Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Colonic Blogging

The following recounts an actual colon irrigation. If you have delicate sensibilities or if you are presently eating your lunch, stop reading now.
I did not come upon this course of action hastily. It was not something I elected to do on a whim. I’d decided to go for a colonic because I had recently gotten my first cold in almost two years, and afterwards, my plumbing just didn’t seem to be working all that well. Plus I’d been eating poorly for some time—a major digression from my healthy and wholesome diet of many years—and I felt it was time to get back on track. Since I was going for a colonic, I thought I might as well do a cleanse, too. Provided one can handle the food restrictions, cleansing is a great way to get oneself set on a new course. It takes all the junk food and sweets and baked goods away in one fell swoop and sets you off on a nutritionally dense diet. After a week or so, you feel so good that you don’t crave the junk, don’t miss it, and don’t want it back. I was going to have the colonic on the first day of my cleanse, and another one on the last day.

As one does not go for massage without showering, nor visit the dentist without brushing and flossing, so I would not go for a colonic without proper attention to grooming and hygiene, but because I’m the sort of person who can’t sweep the kitchen floor without cleaning the fridge, I got a tiny bit carried away. I got ready the night before. I showered and washed my hair. I shaved, I exfoliated, and I moisturized all over with lavender-scented lotion. I put self-tanning gel on my face and chest and shoulders. I blew my hair dry and straightened it with the flat-iron. I considered giving myself a pedicure, but I wanted to look like a natural girl: no chemical-laden nail lacquer for me. I settled for rosemary-and-mint scented foot lotion, feeling that this would make the air sufficiently pleasant down in the vicinity of my feet. After I was all clean and smooth and shiny it didn’t seem right to go to bed on old sheets, so I put fresh ones on and went to sleep.

* * * * *

The Next Day

The hydrotherapy clinic is on the third floor of an office building in New Westminster. I arrive at my appointment, and Lena, the hydrotherapist, leads me into the treatment room. She leaves me with instructions to remove my clothing below the waist and lie on the treatment table on my left side. The room is clean and clinical in appearance. Lena is about my age, maybe a bit older, with that air of self-possessed formality that the Spanish often have. Really though, her demeanor is perfect for this work: the formality is tempered with warmth, and there's a hint of the hippy evident in her tied up hair and the loose cotton pants she wears under her white lab coat. She seems very capable, and I feel safe in her hands.

It's not my first time here and when Lena returns to the room she doesn't stop to explain the process to me, but merely inserts the plastic valve and opens the channel to start the flow of water. She instructs me to turn over onto my back. The apparatus she's using for the procedure consists of a table with a narrow tube for water coming out of it and a wider tube for drainage, both of which are attached to a valve with a switch that opens one channel or the other. The business end of the valve is a short tube about three-quarters of an inch in diameter. It tapers to a narrow tip which she lubricates and inserts inside me. The tip retracts to allow inflow and outflow. In the top of the table is a wide section of clear lucite tubing that allows one to see of the content of the outflow. A mirror above the treatment table provides me with a good view of the clear tubing.

Lena holds the valve in place without touching me and attends to the volume of water flowing into my colon. Once the pressure has reached the limits of my tolerance, I give her the signal and she shuts off the inflow and switches the valve over to let the water wash back out, carrying with it such material as is willing to go. If one is particularly backed up, the first part of this process can be distressing. When the logjam starts to break up and wash out, one can be overcome with the sudden, near-irresistible urge to leap off the table and make a dash for the bathroom. This urgency may be accompanied by cramps and a terrific pressure in the lower bowel. Perseverance requires deep breathing and confidence in the water's ability to do its work. I'm not feeling that discomfort, that urgency, now. This time I've had a few days to prepare by juicing and eating foods that would help things along, and I'm feeling relaxed and comfortable.

At first, the outflow is clear and then it turns a deep burgundy. Lena looks back at me. "Beet juice?" she asks. I nod. In an hour, we go through four or five cycles of fill and release, fill and release. Like an apostate returning to the fold, I confess my years-long digression into an unhealthy diet and a stressful lifestyle. Lena makes clucking noises at me. Water flows in, expanding my colon, and she lists the tasks I must perform in order to gain absolution for my sins. Saunas, she says, everyday. For breakfast she recommends two tablespoons of flaxseed, ground in a coffee grinder, soaked in water overnight, sweetened with stevia and eaten with thawed blueberries in the morning. "These women who think they can get by on salads—we need fiber!" I agree to everything: I'll take saunas, cut down on coffee, get more sleep. She thinks that the Ritalin and Adderall are hard on my body. "Your liver needs a break," she says, as the pressure mounts in my bowel. I'm not planning to give up the stimulants, yet I stop taking them the next day.

I'm full of water. I feel blown up like a balloon. I give the hand signal and Lena switches the valve over. She pushes on the right side of my abdomen with her free hand, leaning into it, massaging the ascending colon. "This is going well," she says, watching the water and fecal matter moving through the clear tube. "Considering what you told me, you're not doing badly. You still have good tone." I'm relieved. I had no idea that redemption would come so easily. She pushes again. "See? Good tone." I don't know what she's talking about, but I nod anyway, trusting that she would not compliment my tone if it were not worthy.

In the bathroom is a low, wide stool upon which one is meant to place one's feet while seated on the toilet. This posture, meant to approximate the squatting position that our ancestors used for millennia before we invented toilets, is supposed to aid in the evacuation of the bowels. It doesn't take much of this to drain the last of the water out of me, and as I wash up and get dressed to leave, I'm feeling light, as if all my burdens have been swept away with the water. I'm elated, mildly euphoric. I realize it's just the endorphins, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying it.

I'm seated with Lena at her desk moments later. She gives me warm ginger tea and we talk about other things I might do to promote wellness and renewal. She doesn't like my insistence that I need animal protein. Amaranth, she says, is the food of the gods. It has plenty of protein. She recommends warm castor oil packs on my belly to draw out toxins. This sounds like voodoo to me, but I agree to try it because the idea of lying still with a warm oil-soaked cloth on my stomach for an hour every other day sounds pleasant. Coffee enemas, she suggests, will stimulate the liver, encouraging it to remove toxins. I agree to try the amaranth. She books an appointment for thirteen days hence, and writes up an invoice which she gives to me with a bottle of castor oil. Cost for one colon irrigation: $75.00. A bargain.