This is what I currently look like.
I wasn’t in a terrible accident.
I wasn’t attacked by wild animals.
I didn’t participate in any vicious athletic activities.
I wasn’t thrown to the lions.
No, I look like this by choice.
It is a method of traditional Javanese healing.
It’s called kerok.
Yohanes and I have both had the same flu like sickness for a few days now. So at hangout time at Atik’s house tonight, Dewi decided that Yo needed some kerok to make him better. Basically, you just take eucalyptus oil and a coin and rub it all over the person's back repeatedly to get the illness out. When I first moved to this country, I was pretty skeptical about the healing properties of kerok. But then someone told me that only sick people turn red. If you are perfectly healthy and receive this treatment, your skin does not change color. And that made me very curious.
Until tonight though, I've never had a chance to have it done.
It doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as it looks. The coin isn’t digging into your skin at all, and you don’t bleed. The Javanese say your skin turns red because of the bad air being released from your body. The scientific explanation for the redness is that the coin is actually bursting some kind of small blood vessel near the surface of the skin as it passes over.
Yo, unfortunately is very ticklish and has zero pain tolerance, so I took the following pictures while Dewi was kerok-ing him. Don’t mind the poor quality snapshots. That’s what my blog has become.
I made him smile for that next-to-last one. It was a very pained smile.
I realize that this looks like some form of torture, and watching Yo, you'd think it really was. However, I know Yo well enough to believe that it probably didn't hurt as much as his low pain threshold would seem to suggest, and after Dewi’s hand rested, I asked if she’d do me. And of course, she said yes!
I'm not sure who took these pictures, but I'm glad that someone did so that I can have documentation of my first kerok experience!
I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt. It definitely does – mostly when the coin rubs over your bones. I was gritting my teeth pretty hard the whole time. But I definitely beat Yo who screamed like a little girl and wriggled all over the living room floor while Dewi was trying to help him.
The past three days, I’ve been the most sick in the mornings, so I’m waiting until tomorrow morning to give my final decision as to if it works or not. All I can say with certainty now is that I had a headache building before I had this done, and it’s gone now.
Oh, and it doesn't hurt at all right now. My back actually feels kind of numb. We'll see how long that lasts...