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Poison Ivy: Lessons Learned by Leah Jean
Hey Mom, were you wishing me or the kitty a good night sleep? I don't have those lately. For that matter, I've never been a good sleeper though ... unless I have physically exhausted myself during the day.

And the reason for not sleeping lately so much is my stopped up sinuses and poison ivy. Can't sleep on my stomach because of the sinuses and can't sleep on my side because I try to keep my arms and legs (wish rashes) separated from each other.

Yes, I've still got the blasted stuff. And it is obviously infected because the "red" spread. So I called the Dr.'s office yesterday and after explaining the situation, they got me in pretty quickly. When the Doctor's assistant saw me, she told me to make sure that I came in EARLIER next time! Started me on antibiotics, steriods (for my skin), and some other medication to dry up the bumps. The later would also help my clogged sinuses. [We were debating whether it was a cold or the infection which had messed up the sinuses.] Sigh. I was off from work Mon. - Wed. mainly due to the sinus problem. Went to the Dr's office Wed. to get drugged up. Then went back to work (not advised by Melissa the Dr.'s Assist.) for 4 hours. But I made sure that I got into work after rush hour traffic and left before rush hour traffic. [The medication is making me a little woozy.] I did manage to get some work done though. It was better than being bored at home and fighting the temptation to scratch. But my rash does appear to be getting better now. The newer bumps still itch though.

After all of these experiences I have a few words of wisdom for those of you who like playing in forests or with plants.

If contaminated by poison ivy, especially if in serious amounts ...

... get ahold of some cleaner used by mechanics to remove oils from your skin. Unfortunately someone at work advised me of this too late. The damage was already done by the plant sap/oil which is difficult to get off with regular cleaners.
... if the rash doesn't start healing in a week, SEE YOUR DOCTOR!
... wash yourself very thoroughly. And BE CAREFUL how you wash yourself. I finally figured out why I had a less dense rash appear later on the side of my stomach. When I was washing my arms the water flowed down to my elbows and then jumped over to my body. Hence sap was being washed off but lodging onto a different places. Just enough to make a smaller rash later. Later all of my stomach was covered with a some bumps with the highest concentration below the right elbow. The right arm has had more rashes than the left arm, probably because that was the hand and arm I used to grab the vines and stuff them down into the trash bag. So the vines clearly came in contact with the whole forearm.
... watch out for large rash areas that develop near the "inside part" of a joint as an elbow or knee. When the elbow or leg is bent back where the rash comes into contact with the other part of the arm or leg, there's a good chance you will get a mirrored rash on that part of the arm or leg.
... avoid heat and humidity. Especially sweating. It makes poison ivy rashes itch more. The heavier the air conditioning, the better rashes (usually) feel.
... be very careful with clothing that comes into contact with poison ivy. I'd probably recommend a double washing. I also threw away the gloves (they were old), But I so dread the thought of having to decontaminate my tools! Remember I dug up the roots!
... make sure you living quarters have privcy for long periods of time because the more clothes you wear, the more you will itch. Anything rubbing up against your rash could cause it to itch. And this can include bed sheets at night, especially if your are a restless sleeper. A nuddist colony might be real handy, if they let you in. ;-)

Also don't write stories about poison ivy. I think that it is making me itch more.

One last tale. I've got a real sweety for a Dr.'s Assist. who hugs me after (almost) every examination. [She's young and hasn't turned all cynical yet.] But she didn't hug me this time. So I kidded her about it. And she told me about HER EXPERIENCE. When a young child she had rubbed herself on purpose with poison ivy leaves to try and get out of something (I forgot what). But it didn't take so she thought she was not allergic. Well several years later she was at an outdoor rock concert and needed to pee pretty badly. The port-o-potties were very busy so she opted for a forested area. Her friend warned her that poison ivy was there. But thinking she was immune so chose to do a SQUAT in yon shrubberies and .......... later she found out that she was not immune. OH .... MY .... GOD!

Sweet dreams all,


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