Posted by: Brenda Kula | October 28, 2008

The Madness Continues

Where are you, Dr. Dagwood?

After that big dose of steroids yesterday, I flew about the house as if propelled from a cannon. Martha had nothing on me. I cleaned everything, cleaned it again with Clorox, went back and cleaned it again in case I’d missed a spot. I am beyond common paranoia.

(Nola, look what’s still fit as a fiddle…)

At bedtime, I thought, I think I can do this. I took my regular three medications for sleep. Yes, I must be knocked out at a sufficient dose at night. Sleep has always eluded me, even as a child. Then I added two Benadryl pills for good measure. I made it two hours. The itching began anew.

I dosed. Around five a.m. I awoke scratching my feet with my toenails. Uh-oh, it’s taken up more real estate, I realized, this demon called poison ivy. At six I was beside myself. I’d gotten up during the night to dab on medication to soothe the redness and blisters.

Eureka! I found some Aveeno bath wash in the bottom of the bathroom cabinet (when, oh when, did I purchase that?). Labeled to include natural colloidal oatmeal. I’ve no idea what this is, but it was one of the things in the instruction sheets that promised relief Dr. Dagwood handed me yesterday. I took my shower and slathered it on. I considered shaving my underarms. But paranoia is a funny thing. It creeps into your days and crawls your skin at night and puts you in panic mode. I fear that if I open up a pore somewhere new, it will crawl into that space also. Can you see me walking about scratching underneath my arms like an ape?

After my shower I rushed into the kitchen and opened up two mini Hershey bars and stuffed them into my mouth. I figure that’s got to have some good fat in it. The fat I was told to take with my steroids so it would more readily soak into my system. Oh, wow, to have an excuse to eat chocolate… Down the hatch, six little pills that would grant me some degree of salvation. That send me spiraling about the house and yard as though the devil is nipping at my feet. Cleaning out the pond, moving around some plants. Sitting for a moment in the back chair to gaze at the brick wall that will soon be my glorious French doors, where I can enjoy the view that I work so hard to beautify. Then within a minute or two I shoot up, possessed suddenly to move a pot or gazing ball or…something.

It is purported that, because I’ve been taking so many medications to help me deal with the asthmatic bronchitis during this house remodel and all the ensuing dust, mold, and such, that my immune system was somewhat compromised.

In the dead of night, staring at the black ceiling and trying to resist the urge to scratch, I envisioned a giant truck pulling up at the curb outside. And the army that is my immune system boarded like soldiers sent to a new post, and simply drove away. Leaving me scarily unprepared for this poison ivy that’s invaded my body. And wreaking havoc on my mind.

(Walli’s plant below)

Tis a sad prospect, slowly losing your mind to an itch. Who’d have thought it could drive you so crazy? Certainly not me. Walli tells me that once she got a terrible itch on her big toes. I look at her askance as we sit talking. Big toes? Yep, nearly drove her batty. So far my toes have gone unscathed.

(Walli’s pumpkin and pine cone combo below)

I know you’ve probably had this happen in your lifetime. You’re say, in an MRI scanner. You feel the urge to scratch your nose, or ear, and you’ve been told not to move a muscle or you might have to endure this claustrophic test of nerves all over again. You wonder if you merely twitch your nose from side to side, like Elizabeth Montgomery on Bewitched, will that matter so much? The itch grows worse. You are all but strapped in, your arms at your sides, waiting for some merciful soul to open up the door and let you escape the entrapment you so willingly an hour ago laid down in. Upon release, you rush outside to feel the air on your skin.

We had a freeze last night, apparently, but I covered some of my plants with a sheet and grouped some underneath the gazebo, and all seem fine, as you can see. At least I have that…

This too shall pass. But toward 6 a.m. the refrains from the old song: “Please release me, let me go,” kept running over and over through my mind. About that time I am so possessed by it I throw caution to the wind and scratch. And feel my heart beat slowing a bit as the itch wanes.

I know this too shall pass. It’s not the end of the world. Maybe if I go too far round the bend, there is somewhere to send me while I regain my sanity. There should be a place, on some serene piece of land out in the country, with views of the tall pines, where they have a type of sanatorium for the victims of poison ivy and its cousins. Where you can regroup, and gain your footing to face the world again. And someone declares you mentally fit before you get into a car and step back into society, from whence you came.

