They’re garra rufa fish. They seemed fairly happy to give me a fish pedicure – they live and thrive on dead skin, apparently, so as soon as a foot arrives in their tank, they’re all over it, nibbling furiously. When I heard about the fish pedicure treatment, I recognised it as exactly the kind that Liza would introduce to the Port Treatment Centre. So, what else could I do, but have a go?
After trying unsuccessfully to persuade a friend that she’d love to go with me, I went alone to face the nibbly fishies, having made sure I was wearing no nail varnish or fake tan. I had to wash my feet before being allowed near the stars of the show. Then … time to plunge in.
‘Put both feet in together,’ the therapist advised. ‘Then they won’t all go to one foot.’ At the very last second, I had a sneaking doubt as to whether I was actually going to enjoy this. But I’d paid my £10 so I dropped my feet into the cool water and … whoosh! Dozens of the little brown swimmers latched onto each foot. The instinct was to smartly withdraw with a loud girly shriek!
But, being the brave scuba diver that I once was, I didn’t disgrace myself. I picked up my camera and began to record the event. The photos and video clips I took recall the appearance of the fish and the tank and also the relaxing bubbling of the water. In no way does it capture the feeling, though!
It’s plain weird.
There’s no pain (put all thoughts of piranhas from your minds) but it’s not a relaxing feeling. Maybe invigorating. Think: bubbling/fizzing/nibbling/tingling/tickling, and you’re probably getting the idea. The water is cool but not uncomfortably cold (I don’t do cold) and there’s something faintly bizarre about sitting in a room with your feet in a tank of fish, watching from above their intense attentions as they move around your flesh like little munchy vacuum cleaners on a mission.
I quite enjoyed it.
But I didn’t notice my feet being any softer, afterwards.
Then, furthering my research on narcolepsy (there’s a lot more to learn about narcolepsy than there is to having your toes nibbled) last night I had the pleasure of once again meeting Dominic W, with a new list of questions about his sleep disorder and a new set of articles to discuss with him. My narcolepsy research file is now about two inches thick.
I can think of few more enjoyable ways to conduct research than through long involved conversations over a bottle of cold wine, in a crowded wine bar in the middle of London on a summer’s evening. Dominic brought me the boxes and containers from his meds – having previously emailed me photos of the tablets beside a ruler, so I knew the size – along with the appropriate leaflets (all for me to conclude that I’d refer to them as ‘little white pills’ and ‘little yellow pills’). We discussed how and when they were taken, effects, side-effects and advantages and what happens without them (clue: not much).
The aspects of narcolepsy that I find to poke my nose into are endless. Did you know that more narcoleptics are born in March than any other month? And fewest in September? (This is completely irrelevant to my book, but I don’t let that blunt my interest.) Onset is most common at puberty or the menopause (don’t think the latter will affect either Dominic), the median age for onset is 20, there are environmental triggers …
I just wish someone would find a cure for it.
The drawbacks to being a writer – such as deadlines suddenly brought forward and extra work requested without extra fees offered – are outweighed by the advantages. It usually beats having a proper job. I think that every book I write, from now on, I’ll plot according to how enjoyable the research will be.
Anyone want me to write a book about their luxury villa in Mauritius?