Holy Crap

by Sheilah Bright


Shit happens every day. At least, it should. When it doesn’t, there’s a Seventh-Day Adventist in southeastern Oklahoma who can flush it out with a hydropressure machine and a few belly rubs.

Relax. Study the stool chart. Maybe reflect on the “The Cross Made the Difference For Me” wooden plaque hanging above pictures of poop. Do anything it takes to keep your mind off what’s going in and what’s, hopefully, coming out.

“I feel like I’ve been swimming upstream most of my life,” says Emile Spalitta, owner of Oasis A Place for Wellness in Talihina, population 1,200. “This isn’t something people around here tend to lean toward, but word is getting out about the health benefits.”

The “COLON HYDRO-THERAPY PLUS FOOT DETOX” sign at the corner of Main and Second helps spread the message and stops traffic—especially since it sits at the town’s only signal light. Spalitta’s office is tucked onto the side street and packed with wellness books, natural health literature, and illustrations of internal organs. The music is peaceful. The candle smells clean. Overlook the Bristol Stool Chart—a giant poster of crap in every size and shape, though mainly just one color—and you can believe you’re in a spa except that your nervous gut is starting to tense up and gurgle.

“I can tell what people’s intestinal issues are just by looking at their faces,” Spalitta says. “You eat late at night, don’t you?”

Damn you, Hateful Hussy Diner cheeseburger, fries, and a hunk of pecan pie loitering there with two biscuits, sausage gravy, Snicker’s, and some Cheetos.

“How much water do you drink? Do you drink alcohol?”

It’s hard to lie to a man who deals with shit every day. He can practically see the vodka bubbling in your eyes.

Spalitta explains the ins and outs of his dredging process with the voice of a missionary. In fact, he and his wife, Pam, a registered nurse, spent several years abroad spreading the word and passing out literature through the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

These days, Spalitta is on a mission to help the people of Le Flore County redeem their health by what he believes is a fountain of youth: colon hydrotherapy. He says too many people are living lives clogged with an overload of stress and processed foods that plaster intestinal corridors with thick toxic coatings. Oh, and we don’t poop enough. Spalitta says if people would poop like babies—say, practically after every meal—they would feel years younger. Here’s where you will likely start counting your daily deposits and realize your account is in arrears.

Spalitta has been preaching pure living and cleaner eating for years. At one time, he weighed 300 pounds. Today, he eats vegetables and fish. He doesn’t ingest fat or blood. His diet is based on Genesis 1:29 (Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you”).

A few years back, he opened a health food store here and tried to steer folks toward vegetarian dishes and smoothies. He had some success but not enough to keep the doors open.

“People thought I was crazy for opening up a vegetarian restaurant in the middle of cattle country,” he says. “People liked our food. Just not enough of them liked our food.”

After that run, he didn’t raise many eyebrows when he set up shop as a colon cleaner, massage therapist, and foot detox specialist in a town that doesn’t have enough money to support its own fire department.

“Oh, I got a few odd looks, but gradually people started coming in to find out what was going on,” says Spalitta, a former hair salon owner from New Orleans who moved to Oklahoma in search of a simpler life. “When they heard from people who tried it and were feeling better, my business began to grow.”

Around the small mountain communities surrounding Talihina, health insurance isn’t always part of the family budget. Many folks are self-employed or living off the land and filling income gaps by selling firewood or doing odd jobs. Some of Spalitta’s regular customers are people who can’t afford traditional medical care. He doesn’t promise to cure anyone, but if he thinks he can help someone feel better, he helps them. Sometimes, they can pay the fee that day. Many times, they leave with a promise to pay later. Like small-town doctors of yesteryear, he gets his share of payment in vegetables and favors.

Here’s the scoop on his “clean from the inside out” hydrotherapy straight from the Oasis website:

“A session is a comfortable experience for many people. It produces no toxicity. Techniques are utilized to allow a small amount of water to flow into the colon, gently stimulate the colon’s natural peristaltio action to release softened waste. The inflow of a small amount of water and the release of waste is repeated several times. The removal of waste should encourage better colon function and elimination. During the sessions, most clothing can be kept on and you will be draped, or a gown might be worn to ensure more modesty. Your dignity is always maintained.”

