Friday, April 9, 2010

Spa Treatment

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the signs of Spring are all around me. It's one of my favorite times of the year. It's time to add to my Spring wardrobe, pull out my shorts, and skirts, and get out my strappy sandals. I look down at my feet and realize my feet have been ignored for nearly six months! If it weren't for the occasional clipping to keep my toenails from pocking holes through my socks and stockings, my nails would easily resemble my dog Elmo's (curved and scratching the floor as I walk). It's time to head to my favorite nail salon for a pedicure.

I'm totally prepared for my spa experience, a good book, my ipod, chai latte tea and some salty snacks. I can't wait! As I'm walking into the salon, it's obvious to anyone looking my way that I am armed and ready for a relaxing morning at the spa.

I'm immediately greeted by the salon manager and instructed to pick out my nail color as she fills the spa tub. I pick a hot pink to go with my cheerful mood and sit in my chair. The salon manager adjusts my chair as I'm beginning to relax, and poof, she pushes the massage button on the chair and these huge massage balls begin shaking and rolling down my back. I am so startled that I jump and my book flies into the tub. Every eye in the spa is now staring at me as the manager tries to save my book, which is now soaking wet at the bottom of the tub. We decide the book has been read for the last time and it's tossed into the trash. The sweet manager hands me a magazine and informs me that my tub is ready. I slowly ease my feet into the steaming tub only to quickly pull them out because the tub is so hot it could only be used to poach eggs! The manager kindly cools the tub, and I give it another try, ummmm just right!

Finally, I can relax, chai in my hand, my favorite music gently uplifting my spirits and a fashion magazine listing the top 5 must haves for my spring wardrobe! I'm in heaven. It couldn't have been but a few minutes into my heavenly bliss when I noticed a throbbing in my feet and toes, I look down and notice my feet have turned a lovely shade of purple! Reality sinks back in and so does the dysautonomia symptoms. I pull my feet out of the tub and rest them on the edge. My pedicure lady comes and asks if there is something wrong with the water temperature, I just explain that my feet needed a break. She gives me an odd look and lets me know that my feet need a good soaking before she can start. I nod and reluctantly return my feet into the tub. After a few more agonizing minutes of soaking, my pedicure lady rescues my feet from the tub of doom. As she pulls my foot from the soaking tub her eyes pop open in surprise, and she informs me that my foot is purple! I giggle and tell her that is normal for me, she shakes her head and moves on to the pedicure.

The pedicure begins, and so does my motivation to try to relax again. I'm enjoying the skin care section of the magazine, when suddenly my feet inform me that they are under attack by the pedi lady sawing the bottom of my feet with a sander! My body begins to tense up as I try to endure this painful experience, and my pedicurist blissfully continues the sanding process. As she sands away, I have grabbed the arm rests of my chair in the same way that I do when I'm at the dentists office and I'm getting my tooth drilled. The lady in the next chair is eyeing me as if I'm crazy to not be enjoying this relaxing experience, and I start to feel like a failure at something as simple as relaxing. As I look around the salon I envy those woman resting peacefully as they are getting the full spa experience, and I chuckle to myself as I realize I am the only one tenser than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I then begin to give myself a pep talk to try to endure the torture for just one more minute! I'm no longer able to take the discomfort, and I pull my foot away, and the pedicurist laughs and says "does that tickle?" (ARE YOU KIDDING ME?), I frown and gently tell her that she's hurting me, so she stops and begins on my other foot. My body is just starting to relax again as she meticulously works on beautifying my other foot. Then my foot is being tortured by the sander again, and I pull my foot away. Again I try to explain that the sanding hurts the bottom of my foot, and she stops, frowns and places my foot back in the tub. She then begins working on my toes, and tells me my toenails are really soft, I again re-assure her that this is normal for me, and she continues.

It's time for the massage part of the pedicure experience. My pedi lady begins rubbing on the lotion and asks me about the bruises on my legs, and again I inform her that it's normal for me and not to worry. I'm beginning to think maybe this woman should be a doctor instead of a pedicurist, she's much more observant than my doctor is. She begins to rub in the lotion on my legs, and starts kneading my calves with her tiny fingers, and they feel as if they are being attacked by tiny paint ball pellets. The pain of the massage is more than I can handle, so I kindly ask her to please stop. I don't give her much of an explanation because there is a language barrier and I didn't think she would understand me (just so you know, my mom is German and didn't speak English when I was a child, and I totally respect those who come from other countries and try hard to learn our language, it's a challenging process and they have one language up on me, but the truth is it's still a bit difficult to communicate). By this time the manager is looking my way and begins shouting in Korean at my pedicurist. They argue back and forth for several minutes and finally the manager begins speaking to me. She is wondering what my pedicure lady is doing wrong! At this point the stress of this experience has finally come to a breaking point and I begin to laugh hysterically. Again all eyes in the salon are staring at me, and I don't care. After a few minutes I calm down, wipe away the tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks, and inform the manager of my dysautonomia and the symptoms that go with it. She finally nods in understanding, and begins translating our conversation to my pedicurist in Korean. When they are finished talking the pedicurist gives me a compassionate smile and begins painting my toenails.

I left the spa that day with hot pink nails with butterflies painted on them, and the need for a nap. Who would of thought that a trip to the spa would be so exhausting. I also learned a valuable lesson that day. I could have easily walked away from that experience deciding to never return again, but dysautonomia would have just took another fun experience away from me. I've learned to not be afraid to ask for what I need. I also need to allow for a bad first experience, so that I will have the opportunity to learn from that experience, and then know what I will need for the next time. Be strong, be persistent, and don't forget to laugh, life is too short to wallow in the negative.

Always inspired,


  1. I love that after everything your toenails have butterflies on them. It somehow seems so appropriate with your last line. Beautiful and free :)

  2. Nice! It seems like you had a fabulous time at the spa, and you got your toes done. My girlfriend loves that kind of thing too. Her usual spa routine is a body scrub and a massage with manicure/pedicure on the side. It's our favorite bonding activity.

    Charles Cage