August 14, 2006

No sympathy

It happens every August. I get careless. During a heat wave, I can't stand to wear long pants or long-sleeved shirts or protective clothing of any type. Or sometimes, I am in a hurry, and I take my sneakers off with my hands instead of using the edge of the porch to yank them off.

And then I wake up one morning covered with poison ivy rash.

I've had the rash on every part of my body. One drop of that evil fluid, transferred from my sneakers to my hands, can slide onto any available patch of skin, causing a bubbling, oozing rash. When the rash covers a sensitive part of my body like my breasts, the itching is painful.

One of the most annoying place to get the rash is between my fingers. Today I can barely type because my fingers are so swollen, and fluid from the sores keeps dripping onto the keyboard. During a hike with my family yesterday, the bubbles between my fingers swelled up until I had a blister the size of a kidney bean.

Spouse, who doesn't get poison ivy, looked at the rash with a combination of sympathy and horror. Yet my children, who have inherited my genes and get poison ivy just as badly, were not even one bit sympathetic. Quite the opposite. They treated me like I had leprosy.

My youngest son refused to hold my hand, declaring, "That's gross."

My daughter said helpfully, "I've even seen all those scary films about STI's and that's worse than anything in those health class movies."

"You've ruined my lunch," said Shaggy Hair Boy, "I can't even eat anything after seeing that hand."

"Please put your hand away so we don't have to look at it," said my oldest son.

My husband tried to interject some kind of sympathetic comment but my daughter cut him off. "How can you even sleep in the same bed with that woman? That's just sickening."

That evening, as our extras began arrive for the nightly game of Ultimate Frisbee, I heard one of my kids say, "Hey, want to see something really disgusting?"

And then, "MOM! Com'ere for a minute."

At least they weren't selling tickets.

36 comments:

Kristen said...

Oh, man!! The fluid is actually dripping onto the keyboard?!! I can't even comprehend that level of misery. How horrible. I hope it clears up soon!

pPB said...

I take it your doctor has no sympathy either? Because you sound like a steroid worthy case if I've ever heard one. kidney bean? Yikes. I'd send you my Zanfel, but I don't think it would get there in time. You should bond with What Now--she's highly allergic, too. Of course, just the suggestion of poison ivy freaks me out.

I hope you feel better soon and those rotten ingrate children (for whom you went through how many hours of labor?) become little Florence Nightingales for you.

RLT said...

I am so sorry you have to suffer through that. I hope it goes away soon.

Linda (FM) said...

Imagining it dripping on the keyboard is kind of grossing me out, but I'll offer my sympathies anyway. Hope it's better soon.

shrinkykitten said...

What mean mean children! :)

The one time I got poison ivy, I got it between my fingers too. I still have a scar there. When my aunt was little, she had to go to the bathroom in the woods, and squatted down in some poison ivy, by accident. Ouch!

I used to know a guy who was highly allergic to poison ivy - if he was near it, the fumes would infect the inside of his nose, mouth, and his eyes. Ugh.

I hope it clears up soon.

Yankee, Transferred said...

The thought of itching between my fingers and on my breasts makes me shiver, but I'm afraid I'm on the "that's gross" bandwagon. You do have my total sympathy, however.

kayni said...

Get well soon! I understand what you're going through. I have a lot of allergies and I seem to be sensitive with foreign plants that I touched. Sometimes, I don't even know what I'm allergic of anymore. Anyway, Don't scratch. kayni

Psycho Kitty said...

Okay, I do feel badly for you, but I cannot tell a lie: The very first thought through my head while reading this was, "Ewwwwwww, gross!" Although I like to think that I would be nicer about it if you were my mother...buuuut probably not.

BeachMama said...

That sounds pretty horrible. Although I can imagine how gross it is, I can't imagine that my kids would lose sympathy for me! Hope it heals quickly and you stop oozing.

Marie said...

Okay, I've never had poison ivy, but ICK!! I wouldn't hold your hand either, even as I admire the skill with which you described the ickiness. Hope you're better soon! (And I'm with PPB: steroids, honey, steroids. My friend who gets it really badly always does some sort of steroid.)

molly said...

LOL to the selling tickets part. I hope it clears up soon. Never had poison ivy, I'm so a city girl, but you have my unqualified sympathy.

Jenevieve said...

Oh, total sympathy. Once during a raucous game of Capture the Flag, I face-and-chest-planted into a whole patch of it. I washed of almost immediately, but the damage was done. That was a very sad week for me.

jar said...

You have my sympathy.

