It's been an embarrassingly painful few weeks for your loyal blogger. I guess when you reach your forties, you should expect your body to fall apart bit by bit. But there's something faintly embarrassing about my own acquired malfunctions. I snored too much; my teeth were falling apart; and I got plantar warts on my feet. CPAP machines are not exactly sexy; root canals are no fun; but having warts burned off your feet is another thing entirely. I've now gone through three separate burn-offs, and only a couple of teensy warts disappeared. So last Friday, the podiatrist went for what he called the nuclear option. He injected bleomycin crystals in liquid form into each wart. You just don't know how many nerve endings there are in your feet until someone sticks a needle in them.

I was completely nonchalant to begin with. There are five warts left and I casually said I had no problems with having them all blasted in one setting. "Get it all over with" was the idea. The doc said that most people couldn't take more than one in a session. I scoffed. Then I yelled. The first injection was in my ankle - an anaesthetic. It hit a nerve and had me leap off the chair. Then I had the sensation of having my entire foot go to sleep for a few hours, which is weird when you have to walk on it. And then the actual injections. Although I couldn't feel anything on the sole of my foot, the pricks nonetheless triggered nerve endings on the top. Ouch. Then there's the result. Ever since, I haven't been able to step on my right foot without extreme pain, or now, the feeling of small pebbles in your shoe. This Friday, I go in for the left foot. The pain and discomfort are no fun, of course. But then I recall that thirteen years' ago, I prayed to reach my forties, and fully expected not to. In that context, the indignities of middle age seem perfectly tolerable, warts and all. Or as Ronald Reagan used to quip when teased about his advanced age: "It's better than the alternative."