Dear Poison Ivy: How Do I Hate Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

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.*

alaska 651 (800x533)

*Seriously, I’ve been saying that for many years but now I really mean it!


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7 Responses to Dear Poison Ivy: How Do I Hate Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

  1. Mom says:

    So, so sorry, Laura. I know Todd has great sympathy for you because of all the poison oak on their property. It sounds awful.

  2. Lisa S says:

    Awe, I’m sorry about the poison ivy. I got that all the time growing up. Two things I found that help: scratch it open and use bleach against it. Ok, anytime I tell that to someone they flinch and remind me that that’s bad for you, bleach against open sores and in your bloodstream. It is. But, it dries it right up. Also, less chemical, run the affected area under water as hot as you can stand it for as long as you can stand it. Or until the itchiness goes away. The hot water releases the histamines and gives you a good long break from the itching. Not the oozing, just the itching. Although the ultra hot water may add to the pain and tenderness in the area. And while you’re running the spot under the hot water, the itch quotient goes up so high you can’t stand it. But stick with it and you’ll get several hours itch relief. My two best poison ivy remedies. Feel better soon!

    • Laura says:

      Hi Lisa! Thank you! I have been doing the hot water (like in a bath with Epsom salts and lavender EO also) and that does seem to help. I don’t even have bleach in my house and I don’t think I could stomach that. But I did read that you could pour raw apple cider vinegar over the blisters so I tried that the other night. It HURT so badly but then I had the best night I’d had in awhile. So I think I’ll do that again tonight. Maybe it sort of works like the bleach? Anyway, thanks for this. Sorry you have poison ivy remedies to give me (meaning you’ve been through this yourself).

  3. Lisa S says:

    Yay for vinegar! I love the stuff, and only have bleach in the house because Carter can’t let go of it. One good thing about getting it EVERY SUMMER of my childhood is that I think I’ve built up an immunity to it. I still get it, but it’s never as bad as it was, and often I don’t get it even when I know I’ve been pulling weeds amongst it. Hoping for a better night for you tonight!

    • Laura says:

      Lisa – in my wide ranging reading about poison ivy this week, I did read that the first reaction is usually the worse and subsequent breakouts usually are much shorter in duration. So that makes sense that yours are getting better or that you don’t get it at all. I’m still not tempted to try out that theory though! 🙂

  4. Pingback: Our 8-year-old Marriage, as seen in our 8-year-old Yard | Salmon and Souvlaki

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