Leslee said...

I've managed to keep from having it the last few years thanks to moving away from the woods of my youth. You have my sympathy! Hope you feel better very soon!

OneTiredEma said...

We spent the weekend at a house in the Berkshires, and there were a lot of points, while chasing Miss M around the edge of the property, when I wish I knew what poison ivy looked like. Instead of thinking, "Oh no! Did she just touch that plant with 'leaves of three'? Not shiny, though, so it's ok. Right? Right. Right?"

(I assume it's ok if nothing's appeared in 48 hours. Right?)

You have my sympathy, but oozing is kind of gross ;-)

jackie said...

My sympathies-- sounds terrible! I don't get poison ivy, but my older sister has the same kind of terrible reactions-- once she got poison sumac from the air! There was a lot of construction across the street from our house, including cutting down a lot of poison sumac vines, and her face and throat were so swelled up she could hardly swallow or eat. We almost had to take her to the hospital!

KLee said...

Jo(e)!!! How awful! I'm so sorry! Gosh, you must really be sensitive to it if you got it that bad from just taking off your shoes!

I would talk to a doctor about maybe laying in a store of cream or something that you could just use when you happen to run into some poison ivy. I'm sure that there is SOME doctor that will help you out there.

jo(e) said...

Oh, it's nice to get so much sympathy from my readers.

I have to say that I have never even thought about going to the doctor's for something as common as poison ivy rash. (I usually don't go to the doctor's unless I have a broken bone or something pretty serious.) I mean, I know what causes it, I know all the remedies for it, and I know that it will go away without any type of medication. Despite the many bad cases I've had -- and I do look like I have leprosy or something when I have it -- it always goes away eventually, and my skin will end up perfectly clear and smooth with no sign of the rash ever being there.

And of course, I am always telling myself I am going to start being more careful in the woods ....

Saoirse said...

That sounds really uncomfortable. I hope it goes away soon.

liz said...

Holy guacamole, Jo(e). It sounds like you're extra allergic to it. It's the most common allergy.

Being that it IS an allergic reaction, have you taken any Benadryl or equivilent? Ask your doctor's permission first, if you're taking other allergy meds.

MindSpin said...

I sympathize! I'm susceptible to poison ivy; it grows in my yard; I get it every summer, and sometimes I have to take a round of steroids to get rid of it. I don't think I've ever had blisters as big as yours, though. I hope you are better soon.

Liesl said...

Holy Hannah, Jo(e). You have my utmost sympathy. I managed to get a leaf of the vine stuck inside my socl earlier this summer. It scooted around inside the ankle area for several hours before I discovered it, and by then, the damage had been done. I went barefoot to let it heal, but then I kept oozing on the floors, so then I resorted to changing socks every couple of hours. Very, very miserable.

I hope you heal up soon. Have you tried soaking in an oatmeal bath?

peripateticpolarbear said...

Now jo(e), this is no time to get all earth mothery, vegan moosewood, poetry writing, belly dancerish on us.Steroids, baby, steroids. Call the doctor for the big guns. It will make it clear up faster, plus it gives you an excuse to overat those moosewoody vegan earth mothery treats before going out belly dancing with fellow poets.

Would it help if I said that I went in for the steroids and the following happened:
a) the doctor said I looked gross (you know you're gross when the doctor says it.)
b) the doctor said I didn't have a very good oxygen count.
c) the doctor said if I didn't feel any better in an hour to go to the emergency room, which I did, and I stopped breathing right in the waiting room. It was all very dramatic and ERish, except without any hot doctors (Delaware baby: would you live in Delaware if you were a hot doctor?) Then I got sent to a private room where they pumped me full of steroids, benadryl and epinephrine for 2 days. Bliss.... (then they kicked my ivy'ed ass out and I literally scared small children at the mall.) The moral of this story is this: if I hadn't gone to the doctor in search of steroids, I wouldn't have known to go to the ER when I did, and then I would have died. died in Delaware! and I never would have written a blog or met you in Snowstorm City at a coffee shop.

I'm telling you bad stuff happens when you don't go to the doctor when you're so gross your ingrate children are mocking you.

liz said...

Jo(e). Doctor. Now.

jo(e) said...

PPB: Oh, that must have been horrible (although you tell it as such a funny story).

I've had poison ivy rash way worse than this ... this case is limited to my hands and my arms. But if I ever have it really, really bad, I will at least think about going to the doctor's. I think I spent so many years either pregnant or breastfeeding that it really never occurs to me that I can take any kind of medication.

