My First Botox Injection: The single most important thing you must know!

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My first botox injection recorded live
I might be a little late to this party, but I have finally arrived. It seems that I may be one of my last girlfriends in my age group that has taken the plunge into the cosmetic injectable  market. What took me so long? Well, I am Buddhist, so I tend to look at my intentions before I act on them. Since I truly believe happiness comes from within, why would I consider this medical intervention for appearance?  I should clear up right away that my desire to keep myself looking younger does not include doing anything drastic. And by that, I mean with a scalpel. I am absolutely not against plastic surgery for aesthetics. I would just prefer to burn that bridge at a much later date. I had to meditate on why I really wanted to take the plunge, so let me share those reasons with you, and the single most important thing you need to know about these injections.

As many facials as I have had and will continue to have, let me just tell you this:  I am lazy when it comes to my own skin care routine. I am still going to fall asleep with my eye makeup on. I refuse to wear any kind of thick night cream. I have tried many, but none of them work from inside the jar. One needs to be compliant for these types of products to work. I know myself, and at 47,  I am not going to spend a tremendous amount of time at the end of my day doing multiple steps of a skin care regimen before I go to sleep. If it hasn’t happened by now, its not going to happen. I did attempt Nerium for a month and I was totally non-compliant because I didn’t like the new bedtime routine and it smelled like rotten bananas. Ain’t nobody got time for that! I also keep it simple with my daily skin care regimen. I do the basics; wash, tone, moisturize. A few times a week I will do exfoliation and treatments masks while I soak in a tub. I also travel extensively, and I am not willing to lug around tons of products. A quart sized baggie can only hold so much and I am adamant about not checking luggage.

Why didn’t someone tell me Botox was for lazy divas?

Friends have asked, why would I inject a “poison” into my face? It seems drastic to a few, others probably wondered why I hadn’t already. Safety and efficacy are key in my decision making process. Botox has been on the market for over 10 years, and I believe we know it is a safe and effective product for correcting and preventing wrinkles. It is FDA-approved for this application and has been thoroughly studied before and during its time on the market (for non-biased medical information, always read the prescriptions package insert!). There are no wrinkle creams on the market that will work as well as Botox for muscles of movement.

I was also a marketing major in college, and appearances do matter. As a Buddhist, I playfully try on many different versions of self minute-by-minute. I am very in tune with my connection to my body and my mind, and they are not mutually exclusive. Feeling good about myself can impact my attitude as well as affect how others perceive me.

What started to weigh on my mind was something a friend pointed out. She pointed to a long vertical line between my eyebrows. Ever since it was brought to my attention that I had a noticeable wrinkle, I could never not notice it anymore. Thanks, I think.

But it did get me thinking to back when I first switched from glasses to contacts.  One day I was walking down the hallway at a university medical center. A nurse stopped me and asked why I was so angry.  Thing is, I wasn’t!  I was having trouble reading hospital signs in the corridor. At that moment, I decided to get my vision checked. I did need glasses.  But, I also needed to make my number as a rep. Appearing to scowl is not good for sales.  I did think glasses made me appear smarter to the medical community I called on, so that was a bonus. Fast-forward a few more years and I was going to have a new sales manager that was ten years younger than me. In an effort to appear young and energetic at work, I switched to contacts. Maybe it helped with my manager, maybe not, but I certainly liked all the complements I received and I enjoyed the benefit of wearing non-prescription sunglasses. My point is, I’m not really attached to my appearance to the point that I can’t change it, I just continue to try on new shells, as I continue to grow. So where do you draw the line? To me, the first line was using hair color when the gray started to appear. Is it that big of a stretch from hair color to Botox? I used to think so, but then again, I have continued to change and grow as a person, and my idea of what is acceptable has also changed. So why shouldn’t my body match my mind? I do know one thing, I don’t want the “deep 11” on my face. Having two deep lines between the eyebrows does make one appear to be angry, even when they are not. When I discussed this with my doctor, you can imagine the horror when he pointed out that not only did I have two lines now, but at the  rate I was changing, I could actually end up with three lines. It turns out I made it to the party just in time!

