Poison Ivy or Poison Oak
The image from my last post The normal teenage experience was either poison ivy
or poison oak from the local Metropark.
I had been immune to it or so I thought.
I was arrogant and I had to pay the price.
Fifteen years of manual removal of
the three armed demon without incident.
I never changed my method, my dress, my disposal.
White plastic grocery store bag
solarized the captured invasive for one week
then disposal in a public garbage can.
However, the last time I fought the battle
I was in a new location
with a stronger strain of urushiol
on a new cocktail of medications
and under tremendous stress while pregnant.
Had I been thinking coherently
about my body and its normal protective immune system
I would have remembered
my medication had a warning about sun sensitivity.
I scoffed at it. I double scoffed. I laughed out loud.
I have never had a sun burn before why would I get one now.
I’m very cautious with sun exposure. I wear long white sleeves.
I wear a hat. I was careless.
Body chemistry changes that allow sun burn also
could mean I was no longer immune to poison oak, ivy, or sumac
I had forgotten,
my body was not my own
the rough and tumble vessel
was busy growing a body and protecting
my unborn child from my meds,
my stress and my accident.
My immune system said to me,
“Screw you. You don’t pay me enough for double duty.”
So, I got poison ivy
It started at my left wrist
(edge of my gloves, bottom of my sleeve)
then crept up my sleeve
I felt the itching, ejected my gloves and
hobbled inside to wash, wash and wash the exposed area.
Instead, it spread, spread and spread to unexposed skin.
To both arms and legs it travelled
before I called another gardener for help.
She gave me the name of a product to look for.
The pharmacist had given me
another option that BURNED.
I was already itching,
I didn’t want to feel like I was on fire as well.
I looked like I had caught the plague.
I would not die from it, but the itching was something
unbearable, untenable, tenacious.
Rhus toxicodendron or Rhus radicans
had surrounded the tree in my front yard.
I wrapped the base of the tree in black plastic for a season,
then removed the vines, roots and soil from the base of the mulberry tree.
I wanted to save the tree
now I want it gone.
I can’t pull it,
dig it out or burn it.
If I cut it down
it will still exist mixed with the tree roots.
Pick your battles.
I think I’ll move and let it be.