Jonella dared me to blog about this experience.
Talking to a friend earlier today, I explained that in a former life I was probably a cat - and that I'm far too curious for my own good at times. They agreed with me. Far too curious. Always sticking my nose in places I shouldn't. Always looking down alleyways and through doorways. Nosey to some - curious to others.
Looking back over the last forty years I can name some experiences that I've wanted to try and I can say I've done it once or twice - and that will do. Party drugs fall in to this category. After taking ecstasy and speed on a few occasions in my twenties, I can say that I've tried it, didn't like it that much and we'll leave it at that. I've tried absinthe - once, had to be done. I've danced all night in clubs. I've seen amazing cinema and plays. I've read books I've been told to avoid - 'American Psycho' comes to mind on this one.
Also, as a practising alternative therapist, I've tried some weird and wonderful things over the years. One of the great things about body work, like Alice's Rabbit Hole, it keeps getting deeper and darker. I play with feet all the time, and have no issue with rubbing a person's manky clodhoppers (after they've been cleaned). Being into alternatives,you feel obliged to visit other forms of alternative therapy - just to experience them. Laughter therapy was something that got tried a few months ago. I've done the odd past-life regression, I know of a Middendorf Breath Practitioner. I'm fond of Alexander Technique, have had the odd kinesiology appointment and know all about Theta Healing and Reference Point Therapy.
Today's appointment, however, was the last bastion in the alternatives.
For something that's a common activity for everybody on the planet, our back passages and the muck that's excreted from this hole is a bit of a no go area. We talk about headaches. We women talk about our cycles, with each other, some of the time. But nobody talks about poo. Farts, yes. Poo, no.
A few weeks ago, on one of the group buying websites, a voucher for colonic irrigation came up. And in a fit of madness and curiosity, I purchased it.
And after pressing the buy button, I felt a sense of regret. No going back now (unless I let the voucher lapse, and I'm too mean for that.)
Well, today was the day for my allotted appointment to have my back passage flushed.
I mentioned this to a few friends, the response mostly being, "You're brave, always wanted to try that. You'll have to tell me all about it." A few others said, "Better you than me." I've also got a few friends who swear by colonics for various issues and complaints. Jay, my doctor mate from the gym said it was a waste of time and money.
Me, I've just always been curious about this process.
At the end of it, I'd call it more confronting, but not in a bad way. It can be a touch uncomfortable, but certainly not painful. And as for the benefits - we will see.
On arriving at the clinic in Camberwell, home to the colonic flush according to my naturopath ("Could it be that there are more people in Camberwell full of shit?" he postulated.) I was made to fill in the necessary paper work. The woman at reception was professional and calming. I explained that I was a feature writer and this was being done in the name of research - and that I'd always been curious.
Serves me right.
Of the positives of the whole experience, everything in the place was surgically clean and at no time did I feel ill informed or violated. Everything was explained completely and every effort was made to make me feel at ease. At all times I felt my privacy was respected and I did not feel exposed. So they're the good things.
Looking at the whole process, which took about 45 minutes in total, there were some uncomfortable moments. The first one came when asked to stick the lubricated tube in the position.
The bit of tubing that is inserted into your bum the least of these strange moments. About the diameter of a standard pencil, you're asked to insert this 2 centimetres into you anus. No dramas here at all. You then arrange yourself on a special table, put a towel over your bottom half and call the therapist in with a buzzer, who then starts the treatment.
Think of it like an internal dish washing cycle. A first rinse, a deep cleansing and a final rinse. You're given the instruction, "When you feel the need to release, release." as the therapist starts pumping the water in. This is where things get a bit strange. There is a tube up your back passage - how is the rubbish supposed to escape and the tube not pop out? Somehow, it doesn't. Fluid comes in, fluid goes out. Ad infinitum. The sensation is strange, but not unpleasant. They give you a large, heated wheat bag to place on your abdomen to help alleviate any cramping. It was welcome, but I had no cramps. It was more comforting than anything.
The waste is drained off and suctioned out via a clear tube into the plumbing. I only found this out after the treatment, so I didn't watch what was coming out. Thank goodness.
The deep cleanse cycle is a bit of relief. After a ten minute initial rinse out, you're filled with a mixture of coffee, herbs and charcoal, which trickles in, rather than being pumped in over a few minutes. You're also asked to hold this in. After this, it's another 15 minutes of rinsing with body temperature, filtered water.
What does it feel like? Hmm, best way I would describe it is rear-end gastro without the cramps, bloating, fever or urgency to get to the nearest loo. You do feel cleaned out after. This is the good thing about colonics.
After the treatment is over, you're asked to removed the tube, rinse yourself off and dress. All over in the hour.
I found the process confronting, not for what was being done, nor for what happened in the clinic itself. It was more the what was coming out. What is this shame attached to poo in all its forms? Why is it we don't give poo it's full credence? It's just another bodily substance. The other thing that was confronting was after the session, getting off the table, seeing some of the results in the capture area. I was told to not touch anything, just rinse myself off and go. My mother's voice went off in my head, the one that always tells me to leave the bathroom how you found it. Protestant training or shame? I can't be sure.
On leaving the centre, I was given the instructions to drink a lot of water and make sure I avoided starchy foods for the next few days.
So I take myself off to the movies, having a bit of time to kill and not really up for a run - went and saw "A Dangerous Method". Quite ironic that it was a movie about Sigmund Freud. After a necessary stop at the bathroom to finalise the job started at the clinic, the film was a great way to debrief, which was needed. The experience effected me a little more than I thought it would.
And now, a few hours on, I feel a bit whooshy, but fine. Again, it's like that feeling you get after you've had gastro, when all the symptoms are gone and you just feel empty - and this is the good thing.
Would I go back again for another session. Yes, but it's not something I'd rush back to. For now, this is in the basket of things, like party drugs, absinthe and paint balling - glad I've given it ago once, it's been demystified, but I'm not in any hurry to go back.
I'm still glad I'm an inquisitive wee beastie - being a Leo, I am naturally curious, it's in my blood - and I wonder what will be next off the list. Skydiving? Ashram in India? A Burlesque course? Advanced Driver Training? Scuba diving? (Huge fear of open water - can't see that one happening in a hurry)
However a few friends have been asked to remind me, next time I'm going to cross off something like colonic irrigation off the bucket list, ask me if I REALLY want to do it. I'll probably still say yes, just consider it a bit longer before taking the plunge.