Friday, February 29, 2008

The In and Out of Cellular Detox and Colonic Irrigation

***Mature (ish) Audiences Only***

“Putting it in the hiney is fun. It’s rude and harsh and God hates it.”
-The Vice Guide to Guilty Pleasures

I, moplumsy, have put water in my butt. A lot of water. 60 gallons, in fact, give or take a dribble. And it didn’t start out as a way to pass the time, either. It just ended up that way.

But let’s start at the beginning. All this came about with my decision at the beginning of 2008 to spend my Chinese New Year holiday break in Thailand. But instead of shrooming at full moon parties or accompanying groups of creepy expats to ping-pong shows (everyone loves a trafficked chick), I made the spur-of-the-moment decision to go on a fast for ten days. I started how anyone starts anything these days: Google. I searched for “fasting retreats in Thailand,” “fast programs Asia,” and “beach fast Thailand cheap.” I read reviews about various health spas on various travel sites, ranging from the extremely luxurious to the we-may-sell-you-into-human-slavery risky, and finally settled on a place called Health Oasis Resort on the picturesque island of Koh Samui, toted for the effectiveness and solidity of its no-frills detox and colonics programs.

Once I made the decision and booked my tickets, the first reaction I got from people was an extended, horrified stare, eventually followed with, “Why?” After all, it’s a widely known fact (by me) that Thai food is the super duper best food in the universe. And I wouldn’t be eating any of it. In addition, many expats in China use the Chinese New Year holiday break to, well, party their balls off. My reasons were plentiful, and ranged anywhere from getting out of Shanghai to losing weight to clearing up my skin, but beyond any of that, my main reason was because Shanghai is disgusting, and I needed to get that out of me.

The second reaction was from some of my savvier international friends, who quietly took me aside and asked the key question which I had, up to this point, avoided bringing up. “Do you have to do enemas?” A key, and I would venture to say the most important, element of a detox program is the colonic. And, yes, I had to do them. Let me make this clear now: I was fully aware that this was going to be a part of my program. I avoided bringing it up to people when telling them what I was going to do over my winter vacation, especially with my American friends. Americans are prudes. Even I kind of thought it was dirty thing to do. Which eventually became all the more reason to try it out.

The first part of an extended fast is the “pre-fast,” which, once I got to Health Oasis, I discovered was pointless and entirely optional. Through the month of January, I began cutting things out of my diet. Starting on the first, I gave up anything that fell under the umbrella of “junk food,” meaning chips, candy, pizza…anything that conjures up the phrase “empty calories” and pretty much all I had been living on in China up to that point. On the 14th, I gave up meat of all kinds, which I nearly stuck with without cheating save for the lox bagel I had immediately before leaving. On the 22nd, I had every intention of switching over to a full vegan diet, but uh, that didn’t work out, as cheese and I are tight likethis. But I did drastically reduce my consumption of it. By the morning of the 28th, I felt almost ready.

My orientation at Health Oasis was an informal meeting with Graham, the manager of the resort who kind of reminded me of Bo from the Heaven’s Gate cult. We sat down and he told me what I was going to do, when I was going to do it, and why. The first day included “juice-drink” (25% fresh juice, 75% water) and magnesium-oxygen shots taken every three hours, which gets anything out of your body that you consumed in the last day by giving you pleasantly cramp-free diarrhea (See? There’s always a silver lining). The second day included the start of the nutritional regimen that was to be followed for the duration of the fast, and on the morning of the third day, colonics were to begin.

Every morning thereafter, a nice Thai man would come to my door and make me my first psyllium husk/benzonite clay shake of the day. Psyllium husks are fibrous, well, husks, which expand in your stomach and make you feel like you haven’t not eaten for several days. Benzonite clay is essentially flavorless mud. It absorbs up to six times its weight of toxins in your intestines, which is really cool I guess. Those things are mixed with a little bit of juice drink and chugged down as fast as possible (if left sitting for more than a few seconds the mixture turns to the consistency of oatmeal). This was done once every three hours until 7:00 p.m.

Starting at 8:30 a.m. were the herbs and potions. These were taken in different combinations every three hours until 8:30 p.m. and all were to be held under the tongue for a minute for sublingual absorption. These things included, but were not limited to:

  • Colloidal silver, a New -Agey antimicrobial which can cause an amazing skin condition called argyria in high enough concentrations. I suggest you Wikipedia it.
  • Chlorophyll, for photosynthesis.
  • Heal Detox, a witch’s brew of stuff that tasted like death.
  • Spirulina capsules, the one thing I wasn’t convinced would end up killing me eventually. It’s a kelp-like superfood from under the sea that contains all 22 amino acids. The contents of the capsules were put into a tiny amount of water and held under the tongue for one minute. It tasted like the inside of a pet store smells.
  • “Female tonic,” which I can only assume contained vaginas.
  • Ocean minerals, which may or may not have been seawater in a spray bottle.