Robert the carpenter tells me that when he gets a case of poison ivy that is severe, he opens up the wounds and pours Clorox into them. I cringed when he said that. Now I’m not far from that point in time. I can almost see myself standing at the kitchen sink. Finally having a real excuse to scratch open my blistering skin. Holding my breath and closing my eyes as I tilt the container and let the liquid drip into the many angry red sores. You’ve heard the old saying: rubbing salt into your wounds, haven’t you?



  1. Oh Brenda ……………..I am so sorry…………….
    I hope I hope I hope and pray you feel better soon.
    Lord have mercy on Brenda enough is enough already!!!

  2. Oh, I hope the medicine kicks in soon…
    before you lose it.

    On the bright side, your photography is just fantastic. I love your composition and colors. So much color for nearly winter!

  3. Brenda, I feel so bad for you. I have never had poison ivy, but I remember my dad used to get it real bad. There is nothing worse than an itch you cannot scratch.

    Always Growing

  4. You poor, poor woman! Well, at least your house is beyond clean! Maybe martha will come by for lunch ;). I do hope things get better. Soon is not the right word now, it is already late!

  5. I’m NO drinker but I think I’d be considering whiskey if I were in your shoes!! Sounds awful!!

  6. Like you need a reason to eat chocolate. The colloidal oatmeal soothes the skin. You can make your own oatmeal poultice or oatmeal bath. Put dry oatmeal in a blender and blend it into a fine powder. Add a 1/2 to a cup into your warm (not hot) bath water and soak. Or make a poultice/paste with water and spread it on your skin. Messy, yes, but it may give you some relief. YES, I spied that oxalis even before I saw your note to me!

  7. OMG I hope you get relief soon. And if you need to clean please pretty please come to my house. I love all your pictures and your garden is beautiful!! Soon you will be laughing at all this!! Ok maybe not that soon!

  8. Poor brenda, I was hoping you would feel a lot better by now.

  9. Oh, Brenda,
    I am so sorry you are still itchy! Hopefully, the medicine will kick in soon!

  10. I wonder if hell is poison ivy? I’m certain your poison ivy is hell. I hope it passes soon.

  11. Bless your heart – I hope it gets better soon.

  12. I’m glad you went to the doctor. Hang in there. Before you know it, this will all be like a really bad dream.

  13. Oh my Brenda, this sounds like such a nightmare. My heart goes out to you. Hang in there!

  14. Hi Brenda, I had hoped that madness was behind you, but guess it is merely hiding under your armpits. I think you were wise not to risk opening any cells to the invaders. That clorox thing is really a guy thing, they all swear by it, how horrible. I had found that the johnson and johnson first aid gel, formerly called rhulie gel, that may not be the correct spelling, gives good relief from the itching too. I apply it and let it dry, it is a clear gel, before putting clothes over it. Look for it.


  15. Oh Brenda, I sure hope the shot kicks in soon for you or already has. Poor thing. Have your tried wine? 🙂

  16. Oh my god Brenda .. I am exhausted just reading what you were doing .. and that insane itch ? I’m so sorry for you with that . It can make you lose your mind .. I have no doubt about that fact at all.
    I do how ever love the method of eating chocolate so the fat content will soak up the steroids and utilize them more efficiently .. that is WONDERFUL medicine !!
    The cleaning thing .. quickly died out here .. energy went south of the border .. perhaps that was your extra urge ? my energy ?? damn !!
    That Aveeno oatmeal thing .. did it work ? I use the moisturizer all the time other wise I would be a dried up flake of tissue ? ugh … not a pretty sight.
    And .. yes .. we should have a play off ? of how bad are we when we drive with sarcastic statements and naughty words ?? I’m sure I have to be worse than you .. take my word on it girl !!
    Halloween .. just a blink away and I am now digging out the decor .. yes .. I’m late .. but I have good reasons why.
    And yes ……………………….. what am I going to be like after it is over …………… whaaaaaaa !!!!
    Hope you feel better girl !!

  17. Your photos are wonderful. What kind of camera do you use?

  18. My heart is with you, Brenda. You are a great story-teller but … ouch! I would have devoured the whole package of mini Hershey bars ~ you have great restraint! Though lucky so far, I have seen my husband suffer, and suffer …

  19. I’m sorry but I’m laughing as I read this. That’s what steroids do to me too. Run around like a maniac for 30 minutes, rest for 2 minutes. What better time to take them than when you have Halloween candy too!

    By the way your neighbor Walli was just as I pictured her. I’m glad you have her to keep you out of trouble.

    Heal fast.


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