Poison Ivy

I wrote last week about the magic of climbing trees. Well, there is a dark side to every forest, a shadow to the sunshine, and in that tree I found it: poison ivy.

Just like climbing trees, how long has it been since you got poison ivy? As a kid, this is a usual danger amidst playing in the yard, like warts or ringworm; but as we grow up, unless heavy yard work or camping are frequent events in our lives, it is kind of rare that we get something like poison ivy. Typically when I get it, it's just an isolated rash, a few bumps and then it's gone. So when I saw it the other day, I didn't regard it very seriously. But this particular vine was something different, a mutation of green annoyance the likes of which I had never seen. I haphazardly finished the yard work and went inside, only to slowly realize the horrors of this wicked weed...

The rash showed up a couple days later, but a surf swell hit and so I went to the beach, hoping a dip in the ocean might bring some saline healing that I have experienced time and time again. The water didn't work though, and the rash only spread. That night I woke up at 2:30 in the morning, unable to sleep and fishing for a cure. I remembered we had Benadryl, so I lathered up. I also searched the internet for any remedy I could access at such an hour. Apple cider vinegar, baking soda and an oatmeal bath were what I came up with, and so I added to my chemical doctoring some natural cures. I didn't really want to draw a bath that late however, so I just made a cup of oatmeal and slapped it on my wrists.

I'm happy to report that the oatmeal worked well! I ended up using it for the next two days, which was a sticky mess every time, but helped me get through the days and nights. However, instead of going away or staying isolated, this poison ivy spread! And is still spreading as I write this! It keeps showing up on my arms, feet, chin, legs and face! So this is my current situation:

So why am I writing this? Partially to share some remedies that worked for me (calamine lotion has also helped a lot), but partially because I am in pain! Sharing my story helps me process I guess...I don't remember the last time I was this uncomfortable, and I feel like I can now sort of sympathize with folks suffering from any topical ailments. It reminds me of all those bible stories about lepers, and brings to mind the severity of what life would be like so isolated. Of course my problem is nothing like that, and will likely pass in a couple more days, but the thought is still there.

Anyway, I guess what I am writing is that this is terrible -- I wouldn't wish it on anyone -- the other side of the coin to the childlike fun of climbing trees; so maybe there is a reason we quit doing it all those years ago. Climbing still has to be worth it, and we must always stay in touch with our child-nature, but maybe next time I will be more careful.