And of course, I always seem to be allergic to medications of any type, so that's a consideration. Once I took something with sulfa in it for a UTI, and within about an hour, I was covered with a red rash from head to toe. (Now I just drink cranberry juice instead.) And a few years ago, I took amoxicillin for the first time in my life, and after a few days on it, I was covered in hives, big huge hives even on the soles of my feet. So I am naturally cautious of taking anything ....

revabi said...

Joe you are gross, but your kids sound normal

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

jo(e) i knew you were colorful from the way you write.

ha!

no seriously it sounds so awful. Do you feel better when you swim?

What Now? said...

Ugh, I've never had poison ivy on my hands, at least. I tend to get it all over my legs and arms and on my waist (where apparently I hike up my trousers more often than I realize), but not on sensitive areas, thank goodness. My sympathies.

I have gotten steroids a couple of times when it wasn't healing but instead new sores kept breaking out over a week later. The doctor said that the infection "had gone systemic" (ooh, sounds bad) and put me on steroids. My brother, who also gets it all the time, has a tube of steroid cream that he puts on sores whenever they appear, and they knock it out pretty quickly; unfortunately, neither that cream nor the Zanfel that works so well for PPB have an effect on my rashes.

Silver Creek Mom said...

I can feel your children's Love and compassion. LOL!

I've never had that nasty stuff. I hope I never do. I know I would go insane with it.

I hope you healed fast. Hugs

cloudscome said...

Whenever I get ived I suffer for about a week and then remember to scrub with a bleach solution. It knocks it right out. Sorry you are dealing with this in the heat!

jo(e) said...

Bleach solution? I've never tried that.

Do you use clorox? I have such sensitive skin that I think that might sting like crazy, especially with all these open sores ....

academic coach said...

I am anything but the earth mother type... but... I HATE when I get poison ivy. When I get it a little I used cortizone cream. When I get it bad, I've resorted to steroids. but... I HATE steroids. Prednizone makes me crazy --- seriously, among of the side effects are psychiatric symptoms.
So, I went to an acupuncturist who claimed she can cure alergies with acupuncture. After two sessions of acupuncture I waited a week and then tested the cure. I picked a piece of poison ivy (while wearing gloves, of course, since between the fingers itching is so horrid)then rubbed the leaf on a small patch of my leg, and waited 3 days. No poision ivy! Could I be cured for good? I'm not rolling around in the fields to check it out. But I may make one more clinical trial and if I remain p.i.-free then I've going to cart all four kids over to the acupuncturist since they've been pretty much itching in one spot or another since April. You know that this is one more reason for you to come visit me in Chapel Hill, Jo(e), but obviously not in the summer since you're so adverse to heat.

jo(e) said...

Well, you have to break the leaf and spread some juice on your leg for a true test.

But if acupuncture would cure me of this allergy to poison ivy, I would definitely go for it. It would improve the quality of my life immensely ....

DaniGirl said...

Lots of sympathy, and a shudder, from me!!

I only have half the number of kids you do, but I still have the same thought about treating colds and headache and such... I'm so used to just coping with them, I forget I can actually treat them with OTC stuff now.

I am paranoid about getting poison ivy because there is some sort of innocuous weed that isn't poison ivy that grows in my yard and I have a wretched reaction to it when it brushes against me, so I'd hate to see what actual poison ivy or oak or sumac would do to my sensitive skin.

Hope it heals soon!

oldwhitelady said...

Oooh, I share your pain. I'm allergic to poison ivy, too. I hope it heals quickly.

Rana said...

Yike. And I thought my brother was bad. (He's very very allergic to poison oak.)

Some things that we learned from his experiences:

Dead twigs are the worst, because you can't tell if they're dangerous -- they just look like sticks. And don't burn them in a campfire!

Steroids are indeed your friend. Especially if you play hide and go seek and stick your face into a patch of those twigs.

The absolute best thing to do if you think you've been exposed is to rinse in cold water. As soon as possible, before the oil can bond with your skin. Adding soap is a good idea, but even cold stream water is better than nothing.

Never use hot water to start, but after the rash sets in and it doesn't appear elsewhere, it can help in "sweating" out the itch.

Tecnu is AWESOME.

Stripping nekkid when you come home after being in the woods and jumping right in a shower is a good idea. My parents actually designed their house so that they have the washer and drier right next to a shower big enough to hold a couple of people and a dog.

My brother also used to nurse a small patch of rash for the duration of the mountain biking season, claiming that it kept his immune system used to the poisons. I'd take that one with a grain of salt!