I was at my doctor’s office this week.  Nothing overly dramatic, just one of my post GBS check-ups that I apparently will endure for the rest of time.  I really like my doctor.  He is pretty brilliant, after all, one of his specialities is GBS, and when I first went to see him several years ago as the evil-bastard virus was firmly entrenching itself in my muscles, nerves, and joints, he spotted what the problem was within minutes and his knowledge probably saved my life.  But he has become a good friend, and I actually look forward to my office visits.  We spend a few minutes going over the most recent test results, and then we sit around talking about just about everything.  He practises his English, whilst I mutter away in Spanish. 

This week’s visit wasn’t out of the norm of our usual agenda.  One of his assistants did a DTC on me.  A DTC for you non-medical types is a Doppler Transcranial test where they take a shiny stick-like-thingy and place it against the arteries going up my neck.  The doo-wah instrument is connected to a high-tech bit of kit with huge speakers, so when it finds the arteries, I can hear the whoosh-whoosh-whoosh sound of blood pulsing its way up (or down I guess).  They then make a colour print-out of what the blood flow looks like and the doctor looks at it and says, “This is very good news James.  You are doing very very good.”  Nice. 

He also told me that he thought I should go to a spa once in a while to alleviate my somewhat-off-and-on lower back pain.  I thought it made more sense to not do anything stressful for my lumbar, like lifting anything that weighed more than a cup of tea, but when I mentioned that to my doctor, he smiled and said, “British humour, si?”  Cute. 

Today I decided to check out various spas near Sol y Mar, with the hopes that I could find one that was bugger-all cheap, and someplace that I would actually go to off and on.  This was a very enlightening experience.

The spa is at a rather trendy and upscale hotel only about 5 kilometers from Sol y Mar (a real plus).  I was ushered around as if I was some long-lost relative of King Juan Carlos, being shown every nook and cranny of the facility.  I kept thinking all I wanted to know was what it would cost to go there once in a while, and after what was fast becoming an exhausting experience, I was given the very trendy “Treatment Menu.” 

This 15-page set of options read like a marketing whiz’ exercise in word games and was incredible.  I thought it might be nice for me to share some of the options with you….ready? 

“Anne Semonin Cooling Ice Facial Therapy for Men – 50 mins – 120 euros.  A contouring, tightening and firming facial achieved with our innovative Neurocosmetics Express Radiance Ice Cubes.  Contour Serum tones the skin and our 100% Active Serum regains its youthful glow.  This specialised cryo-therapy gives an instant tightening and lifting treatment boosting your visage.”  Okay, so let’s just examine this one for a minute.  “Neurocosmetics Express Radiance Ice Cubes?”  What the hell are those?  Fast icebergs with flashing lights and lipstick?  And there is no doubt in my mind that if I plopped a bunch of normal ice cubes on my face, everything would tighten up too, but I think my ‘visage’ would just turn bright red from the onset of frost bite. 

Then there was this one. 

“Anne Semonin Deep Release Massage with Hot Stones – 75 mins – 140 euros.  Heated black basalt stones are used to massage the whole body releasing deep-seated tension ideal for anyone suffering with muscular aches and pains.  Working at relieving stress at the deepest level this treatment is designed to work on the body’s energy channels.”  Right.  I have no idea where my ‘energy channels’ even are, but I think I would be a bit concerned if the spa person approached me with a light strapped to his or her head and was wearing long rubber gloves. I even Googled ‘black basalt stones’ to see what they were, and came up with a link that said they are used for paving in China.  I think if someone piled a bunch of these on my body it would increase my stress level, not release it. 

And then the best of all (and I use the term ‘best’ rather loosely).

“Anne Semonin Firming Spirulina Booster Envelopment – 60 mins – 110 euros.  An anti-ageing, firming and toning body envelopment idea for combating congestion, cellulite and maintain healthy skin tones after weight loss.  Firming aromatic complexes treat the areas of the body that need skin conditioning combined with Spirulina seaweed to rebalance and remineralise the body, restoring a feeling of total well-being.”   Shoot, I can combat congestion in other ways that having someone cover my body with seaweed that they probably found washed up on some  beach and put in a box marked ‘magical Spirulina beach crap.’  I also am not suffering from weight loss, but could I suppose if I would stop buying chocolate chip cookies, (which I only ingest for medicinal purposes, of course).  And what is all that ‘aromatic complexes’ about?  Couldn’t I accomplish the same thing by standing in a smoke-filled room that is littered with flowers and cow-manure?  That would be complex-aromas, wouldn’t it?  And then there is that ‘rebalance and re-mineralise the body’ bit.  Maybe that is done when you eat some of those black stones from the other option.  And what is ‘Spirulina’ you ask?  According to an online dictionary, it is “the common name for human and animal food supplements produced primarily from two species of cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae).”  Right, only 110 euros for something made from ‘cyanobacteria.’  Hmmm, sounds nummy.

And who is this Anne Semonin anyway?  I Googled her name too and found out that she is a “Creator, perfectionist and visionary, she uses all possible means to create exclusive products using natural ingredients.”  So…there you go.  I think the next time I facilitate a client meeting, I will put some left-over tomato slices on their heads…that would be pretty creative. I could probably even charge more. 

What ever happened to swimming a bit and then just having a rest in the sun on the beach?  I think I am going to pass on the spa options and instead just wander down to the sea (free) in front of Sol y Mar once in a while.  I did go there today and did actually see some seaweed.  I think I need to put a sign out on my front door stating, ‘Dr. Rieley’s Natural Spa and Trendy Health Centre.’ My doctor would be proud of me.


yesterday morning at Sol y Mar



the turbo Doppler doo-wah machine



a very serious ice cube



black basalt stones looking for a back to be stacked on



London's energy channels



does Anne know this is really not a good look?


location of Dr. Rieley's Natural Spa and Trendy Health Centre

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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, James B. Rieley