When I told the husband that I was thinking about writing a post on my prolonged siege against my intractable plantar wart, he wasn’t just opposed to it. No. He was totally, emphatically, zealously, vociferously against it. At the time, I had 131 followers. He said if I was hell-bent on doing it, I should wait until I had 1000, so I could afford to lose the 150 that would definitely abandon me the instant they learned the topic.
But I, dear readers, have more faith in you than the husband does. First, you guys have a healthy sense of humor, and warts are kinda funny, aren’t they? Unless you have one, of course, and then they’re not funny at all. Not even a little. Second, I no longer have my wart, so instead of being seen as a germy, witch-like, warty blogger, I will be seen as a triumphant victor, who battled valiantly and overcame her stigmatized dermatological affliction. That may even get me even more followers, right? Third, once I finally admitted to people that I had a wart, all sorts of “me, toos” came out of the woodwork. Turns out plantar warts are very common. And finally, the end of this post offers a relatively easy and totally free at-home treatment, which for me was the cure. Since at least some of my readers, statistically-speaking, must be in the midst of their own plantar wart journey, this post may save them time, money, and hassle, and actually rid them of their wart. (But just in case the husband’s instincts are right, and with a nod toward compromise, I will refrain from posting any pictures of warts. I mean, even I don’t want to see those.)
One more thing: at about the time the husband and I were tussling over this post, Dave C., a frequent commenter on my blog, suggested I include a trivia question on each post. You see, Dave C.* is really good at trivia. I am not. However, in the interest of trying something new AND keeping your attention as I jabber on about warts of all things, I’ll give it a go here:
Trivia Question: How long can the virus strains that cause plantar warts stay alive ‘n kickin’ on a floor?
*Dave C. is also a lawyer and would probably think to himself, “Boy, The Travel Architect should really say something about how she’s in no way qualified to give medical advice, being a language teacher and all, and that she’s really just relating her experiences, and that her readers should in no way let her powerful online presence influence their plantar-wart-related decision-making or usurp their actual doctor’s advice,” because lawyers think things like that.
The Journey Begins
I’m lucky to be married to wonderful man who gives me frequent foot rubs. He does this kinda absentmindedly while watching TV. Just so we’re clear, he can also be a stubborn and annoying pain in the ass, but we all have our faults, I suppose. Anyway, years ago, during one such rub, the husband noticed this “thing” on the bottom of my foot. Oh, it’s probably a callus, I said. Over time, though, he kept insisting it was a wart, and it did eventually start to hurt a little, so I went to the dermatologist. Sure enough: plantar wart.
The doctor froze it with liquid nitrogen (which does hurt, but the sting fades after a few hours) and sent me home. Time went by. Wart remained. Went back to doctor. This time she applied something she laughingly called “Beetle Juice.” Apparently they give it to kids because it doesn’t hurt upon application, but, ya know, may hurt a bit later on (she said while waving hand dismissively). Understatement of the century. It KILLED later on. I could hardly walk it was so painful. You gotta admire dermatologists, though. They’ve found an ingenious way to treat kids so that the doctor’s office remains scream-and-tear-free: all the drama gets laid on the parents hours later at home. Good one, docs.
Anyway, the doctor also mentioned that I would need to commit to a regimen that included coming in for treatments every six weeks for at least 6-8 visits. I nodded like a cooperative little patient, but in my mind I was shaking my head vigorously. No way. No chance I’m taking half days off every six weeks. Planning (well) for a teaching sub takes tons of time and effort. Plus, the doctor’s office is in the opposite direction of my work, which is far enough away as it is. No. Definitely not happenin’. You see, between these doctor visits, I had been supplementing with over-the-counter remedies as well as duct tape. Duct tape? Yes, duct tape. It’s recommended as a way to starve the wart of oxygen. I would just keep doing these things and I. would. PREVAIL!
I didn’t prevail. Nothing worked, and the damn thing slowly grew. Eventually, admitting defeat, I vowed to follow the every-six-weeks treatment plan. I went in as prescribed and over the course of almost an entire school year we tried everything: more liquid nitrogen, more Beetle Juice, more other treatments I can’t remember. Then they brought out the big guns: lasers. Six laser bursts, six piercing screams reverberating throughout the dermatology office. (In the stress-filled seconds between each scream, I pictured the strangers in the waiting room, glancing uncertainly at each other over their Ladies Home Journals™ and Newsweeks™.) Never again. I’ve not had a baby, but I’m guessing childbirth is the only thing more painful than that laser treatment. In fact, I tell people it was my second most awful medical-related experience (after
having barely surviving food poisoning, but I promise never to blog about that wretched night).
Early on in my medical saga, the doctor had offhandedly mentioned some Mayo Clinic-recommended home remedy a patient had told her about. Something about using a hot pan from the oven. Ow! No thanks, I thought. I didn’t query for details and that’s all the further that conversation went. But after well over a year of getting nowhere with any sort of treatment, I finally sat down and Googled it. Turns out the doc was off the mark a bit. It didn’t involve a hot pan. It involved hot water. I can’t locate the exact article now, but here’s the same basic thing from the National Institutes of Health:
Simple sequential treatment by immersion in hot water (45°C to 48°C) has been reported to dramatically improve certain cases of cutaneous warts of the hands and feet.
So I recommitted myself, this time to nightly stints on the edge of the bathtub with a book for distraction and some very hot water. I pulled out from the back of the closet our old Dr. Scholl’s Foot Spa™, which thankfully had survived several Goodwill® charity roundups, filled it with the hottest water I could coax from the faucet, and gingerly submerged just the little bit of afflicted sole. I engaged in this ritual for about 20 minutes each night, adding boiling water from a kettle as it cooled. I did this for a month… maybe two. Then finally – FINALLY – it was over. Plantar wart vanquished!!!! I did keep applying OTC meds and duct tape, both during the hot water treatment phase and even after for a while, just to be sure, but it really, truly was the end of the odyssey.
Trivia Answer: 20 months, the tenacious little buggers!
You know how people who lose a limb often complain that they still feel pain in the missing appendage? Well, post-victory, I had my own mysterious version of that. For a good year after I won the plantar wart battle, I frequently got an acute shooting feeling in my foot in the exact place where my old nemesis used to be. Not a pain exactly… more of a twinge. A strong twinge. A phantom twinge. But thankfully, just a twinge.
So over the course of the five years – five! but that’s because I ignored it for three – that I spent at the mercy of this annoying little bump, it cost me no end of money in the form of co-pays, lots of sick time and extra work at school, endless hassle, a good deal of pain, and an extremely long bout of feeling defeated and ashamed. I do hope it doesn’t also cost me followers! 😉