On the evening of the second day, I was taken into one of the colonics rooms and given a tutorial on how to effectively get all that water into my butt. It’s a simple process, really. A big fiberglass surface called a colonic board is placed like a tabletop on a stool and a toilet seat. On the toilet end, there’s a big hole with a roof over it for your ass to go. A five-gallon bucket of water hangs from the ceiling, and a tube runs from the bucket through the roof of the ass-end of the colonic board, so it sticks out a couple of inches. A clip on the tube keeps the water from flowing. For now.

This is where you come in. Before each colonic, the room is prepped with a pitcher of hot water, half a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, a plastic glove, a colonic tip, and a wee bottle of Vaseline. As an extra dash of awesome, a colander was available to put IN THE TOILET for your post-colonic shit-gazing pleasure. Call me a square, but the colander just wasn’t for me. Sorry.

So there you are: you’ve entered the colonic room, nervous, perhaps clutching your ipod. You make sure the door behind you is double-locked, and you disrobe. This is it. You take the hot water and hydrogen peroxide and pour it into the bucket of water hanging from the ceiling. Breathe—time to break out the Vaseline. The colonic tip is a thin tube about ten inches long. One end fits neatly into the tube leading to the bucket. The other end, rounded and with three holes in the side, fits neatly into your asshole. How far into your asshole, you ask? A finger length is the recommendation of most colonics professionals, but you can give or take a few millimeters depending on your comfort level. This next part doesn’t really apply to those who enjoy putting things in the booty on a regular basis, but for those who aren’t accustomed to what-all in the posterior orifice, I’ll tell you that insertion is uncomfortable. Kind of painful, actually. But once it’s in, it’s in. It’s okay. You’re okay, and I’m okay. Spend a couple of moments taking some deep breaths. Chant “om.” Go to your happy place. You’re ready.

At this moment, you’re on your back, head resting comfortably, hands massaging your abdomen, feet high and against the wall. Of course, your ass is nestled into its little ass-area, and let’s not forget the tube tucked neatly inside. All in all, fairly cozy. You sit up for a brief moment, and pull the clip.

The first thing you’ll notice is a cold, prickling feeling of water splashing on your inner thighs for a few seconds. I have no idea what the fuck that’s about. It must be a nerve thing connected to your colon, because at no point does water actually splash on you. It’s alarming nonetheless. No sooner have you thought, “Oh shit, did I put the thing in right?” than you have the urge to poop. And it doesn’t stop. But there’s this tube in your ass so you still feel kinda weird about it. Don’t worry…you were told this was going to happen.

At no point do you, ahem, “push out.” The colon and lower intestines simply fill with water until they can’t take it anymore then…release. Then fill and…release. Imagine momentarily experiencing the worst diarrhea of your life every 20 seconds for about 40 minutes and you’ve got a good idea of the sensation. Essentially, the absurd amount of water that’s now coursing through your pooper is triggering the last phases of peristalsis, the physical action of smooth muscle tissue pushing food through your digestive system. While some water is released, some is retained, so by the time the bucket is empty, you’re nowhere near so. The first time is entirely unpleasant, and as luck would have it, you’re not done yet.

Meanwhile, the emptying of the bucket takes time. Around 40 minutes to an hour. Use this time to your advantage. Read a book. Do a crossword puzzle or some sudoku. Listen to soothing music. Don’t start thinking about freak occurrences like tsunamis or earthquakes. Make sure there aren’t any spiders in the room BEFORE you begin this whole process. Eventually, all the water will drain from the bucket, and you will be left confused. “What now?” you may ask. Before you answer, disengage from the colonic tip (phew!), throw the tip away, re-clip the tube (you don’t want the dregs in the bucket leaking all over your stuff, do you?) set the colonic board against the wall, and sit down on the toilet as quickly as possible. You may not feel like you need to, but I promise, you do. For about 20 more minutes you’ll continue to go through moments of…uh…drainage. And once you’re finished, you get to answer the be-all, end-all Question of Colonics: Just how full of shit AM I?

As I said, sifting through fecal solids filtered through a colander in a toilet bowl isn’t especially for me, but that’s not to say that natural curiosity doesn’t lead one to take a gander every now and again. For the first couple of days, it’s not all that different from what you’d normally see coming out of you: it’s just a bit…waterier. It’s around the fourth or fifth colonic that you really start noticing some alarming things. Remember, you haven’t been eating this whole time. Nothing digestible has gone through your system, so whatever starts coming out around colonic number five has been in your system for years. Essentially, compacted fecal matter is dark and looks like intestines, explained by the fact that it’s been in your intestines for so long that it’s taken their shape. It’s filthy and unpleasant and completely and utterly satisfying to get it out of you.

All the fasters talk about, in fact, is shitting and eating. And with all that free time on their hands, fasters talk a lot. As new people came and made it through day three of the program, it became a sort of initiation ritual to harass the newly-violated faster about his or her first experience. Brian, a (I found out later, world-renowned) chef who apprenticed with Gordon Ramsey (not under him, but was rather like, his co-apprentice as two young UK hooligans growing up in the rough-and-tumble world of chefery) spent endless time describing to us, his rapturous audience, the crème brulee he made float for Bill Gates and a 12 NASA bigwigs using liquid helium and a balloon made of sugar. Yasmin from Greece recalled her daughter’s favorite homemade meal, blackened salmon seared juuuust to perfection, in agonizing detail. Later in the week, several of us piled into Brian’s rented jeep to go to see some Muaythai Kickboxing, only to all at once drift off in the middle of a boisterous conversation for an extended, communal “*sniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiif*…aaaaaahhhhhh” as we passed a seafood restaurant.

