"We lubricate the tubing with Crisco," the technician informed me with an easy giggle. I faced away from her, lying knees-to-chest in the fetal position. "Okay... cool," I heard myself respond flatly, staring ahead at the eggshell wall. "Now a big breath in," she instructed. And on my exhale: "Theeere we go."
The 21-day detox program I was on urged cleansers to enhance the experience through massages, infrared saunas, dry brushing, and "colonic irrigation." I dedicated myself to three weeks on this beast and wasn't about to do it halfway. I was on a mission to kick start my digestive system -- that was the whole reason for my cleansing in the first place. Let my insides rest, pump my body full of healthy stuff, and make it really happy so I could be the ultimate operative being. It was on day two that I decided to really take it there (there being my sphincter), so I booked my intestines an appointment for day six.
I scheduled my colonic over the phone (they offered to get me in the next day if I was okay with a male technician -- uh, thanksbutnothanks), and then they sent me a preparation email. This was the gist:
-- The day of your session: Don't eat solid food for at least 3.5 hours beforehand, and no animal proteins (meat, dairy, eggs).
-- Two to three days prior to your session: No dairy products, alcohol, soda, or fried foods.
-- Four days prior to your session: No beans/legumes (soy, tofu, peanuts, hummus, lentils).
Fine, easy. Fast forward to day six.
In what was essentially a ground-floor-apartment-turned-wellness-center, I was greeted by Tammy* -- a very blonde woman with truly luminous skin that made late 40s look like early 30s. I followed Tammy into a quaint room, furnished with little more than a massage-style table, a toilet and a sink. Like a pre-flight safety spiel, I was given an accelerated explanation of what was about to go down. Then Tammy left the room. I took off my pants and undies and hopped on the table, situating myself on my side, under a sheet of crinkly exam paper that draped me from my belly to my knees.
Tammy the technician returned and perched herself on a stool at my feet. After applying some Crisco to the tubing and venturing up into my scared little butt hole, we were (she was) ready to begin. "You might feel some pressure from the water," she said, "but that's okay." Again I replied, "Okay... cool." Then, with a deep inhale and exhale, and a short prayer to somebody/something I've never once reached out to before, the colonic ensued.
Side note about the way a colonic works: One end of a plastic tube connects to a large, constantly re-filling jug of water that is placed high on a shelf to encourage moderate water pressure. The other end of this tube attaches to a speculum (different from the vaginal kind that gynos use). Then, the speculum -- wedged snugly inside the rectum -- lets the water flow into your colon through the aforementioned tube, then reverses the suction to flush the waste (poo) out another bigger tube, that leads to a sewage system. So you're basically being rinsed out -- water in, poo out -- for about an hour.
Once everything was inserted properly with me on my side, Tammy turned me over onto my back, knees up. Somehow, the whole contraption magically stayed inside my butt, the speculum and tubing lying flat and comfy against the table. Tammy wasted no time before delving into conversation as if we were at the salon -- like she was giving me highlights or doing my nails. She told me about the men she was dating. Guy number one was emotionally withdrawn but started texting her obsessively when she tried to break it off, and guy number two was an accountant who looked like a tall George Costanza and spoiled her at raw food places like Pure Food & Wine.
I gossiped and laughed like a champ at first, but soon my guts began to grumble. Each time Tammy unleashed a wash of water into my belly, she let it sit there for a few seconds, then released it while vigorously massaging my belly. I stopped chatting and began to focus on my breath when I suddenly realized oh shit, I HAVE TO SHIT. Like the feeling right before you get diarrhea; I was full and crampy and I could feel my insides pulsing. I wanted to resist it. My instinct was to hold it in. But my instincts were violently smothered by my impulse to let go. And then, like Maya Rudolph in Bridesmaids, I just... released. I diarrheaed my stuff right into that tube on the table. It was relieving and exhausting and disgusting and wonderful. I remember Tammy still talking -- telling me she'd been up all night, and something about crying for hours and not knowing why. I have no idea how I responded, but before I knew it, I was getting filled up again with water -- my toes curled, my body ached, and with a few beads of sweat and a wince, I started diarrheaing in the tube again! Tammy continued to rub my belly vigorously and mentioned something about how her really mean son got along with tall George Constanza, which she was really shocked by.
Tammy and I eventually got into a rhythm: fill up, cramp up, massage and let go. It was mostly terrible, but infused with moments of greatness. Once I figured out how to succumb to the sensations, envisioning myself on the toilet just letting it all out, it actually started to go a little smoother... so to speak. Tammy said my colonic was above average (read: my junk flowed freely) and she could tell I had a good diet overall but that the cleanse probably helped.
When the hour was up, and my "matter" was all washed out. Tammy gently pulled out the speculum and left me alone to sit on the toilet (which was right next to the table) and let the rest out. I sat down on that porcelain throne -- it was nice to be home. Pooping while sitting down is really a lovely thing. The toilet sesh was a little crampy too, but it only lasted about a minute. And then, as if somebody just turned off the faucet, I was done. It was all gone. I wiped, put on my underwear and jeans, paid, and bid my farewell to Tammy (who was headed back into the treatment room to give herself a colonic before heading to a massage).
A little out of it and tired, similar to a post-massage state, I walked along Houston with an extremely empty colon, questioning the episode I'd just put myself through. In total, I paid $130 for the hour -- the session was $115, plus tip (since I'd never gotten a colonic before I had no idea how much to tip a person for going spelunking inside my canals, so I asked the receptionist, who told me $15 was standard). I didn't feel too different afterward. I didn't feel lighter or skinnier. I felt the relief of cleanliness similar to washing your hands after thrifting. Like, whoa, that was grimy, and now I feel notably less disgusting. When I got home I felt sore from Tammy's intense, ongoing stomach massage, but that eventually subsided. I didn't eat much that night and took it pretty easy the next day too.
Was it a wonderful experience? No. Would I do it again? Yes. I mean no. I mean yes. I mean, it's kind of like waxing or getting your teeth cleaned. Horrible, but followed by refreshing and better. So, yes I would. Only next time I'm bringing an iPod with some Enya -- sorry, Tammy.
*Name has been changed
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