Friday, September 26, 2008


An Unfortunate Itching

I have poison oak on my ass.

Let me just say very quickly that it isn't any place truly alarming; I will not have problems eating and digesting Thai food, for instance. But it is very uncomfortable. How did this happen?

Well, see, I have a thing about outhouses. I don't like them. Despite the advances we have made with those blue chemicals that remove the smells from most porto-potties, I'm really sensitive to odors and I just can't stand being cooped up in an unstable rectangular container which always seems to me on the brink of toppling over. My macabre imagination also always remembers the story about the little girl trapped in the bottom of one of these toilets--you know, the one where they had to rescue her and it turned out she had been placed there intentionally--and I am afraid to look down, even though, let's face it, who wants to look inside a portable toilet bowl! I imagine what else might be beneath me as I am going to the bathroom and that potential horror, coupled with the reality of being perched on top of a structure that any evil-doer (read: high school bully) might decide to knock over gives me the heebies.

I will always prefer a nice tree or bush. There is no bad smell. Like a wild animal, I can see if a predator is on the horizon.

I thought I was being pretty careful when I selected my tree earlier this week while out for a walk in Point Lobos, but apparently I was not careful enough. In the beginning, I could manage the rash myself, but it has spread to a seemingly invisible part of my netherparts and I have had to ask my husband for help to afix one of the 4 (four!!!) gauze bandages necessary to capture all the oozing. Is that love or what?

This is by no means the very worst case of poison oak I have ever endured. Interestingly, my very worst experience was about 10 years ago when I was home alone and pondering a move to New York. I'd gone through some rather difficult experiences and, well, I hugged and kissed my cat one day and woke up the next morning barely able to see out of one eye. I looked, quite frankly, like the elephant man.

I managed to drive myself to an emergency clinic, peering out of the window with my one good eye. They promptly stuck me in the butt with a cortisone shot, and so began three weeks of hell when I suffered withdrawal as I slowly weaned myself off that powerful but necessary drug. The cat was banished to the kitchen while I sat in agony in front of the television. Eventually I let him sit in my lap because I realized he did not understand what had happened. My face deflated. Then it peeled. Ever the annoying optimist, I told myself that I was undergoing a "metamorphosis" and that life would be better once I was reborn.

Was it? Did the poison oak on my face harbinger a brand new me? I guess so, though I'd like to think I would have adjusted to New York without that painful experience (the drugs were necessary but just awful).

This time I'm trying to lay off the meds and rely on cortisone cream and my nice bandages. I have no idea when I'll manage to get any exercise in--ballet class is off limits as even I can't stomach explaining to people why I am in a diaper. At least it isn't hot. And I'm going to once again--ever the annoying optimist--hope for some kind of rebirth.

I just hope I don't stick to the bedsheets.

Ouch. I don't think you want to push it.
ouch indeed!! i've never even SEEN poison oak, let alone sat on it.

ever read calvin and hobbes? calvin's dad would say this is character building.
Thank you both.

Moonrat, yes I have read Calvin and Hobbes and, oh yes, this is very character building for me. I know it is silly to hope for some kind of reward at the end of said ordeal . . . but I still hope for one.
Oh Marie! As you know, I can truly sympathize. On the bright side, my poison ivy is clearing up and looking much better than last week. So, soon enough, yours will be a thing of the past as well. Get better very soon.
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