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A hangover cure—at a cost

Two Reader staffers intentionally drink too much, purposefully get hungover, and determine whether Chicago's first hangover clinic is really all that.

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[Reader Bar Issue]The conversation below was recorded on February 23, moments upon leaving Revive Hydration Clinic (222 W. Ontario, revivechicago.com). Turns out our undercover visit was more, shall we say, intense than other accounts we read about; for instance, when Chicagoist published theirs, five days later, our bruises were still fresh.

MS: It's weird to try to get a hangover.

GW: I really went for it.

MS: I wish I had taken one more shot at the end of the night, just to make my hangover that much worse this morning.

GW: I had a glass of wine and two whiskeys at dinner. I purposefully ordered bad whiskey, too. Then I had more wine. And a beer. And more whiskey.

MS: We also had a shot of Malort.

GW: Oh my god. We did. But hey, it actually doesn't sound like we drank that much.

MS: Are you kidding? We had like eight drinks each.

GW: I was probably still drunk when I woke up and didn't realize I was hungover. Then I felt, like, medium hungover.

MS: I was medium-high hungover.

GW: I don't drink a lot of water in general, so I think I get hangovers more than normal people. And I think I drink probably a little bit more than normal people. Usually with a hangover it's like, well, you just power through.

MS: I have a pretty significant hangover most weekends. On the one hand, you don't bounce back like you used to—but I don't even drink as much as I used to. I've explored hangover remedies and all that. For a long time I've joked with friends that I wish I could just pop in somewhere to get a B12 shot. So when this hangover-cure place announced it was opening I was superpsyched about it. But when you add up the money and the time—and we'll get to the pain factor in a minute, which is pretty intense—it doesn't seem worth it.

GW: No, not quite.

MS: I mean, having to sit around for three hours?

GW: I felt like a prisoner.

MS: What about finding the place? That was a little … odd.

GW: It was in an unmarked building. It felt like going to the place in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Lacuna Inc. I was surprised to see other people in there at all.

MS: It's a brisk business. It seemed like a dozen people were in and out. They require a reservation, which I first thought was completely bizarro. I mean, how do you know you're going to be hungover? Then the fact that so many people were in there spending $99 presumably on their hangovers—that's crazy. Who are those people?

GW: People who have money.

MS: And a lot of time.

GW: Initially, here's the thought I had: So it's a hydration clinic and you're there because you're hungover or whatever. But they didn't offer you anything to drink immediately.

MS: I thought about that. Maybe it's to increase the feeling of hydration once you get the fluids. You don't want to take away from that.

GW: I think that's bullshit. I was thirsty.

MS: Anyway, it was not what I was expecting. It seemed like a casual crowd, a lot of guys. I don't really know what I was expecting.

GW: I was expecting that we would be the only people there. When they took you back to see the doctor first and I had to sit and wait, I thought, well, this is a little bit ridiculous. But that turned out to be such a small sliver of time in comparison to how long we ended up being there.

MS: But the experience did redeem itself. Sort of.

GW: So … you had a mishap.

MS: Man. Let's start by saying I have veiny hands. I was commenting to the nurse that I'm going to be an easy person to jab a needle into. But it turns out I'm not, because she couldn't hit the vein and was digging around in there. Mind you, I'm pretty hungover. Then when she finally hit a vein she also "hit a valve," which is a technical term for "now blood is streaming all over the place." So I'm on this white couch and there's this red blood on the couch and I'm trying not to look. I'm not saying she didn't know what she was doing. She was certainly a professional. But I was having so much anxiety over the sight of the blood that it worsened what was already a rough morning. I was really glad when you came into the recovery room—in pain. I was worried it was just going to be me.

GW: I made the mistake of looking down. I can't stand the idea of something underneath my skin. So the instant they put the IV in, I was like, I want this out.

MS: I was so glad you didn't come bounding in like, "That was awesome." It was an excruciating experience that was probably worse than the hangover I had.

GW: But at least it took your mind off your hangover, right?

MS: Exactly. Then you get to relax over the next several hours while lounging in a nice quiet room on a comfy chaise with a blanket and a pillow. It felt like being at a spa.

GW: Except you have a needle jammed in your hand.

MS: Except for that.

GW: They checked on us a lot, which was nice. I have to say, though, that after we sat through the first bag of fluids with the vitamins, when she said we were getting another bag, I was like, please no.

MS: But you wouldn't want to not have your money's worth, either. And they brought us eye masks and coconut water.

GW: And they had US Weekly. But there wasn't really an effort to explain how long you're going to be there.

MS: You don't really get a sense of what you're in store for. I mean, I supposed it was IV fluids, of course.

GW: I'm stupid because I didn't even think about that until it was too late.

MS: What did you think it would be?

GW: I had no idea.

MS: Magic?

GW: Something without needles. I just didn't like having an IV for that long. And usually when you have an IV it's in conjunction with some painkillers.

MS: Which they don't provide, for the record.

GW: There's also that weird sensation of the cold.

MS: With the second bag, it felt like my veins were turning into icicles. I could feel how cold my arm was through my sweater. And then ripping that catheter out of your hand at the end totally ruins the whole experience again.

GW: I know. That was just so much pain, too.

MS: Had I gone by myself, I would have been freaking out. They do warn you ahead of time that you might have bruising. But I don't think I was quite prepared.

GW: If I'm going to spend $99, a massage would have served me just as well. I do feel really good though.

MS: Me too. I feel . . . good.

GW: Do you feel dizzy at all?

MS: I don't. I feel like my day is going to go a lot better.

GW: I still have a little bit of a headache.

MS: I don't have one at all. The scary thing is that I don't have to pee. That's how dehydrated I was. I haven't peed in four hours and I've had two bags of fluid put in my body.

GW: I don't understand getting fluids not through your mouth that end up in your bladder. Our bodies are so magical.

MS: How mental are your hangovers? I feel like my hangovers can be 50 percent mental.

GW: Like you're just talking yourself into being hungover?

MS: No. Like I find myself thinking differently, and not in a bad way. I think you can achieve a high state of creativity while hungover. It's kind of fun. So I was wondering if the fluid infusion would do anything to offset the mental aspects of a hangover.

GW: I don't know. I feel like when I'm hungover my brain's just not working.

MS: I think the fluids take away the bad parts of being hungover but leave the fun part.

GW: That sounds right. I feel good but I feel weird. I really think it's a shock to my system to be hydrated. I mean, if it had been a little less painful I'd feel like I was doing a really good thing for myself. But I'm glad we feel good. Because if we had gone through all of that and still had hangovers, that would have been insane.

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