Tuesday, July 21, 2015

_The Hancock News_ Column-- July 15, 2015

When my mother was in third grade, she and her younger sister thought they might like a little bit of extra attention. Remembering that sick and injured children are fussed over and sometimes even get soda pop, they hatched their not-so-brilliant plan.

My mother and her sister decided to rub the leaves of poison ivy all over themselves.

Be able to identify this. . . just don't get too personal.

Now, if you’re reading this, you are intelligent enough to know this scheme of theirs has no good ending. For whatever reason, the poison ivy didn’t effect my aunt, but my mother learned a lesson she’d never forget.

Sure enough, my mother broke out in a rash all over. It was so bad her eyes swelled almost completely shut. She remembers going to the doctor and having to take some small white pills. She remembers how itchy it was and how horrible she looked. And she remembers having to go to school where a shy girl like herself would most certainly be the center of the kind of attention she didn’t want.

What my mother does not remember is getting a treat from her parents, certainly no soda pop.

More than sixty years later, I found myself scolding my sons for walking through poison ivy.

“Aw, Mom, why are you so scared of a little plant like poison ivy?” one of them complained. After this past week, I don’t think any of my older children will soon forget their mother’s healthy respect for this common weed.

It all started when I pointed out to my husband a small poison ivy plant growing in our garden right next to an impressive sunflower. He made quick use of a shovel to eliminate the dangerous plant.

But I couldn’t stop there. At the time, I had a fleeting thought that the weeds growing next to the poison might have on them some of the itch-causing oils from their dearly departed neighbor, but I dismissed it. Hadn’t I ignored my own sound advice and waded through poison ivy in my muck boots earlier in the summer while hunting guinea eggs? If I had no problems with that, surely I’d be okay this time.

So I bent over and weeded to my heart’s content. When I straightened up, and I remember this all in slow-motion, I pushed up my glasses and wiped my forehead.

Quick as that, the deed was done.

Two days later the dreaded rash appeared on my face, and by that Sunday, it was bad enough that I had some explaining to do at church. By Tuesday, my eyes were swelling shut.

My older children looked at me with a mix of revulsion and pity, and the younger two just pointed and giggled. After I dabbed on calamine, my face was a grotesque splotchy pink mask that the toddler ran from. The calamine didn’t help much, and the Benadryl only took the edge off the itch.

By Wednesday when my husband took me to the doctor, I didn’t even want to look in the mirror let alone be looked at by strangers in the waiting room, but I was desperate for some relief.

There was to be no relief. I was told that no doctor would prescribe steroids for me because of my pregnancy and that I could expect the whole ordeal to last for three weeks.

So, my friends, that’s where I am now, in a miserable state of trying not to scratch. I wake up at night like clockwork with severe itching when it’s time for another dose of the only medicine I have the green light to take. I’ve tried about every topical treatment and home remedy out there to no avail. While my face is no longer swelling, the rash has migrated everywhere else, and no amount of attention or special treats (not even soda pop) will make me feel any better until the itching goes away for good.

One treat I’ve been craving lately is brownies. I am a lover of chocolate, but I have no cocoa powder in the pantry right now. Instead I think I’m going to beg my husband to bake up a batch of his brownies that use a chocolate substitute-- carob.

Not many people keep carob powder on hand, but if you’re sensitive to chocolate or just want to try something new, it makes a satisfying alternative to hot cocoa as well as these yummy brownies.

Honey Carob Brownies

1 1/3 cups honey
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup carob powder
1 cup nuts, chopped
2 cups whole wheat flour

Blend all ingredients in order given. Turn dough into buttered 9 x 12 inch pan. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350℉. Do not over bake. When brownies come from oven, cover immediately with foil to drive the moisture in. Allow brownies to cool before eating.

**This post has been shared at Strangers & Pilgrims at Home for The Art of Home-Making Mondays.


  1. I'm not sure if you are still suffering, but if so, RUN to a health store, or find on the internet, the homeopathic remedy, Rhus Tox (that's the abbreviation). It is actually made from poison ivy, but don't worry, there is no poison ivy actually left in the remedy. You can take it according to the bottle, or you can make the pills last longer by putting one in a small amount of water (2oz), let dissolve. Then before taking a dose, hit the bottle on the palm of your hand 5 times and take a sip.

    I pray you feel better soon!


    1. Kerri,
      Thank you for your advice. I am feeling better now-- finally! I do have Rhus Tox, but I avoided taking it because my husband, when he was younger, had a bad reaction to it. It made his reaction worse. I figured that it was a slim chance I'd react the same way, but I wasn't going to take a chance. I have used it when I wasn't pregnant though :)

      I've had such good luck with some homeopathic remedies. . . but I've flopped at others. I just need more education.