Fear Of Gardening

I could tell you about the new album Eric and I have almost finished, or the Kickstarter campaign we’re starting soon to finance the pressing (including vinyl this time!).  Or remind people in England (and Frankfurt) that we’ll be playing some dates over there in late May and June. Announce our first Hudson Valley area show (Kingston, July 21). Talk about how much I enjoy my part-time job which mostly involves reading, tasting beer, listening to music and talking to wacky characters.

But that would all sound so annoyingly fun and active. When all I can really think right now is – when will the itching stop?

Sorry. Life is on hold: I have poison ivy.


Maybe I took our neighbor’s warning a little too lightly, about the dark green leaves sprinkled throughout the garden area behind the house. When a beautiful Sunday dawned this week, it could be I was a bit too enthusiastic about getting back there to rake and pull weeds.

Oh, I wore gloves and tried to keep an eye on what I was grabbing. No way was I going to touch those evil “leaves of three”.

But that didn’t stop them from touching me. Just enough of an area of my  forearm to cause me to forget what life used to be like, PPI – back before the agony began.

After looking up all the home and natural remedies when my collection of cortisone creams failed to work, I thought I might be over the worst – tea tree oil and bakiing soda paste really did offer relief.

But the relief is only temporary and it requires either smelling like an eco-friendly cleaning service or leaving a trail of baking soda in my wake (though I’ve noticed certain swatches of rug and floor suddenly looking a lot cleaner , if I want to look on the bright side). Today was the worst so far. I had to work at the bookstore/bar and  couldn’t very well walk around with a baking soda paste on my arm. I wore a long sleeve shirt but couldn’t bear to have it touch my skin so pouring beers was a difficult operation, not wanting the customers to think they were being served by a person with a rash. I took a break to walk outside at one point and found myself crouching in an alleyway, rubbing tea tree oil onto my arm while worriying what that looked like to people who lived in the buildings above – Hudson has its fair share of lowlifes. I felt like I’d really hit bottom.

My only true solace is on the internet. There are pages and pages of remedies and war stories from poison ivy sufferers. And I console myself it can’t be as bad as the time Hazel and I went camping down south and got chiggers. The only way to survive that episode was liberal doses of valium.

I can’t stand the thought of going through this again, but I don’t want fear  to put me off gardening. When this is all over I swear I’ll get back out there with a keener eye. And a pair of elbow length gloves.

There’s probably a group for victims of gardening trauma.

Better go look that up.

8 thoughts on “Fear Of Gardening

  1. dinahmow

    Oh dear! I do sympathise with you, but you do make it such an entertaining story…
    ” a group for victims of garden trauma…”
    Good luck!

  2. Ed Ward

    I remember when my mother burned a bunch of weeds — which included poison ivy. She inhaled the smoke. The rest I’ll leave to your imagination.

  3. amyrigby

    It’s a scary thought, Ed – but worth remembering as I was hoping to burn some stuff when they lift the ban.

    That sounds awful Phil. In some cases steroids are the only way to go!

    Thank you Dinah. I keep coming up against my image of gardening as this therapeutic, relaxing activity – it often seems closer to warfare…

  4. Merri

    I live in Connecticut – tons of poison ivy here – you have my sympathy. When I spot some PI, I usually pull it out while wearing rubber gloves or disposable latex gloves. I put the vines in a trash bag, seal it and throw it away. Then I throw the gloves away (hopefully without touching the outside). I don’t try to eradicate the roots – just the parts I can see. If I had a hazmat suit, I would wear it.
    (First time commenter – I really enjoy your blog.)

  5. amyrigby

    Thank you for your comment Merri, and the tip about the rubber gloves – I’m convinced the gloves were the culprit…although now I understand this stuff can hang around on rakes etc. Yes, those disposable suits seem like a must!

  6. Max Frost

    I hear ya. I have it now, and it’s keeeelin’ me. I got bit by a snake once when I was in the garden, and this is way worse. One of my sons is 17 years old, 6’4″, a big tough guy, and when I showed him the blisters on my leg, he screamed. I don’t think I’m ever going outside again.

    1. amyrigby

      I’m so sorry. Three weeks of absolute torture. I tried everything everyone suggested, stopping short of pouring bleach on my forearms…the greatest relief I found came from raw apple cider vinegar compresses, and drinking the stuff. But that may have been because the poison ivy had finally run its course. Get well soon!

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