Sometimes poison oak takes days and days to show up. The Internet said
three days. When three days went by, I rejoiced. No poison oak on my
butt for me! Truly, I live a charmed life. And then, I forgot all about how I crawled pant-less through the bushes on the golf course. A little
over a week later, I woke up with intensely itchy red blotches all the
way up and down my right thigh. “Oh my god, I have West Nile leprosy!”
I shrieked. “Are you dying?” E said. “Is it contagious?” E is very
worried about contagion. “It’s probably an allergic reaction,” I said.
“I’ll take Benadryl!”
Are we shocked that Benadryl didn’t work, and that the rash spread up
the backs of my legs to my butt and across to my other thigh and down
to my knee, with scaly patches on my ankles? We all already know how
this story turns out: poison oak. It spread via my fierce and
dedicated dedication to clawing off my skin because, holy jesus god, the
itching was maddening and sharp and violent and freaking endless. It
never stopped. I kept scraping away layers of skin, because only the blood
would temper the terrible agony, et cetera. I still wasn’t completely
sure it was poison oak, at that point, because I don’t remember ever
having it before, and it had been so long since the alleged exposure,
and I’ll just wait it out, over here in the corner peeling off strips
of my welty flesh.
I was unhappy Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday, and finally on Sunday,
I said, “I can’t deal with this. I have Ebola. I need to go to a
clinic. Thing.” And E hopped in the car and drove me out to a clinic
that was open on Sunday, which was completely empty because regular
people know to consult a physician over a potentially deadly hanta
virus rash the moment it appears on their delicate, alabaster flesh.
Me, insuranceless, I tried to brave it out. I am not so brave. I also
got hit with an after-hours fee for a Sunday visit. Because–I snuck
into the clinic after they were closed? It seemed like during-hours to
me, with the lights all on and the receptionist behind the desk, but
what do I know?
The doctor came in, looked at my knee, snorted. I said, “It’s all up my
leg! And, uh, my butt.” And he said, “Have you been hiking?” “Oh!” I
said. “Yes! Well, I mean, no. Sort of. I mean, we were in the woods,
and–” E, who had come in with me to get the low down on just how
infectious my deadly rash was, said, “Hiking is close enough. Yes, we
were hiking.” The doctor looked at him, and then looked at me, and
smirked in an extremely knowing manner and oh my god, I knew what he
was thinking. Of course I have poison oak on my butt, because I am a
dirty nature-communing exhibitionist whore.
He smirked the entire rest of the visit, as he filled out a
prescription for steroids, for me, for the itching, explained that yes,
it was transmittable (“Goddamnit!” I said. “I knew it!” E said), that I
should coat myself head to toe in calamine lotion, stop the scratching,
and it ought to go away within six to nine days, which is entirely way too
long to spend covered in red welts and contagious. Uncool. Totally and
completely and 100 percent uncool.
The itching has pretty much stopped, thanks to the steriods (the same
kind the Porter puppy is on for his allergies! Whee!), though the red
blotches remain as blotchy and red as ever, which is a good look for
me. It says “health hazard!” The steroids also keep me wide awake,
which was useful this morning at 6:30 when I had to get E up for work.
I got a lot done today! I don’t want to be diseased any more.