A couple months ago my son sprouted a wart on the ball of his left foot. I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.
At first the wart was so small, we opted to just keep an eye on it. But later it started to spread into a chrysanthemum of tiny baby warts blooming up from the slightly larger mama wart.
I’m not particularly squeamish, but I do draw the line at spreading warts. If you’ve never encountered a plantar wart before, congrats! Basically the wart virus hijacks the body’s blood supply to feed the wart so it can…I don’t know, grow big and prove that it’s the best at grossing everyone else out, I guess. Meanwhile skin thickens all around the wart to soften the direct irritation from the wart itself.
Starting with a DIY approach (because I still remember the doctor freezing the plantar wart off my foot when I was 7 without fondness) I first dabbed a salicylic and acetic acid compound on Oliver’s little foot, covered everything up and waited a few days.
When we checked back in, his wart looked super funky. The area had turned pale white and flakey. Gingerly, I began picking at the bottom of Oliver’s foot with my tweezers. “Tell me if this hurts at all, ok babe?” I said, and started peeling off the layers of sloughing dead skin.
Oliver for his part was totally unfazed with everything I did, as long as he could watch. He’s a future Dr Pimple Popper subscriber, I just know it.
A few minutes later that layer of flaking dead skin was on a towel under Olivers foot. I now had a better view of about a dozen pin-prick size dark dots – the “cores” of the warts – that all together spread across a space about the size of a quarter. (Those black dots were coagulated blood the warts stole from Oliver.)
Gently, I tugged at one of the black dots and a wart core popped out of his foot completely intact, like a round bb pellet of callus. When it came out it left a deep, smooth hole in Oliver’s foot! I was a little shocked, actually, but Oliver gave me the thumbs up so I kept going.
The rest of the warts were just as obliging, and by the time I was done, the wart location looked a bit like the skin of that super creepy toad that hatches babies out of her back, after all the micro-toads have swum off.
The skin under the removed wart cores was pink and thin but nothing bled or caused Oliver pain. I cleaned his foot well, and covered the area with antibiotic ointment and a jumbo band-aid.
Over the past week those deep divots in his foot have all healed up very well with what looks like healthy new skin. The skin is still a bit thickened in that area, and of course we are keeping a close eye to see if any warts return.
As I was staring at the scooped out, tiny pink voids in the bottom of my son’s foot where thick, callused skin had been just an hour before, I starting thinking about what a perfect analogy this was for my recent experience with meditation.
We’ve all got things – you know, emotion-type things, that are exactly like those warts: uncomfortable; prone to spreading if ignored; and made up of a small core surrounded by a thick layer of built-up callus.
We’ve all got the choice to ignore these things and hope they go away on their own. Just like real warts, sometimes they do. Sometimes the right solution is just time and patience. But sometimes instead of quietly shrinking these things feed on your hijacked energy and grow for 10 years until you can’t ignore them anymore. And maybe sometimes – if you’re lucky – you can remove of the core of the problem while it’s still small, and without too much pain.
I mentioned in a post last week that I recognized in December 2017 that I had some low-grade anger and probably a little anxiety too, bubbling away under the surface. This put me rather perpetually on edge. None of this is really a surprise or even particularly interesting, but before these things were in shadow and now they are in light. They are named.
Putting names to these things is a bit like pulling the wart core out with the tweezers.
Yup, there it is. It’s not pretty, but – hey! – I think I got it. Now what?
In some ways now you’re even more vulnerable, because those pockets of tender, baby skin and those deep hollows have not yet healed up. Something has to fill those pockets. What will it be? Something that isn’t hardened scar tissue would probably be for the best.
So I started meditating. At first I approached meditation the way I approach everything: by attempting to intellectually understand and pull apart various systems of meditation in order to get to the core concepts of some ur-meditation ideal.
I needed to meditate in large part because I overthink things. And then I over thought meditation. Typical.
The best way to start meditating if you are a cynical overthinker is just to shut up and do it. The Calm App has some good basic guided programs if you are starting out, and a nice meditation timer if you want to keep track of how many days in a row you meditate (naturally, I do). The Mind Illuminated has been very helpful to me. I have been working through it as an audio book, (it’s beautifully narrated), repeating relevant sections frequently.
Meditation is not some kind of immediate panacea, but I am shocked at how quickly it’s helped me re-frame things for the better in about a month. It is proving to be a good and useful tool as I continue to work on excising and healing some of my own metaphorical warts in 2018.26
Yeah, so I’ll be the first to say it. WHAT? NO PICS?
Oh, cool thing about the meditation.
Hah! No, I was pretty focused on little guys foot. Periodically it’s nice to do things 2-handed. 😀
Am I a total sick-o in that I wished you had photos of the little wart bbs? I was actually really kind of hoping you did! And if feels really weird to make a comment about it, especially since the post is really about meditation and all… But very cool that you figured it out yourself and that you are finding meditation helpful!
Hah! You aren’t alone, I guess I should have taken pictures! It was gross and awesome in equal parts. 😀
Omigosh, two new youtube subscriptions. Had to go to google images too, to see plantar warts. Argh! Now I can’t eat lunch. 🙂
Maybe you have stumbled on a diet aid!
Sorry! The toad thing really gets me. Not sure why but I learned about that toad as a kid and it was the grossest thing I’d ever seen.
I have a few phone apps for meditation and relaxation, when my anxiety starts to feel overwhelming. Three of them — Mindfulness, Relax Melodies, and Relax & Rest — have been useful. Also, that was probably the strangest segue to a blog post theme ever — but very apt.
