Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jon is a battlefield

"We are young...heartache to heartache we stand..."

I am under attack.  A virus has made its home in my epidermis.  But I will not yield.  I will fight it on the plantar.  I will fight it on the toes.  I will never surrender!  Cue "Aces High" by Iron Maiden.
What does that all mean?  Two weeks ago, I visited my physician to determine the nature of the crinkly, rough-textured indentation on the heel of my right foot.  Much to my disgust, she told me it's a wart.  Ditto for the tiny, button-like protrusions on my left middle toe.  I felt filthy.  Unclean.  And anyone who knows me will tell you that I am nigh OCD when it comes to cleanliness and germophobia. 
So the doc tells me it has nothing to do with cleanliness and more to do with the acquisition of the human papillomavirus, something that anywhere between 10-15% of the population has at any given time.  Plus, although it is benign, the virus highly contagious.  That didn't help me much, the notion that there was a virus feeding and growing upon my skin was...repulsive.

Then I found this article in Wired from a few years back.  Turns out that people are really human-bacteria hybrids.  The majority of the cells growing in our bodies right now are not ours.  They're not even human. They are bacteria.  They reproduce plentifully on your feet, kept warm and dark by your shoes and fed by your sweat and dead skin cells.  Their respiration causes that distinct odor that wafts upward once shoes are removed.  Bacteria abound in your digestive tract as well.  In fact, we couldn't break down our food without them.  Amazing when you think about it.  We're the product in so many ways of tiny organisms that live on us and inside us.  I'll refrain from making midichlorian comparisons, mainly because I think they were a dumb idea to begin with.
So I wasn't feeling so bad.  Except that a virus is generally something that you don't want to carry around with you.  Thus, I commenced an all-out salicylic acid assault on the occupied areas of my feet.  The doc also recommended using duct tape on the warts, but I just can't bring myself to attempt a homeopathic remedy that sounds as if it were concocted by two guys in orange hunting jackets as they downed a case of Old Milwaukee.  So acidic ointment it is.
We are two weeks into the battle.  The smaller invaders on the left foot have been driven off, but the plantar on the right is tenacious.  Dug in like the Allies at Bastogne.  I thought about taking photos but decided to spare you.  Again and again I hit it with the salicylic acid in a regimen of twice a day.  The wart has retaliated by forming a cream-colored, hardened defense shield over itself.  One layer of skin peels off and I find the infection goes deeper still.  The acid at times spills over onto pink, healthy skin, causing a burning sensation that is rather unpleasing.  Still I fight on.
A brown, rooty, mosaic pattern has formed beneath the shell, like a computer-generated fractal display.  Perhaps that means the end is in sight?  Here's to hoping.
I don't mind being a human-bacteria hybrid.  Maybe not even a human-viral hybrid.  Just as long as my health doesn't suffer.  
And they pay rent.

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