Botox Brow Lift

Happy surprise, I did not know I was also going to get the benefit of a brow lift! I was aware that surgical brow lifts can have the effect of a face lift. I didn’t realize that an added benefit would be a dramatic lift of my brow. My doctor and I discussed my desire to not appear waxy, which is generally a look achieved by overuse of these injections and fillers. Let’s get this clear right now. If you go to the right specialist, you will not end up looking  “surprised” or have that frozen-face look that some people end up having. I had a successful two-site course of Botox because I chose a doctor that not only does these injections daily, but has additional training as a FAOS plastic surgeon. This select group of physicians have undergone extensive aesthetic training far beyond their chosen fellowships. These surgeons are peer-reviewed to meet the highest standards in the industry. I knew that if I picked the right doctor, he would be able to help me sift through all the options available to me. There are countless products and procedures on the market to reverse the signs of aging. I need someone who is up on absolutely every surgical and non-surgical option available to me. When I pick the right, well-trained specialist, I don’t have to do all the homework of researching new products, treatments, and procedures. This is their profession and passion.  A surgeon like the one I researched will do all the heavy lifting for me. So my advice is this:  Spend a ridiculous amount of time looking for the right doctor, not the right product. They want the best outcomes for their patients and their reputations are at stake. It just takes one trip to a website like http://www.NewBeauty.com to research all the latest aesthetic products and procedures, and you will find the same comments over and over again…I wish I had not gone to this dentist for my botox, I wish I had not used a Groupon, now my eyebrows are crooked for 3 months or longer…Every nightmare post reveals the same thing…I went to someone who was NOT a specialist and the results were not great.

Two site Botox

This is a long-term relationship and one that should be researched thoroughly. Botox needs to be injected every three months on average. At some point, I might opt for additional therapies and I want a physician that can grow with me as a patient for many years to come. The right physician will listen to your concerns and take the time to explain to you what the risks vs. rewards are. FAACS and FACOS surgeons have first hand experiences, and time in practice to master the art of beauty. This is what they do! So skip the Google search on the product and start stalking these doctors online. With technology, we can usually see examples of their work, read patient reviews, and check on their biographies to see exactly how qualified they are and in what subspecialty. Medicine is complex, and many doctors are super subspecialized. My husband is a orthopedic surgeon and only performs hip and knee replacement.  If you are going for cosmetic changes to your body, you better know what the doctor’s subspecialty is. As a former medical sales rep and wife of a surgeon, I have a certain amount of medical information and access that is not available to everyone. I thought it would be helpful to share my physician search process with you.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BOTOX IS WHO IS MOST QUALIFIED TO INJECT YOUR FACE AND CHANGE YOUR APPEARANCE.

 

It is my opinion that since these injections are cosmetic and not covered by insurance for treatment of wrinkles, that I get the best injector. Ever had a bad haircut?  Think about what a bad injection could do to your self-esteem. Even the “fancy surgeon” I picked offers very competitive pricing due to the self-pay nature of these products. I checked!

I began my search locally, and moved out from there. I didn’t want someone who took a weekend workshop to be able to change the appearance of my face, when I could have someone who finished medical school, internship, general surgery residency, plastic surgery residency, and a cosmetic fellowship, which involves a much higher level of training, than other people who are technically able to provide this service. If the cost is the same, why would I not go to a plastic surgeon?  Truth is, since I don’t really want to do any surgery for a while, a dermatologist might have been a great choice as well, but in the semi-rural city where I live, dermatologists are few and far-between. I have not found a local one that I liked and could actually get in to see. It would be nearly impossible to have great access to a dermatologist locally, and I would end up with a physician’s assistant giving me my injections.

I was looking for a plastic surgeon that matched my expectations of training and accessibility. I had two options I considered locally, one was close to retirement, and the other was booked out a few months. Skill and access are important to me.

My checklist for finding a qualified plastic surgeon:

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I also want accessibility. Can I get in? Will I see the doctor or a physician’s assistant. Depending on what I need, that may or may not be important. For Botox, I want a doctor that truly understands the esthetics of this product as they use it and fillers daily in their practice almost like an artist uses paint.

Allow me to introduce you to my doctor, Dr. Michael Kluska.

Dr. Michael S. Kluska
Dr. Michael S. Kluska, board certified plastic surgeon and fellow and board member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (FAACS)

Dr. Kluska is a Board certified plastic surgeon and he specializes in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. Director of the Greenbrier Center for Cosmetic Surgery and MedSpa, he has been in practice for more than 15 years. He is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, graduating from the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa. He did his general surgery internship and residency at Cleveland Clinic Health System and South Pointe Hospital (This is key!!! This is a hard residency to be admitted to and the residents here work with some of the best plastic surgeons in the world).He also did his fellowship (subspecialization) at Ohio University, Cleveland Clinic Health System and South Pointe Hospital.

