Where I’ve been.

I’m just starting to get back outside (aside from trips from air-conditioned house to air-conditioned car to air-conditioned office and back again.)

For the first time in a month. 


Well, about a month ago the baby went to bed and I knew it wasn’t for good, but I needed (needed) to get my hands dirty. It was a race against the baby clock. I ran downstairs as quietly as I could. Shoving tied shoes onto tired feet. Mind spinning – what to do? What to do?

I head to the front bed, overgrown with weeds and grass and getting worse the longer I leave things to seed. Rip. Tug. Puuuuuuull. Weeds and grass flung out of the earth and onto the walk. Faster. Deeper. 


The weeds were gone. The grass was gone. I loaded the bundle into my arms for the bin and wandered back to tackle the roses. 


I look up to see two heads pop out of the upstairs window. “He’s up.”

I race inside. Shedding my shoes and shirt and launching up the stairs into bed with the baby to try and nurse him back down before he’s too awake to settle.


Fast forward two days later and I’m nursing him in the middle of the night and…That’s a killer spider bite on my pinky. 

Fast forward to the next evening. You guessed it. 


It’s not even that I didn’t see it. It’s that I didn’t even look. I didn’t realize I’d been exposed. I’d just spent three days spreading the oils all.over.the.house.

I’ll spare you the pictures of my pinky trying to swim away in a sea of ooze. Or the crawling dime-sized blister on the back of my hand. Or the 8″x4″ map of seeping Australia on my stomach…

I got a new patch every few hours for ten days straight. It took washing every.thing.in.the.house.every.day for five days to stop the cycle. I covered head to toe, sitting on sheets, everything else was molten lava.

It had been ten years (just) since I’d last gotten poison oak. I used to get it every summer growing up. This was the worst time. I’ll be ok if I can make it at least two decades before i get it again. And you can bet your raised eyebrow I’ll be weeding so very carefully going forward.

I still look like I’m recovering from a motorcycle crash without enough gear. I still hear, “Mama, bad rash. That’s a bad rash. Skin hurt?” But I can stomach standing outside now without raging my way into a miserable fit. So there’s that.


15 comments on “Where I’ve been.

  1. I am SO SORRY. That stuff is running rampant behind my house. A real scourge.

  2. Kevin says:

    Oh, PD. So sorry to hear this! I’m glad you’re on the other side of it now. When I lived in NY, I lived in fear of poison ivy — if my skin brushed against it, it was like the shower scene from “Silkwood.” I’d plunge my arms into the pool, then inside with dawn and water and lots of scrubbing. Hope you’re feeling better.

    • plumdirt says:

      Thanks. The pool probably helped a lot! As a kid if we didn’t have any Tecnu to rinse with, I’d use a bleach solution before a cold rinse. Then if it showed up, a trip to the ocean was in order to dry up the rash. The sneak attack this time was an unwelcome first.

  3. Shannon says:

    Oh. Oops. So sorry!! Been there and done that every year so far! Recovering now from an oopsy wipe on the eye with the stuff. I don’t know what was worse: the swollen shut right eye or the purple left one (from martial arts sparring). What people must think of me!

    Happy itchy recovery my friend. Occupational hazard me thinks. 😀

    • plumdirt says:

      Eesh, every year! I hope you get a break from that cycle soon.

      • Shannon says:

        Would be nice, but after 10 years of yard and garden duty, urushiol — like wasps, fire ants — and I have reached a truce. I don’t touch it, and it (most of the time) leaves me alone. This property used to be raw woods on the creek, so poison oak and ivy are endemic, even among the turf grass!

        PS – the kids know better than to roll in the grass without full body cover.

  4. Robbie says:

    OH MY GOSH- I had that last summer and the prednisone was horrible-oh how I feel for you! I was working on a post today about how when my kids were young, there was no way- I could gardened to the degree, I do now. I never had much free time when I had kids under foot. When they go to school trying to balance everything makes it hard to find time to get out there in the garden. This year, having our house torn apart reminds me of those days.
    Hang in there, they do grow up and then you will wish these days were in a place you could visit, but once they pass they are gone:-) Enjoy your little ones!

    • plumdirt says:

      I do wish, already, these days were a place I could visit. That’s a perfect way to describe it. Thank you for giving clarity to my feelings so poignantly. I skipped the steroids with nursing, so just a lot of rinsing with Tecnu and changing soaked bandages. Now I’m just waiting for the scars to heal.

      • Robbie says:

        I thought you would avoid steroids while nursing.I took them and it was awful. I weed early mornings in long pants and sleeves:-) I use to see people in all those clothes as a young gardner and wonder, why do they wear all that out there, well -now I know!

      • plumdirt says:

        Live and learn (the hard way why older people do the things they do! Ha!)

  5. Karen says:

    So very sorry to hear of your troubles, thank goodness it didn’t spread to the little ones. I was vigilant about poison ivy when we had the orchard. Not only did I not want to come in contact with it but I didn’t want anyone there to pick apples to get it as well. Tecnu was always next to the potting shed sink.

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