I suppose it was inevitable.
In hindsight, I have been lucky. Ten years of hiking, trail riding and trail running and never a brush with poison ivy. My luck ran out this week.
I have a good idea where I encountered the evil weed. Acadia. Much of the Giant Slide trail runs alongside a small stream that flows steeply down the face of Sergeant Mountain. Poison ivy loves to grow in shady, moist places and what better spot than in the waterfall misted earth on the lee side of a mountain.
I probably would have been ok if I had stayed on trail, but nature called and I wandered into the woods. Mistake number #1.
It was hot and I had removed the zip-off legs off my hiking pants – another mistake.
And it was buggy. I got numerous black-fly bites. I assumed my itchiness was due to that. Yet another mistake.
By the time I realized what was going on, I was a mess. Let me tell you, I think of myself as fairly tough. I can deal with a fair bit of pain and I do on a regular basis, but this is something else. I have caught myself whining like a golden retriever more than once.
The itching alone can drive a person stark-raving mad. And don’t think you can get by with a quick scratch. One touch and you ignite the histamine system and an army of your own cells speed to every little blister and release a barrage of chemicals that not only make you scratch till you bleed but also cause tissue damage as well. Essentially, once the body recognizes an invader (poison ivy toxins) the white cells attack everything in the vicinity including self.
I won’t go into the gory details but let’s just say I could easily be featured in one of those medical school textbook pictures that you look at and quickly turn the page with an involuntary shudder. It is like getting all the plagues of Egypt at once.
So I, who is reluctant to take even an aspirin, now have a list of prescription and over-the-counter medications that are so complicated that I have a date book and check-off boxes to keep it all straight. Nursing home patients take less meds. Included is the big gun: prednisone. I suffered for 48 hours before agreeing to take it. Why? Side effects. Lots of them but i have managed to justify them in my mind.
1. Aggression, agitation and irritability and mood changes: I survived menopause. I can handle this
2. Blurred vision: I have reading glasses and a microscope. I’m all set.
3. Decrease in urine output: Thank you Jesus! Now I can drink all the coffee that I want!
4. Weight gain: finally I have something to blame it on…. it’s the prednisone, really….
5. Trouble thinking or speaking: see #4.
I am trying to look on the bright side and get through this. In the interim I ask for your understanding. If I whine or cry or yell or rant on Facebook for no good reason, there is a reason. It’s the prednisone… really. Please be patient and remind me that this too will pass… and then I won’t have a good excuse anymore.