I also checked the Botox website to see if Dr. Kluska was listed. This was due to my experiences as a biotech sales rep. Some doctors will buy illegally reimported drugs, that cannot be tracked for safety, to lower their costs and increase their profits. Some of these may be counterfeit. I am not going to anyone not on the Botox site as the company would not have a record of sales with that physician. I would view an omission  as a huge red flag. I also want to see the Botox  vial at the time of the injection to insure the writing is in English and has a hologram of the logo. Of course Dr. Kluska is on the website, no corners are cut at The Greenbrier Clinic.

Accessibility:  How does a house call to your room at the Greenbrier sound? Due to the nature of concierge medicine, access is one of the biggest patient advantages. Physicians who limit their patients to a smaller population do this to provide more in-depth care. I know that my physician will be able to see me when I am available to see him, not the other way around! Also, I do not have to stay over night at the Greenbrier to visit Dr. Kluska at the Greenbrier Clinic. If I do stay at a guest of the hotel, I can then decide if I would like to walk over to the Clinic or have him visit my guest room. If privacy is important to you, it does not get any more clandestine than this. If in the future I decide to have a surgical procedure, I can fully recover at the hotel in one of the special medical suites and he will round on me in my suite. How sweet is that? Patients of the Greenbrier Clinic receive special room rates. Call for a quote 877.269.8118

Do you know someone that could use this information? Please consider tagging or sharing this post.

If you would like to see the entire consult please take a peek, it is just 20 minutes.

This is a sponsored post. I contacted the Greenbrier Clinic when I researched Dr. Kluska and extended the offer to work with him and share my experience. All opinions are my own. If you are considering cosmetic procedures it is always important to discuss your personal health and medical history with your family doctor before beginning new medical treatments. I am not a doctor. I am a spa blogger. This is my life.

 

http://www.enlightenedspareview.com/google66dfc194e4d2cd5c.html.

Greenbrier Wellness

Having been through many wellness programs over the decades, I’m a huge fan of spa vacationing. This resort has a unique twist from most destination spa resorts.

Source: Greenbrier Wellness

Greenbrier Wellness

Having been through many wellness programs over the decades, I’m a huge fan of spa vacationing. This resort has a unique twist from most destination spa resorts.

 

Personal Training at the Greenbrier Spa
Greenbrier Resort Woman’s Wellness Weekend

Greenbrier Resort Women’s Wellness Weekend
I was thrilled to host a women’s wellness weekend at America’s Resort, the gorgeous and historic mineral springs resort, the Greenbrier. I cut my teeth as a spa enthusiast at this resort some two decades ago. Over time, my respect and admiration for a tradition of wellness dating back 236 years has continued to grow! While some may argue which spa is considered the beginning of destination spa travel in America, not many can argue that this resort not only was a part of the American spa tradition, but it basically invented many of the things we consider hospitality in this country.

Having been greeted by Mr. Frank Mosley so many times, his hospitality never gets old. Working at the resort for the past 58 years, he is 86 years young and the personification of West Virginia warmth and hospitality. Entering the lobby, the explosion of color matches the summer blooms outside. At check in I was greeted exactly the same way I have been so many visits before–iced tea, lemonade, or champagne.

This weekend was remarkably different from many past visits. This time I have a mission and a schedule. While some may eschew the idea of a scheduled vacation, perhaps they have never taken a wellness vacation. It is a beautiful combination when you can take a break from everyday life to learn new ways of living better. Since this resort has such a storied past of health care, hospitality, and wellness, I was excited to deepen my knowledge of living well thoughtfully presented by the Greenbrier.

Having been through many wellness programs over the decades, I’m a huge fan of spa vacationing. This resort has a unique twist from most destination spa resorts. Since the Greenbrier has had a serious concierge executive medical program since 1948, this wellness program has a medically-based foundation. I will be combining evidence-based medical services with state-of-the-art diagnostics, and weaving in my choices of subspecialty providers, seriously luxurious spa treatments, and an endless list of fitness activities and world-class cuisine. Oh yeah, did I mention that Greenbrier tennis pro emeritus Pete Sampras will be playing Andy Roddick Saturday night while I’m here? The amount of activities and services available at this resort is mind-boggling, so I am happy to keep their expertly prepared, individual schedule to glean as much goodness from one weekend as possible. It’s also fun to share this experience with a group of like-minded ladies with the same goals.

