Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Poison Oak

I was informed somewhat on the sly that there was concern over my petering spirituality since I had missed church for the past few weeks. Thankfully the informer shared that they read the blog, and understood that I was sick - though the possibility of healing through a greater movement of faith on my part certainly could be entertained *wink*. I have felt like quite the heathen as my husband rushes out the door for another churchy event while I sit by and wave. Tonight, again, I was the waver.

I have poison oak. I grew up understanding all too clearly how the results of contact with the dreaded poison oak plant, bush, vine, sentient green villainous monster works. I have managed to steer clear of this dreaded rash for nearly 20 years. Obvioulsy I am doing something right! So here is the clincher: I reacted to firewood I was picking up which had no visible poison oak present, and had sat in someone's garage for two years. TWO YEARS. To say I am sensitive is a wee bit of an understatement. But I digress.

Monday morning I thought I would start honing my fire-making skills (insert link to the blog Christopher needs to write about how we are now heating our home with fire for most evenings, and his transformation into a frontier man - axe included) and so I grabbed a couple armfuls of firewood, and brought them inside. By Monday afternoon my arms were itchy, but I thought nothing of it. I was outside most of the day the previous Wednesday and Thursday, and thought perhaps I got a bit of a sunburn which was beginning to heal. However, by Monday night right before bed I suddenly caught myself itching elsewhere, and the dreaded idea sprang, completely unbiden and even with slight denial, that I had poison oak. I ran to the bathroom and had a good look at myself in the mirror. Sure enough, a rash had spread up my arms and across much of my trunk. By the time I went to bed I knew I had it on my arms, trunk, parts of my legs, one earlobe, and both sides of my hands. Yes, palms are a lovely place to get an irritatingly burning, itchy rash.

Today, after calling my dermatologist, getting on a topical corticosteroid, using Calahyst, and praying fervently for the second coming of Christ, I can report that I have the rash almost from head to foot. My face, neck, ears, back, arms, hands, trunk, legs, feet, between my toes, and even on my soles all bear the lovely markings of this post-Eden world. I was actually mentally prepared for this since it has never been my experience to contain the rash more than keeping it on me, and not transferring it to, say, the walls. I will say, with the caveat that I can deny this statement in another few days if it fails to hold true, that the quickness with which I started used my topical steroid (I snuck some of the kids' for their excema before my own came through) seems to be keeping the rash from blistering. I think this is good since one medical source said any effort to minimize the rash's symptoms once blisters formed was useless. Of course I also try to use this as a possible sign that I am not suffering from the dreaded reaction, but one scratch proves this dream wrong - with that oh-so-familiar relief/burn/itches worse that accompanies any such action. For now I am trying to gear myself up for the standard 3 week recovery cycle, and hoping that maybe I might be spared... even if only a few days.


  1. Oh you poor thing! How aweful- I think I know just how you must feel. I am also sooo sensitive to poison oak and, until we came to Monterey, I had never seen it before. After a long hike through Jack's Peak where I got covered in the stuff, however, I think I could recognize it blindfolded. Even with oral medicine and external medicine I can't seem to get rid of the blisters for more than a month. Now, when I get it I just go straight to my doctor and get the 2 shots. It's the only solution that works for me. I hope you're feeling less itchy soon!

  2. Oh NO!! I remember how horrible your allergy is!! I remember ice bags in elementary school...

    Having two dogs who love to chase critters into the bushes then come and love on me, I find TecNu works wonders. It helps the itch but better yet it really cuts the oils (and is also great for getting sap off your hands or clothes).

    Sending virtual hugs so as not to spread the itch!