In celebration of Earth Day, I joined the Friends of the River last Sunday, for a neighborhood planting and clean up of the river trail by my house. On such a beautiful sunny day it felt good to be outside playing in the dirt. I had so much fun that in the afternoon I worked on the patch of plantings in my postage-stamp side front yard.
But “no good deed goes unpunished,” as the saying goes and several days later, I noticed a small rash developing inside my right wrist. Initially I didn’t connect this with my stint in the great outdoors, but now, a week later, as both wrists are involved, it’s clear I have poison ivy. Poison plants and I go back a long way as my gardening hobby in Texas would gift me at least one case of Poison Oak per summer for half a dozen years. Not wishing to make a big deal out of it, I would go to the doctor, get a steroid pack and take the medicine in decreasing dosages till it, and the itchy rash were all gone.
But in 2000 after I took the steroid pack, I couldn’t get off it. When I finished the medicine, the rash came back with a vengeance. Beginning to understand that dancing with the poison from plants can be treacherous, I got the medicine in liquid form and with an eye dropper, attempted to titrate off of it, decreasing the dose one drop at a time. Rather like trying to sneak out of the bedroom room after finally having gotten your toddler to sleep.
Moving to Pennsylvania, I have had a respite from these invasions of the “body scratchers,” for several years, until now. This time I’m trying new potions to calm the surface and eliminate the stress reaction in my insides. The pharmacist was no help but customers who saw me engrossed in reading product labels on the first aid isle offered suggestions from their own experience. Internet searches yielded a product that might work but the shopping cart function didn’t and the 800 number was just a place to leave a message.
Since my spiritual discipline and life goal is dancing with everything I’m choosing to dance with the effects of poison ivy, hoping for a short dance where the treatments don’t becoming worse than the disease. After sprays and crèmes, taking antihistamine internally, and initiating an intestinal cleanse, I may visit my acupuncturist to calm my systemic reaction to the assault on my skin. Like many things in life, it isn’t just what happens to us, it’s our reaction to it that prevents a resolution. If you’re familiar with this dance and have any steps you would recommend, I’m open to revisions in my choreography. I’d love to hear from you.