Sunday, 21 February 2010
So there I am reclined on a fibreglass platform with knees in the air, as though I'm going to give birth. I'm at the mercy of Petch, a qualified hydrotherapist who's been doing this for about three years. Working her way up from the bottom, you could say.
She snaps on the rubber gloves. My sphincter tightens. She smiles at me as she unwraps what looks like a thick drinking straw (pictured), and asks me to turn to my left. With liberal lashings of some KY jelly -- oh, hello sailor! Actually that wasn't too bad. She now attaches me to the machine, a simple device holding 4 x 6-litre water tanks, a water temperature gauge (37 degrees -- body temperature), and several chrome taps.
She explains that the first tank is pure reverse-osmosis water, the middle two organic coffee and apple cider vinegar, and the last is water with pro-biotics. The idea is to remove toxins from my body, especially stuff that's been accumulating there and putrifying for the past few decades. Several kilograms worth, apparently of impacted and stagnated 'stuff'.
Petch tucks me in gently with a hot water bottle on the stomach, and a blanket over the rest of me. And releases the tap ...
I imagined it was going to be like getting the local fire brigade to back up thier truck and let rip. But it's not pressured; it's gravity fed, so the water slowly but surely fills my gut. A weird feeling. It's sort of like when you've eaten too much, but it's not coming from your stomach, it's from your intestine.
'Just let go when you are not comfortable,' says Petch with her reassuring manner. She hands me a wireless bell-buzzer. 'I'll be back in a couple of minutes, call me if you need me.'
The next 45 minutes is not pretty. All those expensive private school manners are lost to the, er, wind. As my tracts swell, I expel. 'Breath from your stomach, i-i-i-i-n, o-u-u-u-t,' she coaches. 'Relax,' she says. Relax??? Madam, I am lying here with a tube up my arse, stripped of everything including my dignity, while a cocktail of warm beverages is snaking its way through my vital organs, and you want me to relax?' Gee, with friends like this, who needs enemas?
I am semi-soporific, taking in the walls which -- in keeping with the resort's tasteful and wistful Moroccan theme -- are a washed-out green and pink. And then I notice the music that's been tinkling away in the background all this time. It's one tune on repeat: a Richard Clayderman (or some such pianist) version of Starry starry night ... that song about Vincent Van Gogh. The line that comes to my head is 'how you suffered for your sanity'. Make that sanitary. The song on repetition becomes like Chinese water torture: drip ... drip ... drip ...
I hope you, dear readers, are appreciating me putting my body on the line here for you. (There again, toilet humour seems to be the natural level of my writing.)
I feel just a little nauseous. Petch smiles. 'The first time is not so comfortable.' No shit, Sherlock! 'Next time, it's OK.' She then commences a stomach massage to work the water into far-flung crevices of my system, especially the ascending colon where apparently all the bad bacteria lurks. 'That's the most toxic part of the most toxic part of the body,' I'd been told at the pre-briefing. 'Seventy percent of the lymphatic system resides there.'
Then she tells me we're about to administer the coffee. 'Make mine with milk and one sugar,' I feebly joke. The floodgates open. I thought I was empty already, but no. Plenty more where that came from. Shit happens, as the expression goes. God knows where all that stuff was stored: possibly the transendental colon. 'Relax,' says Midwife Petch again, smiling what I perceive to be a cold assasin's smile. Aaarghhh ... 'Breath from the stomach, relax,' she says soothingly. Relax??? I am in fear of turning inside out and being strangled by my own sphincter here, Petch!
If I was worrying about dying when it started, I was now more concerned that now I wasn't going to die. Jing jing!
Then, like a boat drifting onto the beach, suddenly the pressure eases, the water is cooler, and Petch declares the session over. On balance, I'd rather be scuba diving, zorb balling, or having root canal dental work without anaesthetics. I do honestly feel cleaner and lighter (well, I'd just lost several kilograms in the space of a few minutes) and pleased to know that I am less toxic.
But whatever I feel about it, I wonder about poor Petch. Does she ever say to her boss: 'I don't need this shit!'?
Footnote: true to Petch's word, the second and third sessions were much more comfortable. Why I even managed to read a magazine and enjoy the hour's experience for the quiet time it was. And unbelievably switched perceptions of Petch from cold-hearted assassin, downgraded to dungeon dominatrix, and finally I came to see her for the kind, caring, compassionate health care professional that she is.
(See my blogs over the next few days for the rest of the Absolute Sanctuary experience.)