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?