I got poison ivy when I was visiting my brother in Indiana. He lives by the St. Joseph River in South Bend.

On the last night of my visit we went down to the river bank to “fish” with my 7-year-old niece. It is an adorable ritual my brother developed with his daughter in which he tears pieces of leaves and throws them into the water and she fishes them out with her gear: a stick with a line tied to it and at the end of the line the butt end of a plastic water bottle attached there.

Well, the 7-year-old showed us how it was done, then let me and my wife have a try, and before you knew it, the 40-year-olds were fishing for leaves and the kid was off in the bushes looking for giant rocks to hurl in the water.

Rustling leaves
At the sound of her rustling leaves and overturning logs, my brother goes, “I hope there’s no poison ivy in there.” He wasn’t even being all that serious. And I take note of it in my mind because I am so allergic to the poison oak. I wonder if I am also as allergic to the poison ivy, which is what they got in the east. But then I don’t think on it any more.

Bumps appear
The next day when we get home to California, I have bumps coming up on my forearm. My wife she thinks maybe I have shingles. I look up shingles on the Internet and it’s not so clear that is what I have. It looks to me like when I get poison oak, only I wasn’t mucking around in bushes or anything so I really don’t think I could’ve got it. It itches and because I think it’s maybe shingles or something, I go ahead and scratch it. I keep thinking, what was so stressful as to cause me shingles?

It ain’t shingles
The day after that, well, the bumps are really exploding. Like bumps on top of bumps. Tiny, mean, red things. And it is really starting to itch like crazy. I can’t sleep through the night and I think I might go mad from the itching, so I go to the doctor. He takes one look at it and goes, “What did you touch?” He says, no way, not shingles. He gives me an awesome cream that is really helping. That picture there is when the rash is at its most disgusting. It’s kinda receding now. Only also it is popping up in other places on my body.

Is there anyone more allergic than me?
Which is all to say that I can’t believe how allergic I am to the poison ivy and oak. I mean, really, it just has to be mentioned and I get the rash.

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