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I've been feeling a little under the weather lately due to the fact that winter is the season of squalor and utter bullshit. Naturally, I ended up falling ill after some leper contaminated me with their filth particles and rendered me toxic with bronchitis and excessive mucus production. Hey, stranger who can't wash their goddamn hands (which even raccoons can do), thank you. Thank you for getting your swill on and in me.

Anyway, I figured why not turn that frown upside down and make the most of my thick, phlegmy predicament by using it to try out some alternative healing methods. Sure, modern medicine has things like medicine, but why not try all that super popular bullshit people spend billions of dollars on every year despite there being literally no evidence that any of it works? Maybe it'll work for me!


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I'll admit, this idea first came to me over a year ago when I happened to make the acquaintance of a woman who made her living as both a psychic and a reiki master. I'd never met either of those in person before, and I was immediately fascinated, because, to the best of my knowledge, both are flagrant bullshittery.

The lady in question is actually curiously charming in her way, though I suppose that helps for a psychic -- no one wants to pay to find out they're going to die from brain parasites and have the news delivered by a Trump-level twat waffle. You want a friendly psychic. She wasn't "Troy McClure" charming, though -- more like Kenny Powers, in that she was kind of loud and obnoxious and you find it charming for a short while until you realize she's really just an insufferable shit with a minimum of likable qualities.

At least Kenny Powers knew how to get down.

Anyway, I figured since I'd come down with a condition that traditional medicine just shrugs at because you should just man up and cure your own bronchial conditions with VapoRub and soup, why not try this reiki shit?

The first thing you need to know is to not call it "reiki shit." Practitioners of reiki shit don't think it's shit at all. They'd probably prefer that you call it just reiki. But it's shit, trust me.

I explained my condition, and Reiki Master Shitstar told me that what she does isn't healing in the traditional sense. Rather, she could use her hands to manipulate life energy in a way that would promote healing and help me get better sooner. I wanted so badly to ask if that meant a happy ending, but this was a lady in her 60s with one brown tooth, and part of me was very afraid she'd say yes.

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Pick your battles, kids.

I was laid down on what I think is a massage table with some pillows in a room full of crystals and musical instruments and assorted other knickknacks. Some incense was lit, some meditation music was put on, and away we went. Basically, I received the absolute worst massage in the history of time. Rather than rubbing or kneading, it consists of an old lady just putting her hands in one spot and holding them there for a solid five minutes or so before going somewhere else. She talked about chi flow for a while, too, which made me think I could start doing kung fu, but my efforts to punch through walls since leaving her have been shameful failures.

After a 30-minute session of lying still in a room that smelled like jasmine and cat pee, I felt no closer to health, but she assured me she'd rearranged my midi-chlorians enough that I'd be feeling better in no time.

"All part of the healing process."

I suppose the beauty of reiki for a condition like this is that I'm going to get better eventually anyway, so was it the reiki that did it or just my own immune system? And if I used it to treat something like cancer, I'd probably die before I could sue for malpractice. She really can't lose.


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I had only a vague idea of what cupping is before I called someone who I found on Google about getting this particular form of treatment. It brings to mind spooning, which is nice, and I like cups of beverage, so that was nice too. Everything involved with it, in my mind, sounded just swell.

Actual cupping is a little less pleasant than drinking from a cup. It's a lot less pleasant. It's borderline fucktarded. Your cup specialist will conduct a super thorough exam of your tongue, I guess to make sure you have one, and that's pretty much the preliminary preparation. I took off my shirt and let the ancient Asian man who was to perform the procedure swoon a little over my pasty white formlessness. He was impressed.

I was laid down on another massage table, and the old-timer took a few minutes to massage the center of my back. He said these pressure points corresponded to my lungs and breathing and would start feeling better in no time. The next step involved him lighting an alcohol-soaked swab aflame and swooshing out the inside of a tiny glass cup, then putting it on my back. The fire had used up all the oxygen, and within seconds the vacuum of the cup had sucked a marshmallow made of my flesh into itself. It was like getting a hickey from a leech the size of a human arm.

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Once again, I was absolutely terrified imagining how this would work with a happy ending.

I decided I could man up and endure this, because I think Gwyneth Paltrow does this shit on purpose. If Gwyneth can do it, so can I. Five cups later and I was trying to find a way to describe the interesting sound it makes when your back fat is sucked into a hot glass. It's kind of a reverse vomit sound, with a slurm quality to it. Imagine a toothless bear trying to suck a fist-sized sugar cube.

Cupping isn't a painless process. It's not like the old man stabbed me, but it did feel like a handful of cats trying to burrow into my skin for about 15 minutes. The resulting bruises are a reminder for the next several days about how dumb you've been. Enjoy them any time you sit back against a hard surface.

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Hmm, I suddenly have a weird craving for pepperoni pizza ...

After the cups were removed, I got an old man oil massage and a satchel of herbs that would help me with breathing and balance my chi. Again. My kung fu was no stronger after the cupping than it was after the reiki.

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If hot cups couldn't cure what ailed me, surely the insertion of numerous little needles could, right? I hear stabbing is surprisingly effective at healing. I arranged for an acupuncture session to see if I could get past my horrendous cold and also to see if acupuncturists have heard many porcupine jokes.

My acupuncturist was not 1,000 years old, I was pleased to see. She was instead a white lady in her 30s who did not mention chi the entire time I was there. But I bet she was thinking it.

I was asked a number of questions about my general health, and I got another tongue inspection. I'm not sure what my tongue is telling other people, but I think it looks pretty normal. Maybe you can tell, I dunno.

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The ideal alternative medicine candidate, apparently.