Dr. Michael S. Kluska
Dr. Michael Kluska, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon

After checking in at the Greenbrier Clinic and receiving my printed schedule, I begin my day with a consultation with Dr. Michael S. Kluska. My first appointment has me both nervous and excited. I scheduled a specialist visit with Dr. Kluska, a world-renowned plastic surgeon with a passion for skin care. I had been considering getting my first Botox injection for years. I finally decided it was time, and took the opportunity to do it with an extremely well-trained board-certified plastic surgeon…(see results here). The Greenbrier Clinic offers a multi-specialty approach to treating the whole patient within a single resort visit. Patients can schedule in-depth visits with many specialties including internal medicine, cardiology, gastroenterology, orthopedics, nutrition, as well as a multitude of other diagnostic and preventive health treatments and procedures. Nearly every specialty is housed within the clinic wing attached to the resort. The convenience of walking over to appointments all within the resort is amazing. It is entirely possible to see an internist, a cardiologist, get a colonoscopy, have a radiologist review images including imaging from their own CT- scanner and mammography, or even have surgery over a weekend. Thankfully, I am in good health and my wellness visits on this weekend include time with my internal medicine doctor, a nutritionist, some blood work, and a plasitic surgeon. I could not help but think about how easy it would be to bring my husband here for a year’s worth of medical visits and testing, and have him not miss a single day of work, which is always his excuse for not taking better care of himself. I will be bringing him back another time!


I also had some time to enjoy the resort on my own. I chose to have lunch courtside near the golf shop. This is a favorite tour stop for PGA players and fans of the the PGA tour. I also had time for a little retail therapy in the pro shop. Who am I kidding…I was stalking Lee Trevino. I just missed him by five minutes! Jack Nicklaus was also in town this weekend as they are designing a new golf course….(more on celebrity stalking later :))And, knowing I would be seeing the pro emeritus Pete Sampras play Andy Roddick Saturday night, I was very tuned in to people-watching at the tennis courts during my lunch. Guests can schedule private golf and tennis lessons with tour professionals.

During my clinic phone consultation prior to my visit, I scheduled my doctor’s appointments as well as one of my favorite spa treatments at the Greenbrier. It is really hard to pick just one, so I usually don’t, but I have new doors to open this weekend, including a vault door in the bunker, and I need to experience some other aspects of this massive 40,000 acre property. If you have never been, the Greenbrier signature treatment, featuring a Scotch spray, is a bucket list spa item for any true spa junkie. I also strongly recommend having a facial at the Greenbrier. The staffing in the spa is second to none. Many of the therapists and estheticians have been here over twenty years! Some have even worked here for 30. Talk about expertise–you would be hard-pressed to find a more tenured staff in the entire country.

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Enjoying some quiet time in the relaxation room before my spa treatment

Friday evening is here and it is time to meet my newest friends and fellow participants for an anti-aging reception. Staff from the Clinic, medical vendors, and participants gather to meet and share excitement for the weekend. Many ladies were traveling with their husbands, but broke away to have a little lady time and kick off the program. Two of my friends and blog followers took me up on the opportunity to revisit wellness for the weekend and we had dinner at Forum after our reception. We could also not help ourselves…we had healthy dinners on our own, but the lure of the casino was too strong for us to pass up. Dancing counts as cardio, right?


Saturday morning we were greeted with a beautiful and healthy buffet in the Clinic conference room. We were instructed to fast after 10pm Friday night. Prior to breakfast, we had our blood drawn and tested. Individually, our test results are reviewed with us during our complete medical history and physical with our internist. We each had hour-long appointments with our doctors to go over our medical history and come up with a treatment plan for the next twelve months. My internist was Dr. Kelly Redden. I was impressed with her thorough exam. A few things really stood out as different for me during this exam. First, I was meeting with an actual doctor and not a mid-level provider at the exact time of my appointment! Second, remember what it was like when you would get an exam, then meet with the doctor in their office afterwards, once you are dressed, to get the results? I vaguely do.  Another eye opener was the ability of the Greenbrier Clinic to pull up all of my current medications from two different pharmacies. The accuracy of my prescriptions were not left to my sometimes short attention span. I actually brought mine in a ziplock bag, but they were able to retrieve all of my prescription data, even for a bottle of medicated shampoo I had filled and forgotten about. And finally, I was given a spa robe for medical appointment and assigned a locker. No giant paper napkin patient gowns here! It made me feel more human. I love this level of detail.


