Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Performing with poison ivy

I don't advise it. If given the choice, I'd say no to poison ivy. The problem is, I rarely am aware that I've been in it, so I don't take the recommended actions of washing well right after being exposed.

A week and a half ago, I decided to buckle down and do yardwork. I began to rip little trees out of the front beds. No, not poison ivy trees, just some redbuds, hackberries, maybe a few silver maples. I was on a roll, yanking them out by the roots. I must have left my brain inside, because I wasn't wearing gloves and by the time I noticed how I'd ripped the skin on my fingers, it was too late. At one point, I pulled what looked like poison ivy out of the ground. Nah, I don't have any of that here. I've lived in this house for almost seven years and have never seen any in my yard.

I washed my hands well, not realizing there was poison ivy oil on my arms and legs. I didn't see the first red bumps until the next day, when I noticed a few on one arm. Then on my leg. Then on the other arm...

This was the worst case I've ever had. Legs, arms, neck, mostly, some patches the size of saucers. I tried lots of remedies, one after the other: Zanfel (hugely expensive, but it didn't do the trick), hot air from the hair dryer, baths in baking soda and Epsom salts, homeopathic remedies, Caladryl, Benedryl ointment, Benedryl pills, Chlor-Trimeton.

All through this, I had performances. My puppet Trixie begin scratching, so I told the kids we both had poison ivy. I asked them to do me a favor: if they saw either of us scratching, they should tell us to stop. Trixie immediately began to scratch and they yelled at her.

The good thing is that when I'm performing, I rarely am aware of physical discomfort. I can have a raging headache before I start a show, but once I'm in it, I don't feel it at all. It was that way with the poison ivy. It may have been swollen and oozing, but I didn't scratch while performing.

Last Thursday I had shows at my hometown library. (I got to walk to work!) After the first show, I walked home. Before going back to the second show, I changed my trousers--the nasty rash on my legs had begun to ooze through them (right, too much information).

In the end, I got a shot, pun intended. On Sunday, a full week after being exposed, I could stand it no longer. I went to the walk-in clinic, where the doctor agreed that I needed treatment. He gave me a steroid shot and two prescriptions, as well as advising me to get Fels-Naptha laundry soap to wash my skin next time.

It's much better. Still a little itchy, but no longer disgusting. Though I prefer not to use chemicals in my garden, I've done a little spraying of those front beds. I've got the bar of Fels-Naptha in the shower just in case. I'm ready.


Granny Sue said...

Ouch! I'm itching all over just reading about it.

Lye soap is also a good thing to wash with if you've been in the ivy.

I felt for you--literally--the whole time I was reading. And you're right--I can overlook all sorts of discomfort while I'm performing. Strange.

PriscillaHowe said...

Thank goodness it's almost over! I'm still a little itchy, even after weeks, but it's way, way, way better.

Will I see you at the conference? Hope so--and if not, I'm guessing it's because of the usual extreme busy season in the library. We'll keep lobbying for a change in conference dates!