When I was about four, my grandparents down Bayou Lafourche took me to a traiteur to “treat” a wart I had on my finger. It’s not that I’d complained about it, they just busted me trying to bite it off.

The traiteur had a wooden shack that was half on land and half over the bayou. He also knitted fishnets. I don’t know which one he did the most. So, I go in this old place and the man takes a string and does this “flossing” motion around my wart. Said some prayers in French. The string was green and to this day I have an aversion to green minty floss because it reminds me of warts.

The next day I was disappointed. The wart was still there. And the next, and the next, and the next. Then one day when I was no longer thinking about it, the wart was gone.

I never did think the traiteur’s thing worked. If something was to work, it had to be a bit more instant.

Years later, when I was about twelve, I read something about studies about warts, how if you believe they will go away, they will.

I thought I must not have believed it would go away. I didn’t like being tricked by my own mind or my belief system.

No wonder science appealed to me.

More years later the traiteur stuff came into play. As a nurse in Louisiana I had countless patients with strings tied around their ankles, many tiny knots tied into them. I had to dig through puffy and swollen ankles to get to these strings… The thing is, this particular treatment was to ward off swelling.

Those same patients had no trouble with the Lasix injections (for swelling), but try to get the circulation cutting string off them?

Forget that.

You don’t mess with people’s beliefs.


5 thoughts on “Traiteur

  1. It’s times like this when I wish I could jump in my car and call you on the cell “Hey Kitty, meet me at the cafe in 20 minutes” for some conversation and general girlfriend-time. The understanding, respect, and love you put out to the world is so comforting and inspiring.

  2. There was an episode of the RadioLab podcast where they discussed the placebo effect. They brought up warts as something that can be cured if the patient believes in it enough. My mom brought me to a Traiteur too, and it didn’t work for me either. Even at 7, I could tell the whole thing was nuts.

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