How The Earth Sought Out Vengeance

Poison Oak and I go way back. I remember as a young Girl Scout ( in Southern California no less) learning that plants with leaves of three, leave them be!  In the city we didn’t have to worry. Plants with toxins had pretty much been eradicated, even way back in the 60’s. But dear sister if you roam out of the concrete jungle into the woods….beware!

Up until I was into my mid 20’s I had never contracted the dreaded rash. I used to boast, ” I don’t get poison oak. I’m immune.” We lived very remote during this part of my life. We wanted to live like homesteaders. And we did for almost 10 years. I will write a book someday. It will be titled, “Life on the Hill” and I better get busy because as the years pass I will lose a lot of memory and stories. I guess if that happens I’ll just have to make stuff up. Anyways one of the stories is how I contracted poison oak for the first time.

There I was boasting as I wore shorts and tennis shoes, clearing a path to our spring where we planned to get our drinking water, “I don’t get poison oak. I’m immune.” Alan was hacking and slashing with a chainsaw and machete ahead of me and I was pulling all the brush and tossing it freely aside, probably without gloves, I can’t remember for sure. “I don’t get poison oak, I’m immune.” Well sad to say, even someone who is immune to poison oak, if they roll in it, freshly cut, oils seeping from every branch, they are going to contract the toxic rash. I was miserable for a week. My legs swelled up to the size of a baby elephant’s legs. I was going to say an elephant but that would be exaggerating. I am telling the truth when I compare to the baby pachyderm. I was lucky that the toxins didn’t go systemic on me, it mostly was my legs and arms that were affected that time.

From that point on I could not boast. No more false statements or even the hope that I would not itch if I came within 5 feet of that poisonous plant.

About 10 years later I had another bout with the itchy oils. This time I was completely unaware. Alan had cleared a large bush around the entrance to our country road and then later that evening offered me a neck-shoulder massage. A day later I was complaining that my neck and shoulders were really sore. I was contract sewing at the time and chalked it up to too much hunching over the sewing machine for hours and hours. But then the next day my shoulders and neck were burning and itching really bad. I still did not put everything together…it was Alan who then confessed after he thought about it awhile.

I do not recommend deep tissue massage with  Toxicodendron diversilobum oils. Pass on that spa treatment.

Toxicodendron diversilobum ... Leaves of Three~ Leave Them Be!

Toxicodendron diversilobum … Leaves of Three~ Leave Them Be!

This newly budding, oil seeping sprig is right by my driveway. I noticed it yesterday, time to eradicate.

I never once contracted poison oak while living in Phoenix. Another reason I loved living there. I guess it’s too hot for poison oak to survive. For 4 blessed years I did not itch.

Now we are back in Oregon and back to the title of my story.

Last week while I was burning down the forest, I was unaware of the tiny poison oak springs bursting to life, awakening from the long winter, just waiting to seek retaliation from the scorching flames that were licking their tiny branches. They were all around me. Seeking revenge.

I’m almost miserable. My neck, one side of my face and arms are covered with lots of itchy blisters. The Earth did not appreciate my antics on and about Earth Day 2013 and sought justice.

I have one more rant about poison oak before I get back to scratching.

Have you ever noticed how everyone and their brother’s sister, aunts, uncle and cousins, know how to sooth the irritable itch caused from poison oak? Here are just a few remedies I hear all the time…

  • Calamine lotion, it’s the best
  • Calamine lotion doesn’t work for me, try a baking soda paste
  • Bleach, that will dry it out, just don’t use too much or your skin will burn off
  • Benedril, you will sleep and then when you wake up the poison oak will be gone
  • Aloe Vera…(I tried aloe vera this time and it only made it worse)
  • TecNu soap…yeah if you use it right away…maybe
  • Drink goats milk from goats that eat poison oak, then you will be immune
  • Eat 1 small poison oak leaf a day for a week then you will be immune

The last one is from my Dad and he says it worked for him but I’m not in a million years trying that home remedy. I don’t think I want poison oak in my mouth, throat or stomach!

I am going to share my treatment therapy with you right now so that you can add it to your list. I find it works the best for me, give it a try…

Scratch the affected area until it bleeds. Enjoy the relief the digging of your fingernails brings as it pops the toxic blisters. Then wipe the ooze with a clean cloth and let crust over. Repeat as necessary.


9 thoughts on “How The Earth Sought Out Vengeance

  1. Go to the doctor and get prednisone. That WILL take care of it. At least it does poison ivy, which is the east coast version. Nasty stuff. Whenever my husband and I were frustrated with some bureaucratic something-or-other when we lived in Switzerland, we plotted our revenge — we’d import poison ivy and then they’d be sorry! We failed to even try, though. We didn’t want to give it to them enough to risk getting it ourselves!

    • How funny…prednisone! See, see, another helpful remedy. I have heard of people doing that and was going to include it in my list but didn’t know how to spell it. Also a friend of my daughter’s… sister, just went to the doctor because her eyes were swollen shut she had it so bad. And the Dr. told her they don’t give predisone shots unless the patient asks for it because it can leave a dimple scar. I have never had it so bad to seek medical attention, thank God! I don’t blame you for giving up the idea of transplanting poison ivy to Switzerland…not worth the possible backfire.

  2. Oh, Lori! You poor thing! I don’t get poison oak! I’m immune! Maybe I’m just lucky enough not to touch anything it’s on! Was it Terry in CJ who used to poke Mark’s clothes into the washer with a stick to avoid it? All of those years (2!) on Warren Road and I never got it! Now, the huge lima bean sized ticks were another story! UGH! I say scratch that stuff till it bleeds! Love you! Mom

    • I used to get poison oak from Shasta and Sierra too, just from petting them. Yes I think Terry used a stick or maybe those yellow rubber gloves to load the laundry. And ticks…don’t get me started!

  3. Having lived in the concrete jungle for most of my life, I never had posion oak. Now that I have read your story and live next to the forest, I better make myself aware of this miserable plant. Hope you get better soon.

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