Saturday, 28 April 2012

So spa so good

I've had a chest infection for five weeks, an experience complete with the same number of courses of increasingly malevolent antibiotics and some super oral steroids with less than attractive side-effects.

The X-rays are showing zero improvement, so my sister Sue and I, with nebuliser and oxygen in tow, went off for a spa weekend and I can report we had a good time.

Spas are odd places in my view, not something the English are naturally good at as the ones here tend to be consumer rather philosophically led. In spa cultures like Japan, Turkey or Russia, it's about cleansing not cleanser and balancing body and mind rather than fluffy towels and wi-fi. So I was approaching this experience a little sceptically but being desperate for some relief and to be able to breathe, I was ready to try anything.

My sister found our destination, Stoke Park, which was close to our childhood home so not far to go. It was good on the fluffy towels and exuded the calming influence of luxury. My little Smart Car looked hilariously out of place in the Range Rover-laden car park, which disgorged the well-heeled and toned South Bucks folk - no sign of the recession there. I have, on occasion, wondered who buys Versace, but a quick trip to Stoke Park answers that question.

But this was not a trip to take issue with the environmental impact of Jacuzzis; it was the weekend to get better and holly smoke did I learn something new about recuperation. Once ensconced in our uniform of the ubiquitous towelling robes, we were introduced to our therapists. Mine was Ann, who was extraordinary. An older lady with an air of kind, empathetic authority, she took me in hand and told me what was going to happen. She did some reflexology on me, which I have only had a couple of times and with no great effect, and told me from her analysis she decided what treatment she was going to do for me. I had booked in for the algae wrap but within moments of meeting Ann I knew that was not going to happen, what did was lovely and very odd.

Having manipulated my feet, Ann told me she was going to give me Bowen therapy for my general well-being. I have never heard of this but as I am not a spa regular I did not expect to be up to speed with the latest treatments. I was in go-with-the-flow mode and so said yes, which turns out to be a very good decision because Bowen is a life changer. Ann manipulated my left leg where I thought I was getting arthritis, though had not mentioned that to anyone including her; immediately the pain went. She massaged my diaphragm, which opened up for the first time in weeks and through a series of manipulation, she managed to get me breathing, restore my voice which had gone soon after the infection started and even told me that I was close to grandmother, which apparently was something she was able to surmise from the energy in my left leg. Go figure. I would naturally be cynical about this but the truth is it worked, so how sceptical can you be? Nowt as queer as folk, as my grandmother would say.

I shuffled in coughing, rasping and limping and walked out steadily, speaking normally and breathing. Epic. Thanks to Ann, my trip to Stoke Park was a game changer. My lungs are not clear but 48 hours of spa and most especially some Bowen and I am well on my way. Both of us feel refreshed. A break from our respective seven children and busy lives and my rats would do that, as would having a bloody good laugh, and I guess being a guinea pig can really be a good thing at times. And when you are all out of answers, taking some direction from left field can really pay off.

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