We enjoyed more fellowship while some awaited physician appointments, others, time at the spa or activities on property. Our schedules were set up with blocks of open time as well as scheduled group activities. We could use our open blocks for discovering any activities at the Greenbrier, or just spending some quiet downtime. It is up to the patient to decide.

Personal Training at the Greenbrier Spa
Personal Training at the Greenbrier Spa

Mid-morning, just outside the spa, the wellness ladies took a private fitness class designed specifically for us by a personal trainer. It was a different workout than what I generally do, but I love trying new activities, so I really enjoyed it and enjoyed being out in the beautiful weather and gardens of the resort.

At lunchtime, we convened in the bunker kitchen for a wellness cooking class. Here, we learned about a variety of superfoods, cooking techniques, and portions to enhance our healthy, active lifestyle. I am always inspired by eating really great, well-prepared whole foods, and the Greenbrier has been a culinary leader in the hospitality industry since the resort opened.

After lunch, we returned to our personal blocks. I went for my signature spa treatment, others saw various physicians and received personalized care or had activities scheduled. At 3:30, I went over my lab results from the morning with Dr. Redden and had my in-depth medical history and physical.

Dr. Kelly Redden Reviews my results
Dr. Redden reviews my lab test and makes a treatment plan for me for the next twelve months.
Tennis Match at The Greenbrier
Saturday night, I watched the tennis match between Andy Roddick and Greenbrier Pro Emeritus Pete Sampras. I was able to catch Pete for an autograph !

Sunday morning, we started the day with a wellness walk and meditation. It was beautiful to walk through the gardens, grounds, and golf course with our personal trainer. I took the opportunity to snap lots of pictures on this scenic stride. Joanna, another participant and I took this selfie with Andy Roddick having coffee in the background on our way to meet up with our trainer. You really never know who you will bump into around here. Once we met up with Josh, we walked at a brisk enough pace to burn calories and get the heart rate up, but we also made time to stop and smell the flowers. Josh Beverage, our trainer,  made sure to point out interesting facts about the grounds and various events and activities available on the property. On completion, a couple of us did have breakfast together in the main dining room. I am a huge fan of room service at the resort, and generally opt for breakfast in bed, so it was nice to see the gorgeous main dining room in the daylight. We decided to stick to our healthy eating plan and ordered a spa breakfast from the menu instead of the decadent Sunday brunch. I was able to keep my convictions due to my wellness walk.


Our final group activity was a meeting with Connie Gottshall in the clinic. She is the nutritionist for the Greenbrier Clinic. She reinforced the information we received at our cooking class, and gave us helpful strategies to make better food choices. She actually had sample meal plans to follow as a guide and definitely inspired us all to take a closer look at food labels, not just for ingredients, and hidden sugars, but also portions. I think her talk just reinforced to me why I prefer to eat whole foods rather than prepared foods. I was definitely more motivated to cook at home more often after this class, and with the skills Iearned in the cooking class, I had everything I needed to prepare better food choices back home.

Greenbrier Nutritionist
Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Connie Gottshall shows us how much sugar is in one can of Coke.

If I could stress anything to you about this wellness weekend, it would be that it was still a vacation. I just learned to live better, armed with new knowledge and motivation to continue to make these educated decisions about food choices, what my body needs. Dr. Redden suggested I add vitamin B-12 daily, Calcium 1200 mg daily, and vitamin D3 1000 mg. She also prescribed exercise for at least 150 minutes a week. In six months she will recheck my HDL cholesterol. This won’t be a problem for me, as I live 90 minutes away, and plan on visiting every three months to get my Botox injections. How cool is it that the doctor would come and give me my Botox injections in my room, if that is what I want? This is what concierge medicine is all about–old-fashioned service, like a housecall to my suite! I have an iPhone app to refill my prescriptions, and they will work with my local physician if needed for additional issues as they arise.

Travel Tips

Private medical suites are available with competitive pricing. If you are planning medical testing or procedures, let the Clinic staff help you book your room. Medical suites have two refrigerators for ice packs and medical supplies. Ample space is available for your family to stay with you. The doctors make rounds in the hotel. Recovering from surgery here is best-in-class.