I was told I had a buildup of dampness in my body. Do I eat a lot of dairy and sugar? I need to not. Also, white bread. Also, meat. Get rid of all of that. It's too damp. I'd never been diagnosed with inner-dampness before, and I didn't think sugar was the culprit, since I don't really like sweet foods that much, but apparently processed sugars are in everything whether they're sweet or not. I should eat salmon, bok choy, and sprouted grains. Sounds delicious as shit. As shit.

Next up came my needles, which were, near as I can tell, jammed into every place I had room from my head down to my feet. I had one between my eyes. It bobbed constantly in my vision and was mildly distracting the entire time.

If you've never had acupuncture, you may be surprised to know it doesn't hurt at all, despite the needles being like six inches long. One in my hand twinged a nerve, but I may have juked when it was going in, causing it to run afoul of something. It wasn't painful, just annoying. By the time we were done, I think I had over 100 needles in me, but I couldn't really tell because I was terrified of moving and stabbing literally everything that's inside of me.

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Stare at this for 30 minutes and you basically have my face during the entire experience.

I lay on the same massage table all these people have for about a half hour, just covered in metal, doing nothing but thinking about how I got to this point in my life. Is this the apex or the decline of my career? Are there better things on the horizon? I'd like to publish a book or see one of my screenplays come to life on-screen; is that a possibility still? What's the evolutionary advantage of a pee boner?

The acupuncturist comes back and starts removing the needles. I hate to say this, because I've set this article up as a typical sarcastic, pessimistic rant, but I felt better when this was done. I still had a cold and everything -- I'm not claiming miracle cures -- but I did feel pretty damn good. Like I was well-rested, despite having been on that table for only a half hour. If you're looking for a little pick-me-up and someone to play with your tongue, maybe consider acupuncture; it's kind of nice.

Colon Hydrotherapy

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This was the approach I was most skeptical of, but I also realized this is clearly the most uncomfortably hilarious thing I could do to help alleviate my cold. According to the website of the place I visited, colon hydrotherapy can be used for weight loss, improved metabolism, hemorrhoids, parasites, eczema, gout, cancer, spina bifida, and influenza. Good enough for me! All that, right up my ass.

The price of a colonic is worth shitting over, but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, so I arranged for a nice mid-week visit as an excuse to get out of work. Technically, this was a doctor's appointment. I think. In fairness, I never asked if anyone who worked at this place was actually certified in any way when I called; I just assumed. The place is called a "wellness center," so surely only doctors work there.

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Although, I was still skeptical of another guy wanting to see my tongue.

I was told if I purchased six colonics I'd get one for free. Someone was putting the cart before their water-filled shitshack. I chose one to start and figured if it's some kind of weird addiction I can work out my Subway club card deal later on.

As a delightful bonus, my colonic came with something called an implant, which sounds much more intimidating than how I understood it -- a flavor shot. They had chlorophyll, coffee, aloe vera, and a handful of others. As fun as coffee sounded, chlorophyll promised to sooth and relax. After I learned that 30 gallons of water was about to be shotgunned through my backdoor, I really liked the idea of soothing and relaxation, so I chose that one.

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While wishing I had this.

My colon hydrotherapist explained the procedure to me -- I didn't even need to get fully naked! Just needed to get my hole out in the open in a pair of disposable paper shorts, and water would be gently introduced and removed.

For the first time, the table was not a massage table but a full-on bed. I got to lie on my side and stare at the wall like I let strangers put tubes in my ass all the time and like this wasn't weird for either of us. But it was, and do you know why? Because it literally wasn't weird for Thomas, my hydrotherapist, who does this for a living.

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"Heh, down the hatch! ... Oh, sorry, sir; I meant the other hatch."

Thomas started filling the tank and then massaging my abdomen to stimulate pressure points, which made me decidedly unhappy. Ever have a grown man rub your belly while a machine forces water up your ass? This isn't Guantanamo.

I felt something like a manccordion being pumped and squeezed from both the inside and outside. Having water shuttling in and out of your butt continually for a long period of time feels like your ass somehow went on the fritz and it desperately needs a repairman. You know that feeling when you need to poop, and then when you are pooping, and then when you wish you could stop pooping? It's literally all three at the same time.

Basically this.

There was a clear tube attached to the machine that would suck away all the toxins inside me, toxins being a code word for "watery turds." I'm glad it was a clear tube, because I'd hate to think of missing out on what was happening.

For a solid 40 minutes, I lay on my side with a tube in my ass as water was pumped in and sucked out and a stranger rubbed my tummy like I was some kind of depraved shit Buddha granting the foulest wishes. I've done some weird shit in my life, things I'll never tell you people about, but I have honestly never felt the emotional range of weirdness I felt while this was happening. It wasn't shame; it wasn't embarrassment, or fear, or frustration, or discomfort. It was utter incomprehension. I felt like I'd just awoken on an alien world and didn't recognize anything or anyone. I was like the filter in a fish tank, and a man kept rubbing my stomach.

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It's the dueling feeling of "Oh God, I need a hug" vs. "Oh God, don't fucking touch me."

After 40 minutes, we were done. Or I was done. Thomas said I'd need several sessions to become fully cleansed. Because I guess my ass is a portal to some kind of massive oubliette of feces with so many nooks and crannies you could only hope to power wash the whole thing by emptying an Olympic-sized pool into it.

I assured Thomas I'd call again if I needed more and went home with the same cold I'd had all week. I didn't poop for two days, and when I finally did, it shot out of me like a greased egg rolling down a tiled hallway, but I still had a cold.

For more of Felix Clay's ambitious failures check out 9 Failed Attempts To Interview A Viral Video Villain, and read about Felix's attempt to down what has to be around 20,000 calories in one night in 9 Of The World's Unhealthiest Foods (Tested In One Night).

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