I have to admit, I have never understood the point of sauna or steam rooms even the spa is bit of a mystery to me. I understand that people think that they are therapeutic. Somehow spending a few minutes in the magical room will wash all away all the soreness.
It has never happened to me. I sit for ages in the spa and feel…prune-y. It just feels like a hot bathtub for me.
Regardless, I am still sick so I decide to suffer through a few minutes of the steam room to ‘flush’ out the sickness. I love the idea of flushing it out. Like somehow the cold will just magically be gone. Washed away in the sweet sweat of the steam. I imagine this will work for other things too like alcohol or cancer.
As soon as I enter the room it seems like a bad porn movie! The steam is so thick I can only see a foot or two in front of me and I can vaguely see the shapes of people in the room. Not wanting to be caught in some errant orgy, I head to the back and the top step.
It is here that I am reminded of common thermodynamics. Hot air rises ergo it is HOTTER on the top step then the bottom step. Let’s do some simple math: if it is an inferno on the bottom step then it is an inferno times X on the second step and on the third step it is now inferno to the power of X! Simple math really.
HOLY CRAP is it hot! Never mind the orgy anxiety, it is too hot to move let alone copulate. I am struggling to breathe. Every inhalation brings a searing sensation to my lungs. I have long since abandoned the idea of breathing through my nose. Every nasally attempt feels like some one is shoving a red hot poker up into my nose in search of my brain.
Speaking of brains, mine wonders what in the hell I am doing here! Why would anyone want to do this? And I am reminded of my eternal quest for that answer every time I partake in an endurance event. Why in the hell I am out here? And just like that, the comparison of the two has linked them in my mind. I am now associating the steam room to an endurance event. And just like it’s sacrilegious to quit an event merely because it is hard, it’s now impious to leave this room simply because it makes me uncomfortable. No, Now I am stuck. I have to get through this. I need to prove that I have the mental endurance to last it out. Damn!
So I settle in. Try to make the most of my penance. Block out all thought of the heat (it’s hot…really hot…seven inches from the midday sun hot); block out all thoughts of how nice it is outside this room (It’s so nice…like eating ice cream nice…like cold water fountain nice); Block out all thoughts.
I am in my happy place, I am one with the universe and all that jazz. Just about that time, a searing hot pain goes through my foot. My foot has been nailed to the cross and I am crucified. OUCH! WTF?!
I can barely see more than a shadow of people but is no one around, no one has moved, I can’t see a culprit. My foot has just the tiniest dab of water on it.
Water on it? Like something spilled on it. Something from somewhere?
Suddenly another sensation. Something hits my bare shoulder and I feel the sting of a whip across me! Good lord! It only last a second and then it is gone replaced with a cooling burn like you feel when you burn your finger and then run cool water over it. Burning but not hot, burning but not from a specific source. Burning but mild.
My back is to the wall there is no one behind me. I look up in time to see a drop of water from the ceramic ceiling tiles drip down. This drop falls away from me and I watch it splash into the tiled ground.
The steam has condensed and built little drops of moisture on the ceramic tiles. Little mounds of intensely heated water. Each drop the cumulative equivalent of a thousand hot suns.
There are hundreds of drops up there. All of them hanging down like deadly icicles. Waiting to drop their little death upon you. They fall at random; no logical way to determine when they will swell to such a size that they can no longer resist nature and gravity hurls them down upon you and your unsuspecting skin.
Little lashes and whips to torture you! Exactly what I need! Thanks! Like the intense heat wasn’t enough. Now I have to deal with random floggings too!
The heat has peaked now. I am breathing in slow and deliberate breathes. Too quick of a breathe sears my lungs, so each breath is long and deep while still somehow remaining shallow and slow. The singe of the heat is no longer noticeable until I turn my head or move my body. If I look around, then the stinging needles of the heat attack me. It cuts at my skin like razors. It burns my eyelids like being too close to a roaring fire. But it subsides once I stop moving.
For god sakes don’t move!
Splash! A surprise drop of water whips down on me and jerks a sudden movement out. Damn!
I go deeper into my pain locker and wait until my time for freedom is here.
Why am here? I don’t know. But I know being here will make me stronger. Every searing breath I take and every drop of hot lava I endure will only make me that much of a better, stronger endurance athlete. If I can endure this then the race will be nothing. Every moment I am here is another moment longer that I can be out there.
So I wait. I endure. I strive.