Thank you for those suggestions I’ll look into them! Yeah attempting to quiet my mind for 30 minutes a day apparently triggers crazy free association the rest of the time. 😉
Meditation is one of those things I’ve been telling myself I should do for years but haven’t accomplished, like strength training or a zero-sugar diet. Over and over you hear how good it is for . . . seemingly everything!
I go to yoga classes twice a week, and shivasana at the end is kind of like meditation, but my mind is all over the place and I’m not working hard to silence/still it as I know I should.
Maybe 2018 is the year of finally developing a meditation practice. It’s more likely than the other two, that’s for sure.
I did lots of strength training for quite a while and got pretty strong. And then I dropped into a yoga class thinking it would be a super easy stretching session and it kicked my butt! There’s a lot of call for muscle in yoga! It was too tough for me and I went back to deadlifting. 😉
I’m not an evangelist, you know what I mean? But I kinda feel like if meditation is the thing you need, you’ll know pretty quick. I knew after maybe a week of really trying – not just sitting there bored but really trying – that I needed the practice at this point in my life. So, if it calls to you, give it a shot. But meditation will be here in 2019 too. 🙂
Patricia Betts says
Can you tell me where to find the product you put on your son’s warts? My boy has a cluster of warts on his neck and they are causing him some pain.
I started with a DIY mix of one very, very well crushed aspirin dissolved in ACV. Put a bit on a piece of cotton swab and held in in place with a jumbo bandaid. That did the trick for the main plantar warts as I described above. Now I’m using a product called Bazuka to carefully treat one thickened spot on his foot…basically just watching carefully to see if warts return and trying to nip them in the bud if I suspect. The Bazuka is nice because it dries on the foot like glue, but it might be weird to apply to warts on a neck.
Yeah on the meditation, but as for the plantar warts…you/he got off easy! I caught the virus in the hospital as a teenager and have battled them off and on ever since.Mine are typically so deep that, previously, nothing short of multiple liquid nitrogen treatment would do.
They came back last year after a decade absence and I finally tried duct tape, because…because duct tape. Had to keep covered for 1/2 inch around wart and scrub/change tape every 5 days. Because I also get the mosaic (colonies) that meant the whole ball of both feet, several toe bottoms and part of side of foot. It didn’t seem to be doing much so after 5 weeks I quit. Several days later, whole strips of dead leather skin with dead warts attached. Apparently, the duct tape starves the wart of oxygen and it dies. No more nitrogen for me. Many people also swear by ACV. Gross, I know; but those little buggers are so pernicious that we who know have to stick together.
THANK YOU! I have something to try for the big boy on my husband’s foot!!
Fingers crossed. I had one on my foot as a kid and they never came back, so hopefully that will be his experience too. I read online about the duct tape thing! Awesome that worked for you!
I’ve stumbled across a meditation podcast that has been particularly helpful to help calm my thoughts at bedtime. My mind tends to overdo things at night, I have some metaphorical warts that can’t be ignored anymore. I’ll have to add meditation to my toolkit. It definitely couldn’t hurt!
What’s the name of the podcast?
I hear ya. 🙂 Good luck on your journey! I would also love to know the podcast you are listening to!
10% Happier is another good app to try…most of the good ones have a free section and a pay section, so if you want an app to help you try a more guided meditation I would try a few on free mode and if one speaks to you consider upgrading to paid access.
A very wise group of friends taught me that anger sometimes is simply recognizing that I deserved to be treated better in a situation. Persistent anger can also be a secondary emotion to protect me from underlying sadness and grief. Regardless of cause, it is evolutionarily designed as a warning signal, not a state of mind,. Your plan for meditation sounds like an excellent path through it.
I agree with your wise group of friends, and about anger as a secondary emotion. That’s been my experience too. Lots of feelings to feel under the feelings you think you are feeling. 🙂
Yeah, I’ve got some DEEEEEEEP soul-warts, too. Thank you for the suggestions — it’s especially comforting since over-thinking is probably my biggest issue.
Re: physical ones: Once upon a time, I had some spreading foot warts that did not respond to my DIY liquid nitrogen treatment (science school perk) or the OTC stuff. I complained to my mum, who pulled out a dog-eared copy of Lendon Smith, hmm-ed about vitamin A&D, and handed me the cod liver oil. I took it for a week, and the warts disappeared like they’d never been there and have never returned in 20+ years. I’m not going to say it’s a cure-all, but if the warts come back, it maybe couldn’t hurt. (Which is what I figured at the time, since I’m aware Mr. Smith is quackish in certain areas…)
Nicole S. says
I actually started meditation this past November, after resisting it for many years. My sister and mom both extolled the benefits, but I still resisted. Then my anxiety got worse, way worse. So, I started meditating, and I’m sorry I waited so long! I have benefited so much from the practice. Not just with lessening my anxiety, but in stirring up other emotions and ideas and feelings and repressed things that need to be felt and processed and released. I have also begun to finally connect with my spiritual side, a fantastic side benefit. So, I applaud you on beginning meditation! I am now on the bandwagon of “everyone should meditate”. I know that a year from now you will feel like a different person, in a good way, and so will I. Congrats!
Sheri Zone 8b San Juan Islands says
The “plantar wart” can also be cause by foreign objects like cedar, pressure-treated wood splinters, glass shards or metal flakes. I worked for some years in the cedar timer industry and most workers had issues including myself with hand warts. The skin thickening is a similar process that a oyster does when encountering sand on its tissue, it releases a fluid that hardens around the sand particle, thus developing a pearl. (Wish we were so lucky!) I developed another plantar wart on my foot a few years back after moving a ton of cedar chips, apparently fine particles worked their way down into my tennis shoes. That one got very painful. I’ll try your process next time instead of digging it out with a razor blade.