Do you remember the biblical account of when Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt, simply for looking back at Sodom as they left the city? Granted, she was warned ahead of time. But the fact remains, something terrible happened merely by casting a gaze! Well, I think I’ve found the modern day equivalent.
I suffer from severe reactions to poison ivy, whenever I as much look in its direction! Can you really have an allergic reaction that easily? In reality, I’ve learned that it usually takes multiple exposures over time to actually build up a reaction to it. That explains why my first allergic reaction was not until a few years ago. A massive backyard cleanup project included hauling away armloads of English Ivy.
Hidden within that lush ivy was the ivy of a more sinister type. Two nights later at 2: am, in desperation, I drove myself to the emergency room for some relief.
The diagnosis — contact dermatitis, aggravated by an extreme allergic reaction to urushiol, the sticky, oily sap contained within the entire poison ivy plant. I was treated and released with the embarrassing distinction of having Piedmont hospital’s worst care for the year.
My next memorable encounter occurred compliments of my cat, Booty. By now I had an eagle eye trained to detect and avoid poison ivy from great distances. But it’s impossible to know when your family pet or even a child’s ball has come in contact with it. The oil is so sticky, it will attach to anything that brushes against it. Although animals are generally immune, they are the number one reason for outbreaks in humans.
When I awoke the next morning, a red, itchy rash covered my neck and cheek. Where did this come from?!? I mentally retraced my steps. It looks like poison ivy, feels like poison ivy but I wasn’t anywhere near poison ivy that weekend. Then it became clear. Booty, the family cat, that I had lovingly caressed and hugged the day before, was a urushiol carrier! (Note to self: keep cats away from neck and face!)
Most recently, I was cleaning out an area of my backyard in the home we recently moved to in North Carolina. Knowing there was poison ivy in the area, led me to be extra cautious. I was sure I had avoided it this time. I was wrong.
Once again, the next day proved how sensitive I am to an outbreak. My arms were covered in it. Although it was uncomfortable, of more concern was that it was unsightly – especially for a live appearance on the Today Show later that week.
On Saturday morning, I’d be doing hand-held demonstrations on live network television. My wrist was a red, bubbling, oozing mess. It was bad! I had three choices. Try to conceal it with a large band-aid (too obvious), address it as a common plague of gardeners (too gross)… or, let their make-up artist work her magic.
I opted for the latter. Their skilled make-up artist sprayed over my wrist with an airbrush and powder that might as well have been flesh-toned paint. The oozing red rash all over my wrist disappeared before my eyes. It was amazing. No one at NBC or in T.V land ever knew.
That latest encounter is just about healed up now. I haven’t returned to my backyard project since. I have another Today Show appearance in two weeks. There’s no point any taking any chances now!!!