… for the love of Pete, LET IT BE!
I took a week off work in mid-June and had a “stay-cation” so I could work on some things at home. There’s a flower bed on the corner of our property that appears to have had some kind of perennials in it, but it hasn’t been touched since we moved in (7 years ago) so it was a hot mess of overgrown weeds. There were even little trees growing in it! I decided that I was going to tackle it while I was home. Oh yes! This is happening!!!
So I grabbed my earbuds and dragged 3 shovels and 2 rakes out to the yard. I was out there digging and hacking and pulling for 3 straight days. I even dug out and moved rocks (more like boulders!) to put them in a circle so I could make this eyesore into a lovely flower bed. And I yanked out all of these viney roots that sprawled out into the yard. I was pretty impressed with myself (see finished product below). My neighbor even came over and mentioned that he saw me working my butt off out there. It never occurred to me that I was in grave, grave danger.
By the weekend, I noticed little spots on my arms. No biggie, I thought. Just some stupid rash from playing in the dirt all week. By Tuesday the spots were pretty itchy and were looking pretty bad. I went to the doctor the next morning and wasn’t terribly surprised to hear I had poison ivy. Funny though, I never saw any leaves to make me think there was poison ivy in that bed. Anyway, I got a steroid shot and a script for prednisone and went home to start recovering.
At 3am Wednesday morning, I woke up with the most unbelievable itching across my stomach. I had broken out in what looked like hives all across my abdomen, across my chest (you know, just in the places where my bra rubs of course) and up my neck. I also noticed spots on my legs like the ones on my arms. So off to the ER I went! I found out that I not only developed contact dermatitis from poison ivy, I have a straight up severe allergic reaction to it… and it had entered my bloodstream. Oh goodie. Another steroid shot later (that was the WORST shot I have EVER had – I could have sworn it would cause permanent paralysis in my arm by the pain I felt) and directions to take darn near lethal dosages of Benadryl and Pepcid – oh yes, Pepcid helps – I was on my way back home.
By Saturday morning, the hives had turned into what looked like a HUGE birthmark across my abdomen and onto my hips and back. So off to the doctor AGAIN! This time they told me that there was no way this was poison ivy but was actually a bad case of tinea (that’s RINGWORM people!) and that we had to start treating the FUNGAL INFECTION. EEEEEEEWWWWWWW!!!!! So they took me OFF of the prednisone and allergy meds and put me ON some antifungal cream.
By Monday, I was trying every remedy I could Google: oatmeal paste, apple cider vinegar, super-hot water every few hours, and praying for death. So back to the doctor AGAAAAAAIIIIIINNNNNNNN!!! At this visit, I just started taking off my clothes as soon as they came through the door. “LOOK AT THIS!” The first doctor looked me over and said “Is it OK if I bring someone else in?” Hell, I couldn’t care less if you bring half the freaking city in here at this point. JUST FIX IT! So the second doctor came in and looked all over me and talked about what they saw and they said “Can you give us a minute?” And out they went. Now I am thinking that maybe I have something like leprosy. They came back in and told me “We think we’ve exhausted everything that general medicine can do for you. We’re sending you to a specialist.” Awesome. It’s about time. But wait a minute… this is July 2nd so I got teary-eyed thinking ‘oh my gosh, I’m going to have to deal with this through the holiday and the weekend.’ Then the doctor went into the hall and I heard her raise her voice while she was talking to someone else. She said “I’ll get on the phone at 8am myself if it helps her get in there!” Then she came back in and said that she was going to prescribe me something to sleep tonight. Oh thank God. Someone is finally going to help me.
I got a call at 8:30am the next morning informing me of my appointment at the dermatologist at 11:30am. I threw on some yoga pants and a hoodie and headed to my appointment looking like a diseased zombie. I took my whole bag of meds with me (9 different pills and ointments). Since I am a new patient, I have TONS of paperwork to do and I have to give them my license and insurance cards. Unfortunately, I am a neurological disaster by this point and I can’t make my hands work enough to get them out of my wallet. So I just threw it at the receptionist and told her where they were and that she needed to get them out herself.
When the dermatologist came in, I immediately started disrobing. He looked at me for literally 4 seconds and said “Oh that’s definitely poison ivy. See this mark here (on my arm), there are only 2 things that make a mark like this… poison ivy and a Portuguese man-of-war. Have you been in the ocean recently?” OK… In hindsight, I probably should have appreciated his sense of humor. But at the time, I was not in the mood and had to stifle “Very funny, A-hole” from coming out of my mouth.
He told me to keep taking the stuff to help me sleep, the prednisone, and the “shouldn’t-be-legal” doses of allergy pills, but he also told me to take a bleach bath 2-3 times a day. Wait… WHAT?!?!? Bleach baths? Oh yes, it’s exactly what you are thinking. A bath. In bleach. Honestly, it was the most relief I had in over a week.
Apparently, the viney roots I was yanking out of that bed (like a boss I might add) were from poison ivy. There were no leaves at all. So the moral of my story is this: Even if there are no leaves of three, learn about poison ivy and how to recognize it so you can LET THAT SH*T BE!!! Or you can call in sick to work for a week and a half and spend $335 in doctor visit copays like me.