I don't know why it took me so long to figure out. I've always known the "leaves of three" caution, but I've never been bothered by poison ivy and I guess never truly taken the time to identify it and recognize it. My friend, Sarah, showed it to me at the park (it is EVERYwhere) and I started getting a really bad feeling. Wow. That looks familiar. I think I might be cultivating it in my back yard...
... which answers so many questions... like why hubby keeps breaking out with those itchy little rash spots.
So thinking that hubby was obviously highly sensitive, and I was not, I decided I'd be the one to tackle the poison ivy. I consulted a number of sources including my sister (who is my expert on everything green) and a good friend I knew had also been working to rid her yard of the stuff. I decided this would be one case where I would go straight for the chemicals. I hated the thought of doing it, but couldn't seem to find any alternatives for getting rid of it naturally, especially as large and wide-spread as our vines were. We had several ivy "trees" with origins a good two to three inches in diameter.
I geared up with gloves and a disposable jacket and started cutting and ripping it out, spraying at the source as I went along. It was a long afternoon. Hot. Yuck. And I kept getting a gap between my glove and my jacket sleeve, which worried me a bit, but not enough to stop and so anything about it. Three days later I was disappointed to see that there looked to me just as much ivy in the fence line as ever. I mean, I could see where I'd made a dent or two, but there was still a whole heck of a lot there. I was going to have to tackle the fence on the neighbor's side, as well, to beat this monster. I was thrilled, however, three days later to only have one blister on the side of my arm. It was right where the gap between the coat and the gloves was and I thought... annoying, but manageable. By the end of that day, however, the blisters seemed to be spreading. By mid-day four I had about a 2x4 inch patch of nasty, blistery itchy stuff on my right arm and a few spots on my left arm.
To make a long story short, it got miserable. REALLY miserable. And about a week later, I got up one morning to see that my arm was getting red and hot from the ivy blisters at my wrist, heading down toward my elbow. It was hard to the touch and nothing I was using was even touching the burning/itching sensation. I figured the last thing I needed was a good old fashioned case of blood poisoning, so I went for the drugs.
Antibiotics had me feeling better about the state of my arm by the end of the day. After two days all the redness and swelling had gone down. I got to the end of my prednisone prescription yesterday. I'd never been on a steroid before and I have to say the constant wide-awakefulness and action-packed dreams are a little unsettling. It was worth it. The relief from the itching was definitely worth it. Kept me from gnawing my arm off in my sleep!
But now I have to admit that I'm a bit afraid of the monster in my back yard. It's large and my dent will do no good unless we follow up and master the stuff. I'm thinking, in the end, it may involve an entire removal of the fence and taking down all the trees and miscellaneous plants that are intermixed there. We've already had a conversation with the neighbor. He's going to be easy to get along with. He's game for whatever we decide to do.