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Humans of Oxford: Claire Papamarcos’ cold comforts

By Kevin Vestal, For The Miami Student

Her recipe is simple - two parts water, one part rubbing alcohol, mixed together in a Ziploc bag. She places the bag inside a freezer. In a few hours, Claire Papamarcos will have a "ratchet ice pack."

These gel ice packs are her favorite. Their flexible nature comes in handy when treating her many injuries.

"Ninety-nine percent of the time I am injured," Claire says with a smile.

It started in the eighth grade. A nasty fall on stage during play rehearsal left her with a dislocated hip and a world of pain.

For weeks, Claire turned to ice for relief. Rather than waste money on single-use ice packs, she opted for another solution. She began making ice packs at home and stored them in her teacher's freezer during the school day.

Her hip eventually healed, but the ice packs stuck around.

Now, in her first year at Miami, Claire regularly experiments with ingredients like corn syrup or dish soap.

A child-care center once inspired her to try freezing wet sponges. Instead of giving them to teething babies, Claire prefers using the cold sponges for various head injuries.

Of course, the classic ice cubes in a bag works, too.

When she sprained her ankle, Claire carried several ice bags around in a popcorn tin in order to combat her latest ailment. The tin, which had been previously used as a makeshift cookie jar, served as her lifeline that day. Her teacher laughed at the absurdity, but it got the job done.

Many of Claire's injuries come from athletics. After dabbling in kickboxing back home in California, Claire joined Miami's boxing club to stay in shape. She conditions whenever she can.

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"Boxing is not my life's focus," she says. "It's just another source of injuries."

Bumps and bruises frequently plague her knuckles. Shin splits are no stranger to her.

Then again, neither are ice packs.