I survived the salt cave

When my friend invited me to the salt cave, I was excited. Retrospectively, I’ve realized that’s because I was on oxycodone.

On the day of the event, I contemplated skipping it. I am not a woo woo person, but I am trying to be more positive (without the help of narcotics, which I should mention I was only taking for my epic flare). I thought, okay I’ll show up for the nap.

My biggest concern was that someone would fart in the tiny room and I would giggle or gag. My second biggest concern was that I would die from a mast cell reaction. In that order. Because some farts are more miserable than death.

The staff had assured me the salt cave was scent free, but when I walked into the waiting room I was assaulted by a pungent smell. My friend sprang to greet me and, after a year of not seeing her, I replied, “Hi, I might die.” I sat in a corner and focused on breathing deeply, until I realized my throat wasn’t swelling and mast cells didn’t care about the salty smell.

Just as I was starting to calm down, we were ushered into “the cave,” a small room dimly lit by salt lamps. The pink and yellow glow illuminated the walls plastered in white salt. Some sections were stacked with salt bricks, others seemingly dripped down the walls. Everyone trampled across the salt covered floor as if it were a gravel playground. Suddenly, the taste of salt hit me, the door to the room slammed shut, and I panicked.

I wasn’t aware that salt therapy involves aerosoling salt, but suddenly I was anxious for air. To be clear, I’m not claustrophobic. I can enjoy an MRI (not the one that requires a full bladder), but a small room of strange people and substances is terrifying if you have mast cell disease. Again, I signed up when I was on narcotics.

I committed to sitting, refusing to lay down like everyone else, in order to be vigilant. I had a moment of regret when I realized the salt floor was heated, and likely felt like a beach vacation when laying down. But then the singing bowls started.

As it turns out, I didn’t just sign up for the salt cave, but also a “sound bath”. A woman sat cross-legged in the middle of the room and began tapping on three large bowls. Unfortunately, singing bowls remind me of air raid sirens and the book, 1984. I was sort of hoping the vibrations might disturb my mast cells and then I would have avoid my singing bowl allergy for life. But they didn’t, so I resorted to trying to relax.

As the ringing ebbed and flowed, I envisioned myself riding a roller coaster, swooping in circles and losing momentum just to drop again. Like one of those roller coasters that you realize it not so scary and a little fun, but you still want to get off as soon as possible. I don’t like rollercoasters either. So I diverted my attention from the singing bowls.

I looked around the hazy room. I tried to imagine being on a beach. I would definitely be drinking something fancy. I missed being able to drink alcohol. I wondered how many margaritas I could make with all of this salt.

I realized I’m probably not allergic to salt. My favorite kind of chocolate is sprinkled in visible granules of salt. And I remembered the first time I tried salt on watermelon. So good.

I missed normal yoga classes, in which the biggest threat was losing balance. I wondered if I was subconsciously punishing myself. Why couldn’t I just take a normal meditation class? I promised myself I would sign up for a normal meditation class.

Eventually, the bowls stopped humming and they let me out. I hugged my friend. She thought it was because I was grateful for the experience. Mainly, I was just happy to be alive.

In sum, I didn’t die and all farts were masked by salt. I’m actually stunned I didn’t react at all. The next day, I noticed my eczema wasn’t searing anymore. Apparently, salt therapy can do wonders for allergies and asthma, but I’m unwilling to further test that claim.

New experiences are emotionally exhausting when you have a chronic illness, but I’m glad I went.

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