3 Jul

Today I discovered that my inconceivably severe case of mosquito bites is actually poison ivy. Because my dad had open-heart surgery three weeks ago, a nurse has been stopping by and checking on him. I finally broached the topic of my “allergy to mosquito bites” with her, and she broke the news. She was a font of information on the topic and even had a couple of little circles on her wrist that resembled mosquito bites that, she said, were poison ivy.

As soon as the nurse departed, my dad and I headed out for the CVS clinic that the nurse had recommended. After waiting for an hour or so, I learned that the nurse practitioner only had steroid pills, not the steroid shot for poison ivy. She recommended Doctor Ratnayaki’s clinic, conveniently a couple blocks up the street and open till seven. I was a bit surprised, because he’s my parents’ general practitioner, and I went to the same clinic when I was a teenager.

At the clinic, a nurse (or nurse practitioner) gave me the highly desired steroid shot. Afterward, a male doctor (from what I’ve seen so far, all the doctors in northwest Indiana are male, and rather imperious males at that) entered the examination room and explained poison ivy to me. He explained that when you touch the poison ivy, it releases a poisonous oil into your skin. The natural reaction is to scratch it. Then you might touch your neck to wipe away sweat. Next thing you know, it’s spreading. He prescribed the pill version of the steroid shot.

He also said I need to get a particular medicine called Tecnu. It comes in a cream or a spray bottle, and that I have to spray the infected areas and leave it on for fifteen minutes, then take a shower. He emphasized that Benadryl and other such medicines were not what I needed. The Tecnu not only relieves itching but also gets rid of the poisonous oils. He said to keep using the Tecnu until the poison ivy completely clears up.

I should be over the poison ivy in three days. That was a relief to hear—the end is relatively near.


How did I get poison ivy? When I brought my dad home from the hospital after his open-heart surgery, instead of greeting us, my mother yelled at him. One of the first things she yelled about was weeding her apple trees. I kid you not. Even after I had started weeding the apple trees the next day, she yelled, “Is one of you going to weed around the apple trees, or do we have to hire the next door neighbor?”

I felt absolutely furious and yelled back, “I DID start weeding the apple trees!”

The harpy said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to suggest that you didn’t try to weed them.” Manipulation is one of those things that malignant narcissists (perpetual five-year-old bullies who, like sociopaths, are incapable of empathy or compassion) practice with enthusiasm. She was attempting to manipulate me into believing that I’m stupid and incompetent. Before this incident, she had turned to me and said, “Do you know the difference between apple trees and weeds?”

Furious yet eager to prove that I’m quite capable of weeding, I resumed weeding around the apple trees two more times. During the third time, I worked at it very intensely for one and a half hours and created capacious piles of weeds. I made huge progress, pulling up some weeds by the roots and trimming large tree-weeds with a large pair of clippers. That’s when the itching started.

If my so-called mother hadn’t pressured and nagged my dad and me about weeding the apple trees—while she simultaneously showed my dad absolutely no concern, empathy, or compassion for his surgery and health—I would not have weeded her apple trees and therefore would not have acquired poison ivy. Yet she has shown absolutely no concern, sympathy, empathy, or guilt over my severe case of poison ivy. I’ll never forget the cold look in her eyes.


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