Remember those cute little bumps that cropped up on my face back in September?
I keep meaning to post a follow-up about that. Because, boy howdy, that was not the end of it by a long shot.
By the next morning (Thursday the 25th) they had expanded to become an embarrassing and slightly swollen red rash. By that Friday, my eye was swollen nearly shut, and it was time for professional medical intervention.
(Weird swollen face photos ahead. You have been warned.)
As I mentioned before, I did have an off-site training session to attend on Thursday, during which I kept my hair as much in my face as possible, even though (in retrospect) it really didn’t look that bad.
Antihistamines kept me from scratching my face off, but the redness and swelling didn’t seem to be going anywhere. In fact, they were getting worse. My face felt like it was sunburnt during that hour’s drive home.
I conferred with both my husband and my BFF that evening, and they both agreed that I should really take a sick day on Friday to hit up the local Urgent Care. I e-mailed my boss to let her know I wouldn’t be in, then went to bed.
During the night, the left side of my face swelled up like a supernova.
After watching the field of vision in my left eye get smaller and smaller each time I woke in the night, I looked in the mirror on Friday morning and saw:
In retrospect, I shouldn’t have washed my face quite as vigorously as I had the night before. I had thought that maybe if I washed it extra well and scrubbed it extra clean, maybe any remaining urushiol oils would wash off. Alas, it was far too late for that — being almost a week out from initial contact — and I probably made it worse by stimulating the blood flow through the affected area.
The local urgent care didn’t open until 10am, so I chilled out with Connor and let Aaron sleep until lunch. Once he was up and around and ready to tag-team the child wrangling, I booked it to the urgent care.
That was actually a quick and relatively painless visit: the (very young) nurse took my vitals (as in, she took my pulse and BP, then asked my height and weight), I explained to both her and the (kind of cute) med student what I’d gotten into, then the Physician’s Assistant (PA) prescribed me a steroid shot in the bum and a run of steroid pills.
The trip to the pharmacy afterward was more of an event, since a.) it took longer for the fax to come through than for me to drive there; b.) I was in public with this seemingly-horrendous face; c.) the PA didn’t call in the script for antihistamines like she said she would; and d.) I had to wait a half hour after they got the fax to be given my prepackaged box of pills.
Finally got my prescription, bought some OTC antihistamines (so I wouldn’t use up the ones at home that actually work on Aaron — my body isn’t as picky about allergy meds), and headed home to let my face settle down.
By the time I went back in to work on Monday (the 29th), my face was much better than it had been, but was still icky enough that I wore my hair in my face all day and attempted to cover the worst of it with makeup. Very few people noticed, and those who did were sympathetic.
I was worried that the scarring would be permanent, but after a couple of weeks, the line between red and normal flesh was no longer visible.
The rash spread.
I got it on both arms, both legs, and my stomach. My stomach was in the first round of rashes, and I know exactly why: I scratched myself after I came in from gardening on that fateful day. The rashes on my arms — maybe some casual contact with the vine? But the legs I finally attributed to my stupidity: I didn’t change the bedsheets after I realized what had happened.
We don’t change our bed linens as regularly as some folks do, and I really didn’t even think about it. I flipped my pillow over, but didn’t think that the oils would spread on the sheets. But that has to be what happened. Once I did change the sheets, the rash stopped spreading and started healing.
Even over a month after the rash started to appear, I still had a few scabs and red marks on my legs and a couple tiny scabs on my wrists. Now, over two months out, I still have some dark marks on my right leg, but I expect that they’ll finish fading over time.
That damn vine was everywhere on that front fence, and I had resigned myself to suiting up like a beekeeper to rid myself of it once and for all. Luckily, I didn’t have to… but that’s a story for another day. 🙂