I got into some poison ivy in our yard on Friday, 8/22. Here’s my hate letter to it. It references a few gross aspects of poison ivy, which you may or may not enjoy reading.
Dear Poison Ivy:
How do I hate thee? Let’s just count the ways.
1. You make me itch. I’ve had flea bites and mosquito bites and those are NOTHING compared to the itchiness from you. Peppermint essential oil is keeping it mostly under control but when it wears off in the middle of the night and I wake up itching (which, by the way, makes it worse) and then Mark pushes his feet down my legs and makes them itch even more, really, I just want to scream.
2. You hurt me. Couldn’t it have been enough that you make me itch? Did you really have to add in the waves of shooting pain up to the tips of my fingers and down to my elbow?
3. You are insidious and sneaky. I’ve been battling that English ivy all over our yard for seven years. SEVEN YEARS! And I’ve never met you, not even once. Why now? Couldn’t you have just left us alone?
4. You make me paranoid. I have so much ivy left to eliminate and now I’m scared to even touch it. I didn’t even see any sign of you on Friday and yet, I’ve got it all over me. How am I going to know when you’ll show up again? My kids are outside with me all the time when I’m doing yard work and even though I’m going to be wearing shoes, socks, gloves, long sleeves, and long pants every time I touch the ivy from now on, how am I going to keep my kids from getting it? How am I ever going to get this project done if I have to do it when Nik’s at home?
5. You just won’t stop. Why couldn’t you just show up all at once and get it over with? Why do you have to show up, a blister or two at at time, day after day after endless day? (On second thought, maybe I should be grateful to you for this because I don’t know if I could have taken the initial itching from all the spots at once. So I guess I only strongly resent you for this one.)
6. You gross me out. This oozing has really got to stop. Who thought it was a good idea to make the blisters ooze orange sticky fluid for days on end? Couldn’t they just pop, drain, and be done with it? Do you really think I like looking gross and disgusting all the time?
7. You distract me. Seriously, I’m not a very good driver when you are all over my arms. I keep getting distracted by it and not paying very good attention. (Don’t worry though – I’ve given myself strict instructions to PAY ATTENTION TO THE ROAD.)
8. You raise my hopes and dash them. When the first patch of rash popped out, after it had fully developed into blisters, I hurt from the tips of my finger tips to my elbow. Even though the patch was near my wrist and my skin looked fine otherwise, it hurt to touch. But within a couple days, the pain/itchiness had localized and the rest of my arm felt fine. Then yesterday, another patch of blisters popped out, on that previously clear skin! (See “You just won’t stop” above.) Why? Why did you take back skin I’d already reclaimed?
9. You make me want to push my kids away. With blisters on both arms, both legs, and a bit on my back, I don’t want anyone or anything to touch me. How do I tell that to a 20-month old who wants to nurse and needs a lot of love and touching? How do I tell that to an “almost-four”-year-old who’s going through a particularly touchy, affection-seeking phase? I really can’t. So I do my best not to yell at them when they run and grab my legs for fun or when they pile onto me, wanting to wrestle. Then I [gently if I can] move them off my blisters and wait for the itchiness to subside again.
10. You exhaust me. It’s hard to sleep when I’m itchy and in pain!
Here’s the only thing I don’t hate you for. You’ve helped me get the faintest, tiniest glimmer of understanding of what it might be like to live with a chronic medical condition, such as lupus or fibromialgia. You’ve helped me understand that even if you’re in great pain, somehow you just go on. You just push through because you have to. You just get up in the morning and do what you have to do. But even while you’re doing that, your day is tainted. My poison ivy will eventually go away. Many people don’t have that hope. I’ll do my best from now on to offer what compassion and help that I can to those I know who are suffering because, I get it. Maybe just barely, but I do.
P.S. I was going to show you some pictures of the patches of poison ivy all over my body but really, who wants to see that, right? So instead, let’s all feast our eyes on my mom’s amazingly gorgeous garden and wish we were all in Alaska with her, because as I always like to say,
In Alaska, you might get eaten by a bear but at least you won’t get poison ivy.*
*Seriously, I’ve been saying that for many years but now I really mean it!