It isn’t until the second and third days that you begin to feel fatigue, which is fine, because all you have to do is lie around on the beach anyway. On the fourth or fifth day, your tongue develops a thick film of toxic discharge, which according to your lifestyle, can range in color anywhere from white to vivid canary yellow. It’s around this point that you get energetic. With all that energy, it gets hard to sleep. On the bright side, it’s much easier to put the elbow grease into scraping all that stuff off your tongue. Periods of fatigue and emotional distress follow sporadically after that. Nightmares are commonly experienced.

As a part of the program, we were allowed as much vegetable broth with salt and as much ginger tea with honey as we wanted, and could drink the milk of one coconut per day. This meant that our blood sugar levels never reached a nauseating low, and any salty or sweet cravings we may have had were dealt with. This made the physical reality of not eating for eight days much more bearable. In fact, at no point was the actual fast a struggle. From time to time I did feel actual hunger, but never was it overwhelming. The hardest part was the psychological shock of the absence of food. You never notice the importance it, but everything about food—the taste, the textures and smells, the social gathering that mealtime generates, the ritual of sitting to eat, the timing of meals and the breaking up of the home and work days around them—most of your day-to-day life is structured, somehow, around eating.

With all this not-eating and participating in regular mealtime socializing, I had lots of free time. I did yoga in the beachside sala in the mornings when I felt like it (exactly twice). I finished re-reading 100 Years of Solitude, which made me love reading again. I got a bit of a tan. Luckily, there were a couple of evenings in which free workshops were offered. One was EFT, or Emotional Freedom Technique, which from what I could gather was somehow related to acupuncture and kinesiology. (I also paid for a 100 baht mediation class which was fantastic and well-worth the money and something I haven’t practiced on my own since.) The other was “An Introduction to Tantra,” an awkward group class on peaceful communication and how to have multiple orgasms taught by a crazy woman who looked like a frightened bird. In it, she first taught us the techniques behind non-violent communication. If you’ve ever seen the movie Shortbus, you’ve seen it in action, and it was absolutely too retarded for me to get into here. (Looking deep into your partner’s eyes and saying, with conviction, “The divine in me respects the divine in you. Namaste,” is one of the least gay things it involved. Bbbbbbuuuchhh.) But nobody was there for that anyway. I transcribe for you now the steps I outlined in my journal when they were still oh-so-fresh in my mind, so that you and your loved ones may practice Multiple Orgasm Technique in the privacy and comfort of your very own home:

Step one: Put your hands near your genitals. (Your “crotch chakra” if you will.) Breathe in through your vagina. (Pretend.)

Step two: At the same time flex the PC muscles in order to “pump” that breath up to your head chakra.

Step three: At the same time, thrust your pelvis forward.

Step four: Trap the breath in your head for a moment, holding it in with your hands. (Physics doesn’t really explain this one.)

Step five: Breathe out, making a sexy noise.

Step six: At the same time, imagine the breath circling through your limbs and coming back out through your vag.

Step seven: At the same time, shiver or quake (while screaming). Even if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

Step eight: At the same time, thrust your pelvis backward.

The class climaxed (HA! ZING!) with a delightful and horrifyingly awkward demonstration with the lady on her back on a yoga mat, moaning and shaking and screaming and the rest of us standing in an awkward, silent circle wondering what, exactly, an appropriate response for viewing such an event should be. After it was all over, there was a loaded silence, followed by a timid smattering of applause, as if to say, “good job?”

I decided to break the fast two days before I left so I could go on a drinking binge immediately upon returning to Shanghai. Breaking the fast should take as long as the fast itself, but if you want to be economical about it, you can be finished with the post-fast experience in as little as two days. The first day eating, you can only eat fruit, as it’s easily digestible and mostly water to begin with. The second day, you can have fruits and vegetables, and it was on the second day that I really, really enjoyed my first real meal—a green papaya salad. (My first actual, non-vegan retox meal was vegetarian phad thai at the airport, which I had been planning and fantasizing about since day 3.)

When people broke their fasts, those of us still fasting grabbed our juice water and chlorophyll and sat around the table, staring at their food and asking if they felt a difference. The answer one woman from Holland gave was, “I feel great. I feel lighter and stronger, like I can move.” It’s completely true. Afterwards, you feel unbelievable. Friends in Shanghai told me there was a noticeable difference about me. I noticed my eyes became brighter and clearer, which may or may not be interpreted as kind of creepy. All-in-all, I highly recommend fasting and detox to anyone who’s interested, for whatever reason they may be interested in it. I think all of it was very good. Thank you for listening for my story!

(In other news, I’ve started writing and speaking like my 6th grade ESL students.)


Jonc said...

Oh lord. Damn. I would totally look at my shit, too.

Donk said...

I want to know...was it anything like this image?