Not Leprosy!


A couple of weeks ago, I decided it was way past time to do something about the flower beds at the parsonage.

Back in Houston, the lawn work had been my job, but here, the church has the yard mowed. Because I’m not out there mowing every week, I’d gotten out of the habit of doing what I’d always done in Houston – pulling weeds and keeping everything trimmed down. But no more! I enlisted Emma’s help, and she pruned shrubs while I went back behind, in, through, and around all the plant life, pulling weeds and tossing it all aside. I was wearing my gardening gloves but had decided on shorts instead of jeans and a short sleeve shirt instead of a long sleeve shirt. (You see where this is going, don’t you?)

The next day, I had a dentist appointment. They were shooting all kinds of stuff into my gums so that I could get a couple of fillings repaired (did you know that fillings DON’T hold up forever?), but it was all good. Until I got home and noticed that I had broken out in a few bumps.

“I’m allergic to something they shot me with!” I told Wes. And I continued telling him this the rest of the week as the bumps multiplied, turned into a rash, and then (horror of horrors) started oozing.

Wes tried to tell me that it couldn’t be an allergic reaction because I’d had fillings done before with no adverse consequences. Which left me with only one conclusion…

“I have LEPROSY!” Yes, because at this point, the rash looked that bad, and it had spread all over my arms and legs. Wes attempted to assure me that I wasn’t unclean, but the ooze spoke for itself. And it was itchy. Horrible, awful, keep you up at night itching.

I talked myself down from the leprosy angle when none of my limbs fell off (whew!), and I went right back to the allergic reaction theory. I comforted myself by concluding that it would pass with time, and when Sunday rolled around, I wore a long dress and a long sleeved cardigan to hide it all, so as not to gross everyone out. But I was itching really bad, and someone noticed. I told her that I was having an allergic reaction to something the dentist gave me. She took one look at my leg and said, “That’s poison ivy.” I had it confirmed a few more times by other people in the church and actually felt loads better, so much so that I started telling people who weren’t even asking, “Hey! I have poison ivy!” (Why was this better? NOT leprosy, first of all. And not a reaction to whatever it was that the dentist gave me so that I couldn’t feel her drilling my teeth. Because if I was allergic to that, those next few fillings sans any drugs wouldn’t be much fun.)

This discovery and its timing proved to be providential as it coincided with the girls’ involvement in a church musical, which meant that my parents were in town visiting so that they could watch the performance. When they got here, I told them about what had happened, and my dad took me outside and found a ton of poison ivy, pointing it out to me so I would know what it looks like. “That’s poison ivy? I filled up a whole garbage bag with that stuff last week!” (Meanwhile, Ana was sharing her knowledge on the subject, telling me that “three leaves, let it be,” to which I responded, “that would have been helpful to know last week!” Sigh.) We did our best to kill what we could find, and my mom did what she does best – she medicated me and took my children away so I could rest. (And she did a load of laundry, made my bed, and cleaned the kitchen before she left. Which made getting poison ivy worth it.)

All that said, I spent the next week in a Benadryl-induced haze, lying around all gooed up and trying to talk myself out of scratching. That didn’t fix the problem, which led to a bigger problem. The whole mess became infected. Great. Just great. Getting a shot and antibiotics was easy enough, thanks to a friend who is a NP and who didn’t let me wallow in misery a second longer when she saw what had happened. “You should’ve come to me sooner,” she said when she took it all in. Oh, trust me. I certainly will next time.

Anywho, the only logical conclusion to draw from all of this is that I need to retire from all yard work. Yeah, just need to be done with it. Either that or I need to wear a hazmat suit the next time I go climbing through the shrubs.

I see you, poison ivy. And I will remember…

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