB here, Stuffy Nose. Man... I "amb" miserable. (AM is intentionally misspelled so you may hear how he sounded). My throat is as raw as a skinned rabbit. But I have something that'll fix us both up", he mumbled. “Now watch me closely. You sprinkle a dash of salt into a glass of warm water like this. Here's yours and here's mine. Then you pour a little of it into the palm of your hand (he was swirling the glass around as if he were a 'magician' explaining his trick to an audience. I copied his actions as I was desperate to 'talk'... not to mention sing! He then proceeded with his instructions.
"Now, get ready. You inhale this shit up your nose... like this... and then put your head down... BEND OVER QUICK." We both achieved that much. I had the great idea that we should stand on our heads, which we both did. Nice visual, huh? Both of us doing a hand-stand (with knees bent, though)... in that tiny space? "Hold that position, baby! It burns like hell, but hold it! Then we gotta blow our noses in the sink!" (Yes, it burned like hell, but we got tickled looking at our faces upside down. You know, like you did when you were a kid? Smiles upside down etc.?)
"Now, follow me", he said. "We've gotta exercise hard and fast... ride this bike (exercise bike) and I'll get on the treadmill". He placed towels around his neck and mine... ahem. You can guess what the towels were for. "That stuff is gonna break loose and our noses will open, hopefully we'll cough up the stuff clogging our lungs and bronchial tubes." Well, I think I'd better not describe what occurred for the next hour or so... coughing and blowing our noses... but it worked. Temporarily, but it worked. He insisted I do this with him for a few days until we could at least 'speak'. Neither of us got our voices back for weeks, and actually found out we had pneumonia weeks later.
This event in our lives was certainly not pleasant at the time, yet makes me laugh until I cry when I think of it today.