The Clinic executive medical program caters to people that keep tight schedules and they respect your privacy and time.

Book your spa appointments in advance to insure the optimum therapist and treatment time for your schedule. Add on a 25 -minute mineral soak to any spa service you book. It is a must!

Fitness classes are always new and exciting. Try a new class before your spa appointment. Guided meditation is available most mornings in the spa. Keep your eyes peeled in the gym, lots of celebrities visit and have homes in the area.

Get outside! The grounds at this resort are magnificent. Your normal walk, run, or bike ride will be inspiring. Comfortable walking shoes will take you far at this property.

Try a new sport. Equipment and staffing is always top notch. Falconry or whitewater rafting, anybody?

Book a tour at the beginning of your stay. Historical tours provide a wealth of information about the resort as well as American history.

EAT! This resort has a culinary apprentice program that takes classically-trained chefs three years to complete, much like a masters program.  There is a specific farm-to-table restaurant, but much of the food is grown right on property and always has been.
If you are going to have a cheat day, this is the place to do it. They employ one person who just makes housemade ice cream for eight hours a day, every day. This is a serious foodie paradise. Check calendars for specialty chef’s tables and memorable holiday meals.
This resort is dieter-friendly, with spa menu choices on most dining menus. Staff are happy to cater to your special food preferences. Mom can have an egg white omelet while the kids get treated to chocolate chip pancakes, so everybody is happy.

The Greenbrier is set in the gorgeous mountains of West Virginia. It is easily accessible by half of the country for a family road trip. Air and train service will also take you door-to-door from New York City or Washington D.C.

One visit will not be enough to see and do everything–plan ahead to make the most of your vacation.

I was an invited guest of The Greenbrier Clinic. All opinions are my own. This is my life.

Sacred Journey, my spa treatment with a psychic

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Rarely have I been more eager to book a spa treatment as when I booked the Sacred Journey at the Salt Cave and Spa in Lewisburg, West Virginia. I have to admit that curiosity got the better of me when I read that I could book a healing session with a psychic. The biography for my therapist, Cari, listed extensive training in the healing arts. She is a massage therapist, spiritual healer, energy healer, intuitive guide, meditation guide, and Tarot card reader. She is also a fire dancer and instructor! Whoa, what a résumé!

I have an active imagination, so until I actually met Cari at the spa, I had all kinds of thoughts about what this treatment is all about. What I experienced was an intriguing combination of the physical and the metaphysical. In session, we sat directly across from one another at the massage table. She explained her background to me and asked me about what I was interested in, what was on my mind and how I would like to use this session. She explained that she is not a “Vegas style” psychic, but rather has communication with those who have departed. She also explained that she is a medium for what she described as “spirits.” Since I had no real burning desire to speak with any dead relatives, I chose to concentrate on something that has been on my mind in my personal life. I specifically did not book my girlfriend Denise for this treatment, as she is a new widow, and we had booked this trip as a fun day. I did not want any negative thoughts or depressing feelings brought out on this afternoon.

This is similar to the card I chose, yet I did not want to ask to take a phot during the middle of our session
This is similar to the card I chose. A tarot book tells me key points are: Strong, career-oriented, has had a hard life, doesn’t trust men, a well-balanced mother, divorced or widowed. Cari did not need a book!

After our discussion of my issue, one that involves my personal meditation practice, Cari asked me to cut the Tarot deck. She laid out the cards in a non-traditional fashion, and asked me to point to the one that interested me the most. I chose a queen with swords. She was right side up. At that point, I was instructed to lie on my back at top the amethyst biomat on the massage table. Cari then guided me in a brief breathing meditation. Once I was in a relaxed state, she placed her hands on my arms to get a reading. She continued to ask me follow-up questions from our earlier, seated, conversation.

Sacred Journey healing session
Sacred Journey healing session

She shared with me her thoughts on my “problem,” and gave me some advice. This treatment was very much like a traditional mental health therapy session with one big exception, Cari used her intuition to tell me what she thought I should consider. In a typical psychotherapy environment, talk therapy is used by the counselor or physician with the intent to guide your thoughts or behaviors through a series of questions to reframe your perception of an event. Generally, one does not get advice from a doctor on the next step. It is their goal to make you think of the resolution yourself. This session was similar to the conversation we had, but different in that she was willing to listen to my intuition, her intuition, and the message of any “spirit.” The result of the session did help me make up my mind about an issue that I had been on the fence about.