Here are the questions that can bounce around your head as you gaze upon the Hydro-Sans Plus machine, which resembles something you could use to flush out your car’s transmission:

Where does the shit go? Do you see the shit as it’s coming out? Do you smell the shit as it’s coming out? If you decide to go for it, can you be drunk?

Here are the answers:

The waste is sucked into the town’s sewer system, a big relief to the neighboring businesses. You should keep your eyes closed as if in deep meditation. If you crane your neck to see shit going through the machine, you run the risk of bodily harm and possible spillage. There is no odor although there is a bottle of Febreze nearby. Alcohol is not recommended. “No fasting or special diet is required prior to your treatment although a large meal two hours prior is not advisable.”

First visits take about 90 minutes. During this time, health questions will be asked, as well as important diagnostic inquiries like, “How much toilet paper do you use?”

The treatment takes 30 to 45 minutes. Spalitta says water is “introduced via the rectum into the colon.” Your belly will be massaged during the process to “stimulate the release of stored fecal matter.”

Jeanine, who lives down the road in Smithville and prefers not to use her last name, asked more questions than most before she became a believer. Now, she’s practically a disciple.

“I must have called Emile 12 times on the phone before I decided to do it,” says Jeanine, who suffers from Hashimoto’s disease, an auto-immune disorder. “I was concerned because it’s not like I’m a regular patient who just needs their bowels cleaned out.”

She’d tried conventional medicine, threw back countless pills prescribed to take away her gut pain, jumpstart her digestive system, and make her stop losing weight. In the four years since her diagnosis, she’s dropped 61 pounds—20 pounds in less than two weeks. It’s not a diet plan that she wanted or would recommend. She used to work at a Home Depot and lifted heavy bags of building materials as if they were pillows. These days, she counts herself lucky if she can make it to town and back and not have to go to bed for the rest of the day.

When a health store owner in Mena, Arkansas, mentioned that she check into having her colon flushed out by a guy in Talihina, Jeanine thought it was about the craziest idea she’d heard in a while. Why would someone open a colon therapy joint in a town so far off the beaten path that the nearest turnpike was 50 miles away?

After several weeks, she softened to the idea. It impressed her that Spalitta took the time to research her medical issue and talk about things she might do to try to reclaim her life. Several gall bladder/liver flushes and weekly colon hydrotherapy sessions later, she started to feel something. It was herself, her old self. She was back.

“I’m optimistic about my health again,” Jeanine says. “When I first started going, I was constipated and so sick. I don’t like talking about my eliminations, but I’m blessed every morning now. When I started to eliminate properly, I was in seventh heaven.”

From the minute she steps into Oasis, Jeanine says she goes into a state of meditation. The man who flushes toxins out of her insides has become a calming presence in her life. One day, she walked in with a shit-pleasing grin on her face: She’d achieved No. 4 on the Bristol Stool Chart. “Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft.”

“I believe he is a gifted healer. I feel like I receive a blessing every time that I go into his office,” she says. “He’s God-sent. I really believe it. Here is a man who lives his life in a moral way like Jesus Christ, and yet he’s willing to clean the shit right out of you.”

Gentle spoken and a bit reserved, Spalitta tends to shy from praise and the spotlight. If it weren’t for the fact that his religion shapes so much of how he lives his life, he wouldn’t bring it into his business at all. Sometimes, he asks people if he can say a prayer for them. He wants to help people as much as he wants to spread the word that alternative health practices can sometimes provide the answers people seek.

His patient list includes nurses, doctors, and other health professionals. Many of them travel miles to see him. When his wife and her hospital coworkers get sick, they often drop in to get their pipes checked. Spalitta spends a lot of time studying the benefits of colon therapy. He’s a member of the International Association of Colon Hydrotherapy, which will hold its next convention in the Midwest on June 20–24 in Chicago. He sees it as a sign that colon hydrotherapy is catching on around these parts.

Morning, afternoons and some nights at Oasis, the Hydro-Sans Plus machine churns toxin butter into a free-flowing stream. Appointments are necessary. Information is free. If you are the least bit squeamish, try watching the DVDs with either Chinese or Korean narration.

Spalitta knows it’s not for everyone. He doesn’t take it personally when a stranger who obviously spends too much time eating greasy food late into the night decides to skip colon hydrotherapy and drink a few beers instead.

He saw it coming. He could see it in her eyes.

Originally published in This Land, Vol. 3 Issue 11. June 1st, 2012.