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There are many things I miss about New
York, and you’ve heard me list most of them numerous times.
The friends, my church, the museums, the food, Central Park –
it’s a long list. I even miss our sweet little house; after
all, it’s the first house we ever bought, the house where
both girls were born. We had a handkerchief-sized back yard where
we learned how to grow (and kill) things, and enjoyed spending much
of our down time.

One thing I don’t miss about New York, though, is one of the
lovely plants that grew in our back yard – poison ivy. Our
back neighbors had a huge arboretum of poison ivy and it cascaded
down our back wall, dropping its poisonous leaves over half the
back lawn. As someone deathly allergic to poison ivy – I
start to break out, and I have to run to the doctor for a cortisone
injection – the back part of our yard was a serious source of
agita for me, and we never were able to eradicate it completely. As
Maddie grew and began walking I kept her from going back there,
petrified she’d catch it and spend the next couple of weeks
in torment.

So when we sold our house I bid an enthusiastic farewell to the
poison ivy, happy to move several thousand miles away from it and
know my children would be safe. I’d spent my whole childhood
in Texas and never once saw the stuff here.

Which is why on Sunday, when Maddie and
Cora were playing at our community clubhouse, running around and
around the house and frolicking in and out of the bushes by the
creek, and I spied a big ole batch of my friend Toxicodendron, I
felt as if I’d entered the witness protection program on good
faith, only to have the mob find my a measly two weeks later.

I warned everyone off the area and grilled Maddie intensely –
Where exactly did you play? Did you go anywhere near those bushes?
Are you SURE? I’d been around Cora the whole time and
hadn’t ever seen her wander towards the Shrubs O Death (as I
think of them) so I wasn’t as concerned about her. We headed
home, I soaped everyone down, and forgot about it, vowing to never
go near the back of the clubhouse again.

But it’s too late. Wednesday morning, after being up for a
solid three hours in the middle of the night, Cora arose to a shin
full of those blisters that haunt my waking dreams. Yep,
she’s got poison ivy. Maddie, too, though only a couple spots
and they’re very light. But still.

I immediately slapped a ginormous band-aid on the worst of
Cora’s blisters to keep her from scratching them open and
infecting them, wrapping the whole leg in medical tape so she
couldn’t take off the band-aid. I called the pediatrician to
confirm what we could and couldn’t use, and headed to the

Fortunately for the girls, there’s a whole slew of new
products out there for poison ivy rashes these days, many of them
new this year. You see, the red itchy patches you get from poison
ivy are simply an allergic reaction to the oil urushiol given off
by the plant. The liquid in those blisters isn’t contagious
– it’s simply the histamine your body’s creating
as it fights off the reaction. Previous thought held that if you
could wash with soap and water right away after coming in contact
with the plant, you could get the oil off before it seeped into the
skin and caused a reaction.

Today, though, they are realizing that soap doesn’t
completely remove the urushiol, and trace amounts remain on the
blisters – not enough to spread, but enough to make life
uncomfortable, which is why poison ivy can seem to spread slowly
over your body and why it takes so long to leave. So there are now
some products – washes- on the market which bond with the oil
and remove it completely. Even if you didn’t catch it before
the reaction started, it’s not too late, which is why I
bought a bottle that, ounce for ounce, actually costs more than
pure gold. I looked it up. If you ever need it, start with IvaRest
or ask your pharmacist. And for the record, when poison ivy shows
up, Earth Girl goes away; I don't give a damn if it's organic or
eco-friendly or whatever, as long as it kills the poison ivy and
the urushiol dead dead dead. After all, poison ivy's organic too.

Back at home, we followed the precise instructions laid out on the
back of the box, which included dire warnings as to what would
happen if you didn’t follow the directions. I chose a wash
–with the pediatrician’s blessing – that has an
analgesic as well, and promises a significant decrease in itching
almost immediately and for several hours thereafter. I don’t
know if the itching went down – Cora wasn’t talking
– but when I checked her blisters several hours later I was
astounded at how much smaller they were. I’m telling you,
this stuff works, and I’m keeping it with me any time I have
to step off the sidewalk again.

So we’ve scrubbed both girls a couple times, and are keeping
Cora’s worst spots taped up to prevent a secondary infection.
I know poison ivy can last up to two weeks, but I’m really
hoping this stuff earns its paycheck and reduces us to a couple
mild days. I’ve got to start getting some sleep, and
I’m really scared Cora’s going to find a way around
that tape and dig in with those fingernails and create some
permanent scars. She’s been crabby for almost 48 hours now
and I’m at a loss as to how to help her more. It’s a
fun house right now – you should come visit.

Oh, and did I mention Cora’s teething too?


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