I live on a bit of a bog; very swampy, full of turtles and snakes and perhaps a gator or two or three.
When I bought the house, the area between the water and my fence, about two feet, was overgrown with weeds and rando trees. Two years later, it’s more overgrown. I had my landscaper cut down the two trees right behind the gate in order to enable me to get down the water, provided I buy a canoe or something. This isn’t water anyone should swim in; assume something deadly is in there.
He did that and I, one Sunday morning, got to clearing the growth from the gate to the water.
Not satisfied with the small patch, I kept going. I had my STRONG by Zumba playlist loud; the music is motivating and I continued to clear about six feet of weeds. It was a productive morning. I messaged my landscaper asking him to come by again to take the tree stumps to the ground and can he please clear the debris that’s now in my backyard.
I took a nice, long hot shower and threw my clothes into the wash.
Noticing I was scratched and had been mildly stabbed by branches was normal. Starting to itch was normal too. I didn’t think much of it until Wednesday when I called my doctor to MAKE IT STOP.
It didn’t even occur to me that patch of land would be loaded with poisonous plants of every sort. Though I was wearing tennis shoes and gardening gloves, I was also in shorts and a tank top. Based on how my skin reacted to having such intimate contact with probably poison sumac, it’s easy to see that I reached as far to the ground as possible, elbows deep, to get at the roots and then pulled those fuckers up the front on my legs.
I haven’t ever seen my skin like this. The madness from the constant, unrelenting itch has been unbearable. Every anti-itch product I could find is on my bathroom counter. My doc called in a steroid cream, but it was useless against the pandemic on my skin.
The weekend after, I seemed to be turning a corner. I’d read everything I could find on how the body reacts and there’s really nothing we can do except wait it out. Sunday I was going to go to Urgent Care (again) for an oral steroid, but I wasn’t as itchy. I wanted to see my doctor and keep my careplan for almost all things under his watch.
Sunday night was another unbearable night of sleep; unconscious scratching is about as controllable as not grinding my teeth while I sleep.
Monday morning, my doctor said “Way to go, Woz” and ordered me oral steroids, an antibiotic and a stronger anti-itch medication that’s useless. It makes me sleepy, but doesn’t make the itch stop. The steroid / antibiotic cocktail is nice, and not only is my skin starting to improve, I am getting shit done at an incredible pace.
My landscaper finally came back to take the stumps down and clear the debris. When I explained my skin and warned him of the poison plants, he looked like he’d been doing this for years in his long pants, long-sleeved shirt, boots and leather gloves, because of course, he has been.
Outside of sitting on my enclosed porch and drinking beers, I am not one for the outdoors. I will leave all things beyond planting flowers in pots to my landscaper from here on out.