It is important to note that many times I can be pretty fun and chatty in a spa. Cari set the tone for a more serious mental healing to take place. So we did not take my typical, goofy, spa selfie as it would have seemed inappropriate. We discussed my spirituality and she used my Buddhist training as a frame for discussion. This conversation would have been similar for someone who is Christian or another faith. I found it interesting that she referred to this messenger or guide as “spirit,” and I don’t think that any of my more open-minded Christian friends would have been freaked out or offended. At the end of the session, just as I find in my regular practice, the answers come from within. It is in this stillness and directed meditation that you may come to answer a question or issue you may have.

I found this session very interesting and helpful. I would recommend a Sacred Journey session to anyone who is open to sharing personal details in a private setting with no judgement. Cari is a kind and thoughtful person and takes her sessions very seriously. I only wish I had an itching desire to speak with a dead relative, but it just didn’t seem to be in the cards for me on this day. I would book another session with Cari. Just know that she is not theatrical or flashy. She truly wants to help people heal. If something is really bothering you and you have not found the right person to share this information with, Cari might just be the person for you to visit.

Things to consider for this treatment:

The treatment needs to be approached respectfully, long periods of silence do occur, no spa music in this treatment.

One does not need to disrobe for this treatment.

This treatment is only available at the Salt Cave and Spa on a seasonal basis, as it is only available when Cari is available. Call ahead for this one.

Ok, so I have had Tarot cards read before, but this was my second experience with a medium. I had my palm read many years ago and lots of the stuff I was told did come true. Have you been to a medium and what was it like? Did you find them truthful or helpful?

 

No special consideration was given other than being a paying guest at this spa. This is my life.

The Salt Cave and Spa of White Sulpher Springs is a holistic place of healing

 

The Salt Cave and Spa in Lewisberg, WV
The Salt Cave and Spa in White Sulpher Springs, WV

This was not my first visit to a salt cave, but definitely my very favorite. I might even say this could be my favorite day spa to date! The facility is extremely well thought out, clean and beautiful. My curiosity was at an all-time high when I first found out about this new spa. Photos on the website confirmed that I would be making a trip to White Sulpher Springs as soon as possible. The Salt Cave and Spa was just completed and opened to guests in July. It builds on the American tradition of wellness in Greenbrier County, with a focus on preventive and restorative health. The treatments offered at this unique and enchanting spa resonate with those of us who believe spa services are part of our integrated health care.

 

Offering a mix of alternative healing therapies and an impressive salt cave, this day spa is unique and gorgeous. Salt caves found in nature have been used for centuries to help with various breathing issues such as allergies, cystic fibrosis and the common cold. Interest has reawakened for halotherapy (salt therapy) as a modern healing modality due to the lack of side effects. Salt has a natural ability to reduce inflammation and boasts antibacterial and antifungal properties.  Although the mechanism of action is not known, physicians and healers continue to prescribe the healing benefits of halotherapy. Personally, I love treatments that can be both soothing and restorative, particularly when received in such an inspiring natural environment. The cave itself is new, built with love and a passion for preventive health by the owners. The couple, both artists by trade, also live and farm on this one hundred acre property.

I enlisted an adventurous friend of mine, Denise, to daytrip with me to Lewisburg area in West Virgina. As a regular at the world renowned Greenbrier, I am very familiar with the scenic drive to the beautiful mountain town. After studying their treatment options and discussing Denise’s wishes for the day, I hatched my plot. We would leave at the crack of 9:30am. No need to get up super early for this road trip. I also “borrowed” my husband’s convertible for the day. I definitely think that helped give a cool vibe to our adventure. We enjoyed a warm, open air drive and arrived in downtown Lewisburg just in time for lunch. I suggested one of my favorite downtown restaurants from among the many excellent ones Lewisburg has to offer. Once we were properly fed and watered, we had some time to shop. We had to go to Yarid, an upscale shoe store downtown. Locals know that all the discounted stock from the  several other locations are sent to the downtown Lewisburg Yarid location. With full tummies and now a trunk full of discounted designer shoes and handbags, we were ready to embark on our spa portion of the day.

