I tried a sensory deprivation thingy, they call it a “float spa.” I joined my friend Wendy (the mother of my stepchild) who loves to float and convinced me that I should try. She said it’s relaxing, promised me that it is good for all those sore bones and muscles that occur as you slide down the spiral into your late thirties, assured me that it wasn’t as intense as it sounds. The people who run this float spa expect their clientele to have the capability of relaxation so I should have known better.
A day or so after the plans were made, my eye became extremely fucked up. I have a recurrent corneal erosion which is fancy eye doctor talk for a hole in the top layer of my eyeball that rips open every once in a while. Seems to happen more in the winter time. It sure fuckin hurts when it happens. Like a ripped open eyeball would. Let that sink in… several times a year the top layer of tissue on my eye avulses open like a picked scab. My eyelids swell up like I got punched, and I can’t stop leaking fat, thick tears. Sometimes it resolves without intervention, sometimes I have to pay $200 *yay capitalist medical system!* to get a bandaid contact put in for a week or two. I tried eye drops at first to prevent dry eye but… i was allergic to all the eye drops… ALL OF THEM. Even the hypoallergenic kind. It was pretty shitty.
So ANYWHOOZLEBEEEEE… that was a long paragraph which was full of feelings… mostly sorry ones… for myself…
My eye became fucked. It was an open sore in my eyeball which had ALMOST resolved on the day of my float.
I call this: Collage of Suffering
I wanted to cancel. I got a text from my friend who said she didn’t want to go that night and she was going to cancel. I was overjoyed. It was 100% full on hallelujah choir, sun shining down through a hole in the clouds, cartwheels, party time, disco dance. Moments later, i was on the website looking for the phone number to call and cancel…. THEN!
DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNN!
I read those hated words, feared by all flakes worldwide…
“24 hour cancellation policy”
What in the shit is this shit? I would be charged the full price if I canceled, whether I floated or not because it was past the time limit. Beautiful. I had no choice. I cannot waste money like that, it hurts my soul. I come from a long, proud line of tightwads. My grandpa routinely brought home goodies he found in the grocery store dumpster. This is also referenced in the following piece of fine literature: https://unsavoryamber.wordpress.com/2017/12/23/papaya-no-please/ My great uncle Tom rinsed and reused coffee filters and when he went to auction sales, he’d leave a pack of $0.25 hotdogs on the pickup truck dashboard to slow cook, and eat those for lunch rather than spend the $3 on a sack lunch from the local 4H.
I texted Wendy back, explaining the situation, and she said she’d join me afterall. When we got there, I had a little chuckle at the location; it was in a little industrial zone office park close to the county jail. Upon entering the establishment, I will admit I was kinda whisked away. The inside of the facility did not resemble the outside whatsoever. It was clean, bright white, with an extremely minimalist seating area and a small reception desk. Ambient noise was piped through hidden speakers. On one wall was a rack with bottles of nutritional supplements, all packaged in deep blue bottles with labels full of fine print. I had never been to a spa before in my life but I have seen movies about rich people. So this place looked just like what I assume a spa would look like. It was just smaller. The receptionist was the owner. This is something I appreciate deeply, not only because that’s the definition of a small business but also because I have a sincere love of people who work hard.
He was neatly dressed, pleasant, and just uptight enough for me to feel safe in his care. He knew my friend well as she was a regular customer to the float spa. They were on a first name basis and spent some time discussing various nutritional supplements. Then, after the pleasantries of customer service were completed, the payments were made, and a short explanation of the proposed health benefits of floating, we were escorted into a darkened hallway. The lighting was a deep, soothing blue, spa blue, I guess, I DON’T KNOW! I’M NOT FANCY!
Wendy went to “her cabin” and I went to mine. The owner came with me to show me how to start the process.
1) get undressed (NAKED! Fuckin hippies!)
2) use the shower which was located next to the float tub and wash everything with the “nutrient rich, salon quality” body wash, shampoo, and conditioner supplied.
3) dry off paying special attention around your hairline
4) enter the enclosed float tub
5) relax, use the floating crown thingy for neck support (optional)
6) float for approx 60 minutes
7) when the voice goes over the intercom, get out
8) rinse in the shower
9) dry off
10) get dressed
Once he went through the procedure, step by step, I explained the eyeball situation to him. My friend had told me en route (we drove together… remember that) that the salt from the water could get into the eyes. That sounded pretty fuckin horrid. It would be the equivalent of pouring soy sauce on an open sore… if the sore was your eyeball. So I told him “I have an eye problem, it’s an open sore ON MY EYEBALL.” I paused for the scrunched up face people make when I try to explain this shit. “Don’t worry,” I went on, “It’s not pink eye or anything like that. It’s not contagious. I just REALLY don’t want to get salt in it.” He said “well if you make sure to dry your hairline with a towel after the shower, you probably won’t have any issues with the salt water.”
