(This is part 2 of an ongoing series. You can view part 1 here.)
I spent $20 on the world’s most expensive popsicle. I would’ve spent $25 but I was given a new customer discount.
Let me share the back story first.
Being well past the big 5-0, I should know by now what to do when I feel that first little tickle in my throat… then in my nose. I did launch the tried and true four-part cold prevention plan from my favorite physician. Okay, Dr. Oz.
1. Gargle with warm salt water
2. Blow nose after flushing it with a Neti bottle
3. Take zinc lozenges, elderberry syrup, licorice tea in abundance AND
Steps #1-3 help me get through the first part of the week. Step #4 is where the tried and true plan breaks down. My week is not designed to be a restful one with calls, meetings and evening commitments peppering my calendar. The final straw comes on Thursday when I lead two 2 ½ hour workshops with a conference call sandwiched in between. I decide to bring a gigantic bowl of candy to (hopefully) distract attendees from realizing that my voice is slipping away with each tick of the clock. They realize it, of course, but the Snickers and M&Ms are deemed a suitable gesture of apology and everyone is cooperative, even helpful. But come Friday morning, I can’t even muster up a squeak. My voice is shredded and I am congested and weak.
Back to the $20 popsicle.
I remember hearing that infrared sauna treatments help you kick a nasty cold faster. And, I have a discount to a local place that a very knowledgeable friend sent to me. Bingo! I don’t stop to do research on the place because my smart friend did it for me. I hop in the car and head over.
A lovely person named Mallory greets me and happily, the intake paperwork is online. Mallory completes it all for me and confirms that my discount e-mail is legit. I simply need to scrawl my signature with my finger. Easy. “Aaahh” I exhale, as she leads me to the “room where it happens”. I’m looking forward to sitting in this toasty, hot sauna that I hope will expel the toxins and relieve my congestion rendering me CURED. In a 30-minute session. Alleluia for the miracles of science!
This is where the popsicle comes in. I notice that the sauna has some sort of vapor coming from what appears to be ice. “That’s strange for a sauna” I think to myself. I ask lovely Mallory why and she casually explains that the chamber goes down to NEGATIVE 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which causes evaporation to happen. “Excuse me, say what now?” I think. It’s as if a camera lens finally focused and I can now see clearly what’s in front of me. As I look around with a fresh eye, the dots begin to connect. I notice that the room is chilly and has gloves, mittens and boots in it. I now recall seeing name, CRYO1ONE, on the door.
I’m an English major. I know what “cryo” means. Cold – in fact, extreme cold. This chamber is not a toasty, hot sauna but a friggin’ ice box. I look at the company flyer in my hand. It has the tagline “CRYO1ONE, Face the Freeze”. In my haste to get “cured”, I ignored the reality all around me. But, I don’t want to Face the Freeze!
I’m from Michigan, grew up in the cold and have had my fill of it. I don’t ever intentionally put myself in cold weather situations without the appropriate accoutrements: warm coat, fur ear muffs, hat, 2 scarves, ski socks, boots, gloves, plus foot and hand warmers, the whole nine yards. I need to hit the rewind button and get out of there. But I’ve come too far to turn back and lovely Mallory is being very kind as she explains what to take off and what to put on. Besides, all of the sauna places are about to close so it is this or nothing. And, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit to Mallory at this late point in the process that I don’t want to … “Face the Freeze”.
While Mallory steps out, I strip down to nothing, put on the slippers provided and step into the chamber still feeling that this is not a good idea. I’ve never heard that feeding a cold with COLD is a thing. Mallory returns to program the timer for three minutes. Surely, I can hang in there for three minutes, I mentally encourage myself, as my hands turn icy numb.
Mallory is cheering me on as I tell her that my hands can’t take it a second longer. She gives me a blank look, turns her gaze to the bench and sees that I am not wearing the gloves, mittens and socks provided. I was too distracted by my mix-up to listen to her instructions. She shuts off the chamber and scurries me out so that I can put them on. I want to scurry behind her and right out the door but I’m totally naked except for their slippers and again, lovely Mallory is being a kind and patient cheerleader.
I don the socks, slippers, gloves and mittens and head back to the torture cryotherapy chamber hoping that I get credit for the ten seconds that I had clocked the first go around. Like a child engrossed in a mother’s bedtime story, I give 100% of my focus to Mallory’s cryotherapy stories hoping that they will distract me from my concern that being naked in a minus 150 degrees Fahrenheit chamber with laryngitis might just kill me off.
Mallory engrosses me with stories about how her metabolism is faster, her body is more toned and she no longer has cellulite. I hold on to these promises tight and try to ignore the fact that I feel as frozen as a giant popsicle. And, yes, I paid for the pleasure of this experience.
Unlike when I’m waiting on Uber, three minutes actually turned out to be three minutes. Mallory looked at me proudly. She’d guided yet another over to the cryo-side. I popped out of the chamber and into my clothes. Instead of my clothes warming me up, the popsicle that I had become chilled my clothes. Yes, I was that cold. Even fully clothed wearing my puffy coat, I am still icy to the touch. But, I have to admit to the lovely Mallory that I feel energized and invigorated. She tells me that I will sleep like a baby. And I actually do!
I could’ve tortured myself about making such a ridiculous mistake and vowed to share it with no one ever-ever-ever. But the reality is that we often see what we want and hear what we want through the filter of our needs and expectations. It’s not an age thing. You can be old, young or somewhere in between and still have a brain freeze moment where the synapses just don’t fire and the dots don’t connect. But wisdom gives us the ability to enjoy the ride and laugh at ourselves. You never know where a mistake will lead you. In my case, I paid $20 for the world’s most expensive popsicle (myself) but had the best night’s sleep in the process, which is priceless.
I did make it to the infrared sauna but that’s a whole different story…