Many of us have had to cancel much anticipated travel plans this summer. So what do you do to find some adventure or tickle that spa itch? While travel is still restricted, other things are opening up which might check a few of those boxes.

Think about that feeling you get when you lie down on a table, naked, and anticipate the strong hands of a therapist gently kneading out your tired, stiff muscles. The room is dark, the music soft. The aromatherapy candles are wafting butterfly wing breezes of lavender and lemongrass. The therapist has squirted some apricot kernel oil into his/her strong hands which he/she rubs together to warm them up, ready to apply them in firm, slippery strokes across your back with the sole intention of making you feel better. Can you feel it?

Nice.

Go ahead, pick up the phone and call him/her. Make an appointment. You deserve this.

But wait, the call goes to voicemail and you hear the reassuring words of your old friend, the receptionist: “…thank you for your patience during these unprecedented times…hope you are safe…bookings are now open…to be fair to clients whose appointments were cancelled pre-COVID…therefore, we are currently looking at wait times of up to two months…please hold…”

The crash of your phone hitting the wall snaps you back to reality. You need better than two months.

But it’s okay. I’ve found the perfect outlet. It’s self-care to the extreme. Sure, you need to have a doctor’s referral, but I got that over the phone, and after that, it was sweet sailing.

It’s time to book a colonoscopy. You’ve been talking about it for a while now, and it never seems to be the right time, so why not bite the bullet and do it? After all, I only had to wait one week for the appointment! Take that, nail salon!

I won’t bore you with the details of what prompted the pursuit of such an escape, but let me tell you, it should be on everyone’s bucket list.

It’s kind of like a six-day spa but for the first four days, instead of wandering about in my plush bathrobe, plucking from a cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses and crackers, lattes and chardonnays or perhaps from that other buffet, where I might sample a corned beef on rye with fries and a beer, I kind of get to eat none of these. But white rice is good. And pasta (with no tomato sauce). And white bread. And ground, white meat. And don’t forget those clear liquids. They’re so exotic and plentiful: Apple juice and white grape juice and yellow and orange sports drinks (not blue, red, or purple because they can look like blood in your colon, haha.) And water! So much water! Glug, glug, glug. Oh yeah, you feeling this?

Day five is a really special day. I’m sitting at the swim-up bar, while a waiter brings me non-stop piña coladas, each with a plastic sword which stabs through layers of cherries, pineapples and papaya and leans against the side of my tall, frosty glass. Day five is just like that because I do get a steady stream of liquids, but of the clear variety again. All day! Don’t even think about spoiling that with food. No food, silly.

At 3 PM the party really gets going and I swallow a few pills. No, I don’t know what they are, but I’m on vacation and am open to to everything! Happy Hour starts at 4 PM, just like at any all-inclusive, and the bar opens with the house specialty—it’s a fruit punch that I get to chug just like I’m in a poolside drinking competition. The goal is to down this solution, an entire liter of it, in just a few minutes. I don’t win anything, but I do hang on the promise of frequent bowel movements leading to drop in dress size by the end of this. Online shopping, here I come!

Similar to my last all-inclusive experience in the Dominican Republic, where I spent most of one evening and the entire next day in the washroom after eating some questionable shrimp, I set up camp in the en suite and begin my Netflix binge-watch of Dead to Me, Season 1. Hey, travelling is an adventure, right? And sometimes adventures involve unexpected bumps in the road (I say to myself in the sexy Australian accent I’ve adopted for the evening.)

Day six is the biggie. What’s even better than waking up after all that drinking, without a hangover, is that I get to keep going, keep chugging another liter of fruit punch. At 5 AM! What am I, back in college? It’s a little tough to keep down and the last few gulps seem to splutter and overflow out of my mouth, but I can do this. I’m on vacation and I’m a winner!

Season 2 of Dead to Me is riveting, full of unexpected twists.

My appointment isn’t until 4:30 in the afternoon, so I get to lounge around all day. No, I’m not allowed to eat or drink anything, so I just keep reminding myself of shopping for clothes that will compliment my new figure. I can almost see a rib popping out beneath my chest, which makes me ecstatic. Oh, what the hell, I’ll just put on a bikini, take a few selfies and send them to my old college roommate, the model. You know, I think she’s pregnant again anyway, so it’s a good time to reach out and congratulate her.

Before I know it, I’m being chauffeured to the offsite portion of my trip (read: clinic). I fill out the typical COVID questionnaire and am escorted to my prep room. Finally, I get naked (from the waist down) and lie on a table. I get a brief massage on my arm as a nurse hunts for a vein to stick in the anesthesia port, then she whisks me off to meet my team. It’s all very exciting, meeting my very own team. I do feel special.

A man in mask and gown inserts a tube into the port in my arm, puts his face close to mine, and utters the six words I’ve been longing to hear for so many years: You’ll be asleep within ten seconds.

I quickly ask if I can take him home with me but the lines around his eyes only crinkle me a smile from above his mask as he turns to confer with a nurse. The chatter goes on for several minutes and I get anxious that I will still be awake when the doctor sticks a camera where the sun don’t shine, which was not advertised in the brochure. In a panic, I shout out, “Hello! I’m still awake over here! Shouldn’t I be asleep? Hello?”

My nurse puts a soothing hand on my arm and replies, “You’re awake because it’s over.”

I take in my surroundings. I have been wheeled back to my original prep room. “Hey, look where I am!” I announce to her, like it’s news to both of us. “I’m back here, where I started!”

My sister picks me up and takes me home, where I’m supposed to introduce foods slowly. So I slowly drink a smoothie. Then I slowly eat two turkey burgers, a salad, a bowl of strawberries, two Rice Krispy squares, an ice cream cone, a bag of chips with onion dip, and a large Caramilk chocolate bar, followed by a bowl of cereal. So much for the shopping spree.

At 7 the next morning, I am awakened by the sound of the garbage truck outside. Yikes! When my husband is away, I usually take the garbage out, but with all this pampering, I must have forgotten. Just as I am about to bolt out of bed, a rerun of the previous day’s events plays out in my head: Yesterday, I was at that weird spa…that appointment was for Thursday…today must be Friday…garbage day is Monday…what is all that noise about? I lie and listen for another moment and realize, to my horror, that the cacophony of noise is not coming from the street, but is emanating from my excised stomach, complaining about the overdose of ingredients of the previous evening.

It’s what always happens after a holiday—it’s tough to come down and get back to reality. As travel remains uncertain, and after the success of my first outing, I’m inspired to seek out more adventure and self-care. Now that I’ve conquered Colonoscopy River, perhaps it’s time for a trip back to Mammogram Mountain. Sure, getting in and out can be a bit of a pinch, but finding those clear skies with unobstructed views of the scenery is always worth the effort!