 

To say that this day spa is unique or special really does not do it justice. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Michelle and given a Mason jar of water that she had retrieved that morning from a natural mineral spring just down the road. This spa actually has sulfur water available for guests and treatments, but natual mineral water is better tasting for drinking.  This unusual greeting really set the tone for the day at the spa. The staff was eager to share their knowledge on the many healing therapies offered, and their own personal rituals for health.

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The Salt Cave and Spa in White Sulpher Springs, WV

I arranged the signature Edgar Cayce massage for both Denise and I. What makes an Edgar Cayce massage different from the popular Swedish massage is the philosophy, technique, and training involved. Edgar Cayce is known as the father of holistic healing. Michelle, our massage therapist, was trained at the famous Edgar Cayce holistic spa in Virginia Beach. Michelle uses a personal philosophy of being a channel for personal growth and wellness. She made her intentions clear on our arrival that restorative and healing therapeutic techniques would help soothe the mind and body. Her desire was to relax the body, and stimulate the nervous system, organs, and rotate our joints and limbs, in an effort to coordinate our mind and body for an overall feeling of wellness. So what does the Edgar Cayce massage looks like to the average non-new age trained client? The massage begins with special Edgar Cayce oil applied in long soothing strokes very much like a Swedish massage. During my 90 minutes on the table, Michelle would intermittently work on various body parts in a specific sequence as part of the Cayce method. She would pull and stretch our arm and leg joints alternately. Michelle also used Jin Sin Do techniques, which are a deep finger techniques applied to muscles and organs to as in acupressure. Done properly, this technique is known for inducing a trance-like state. She also took care to address my lymphatic system through massage. Her pressure was enough that the massage was therapeutic while still providing a relaxing experience. My experience was profound. I loved it!

While I was in with Michelle, Denise took advantage of an amethyst biomat and light therapy session. This heat treatment involved lying on a table on top of a special mat that has an amethyst core. Its infrared heat penetrates the body 6-8 times more deeply than a regular heating pad. The concept is to increase your core temperature and increase your negative ions, helping with cell turnover. The technology was developed for use in space. While reclined on a massage table with the biomat on top, Denise just reclined and let a second infrared light therapy shine down on her. This special infrared light was positioned above her . It also provided deep heat, but was not uncomfortably hot. Again, the treatment is intended to heat the body and speed up cell turnover for quicker healing. Denise enjoyed relaxing in the beautiful spa room.

My second treatment was the Sacred Journey–part mental health session, part meditation. Cari, my therapist, is also a psychic medium! This was a spa treatment so unique, it deserves a separate post, check back for part 2 of this journey. Denise and I catch up after our second treatments for our final treatment, a visit to the salt cave. This salt cave is absolutely gorgeous. A beautiful, tall, arching ceiling with embedded lights that simulate stars, and stalactites coated with Himalayan salt, support the overall design and function of this healing cave. I was mentally transported to a place that took me out of my normal routine. What a beautiful therapy to book following other spa services.

 

Salt cave time is booked in 45 minute sessions. Additional therapies can be booked in the salt cave as well, including guided meditation and yoga classes. This salt cave is large enough to accomodate a group of friends, yet has an intimate feel due to the stunning lighting and design. Micron-sized crushed Himalayan white salt is forced through a special air handling system in the cave to create a microclimate. The salt was not noticeable on our skin or clothing, but did make our throats a little dry. Denise and I were happy to rest post treatment and spend some girl time together chatting as we had the cave to ourselves.

What to know, before you go:

Regular visits to the salt cave achieve better results, but a single 45-minute session has the same healing effect as a three-day visit to the beach! Have you ever noticed how acne clears up on a beach trip??? Yup, antibactierial qualities in the salty air and water is duplicated in this cave.

It is advised that you bring your own clean white socks to wear in the cave. Walking on the crushed salt also provides a nice reflexology massage to your feet. Denise and I both wore comfortable street clothes, but yoga clothes would be a great option for added comfort.

The staff is well trained to book multiple guests with different treatments to maximize a full day at the spa. Call ahead and they can help take the stress out of a group outing.

Time in the salt cave is not recommended for people experiencing infections accompanied by a fever, patients with active tuberculosis, or people under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Children are welcome to visit the salt cave.

The cave is kept at a constant temperature and is truly a four-season spa. I would love to snuggle in at this cave in the winter, or escape the heat as we did on this trip in the summer. Fall is a perfect time to visit, with spectacular fall foliage and mountain views enjoyed en route.

 

 

No special consideration was given other than being a paying guest at this spa. This is my life.