Genetics and their inheritance is quite an indecipherable phenomena. I’ve always wondered why I seemed to have inherited all the problematic genes (ingrown toenails, overly sensitive sinus and lazy intestines) and none of the corresponding good genes (strong thick nails, luscious black strong hair and double eyelids) from my mother.
Amongst these genetic defects, my ingrown toenails have been the greatest source of pain and angst for the most part of my adult life. I’ve bought every possible type of clippers, cut my toenails straight, square and round, had manicurists and nail doctors do their magic over and over again. To no availl.
It’s almost like my toenails have a mind of their own. The more I sought to stop them curling into my flesh, the more they grew, the deeper they encroached into my nailbed and surrouding flesh. And I never know how far it’s grown into the flesh until I feel an excruciating pain in my big toe. Some time back, when I was living in Prague, I woke up to discover my left toe had swollen to the size of a golf ball and turned bright red overnight. I limped to the hospital. The doctor did what he could with my ingrown toenail, bandaged it, gave me medication and told me I was not to wear covered shoes for a week, so I could let my big toe heal.It was the coldest Prague winter in 30 years, and it was -10 degrees Celsius that day. I remember feeling grateful it was not snowing.
Since then, checking the length of my toenails has become my number 1 daily obsession. Second to that was my quest for a permanent cure, which may be in sight since last night.
After a week of ominnous pricks of pain around my toes, I dropped in at a Yang’s Pedicure & Treament Clinic on my way home for my regular winter pedicure. For the last couple of years, I’ve foregone pedicures at beauty salon type places during winter, firstly, to give my nails a well-deserved rest from nail lacquer/enamel/gel/other poisonous substances and, secondly, to save some money. Sure, it’s still dirt cheap to get pedicures in Beijing, but it’s nothing like the prices I paid when I first moved to China 10 years ago. Since I hide my feet all winter in thick socks and boots, it doesn’t make sense for me to blow cash on nail polish that no one but I can see. This was why I began patronising Yang’s.
Once I walked into Yang’s, I see therapists in long white lab coats and paper face masks, sitting on stools facing their customers’ feet, slicing dead skin and toe nails proficiently with a single blade knife. Once I sat down on the comfy sofa, a young apprentice brought me a big wooden bucket of warm water in which I placed my bare feet. After a ten minute soak, the therapist took my right foot and began working on my nails.. I informed her of my ghastly ingrown toenails. Holding my big toe between her thum and index finger, she examined my nail closely and declared there was a permanent remedy for the condition.
Years of living in China have taught me to treat anything sounding like a sales pitch with suspicion. I asked about the cost, questionned the permanence of the remedy’s healing effects, asked the therapist how long the remedy took and what was involved. Even though I wasn’t convinced by the therapists’ answers, I decided to bite the bullet and went ahead with it.
Two therapists took a good part of an hour shaping thin steel wires into the shape of Ω with the vertical lines hooking under the side edges of my toe nails and then gluing the wires onto my nails so they wouldn’t fall off. They told me these steel wires would manipulate my nails so they would grow straight out, instead of curving on the sides. I was told I’ll need to wear these wires on my toes for 30 to 50 days and they wouldn’t rust or cause pain.
Day 2. So far so good.