Freeze Ray

So I got a wart. It happens. I am probably in the cross-hairs since I spend my day wrangling people’s integuments, but I have no intention of putting up with the thing. A few years ago I got one of these nuisances to come off with bloodroot, which has been purveyed for the removal of growths of all sizes and threat levels (true story: several years back someone I knew actually extracted a malignancy from her breast by applying bloodroot, which is the sort of thing that happens in a country where people decide between rent and health insurance; metastasis being what it is, it didn’t end well). I was all out of bloodroot though so I bought one of these over-the-counter freeze off kits.

There is a quite a mad scientist feel to it. You screw a gizmo with a small spongy tip onto a larger gizmo that contains the liquid nitrogen or freon or whatever the heck it is, then compress a release valve for a couple seconds, stinking up your dining room with a chemical aroma as the sponge plunges to about 230 degrees Kelvin. (Minus forty centigrade or Fahrenheit, curiously.)  This goes on the wart for a count of 20. It feels like nothing at all up to about eight or nine and then there is someone with a glowing hot drill bit whirring right through your tender flesh. It is curiously exhilarating. The leaflet clearly states that you are going to feel something like this but that the result will be good, so you are free to experience the pain, if it is exactly that, in a detached objective way.

“The point is not to care that it hurts,” says Peter O’Toole, playing Lawrence of Arabia in the David Lean film. I’m not sure that’s it, exactly. The nifty thing is perceiving pain just as information, which you can do if you know it is going to stop and you won’t really be damaged.

It takes about a half a minute for the zinging feeling to go away. According to this cheerful package insert, the wretched excrescence will fall off by itself in a week or so. If it doesn’t there are six more cartridges — well, five, since I did it two nights in a row for extra certainty. I once paid a doctor eighty bucks to do something like this  — he was having entirely too much fun with a cotton swab and a frosty styrofoam coffee cup full of liquid nitrogen — so if the Freeze Ray works I am ahead about seventy-five dollars.

There really ought to be DIY kits for bunion surgery and birthmark ablation.

What humble economies did you practice today?


4 thoughts on “Freeze Ray

  1. Aaack, I once had about 40 warts of all sizes on my left knee. Shows how well my parents looked after me that they waited for things to get that bad before taking me to the doctor. Some were “frozen” off, others burned off (I can still smell that), and the very large ones were injected with I-don’t-know-what which made them first swell up and then a few days later go all crusty and fall off. I still have the scars, both physical and emotional.

    My humble economy for today has been to purchase a DIY foot repair product instead of splashing out for a much-needed pedicure treatment (too long in sandals…).

    • “DIY foot repair product” sounds unconfortably close to that bunion surgery kit!

      I had a small wart in the arch of my foot when I was seven, which was cauterized off with a hot needle by an Army doctor. As the process accelerated I nodded up at the No Smoking sign over the door and asked if we weren’t breaking the rules, thus starting a long tradition of wisecracking at doctors, some of whom handle it better than others. I think I would have run out of jokes pretty long before anyone finished with forty.

      I’m beginning to think that finding good parents is like finding a good auto mechanic. It’s only slightly better to have parents who obsess about consulting doctors, to the point of Munchhausen By Proxy.

  2. Love it! The process sounds a bit like what happens when you get a tattoo. Sheer disbelief that you’re allowing someone to intentionally hurt you for a (hopefully) good end result.

    I had something organic lodged in the thick callus of my left foot for probably a year and a half, all told. It hurt. I went to a doc, he did some in-office surgery… It didn’t work. Then I got really, really poor so I started to dig it out myself every few weeks for months. It was…interesting. The skin was so thick and damaged I could use tweezers and a sewing needle to pull white meaty strings out with no blood (until there was, and I had to stop). Eventually I found a brown string and ‘poof’ no more pain and no more self-surgery. It was sort of fun, actually. Glad I’m flexible enough to examine the sole of my own foot so closely, too.

    • That sounds exactly like something I would do. (I won’t describe in too great detail something that happened one morning when a weird polypous thing appeared at the outer corner of my right eye, but I handled it myself…)

      I’m usually that flexible, but coming back from that half-dislodged hip (there was another DIY moment) is going to take a while. Worst problem is my eyes; I have to get the foot awfully close to my face.

      And I never went in for tattoos — I’ve worn my hair the same way for forty years but somehow I suspect I’d want to change a tattoo.

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