Somewhere in my sordid travels I picked up a case of mollescum, which resulted in some rather scary warts appearing on my privates. It also provoked a few tense conversations with my girlfriend, where I was heard to plea, “I swear to God, honey. It was that sketchy hot tub in Barbados,” which might be true except for I’ve never been to Barbados. I understand you can, however, get this bug from hot tubs. Anyway, the doctor immediately recognized the nasty ailment by its telltale dimpled caps, assuaging my considerable fears that I had contracted its nasty, mutated cousin ~ genital warts.
“No,” he said, examining my pride and chuckling, “Deese are not genital warts. And between de two of ’em, I’d rather have de molluscum.”
“Why?” I asked, biting my lower lip. Not why was he chuckling ~ I hated go there ~ rather why were they easier to treat. I was trembling, probably due to the clinical coolness of his clinic, but perhaps also because of my huge emotional investment in the health and well-being of my wang and its surrounding parts.
“Easier to treat,” he said, and then proceeded to rip off the top of each wart with a razor blade, and with an evil glint in his eye, douse the open wounds with acid.
The stinging was acute, and I howled like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, crying out “My precious! My precious!” as the doctor tore into each fresh molluscum wart with a feverish vengeance, plus more chuckling. When it was all over he sent me limping home with a $360 bill, a pat on the head, and a grape sucker. Oh ~ all that and a sausage that looked half-cooked and leprous.
Now please understand, I pay for my own health care insurance, and to keep my monthly premiums down, I chose a high deductible: $1000. That means the doctor’s bill was paid for by me, as were the two subsequent visits. For as it turns out, molluscum is pesky and hard to eradicate. On each visit, the Doc and I would go through the same torturous process ~ the scraping, the burning, the howling, the whimpering, another pat on the head, grape lollipop, and bill for services rendered.
By the third visit, the Doc and I were on first name basis.
“Doc Charley,” I said. “What other ways are there to treat molluscum?”
“Well,” he said, sharpening his razor on a black leather strap and then gingerly feeling its edge with his burly thumb. “More modern facilities freeze the little bastards off with cryogenic tools. But seein’ how we is a gubment subsidized clinic, we can’t afford dat. Dat’s why I have to use de acid.” He stirred a smoking cauldron of the stuff with a boat oar and removed what looked like a chicken bone with a set of rusty tongs.
“Well that makes sense,” I said, eying leaky steam-pipes running through the cracked ceiling, and in the dim light catching glimpses of tentacled creatures fermenting in vats of formaldehyde, some of them still squirming. My wrists and ankles ached from the tightness of my restraints, and I was uncomfortable with the motley crowd of red-eyed drunks, tatted prostitutes, and grizzled creatures of the night who gathered to watch what had now become a regular spectacle ~ me writhing under the blade and acid of Doc Charley ~ my screams drowned out by his shrill laughter. My only comfort was their polite applause when it was all over, which I appreciated.
As I limped out of the clinic into the foggy, damp streets of the city, another bill tucked into my oily jeans, I began to think. Had this become some kind of sick Pavlovian experiment, with me psychosomatically manifesting warts on my wiener just for a taste of artificially flavored grape? It’s true I lusted for it. Were the Doc and I engaging in a pseudo-homosexual codependency, giving him a government sanctioned outlet for his latent Sadism, and me an excuse to let another man handle my gozzle? I hated to think it. Could cryogenic treatment by a more sane, and less expensive, method allow me to eradicate my own molluscum?
I chose to ignore the first two questions and focus on the third. A few minutes of searching on the Internet, the all-knowing fount of wisdom, and I found what I was looking for ~ an article entitled “How to Remove Molluscum Warts Using Dry Ice.” Oh, the joy.
The next time the warts appeared, and they did, I made a quick run to the grocery store and bought a piece for 60 cents. No, that is not a typo. Sixty pennies for a chunk of cryogenically frozen carbon dioxide about the size of a deck of cards.
I rushed home. Rummaging around in my tool box, I found a razor and doused it with rubbing alcohol. I went into my bedroom and closed the door, trembling like a schoolboy anxious to drool on his stash of girlie mags while paying a comforting visit to Rosie Palm and her five sisters. But this was no comfort visit. I was about to perform my own surgery.
Stretching my 18 inches of glorious wonder before me, I quickly found the offending viral invasion. Five of them, no, six. Growing up, I learned that if you have six toads to swallow, go for the biggest, ugliest one first. Then the other five won’t seem so bad. So with that philosophy in mind, I attacked one big ugly mother with my razor. As it turns out, in this case my philosophy was wrong.
The ugliest toad was one of the smaller warts due to its strategic location near the business end of my wand, where all the nerves are and the magic happens. With a shaky hand I scraped off its cap. Not so bad. The searing pain came when I applied the dry ice. The Internet had told me to keep the pressure on for 20 seconds, and because I believe everything the Internet tells me, I did as I was told. 20 seconds could not come soon enough.
Since then, I’ve made two more trips to the grocery store for a total outlay of $2.64 for dry ice. It’s been several weeks now with no sign of molluscum, so I do believe I am free and clear of the stuff. Doc Charlie sends me fruitcakes by mail with flowery cards saying he misses me. But I’m not going back. I’ve taken health care into my own hands, both figuratively and literally, and that’s one good way to drive down its cost. Self care requires thinking like a pioneer, doing some homework, considerable bravery, and if it makes sense, treating yourself. I scrape my own teeth now too, with an $8 kit I bought at CVS, and have cut my dentist bills in half. Even my dentist approves.
So do it for yourself. Do it for America. Own your own health care. And if you need someone to hold your dick, call a friend.