I like the truth. The older I get, the more I think it’s pointless to hide the very things that make me the most human – and this includes my warts. Yes, I have warts. But I think they are disappearing spontaneously and this is more exciting than discovering a Miu Miu bag for $20 in a charity shop.
Here’s my story, warts and all. About 12 years ago I got something called a verruca (commonly known as a plantar’s wart). The English Husband gave me this little present when we were living in a flat with a damp, windowless bathroom.
The verruca virus, part of the HPV (human papillomavirus) family, is contagious and can thrive in very damp places such as public swimming pools and sweaty gyms. (It doesn’t like porcelain baths – so don’t worry if I’ve used your bathroom.) A small cut on the skin is enough to let the virus in, while the body is the perfect host. About 7 – 10% of the US population will get a verruca in their lifetime; 20% of children between the ages of 16 and 18 will have one.
The English Husband also passed this virus on to our best friend and my brother. Both of them managed to get rid of the wart within about a year or two. I have had mine for more than a decade.
Let me put this timeframe into context. Twelve years ago:
- I had never heard of a little company called Google
- George Bush Junior was president of the United States
- Justin Bieber was only six years old
- Gladiator and Cast Away had just been released in the movie theatre
- Destiny’s Child released Say My Name
If you’ve never had a verruca, let me tell you now it hurts. They look a bit like a cauliflower and have tiny black spots inside the wart, usually only visible if you look closely. These are small hemorrhages caused by standing or walking on the verruca. Warts are quite fascinating things, really, and I’ve become a bit of an expert.
Invariably, a verruca will hurt if you squeeze its sides. It will also give you pain in the mornings when you put pressure on the foot or if you are wearing tight shoes. When you are feeling run down, it will throb. I’ve noticed that it can also throb on airplanes.
This ugly wart has stopped me from getting pedicures. I’ve become incredibly self-conscious about showing the soles of my feet to other people, whether at the beach or in a yoga class. I always felt like I was holding up a red flag saying, ‘Look at me, I have huge wart on my foot.’ It functions a bit like a lighthouse does with boats – this wart, I felt, was a beacon for people’s stares.
All of a sudden, though, it seems to be disappearing, and it’s taking some smaller warts with it. I had all but given up hope. I had tried all the familiar treatments – bazuka, tea tree oil, salicylic acid, duct tape and even going to a chiropodist. I might even have prayed. Nothing has ever worked.
Everything I’ve ever read about verrucas says that they will eventually go away on their own. Normally this happens within months or a couple of years. For some unlucky people, it could take much longer. To get rid of it, your body will need to make antibodies.
I truly didn’t think it would happen to me. I thought I was going to die with this wart on my foot, so this is as close to a miracle as I’m likely to get.
I thought I’d share this with you because there might be people out there, thinking that they will live with warts forever. I want to offer you a bit of hope.
And because I’m feeling charitable, I will add this little bit of trivia as a bonus. Oliver Cromwell is credited with the modern expression, ‘warts and all’. The 17th-century republican, who had King Charles I beheaded, told a painter that he wanted to be portrayed with ‘pimples, warts and everything as you see me’.