Why you should care

Because there’s no such thing as too much of a cure … right?

In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”

Lisa Montgomery
The Swiss Alps

Every morning begins the same. Or pretty much the same. It begins in isolation, blessed isolation. Me, alone in the sensory deprivation tank, the water engulfing me. I can feel it drawing the toxins out of my pores. I feel so much cleaner since I arrived at the wellness center. If you told me a year ago that I’d swap my latte addiction for hydrotherapy in the Swiss Alps, I would have said you were crazy. But it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

Water is the stuff of life. That’s literal, of course, but I never used to think of it that way. There’s nothing on this planet that can survive without it, and yet it never made it onto my daily task list. I didn’t even value it enough to outsource it to my assistant. I was lucky if I fit in a few sips during the day, let alone eight glasses. It wasn’t a client, it didn’t pay the mortgage on our duplex, I couldn’t exchange liters for the girls’ tuition. For those reasons, it didn’t matter to me.

It’s no wonder I felt sick all the time. Now I wince at the money I spent on doctors and gurus.

 

It’s no wonder I felt sick all the time. Now I wince at the money I spent on doctors and gurus — false prophets, all of them. No matter how many I saw or how much cash I threw at them, my symptoms — depression, constant nausea, relentless headaches — persisted. They cited stress and wrote me a prescription or booked me for an enema, but I always felt the same. That is, until I discovered this place.

I had a good feeling about Dr. Volmer the moment I met him. Society is diseased, he told me, and though the culprit is obvious, we blame our ailments on all the wrong things. Stress, poor diet, lack of exercise — all those are part of it, but the real issue is that we’ve forgotten how to drink water. We let ourselves get distracted to the point of dehydration, and it’s killing us.

I admit, I was shocked by the regimen when I started. Dr. Volmer prescribed so much drinking water I thought I would drown, and the sensory deprivation tank seemed barbaric as well. The first time I submerged, hooked up to the breathing apparatus, I felt the panic rise up within me. But it soon subsided and was replaced by a calm I’d never known. And all of a sudden I realized how pointless my entire life had been until then, and how I’d focused on all the wrong things. This, this feeling, was all that mattered, is all that matters.

It’s funny when the new patients arrive. Before they start their treatments, I recognize that strange mixture of panic and hope in their eyes — fearful that the regimen won’t work, that they won’t be cured, but desperate to be proven wrong. Always so wide-eyed when we first meet. A new girl the other day turned white when she met me.

“Was your hair like that when you got here?” she asked. I smiled, and she gasped. She was impressed, I could tell.

“What happened to your teeth?” she stammered.

“Beautiful,” I agreed. When the wards came to get her, she started to scream. She just kept repeating, “No, no, no, no.” Poor thing. She was still afraid she wouldn’t be cured. I yelled words of reassurance after her.

“Don’t worry,” I shouted to her, as she was carried away to her first treatment. “You’ll feel the effects soon enough. You’ll never feel so clean.”

Epilogue: Lisa Montgomery is no longer with us. In fact, she never was. She’s a fictional patient at a fictional wellness retreat in the Swiss Alps, similar to the one portrayed in A Cure for Wellness, a new thriller directed by The Ring’s Gore Verbinski. A Cure for Wellness will be released in cinemas Feb. 17.

OZYTrue Story

Good stories from around the globe. Essays and immersion, into the harrowing, the sweet, the surprising -- the human.