Poison Ivy: the devil in disguise

So I’ve been away from the computer for awhile. Been busy scratching. Not too long ago I had written about how bad things had kept happening, how the virtual shit had not stopped hitting the fan. Later that week I was so frustrated I decided that some serious gardening would do the trick; it would help me work off some steam.

Bad idea.

While plugged into a steady stream of Pandora tunes, I did my best impression of the Texas Chainsaw killer with my bush trimmer. I trudged through leafy landscaped beds that had been growing rapidly due to all the rain. I was slathered in insect repellent as I am highly sensitive to mosquito bites. When I get too many bites, I look like I’m having a seizure when I’m scratching everywhere. So I was protected. Or so I thought.

I spent five hours in the brush. I trimmed, I weeded, I gardened. Three days later when I started to scratch a few bumps on my forearm, I thought the mosquitos had in fact caught up with me. Lucky I have a brother who’s a doctor. One look at those bumps and he gave me my quick diagnosis. Poison Ivy.

You don’t really spell poison ivy like it appears. It’s actually spelled D-E-V-I-L, because that’s what it is. As most of you may know, I’ve been through cancer, chemotherapy, numerous surgeries, hair loss, etc. Yet nothing prepared me for the ravage of the devil.

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: poison ivy is not just a mild rash. It’s not just something that goes away in a few days. THIS IS SOME SERIOUS SHIT. I just finished week three and I’m still seizing scratching. All because of this:


Actually it’s not this that’s the culprit, it’s what’s on it. It’s called “urushoil”. Not every person is allergic to it but that does’t matter. At all costs, STAY AWAY FROM anything that even resembles this plant. There are others as well that are covered in this lovely substance and they are pictured here.

It’s not just enough to touch the oil: it gets on your clothes, socks, shoes, etc. It will get on your bath towel after you shower – use it again and you’re still spreading the oil. Garden gloves will protect your hands but when you touch your exposed skin – voila, more oil. It takes a few days for the oil to seep into your skin and once it does, should you be allergic, you’re going to start breaking out.

My sister suffered at the hands of this devil last year and advised me to get a poison ivy wash immediately. I got this:



I wish I’d had this the first day after I was exposed (like a dummy, I didn’t know I’d been exposed – I was too immersed in Pandora and blowing off steam to pay attention to what I was pulling/trimming). There is also a cleaner by the same brand however, this is a scrub and the granules are heaven for the itching. It’s been three weeks and I have showered with this at least 2-3 times a day. (cool showers and ice packs are also very helpful. Itch creams just don’t help that much).

Don’t be fooled though that this is going to stave off your rashes. Mine started on my arms, moved to my torso then legs, toes and yes, even a part of my butt. I don’t look too ridiculous scratching my ass, right? This cleanser will help make the rash less intense. This is as bad as mine got and no, this wasn’t my butt:



But it could have been this:


Yes, that’s disgusting. And that could have been me or it could be you. And despite the lesser severity of my rash than this picture, the itching is hell on wheels.

So, pay attention when you are gardening, hiking or picnicking. Wear appropriate clothing and if you even think you’ve been exposed, scrub with a cleaner and wash all clothing that may have been touched. I threw away my gardening gloves and keep switching bath towels. And here I am at the 3 week mark, still scratching away.

The only other thing that is helping is Xanax. And my prescription is low.

For more unprofessional medical advice, become a subscriber! Once I’m done scratching I may be able to write more again!

Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Or hang out with me on Facebook!

Leave a comment