Every season has a moment that defines it.
There is a summer I will always remember because of a seasonal job I took as a summer camp naturalist. Another summer is remembered as the season our son was born, yet another as the summer when I got Lyme disease.
Every season. That one moment – difficult or magical – that changes your storyline, perhaps for a few weeks, perhaps forever.
This season has officially been defined. It is the summer of poison ivy.
And not just a little poison ivy. Really an awful lot of it. (Awful being the operative word.)
Those of you who keep up with me in real life or on Instagram or Facebook know that it's been a rough two weeks over here. Not tragic, not totally unbearable, but certainly (very, very) challenging.
I've been stretched far beyond my comfort zone, that's for sure. Very far.
I don't get PI like most people. I get a wicked, extreme, angry case involving great burned-looking patches of skin. It goes on and on for weeks on end, slowly expanding from one place to another, emerging in sequence based on the severity of my exposure.
And having poison ivy has also brought out lots of underlying Lyme symptoms like trouble spelling and writing, spaciness, and exhaustion.
So yes, it's been hard.
Seventeen days and counting.
But I feel we're nearing the end. Thank goodness. And yeah, I whimper and I cry and feel sorry for myself for a while, but then I look around me and feel a little silly for even talking about.
It's only poison ivy for goodness sake.
There are so many worse struggles in the world.
Because here's the thing: I have remedies I can apply. I have loved ones to (carefully and gently) hold my hand. I have a soft bed to sleep in, a safe home, and I know that in a few more days or a few more weeks it will all be a memory. Yes, I'm uncomfortable and frankly a little exhausted. No, we don't have health insurance because we're self-employed and living in that no-person's land between too little and too much income for affordable care. But really at the end of the day I'm going to be okay. And then a new season can emerge and be defined by something else, likely something more cheerful than a head-to-toe rash.
Blessed, blessed, blessed: repeat.
And while it's okay for me to be in a place of self-pity and suffering about this from time to time (most notably between the hours of 2:30 and 3:30 AM), it's a pretty tiny burden in the grand scheme.
And so I refocus. I put on more potions. And I count my blessings again.
As an ironic bonus, I've developed and very much put to the test an entire new product line for comfort and healing of poison ivy. So far I have tweaked and finalized an herbal wash; a soothing clay; an itch-calming spray; and a healing, soothing balm. I just need to think of another name, since the one I came up with isn't really appropriate (look away, sensitive eyes): fupi. (Give it a second. You'll get it. Spelling aloud might help.)
Honestly though. This stuff is seriously good.
And once again I circle back to gratitude.
Today I'm feeling like my healing is taking off. Very few new spots this morning, and lots of fresh, healthy skin coming on where the worst rashes were. Yes, I look like I had a terrible accident. But no, I'm not in agony.
We're in the home-stretch. I'm certain.
And yes, I'm truly feeling blessed. Grateful and blessed.
And when a friend who recently survived a potentially terminal illness told me how sorry she was for all this, I honestly felt a little silly for all my complaining.
Because our small troubles are real, but in the grand scheme they are barely struggles at all.
P.S. Thanks to each of you who has reached out with a suggestions or empathy for my poison ivy care. Your voices helped me feel held and loved and made such a difference in my healing. Thank. You.