The Summer of My Itch

It would seem in poor taste for me to go missing for some time on the blog front and then return only to post a whiney-sounding entry. Please know I do not wish to give offense by the following, however, I must tell you that among the more pleasant happenings this summer there has been a nagging little issue that just won’t go away. Oh, it fades into the background for a week here and there, but then flames up again in a most frustrating way. Today though, I feel we may have reached a turning point, so I shall recount my little woe to you now that I know there will be perhaps a tinge of hope interlaced with the grumbling.

Very early in June, during our week of VBS, I began noticing a strange amount of bug bites just under my chin. Every morning I woke up to find more of these, and within a couple days, the bites were no longer limited to my chin. My soon-to-be-sis-in-law commented that my bites looked more like a case of hives and soon others indicated to me that I’d best see a medical professional for their opinion.

Well, given the busyness of our week I did not make it to the doctor’s office until a week later, where I was diagnosed with a rather severe case of poison ivy and put on a dose of steroids to deal with it. What a mess I was. And boy, did I itch!! Happily, within a few days there were no new “spots” and in another week things were clearing up pretty well. I figured the steroids did their trick and was quite grateful for modern medecine.

Unfortunately, by a week’s time after this “cure”, I found evidence that the poison ivy was not actually all gone. And each day it got a little worse than the day before. Back to the doctor’s, only this time I went to a dermatologist, thinking a specialist would surely be able to help me. He confirmed the diagnosis, but indicated that my primary physician, who wrote the first steroid prescription, did not give me a strong enough prescription to wipe out the rash. “Oh good,” I thought, “all I need is a higher dose of the pills, maybe even a shot to get things started, and I will be rid of this problem!” After all, we were only two weeks from the huge family wedding of the summer, the arrival of tons of out of town company, and many events to see to and attend. I really did not want to continue dealing with poison ivy.

However, the dermatologist felt that another dose of steroids might prove harmful to me (too many steroids = not good) so better to wait it out (what???) and use some creams and such in the meantime till it clears. This was NOT what I was looking for. But I tried to remember he was the doctor, he went to school for the degree and all, and that I needed to follow his advice.

So I went home and obediently used my creams, and kept itching. Till another week and yes, admittedly, the rash did ease up again. I was hoping this was the last of it. The weekend of the wedding arrived and oh no!! New spots began appearing, again. As I complain about this, please know that I realize my little affliction is quite minor compared to the physical ills so many in this world suffer. And yet I admit I was growing weary of itching. And treatments that didn’t seem to work.

So, last week after the wedding was over (but while my grandmother was still in town to help watch the kids for me – Thanks Grandma!!) I went back to the dermatologist with my newest spots, seeking help and yes, drugs!! He was, I’m sorry to say, less than helpful, and actually tried to send me away again with no medicine for my plight. I wanted to cry, but instead I begged him to please try one more dose of the steroids because I felt at this point the rash just wasn’t going away, and was dubious that the creams were going to do any lasting good. He finally agreed to write a prescription, but then told me to stay out of my yard for the rest of the summer and let my husband do all the gardening while I attended to the inside chores. Helpful.

While his bedside manner and overall doctoring left me wanting, his rather insensitive comment did motivate me to try and locate what might be causing this outbreak. We’d already checked our plant beds for the wicked poison ivy but had never found any. Now we asked others to look as well, hoping someone might have some experience with the actual plant, or perhaps another form of poisonous vegetation which would help us. Today, my friends, that someone appeared, and we are very grateful he did.

The hero of our story??? David C. Good friend and veteran poison ivy hunter and sufferer. And he, upon my request, looked over our front yard, and found the evil little vine, growing happily in one of our plant beds where I had ignorantly mulched just a few weeks before. In fact, I’d carefully mulched AROUND the vine, giving it an optimum environment to grow and thrive (and yes, keep aflicting me)!! HAHAHA!!

David’s discovery of the actual plant has given me hope. Because until now we really weren’t certain where I was getting this poison ivy from, or even if it was poison ivy. Now that I know what is causing my itch, I shall wisely stay far away. This afternoon my husband went out armed with massive amounts of weed killer and obliterated the poison ivy, as well as everything in and around that nasty vine, hopefully eradicating the cause of my sufferings. He has promised to continue to fight the good fight again my plant foe, in hopes of preserving me from future itchings. And he has requested that I wait until next season to replant that particular bed with English Ivy (which was my master plan, folks), just to see that the danger has passed. So I guess a project has been lifted from my task list, at least for the time being.

After five days on this newest round of prednisone, I am still itching a lot more than I’d like. But I think things are calming down. I do hope perhaps the discovery today means that ultimately we’re seeing the end of the poison ivy for this summer. But I’ll do my best to be a bit more frequent with my blogging from here on out, so at least I can keep you all informed. Thanks for reading!!

3 Comments

  1. Valerie (Kyriosity)
    Jul 28, 2004

    No, it’s not the greatest suffering in the world, but it’s a suffering that’s hard to ignore! Be careful. I’ve found that the stuff can come back. I thought I’d pulled all mine a couple years ago (after I got a nasty case), but it was back this year and even more widespread. I attacked it again (very carefully — wearing heavy gloves, which I washed afterward) and managed not to get it this time.

  2. Tricia
    Jul 30, 2004

    Valerie, thanks for the warning. I think I will do my best to stay far away!! I’m glad you didn’t catch it this year!

  3. Peter
    Aug 18, 2004

    That is one long article… about an itch.

    I’m glad you found the source of the problem. Was that Clemmons or Clelland?