I followed his advice, drying off after the shower, taking special care to dry my face and hair, the kind of special care reserved for medical procedures. I stepped into the float tub, sat down, and settled back. The water felt slipperier than regular water, had a strange, slick texture against my skin, like laying in a tub of… bodily fluids? I did float, though. I was more buoyant in this tub than in swimming pool water or the lake, which were my only reference points. The tub was slightly larger and slightly deeper than standard bathtubs. It was a similar color to the dark blue supplement bottles in the lobby. More “spa blue.”
Sensory stimulation at this point: just enough light to see the dimensions of the tub and soft ambient music which wafted about the cabin. I closed the door and slipped deeper into the water, taking note of the location of the emergency light. Once settled, I shut off the soft illumination and attempted to relax. The idea is to let yourself go and just float, clear your mind, and relax. That’s the idea.
That’s the idea behind savasana. That’s the idea behind guided meditation. That’s the idea behind prayer. That’s the idea but can I accomplish this? Oh, fuck no! I’ve never been able to relax. I am not “high strung” in a classical sense as in organized, neat, high performing. I’m high strung in a very “I don’t know what the fuck’s going to happen next so I’ll just freak out over everything!” sort of way, a disorganized, anxiety ridden sort of high strung. I can’t even lay still through 4 minutes of savasana or “Corpse pose” at yoga class. (If you’ve never done yoga: savasana consists of you laying still for 4-5 minutes in a comfortable pose.) As a youth, I spent quality time in Catholic Church attempting to soothe my inner demons with prayer and meditation which was completely useless for me.
As I lay in the tub, I thought of all the things but mostly I focused on my incapacity for calm, quiet contemplation with a dash of “what if I get this salt water in my eye?” As the time ticked on, the dash of what if started to grow into a tablespoon, then a jigger, a cup, a pint, a jug, a magnum, a 2 liter bottle of Doctor Thunder (™). As I was so concerned about the salt water dripping into me eye holes, I tried to use the little head “pillow” thing that the guy had pointed out; an inflatable little ring. One ring to rule them all. It worked to keep my head afloat but gave me no peace of mind. It was not my precious. So I’m done with those references now, sorry, they had to come out somewhere.
This was the point where i could feel my R) eye, the holey one, starting to sting. I closed my eyes and that hurt my eye, I opened my eyes and that hurt my eye. It was starting again. The epithelial cells of my cornea which were barely afixed, again peeled away from the bed. As this occurred, the salt that was present in the hyper-humid atmosphere inside the float cabin found its way to the sore spot and created the kind of searing eye pain reserved for Hollywood horror movies and torture porn. It felt like a disc made of half sand and half salt had been carefully placed under my eyelid and then lit on fire with a tiny flamethrower. Slightly uncomfortable. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst pain ever, I rate this pain at a solid 7, ALMOST call-in-sick-to-work pain. More like go-to-work-anyway-but-bitch-the-whole-time-pain.
I remembered the placement of the emergency light in the tub and tapped it. Carefully, slowly, and as smoothly as possible for me, I lifted my head out of the water, keeping my forehead tilted back to avoid any water from my hair dripping down my face. Eyes closed, I groped for my towel and pressed it gently to my sockets, sending a SHOOTING PAIN throughout my R) eye from even the lightest pressure. I stepped out of the tub and got under the shower head, letting all the salt water rinse off. Blinking, I felt the thick, hot tears pouring down my cheek, my eye was sending healing growth factors to my eye once again attempting to heal that torn area on my cornea. I wanted to cry from emotional pain as well. God damn it, not again. Not a-fucking-gain. I am so sick of my fucked up eyeball. Is this what happened to Kano from Mortal Kombat? Because if so, I see why he became a villainous martial arts expert. I stepped away from the shower, tied my hair up in another towel and put on the clean, white robe provided.
I grabbed my phone to check the time. Surely I float/panicked for almost an hour. It certainly felt like almost an hour. I entered the cabin at approximately 7:10pm so by my calculations I gave up at approximately 8pm…AAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNDDDDDDD! It was 7:25. I lasted 15 minutes. Fifteen fucking minutes for fifty bucks, a panic attack, and soul wringing agony. Disappointed, I sat down on the gorgeous cedar bench on the opposite end of the room. I failed. Slowly, it dawned on me that my compatriot, Wendy, was still floating in the room next to me. While I stared down the barrel of 40 minutes of waiting in this place, I also gained awareness of my limited phone battery. I crossed my pruney fingers and snapped some pics so that I could attach them to this blog which I outlined in my head as I lingered in the cozy robe, trying to ignore the burning and leaking coming from my R) eye. The drainage from the slowly inflating damaged eye started to drip on my phone case. Disgusted, I checked the time again. I dressed and dragged myself to the lobby where I asked for a tissue and sat waiting sullenly but patiently for my buddy to finish her float. OOOH I hate to fail.
The owner came out and asked me how I liked it. I explained to him that salt presented itself in the humid vapor of the cabin’s atmosphere so my eye got all fucked up again. He looked at me with true sadness and offered me a free float to try again once my eye had healed. Seriously impressed with the customer service at this place. Seriously, I will try it again when summertime comes around. I want to make 100% certain that my eye is healed first.