It is a day I will never forget. It was a Saturday morning in mid-June in the year 2001. I guarantee that day is recorded in the Murphy Law Logbooks. I often think that I should have just stayed in bed all day.
We had owned this plot of land in the Ozarks of Missouri for just over one year. It was a serene place to live. Our children rode the bus to school. We had a dog, a garden, a few chickens, and life was mostly stress-free. I worked a job in a factory while my wife was on disability (Rest In Peace).
The alarm went off; I had to feed the chickens and gather the eggs. On my way out the door, I smelled something quite annoying. Coco, who was our pet pit-bull came running to me and I immediately knew what I smelled. Running in the house, I grabbed two cans of tomato juice and opened them. Tying a rubber-band around my nose, I went back outside to grab our dog who thought she could chase a skunk sometime the night before. Bathing her in the tomato juice, I removed the first layer of skunk scent. This is the point I should have known it was going to be a day that filled the Murphy Law requirements.
To the chickens I strolled and looking in at the coop, there was the skunk that Coco had chased eating one of our chickens. My twelve gauge shotgun took care of that problem. After cleaning all of that mess up, I went back in the house to find a delicious breakfast awaiting me. Some of the big brown eggs I had gathered the day before with thick bacon rolled into my belly. This was the feast before famine I would discover soon enough. Thanking my wife and explaining that the yard needed care, I made my way back out.
As I jumped on the small John Deere riding mower I owned, I spun it out to start mowing. It was running quite well until I hit a rock. The belt that drove the cutting blades broke, and I still had 1/4 of the lawn left to do. Knowing that my Toro weed-eater could do the job, I retrieved it from the garage. I started weed-eating the rest. Along the garage wall, I noticed a climbing plant. I decided to chop it with the weed-eater and felt the spray of the plant hit me. I smiled thinking that I had just solved a lot for the day. Maybe I could go golfing, or fishing now. But wait….something wasn’t right.
I started itching. It was burning and my son told me I didn’t look well. My throat was getting tight. It was hard to swallow, and then I looked in the mirror and wanted to scream. Remembering years earlier something I had learned, but forgot. I ran to the side of the garage and looked at the plant I had chopped with the weed-eater. It was what they had showed me in Boy Scouts. It was poison ivy.
I immediately went in and took a bath. I threw all the clothes I had on in the washing machine. I applied calamine lotion on the parts of my body that were itching. Yes, I was covered from head to toe in calamine lotion. We knew though that I would have to go to the hospital. My throat was tightening up, and my son said he could see it swelling inside. My face and arms had grown to double their size.
I really do not recall what all they gave me at the emergency room. I do know that I received a shot or 2 and an IV was put in my vein. I soon felt a deep sleep, but when I woke, my throat was still sealed shut. The Doctor explained that it would go down in some time, but there would be no eating that evening. I was sent home later and the swelling slowly went down over the next 2 days. I was able to drink fluids and eat soup the day after, but no solid food for another day.
Poison ivy beat me on that June day in 2001. Please study your plants before you mow and weed-eat. Take it from someone who endured a very tough time after simply chopping a little 3 leaf plant. Know what you are cutting before you do. You should also learn what these plants look like, because they will win the battle if you try to fight an enemy you don’t know the looks of.
Poison ivy is found all over North America. Be safe and know what Ivy looks like.