Tara Kaprowy

Hi, I have poison ivy. And, yes, I’m scratching.

A patch popped up on the back of my arm Monday and today I have new bumps coming in on an hourly basis. I can now count two on my left leg, two on my left arm, one on my chest and one on my stomach.

I’m just waiting for it to show up on my face. Because that would be really pretty.

I’m at the point where I am deeply enjoying scratching. I know soon it will start burning and I’ll want to scratch my eyes out, but I’m not thinking that far ahead.

While I am enjoying the scratching part, I am deeply disappointed to realize I am firmly allergic to the stuff.

I had never had poison ivy before I moved to Kentucky. And given that there is poison ivy in Manitoba, and I had never gotten it in 27 years, I figured I was part of the coveted 30 percent of the population that is immune to it.

In fact, I had become pretty good at flaunting my immunity in the face of the boyfriend, who is badly allergic. I would make a big point of stomping through the woods in sandals, weeding without gloves, and sighing loudly when he would make me lather up my arms to make sure the oil didn’t get onto him.

“Too bad about your ivy problem,” I’d say cruelly. “It sure would be a lot of cooler if you weren’t An Allergic.”

That all changed last summer after a batch of it appeared on my inner arm.

“What is this stuff?” I asked him while vigorously scratching, already skilled at avoiding the bumps but digging my nails in hard into the surrounding area.

A deeply satisfied smile washed over his face.

“That’s poison ivy,” he said. “Welcome to the club.”

That club, I know, is one whose members are miserable. I learned this the first time I actually did give poison ivy to the boyfriend (whoops!). As I guiltily looked on, he spent the next weeks trying not to scratch, getting to the point he had to go on a huge daily dose of steroids that caused him to suffer from every symptom known to man. Unfortunately the worst of them hit when we were in New York for the first time. He spent a lot of time in the hotel room on that trip. He got dizzy on the subway. We made it to Battery Park but couldn’t ride the boat to the Statue of Liberty because he threw up. And he had to leave halfway through “The Producers” because of severe esophagitis.

“You did this to me!” he roared one morning, looking like Doc Holliday in the midst of his battle with consumption. He then collapsed on the bed and fell asleep.

I’m not sure how I got the ivy this year, something that, if I’m not careful, I could quickly start to obsess over. I mean, when you think about it, the oil could be anywhere. Say I actually touched the plant while weeding. But, see, I didn’t know I touched the plant. So then I touch the doorknob and then even if I wash my hands, I could still have some oil left on my arm and under my nails. Then, say, I scratch my cheek. Then I put on some blush. And, because I’m feeling fancy, I put on a bracelet. Now I’ve got oil on the blush brush, which I use everyday. And on the bracelet. And on the doorknob. So I go to work. The bracelet touches the computer keyboard. I get the oil all over my fingers while typing. Then I pick up a folder and hand it to you.

Now we both have poison ivy.

Then the boyfriend comes home, opens the door and he had poison ivy too.

Frankly, it’s amazing we don’t all have it all the time.

My biggest challenge now is actually recognizing the poison ivy plant before I step on it — or pull it out. I’ve complained about this to many people, only to be smugly told, “Leaves of three, let them be.”

Wow, what a useless piece of advice. Has anyone else noticed that every little plant or weed growing in the mud has three leaves? I can’t possibly avoid them all — in fact, I downright refused to.

Of course, this will result in more bumps. And more scratching. And, wait. Just. One. Moment.

Is my forehead itchy?

P.S. Anyone else have a bone to pick with the hill on McWhorter Road right before the bypass? After having to walk my bike up it a few weeks ago, I do.

Staff writer Tara Kaprowy can be reached by e-mail at tkaprowy@sentinel-echo.com.

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