Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Speaking of sharing...

Fourteen years ago, I got into some poison oak.

No, scratch that.

Poison oak *viciously assaulted me* and *continues to do so to this day*.

It wasn't just a matter of brushing up against it.  This particular poison oak had it out for me.  I think it was guard oak.

I was on a walk with my fiance, at night, near a golf course.  What could go wrong walking paths near a golf course?  We were on some hills with trees and bushes and a nice little bike/hike path.  We decided to take a little shortcut through the brush to the lower path.  I was wearing sandals and shorts.

Someone didn't want us to be by the golf course.  Going down the hill, I slipped and fell...grabbing onto foliage, brush rushing in between my toes, stripping leaves and probably making a nice new clear path for someone else to follow.

I didn't think much of it.  Until the next day.

Words cannot describe what followed over the next few weeks.  Weeks of incredible burning pain and itching and non-stop suffering.  Weeks of massive clusters of huge blisters, in between my toes, all the way up my legs to mid-thigh, on my hands and arms, even spreading to a few unrelated areas which I must have touched before washing off the oil. Weeks and weeks and I was fairly convinced that it would *never go away* (and...I was right!).

Despite not having the money for it, I went to both urgent care and the er, and the only relief I was able to find was the discovery that if you immerse itchy skin in really, really, really hot water (hotter than you can stand) for longer than you can possibly stand, the histamine in your cells will be eliminated enough for a short blessed relief of at least the itch.

I needed to do this so often and for so long that my nerves in my hands and my feet no longer function quite as they did before.

Eventually, it had to have run its course, though it took well over a month.  I had physical and mental scars for many months after that.  I did believe that it was something now belonging to my past.

I was wrong.

The next summer, despite not being out in the wilds at all, I had a violent flare up in July.  I could not imagine what it was from, because I knew I had not gotten into anything to cause such a violent allergic reaction, which is what I thought it was at first.  Especially odd was that most of it was on the palms of my hands, which is a thicker skin that is not supposed to get such reactions easily if at all.  I went to the doctor and they found no reason for it at all.  They also found it perplexing that it would be so concentrated in my palms, which is where it looked like it originated from.

The summer after that, again in early July, I had another.  Less violent, but very, very present.  The doctor did not believe me, but...both of these episodes were a residual reaction to the poison oak.

I've had it every year since.  Every summer.  It began the beginning of July and through subsequent years moved slightly earlier into June.  Now it can occur as early as the beginning of June.

Thankfully, it has gotten calmer over the years, some years slightly more than others, some less to the point that I had hope for a couple of years that it would eventually vanish.  But it has not.  It has been concentrated in the palms of my hands, though a slight rash will appear elsewhere during years in which the reaction is worse.

Don't get me wrong.  This is nothing like that first year.  But when it's stronger, it is incredibly annoying.  My hands itch and burn and feel stiff and difficult to use.  The rash is barely visible normally, unless you look closely and know what to look for.  It's easier to see after a hot water treatment, when the rest of my skin will turn pink.

Of course, this year has to be a year in which the reaction is more protracted than normal.  Of course.

I have no desire to go golfing at that golf course.


Jessica P said...

Oh, I do remember that evil poison oak story. That is truly, truly malicious.

Your body has PTSD, or something. How absolutely awful.

Jessica P said...

and it isn't just you! You have company!