Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I've got a bad case of DIY-itis. Do you?

I am sitting here trying to simultaneously type and scratch my right arm, which is filled with red, blistery bumps. It's poison ivy. I inflicted it on myself. We had a painter come over the weekend to paint the kids' swingset, and he pointed out a big old patch of poison ivy in one area and said he wouldn't paint there. "Oh, I'll get rid of it!" I said. And I grabbed a garbage bag, put on a gardener's glove and yanked it all out. I was wearing short sleeves. My hand looks perfectly fine. My arm is a mess.

I've got a case of poison ivy, all right, but an even bigger case of DIY-itis—this impulse to think I can do pretty much anything myself. This impulse has come in handy for things like researching info about Max and basically any topic in the universe, saving us money on home projects and once, for making Max a ridiculous costume out of a gigantic purple Bed, Bath & Beyond bag.

But often, DIY-itis is a handicap. Exhibit A: my arm (I'll spare you the photo). Trying to do so much myself means I sometimes don't delegate to Dave or even the babysitter, and I end up wiped out, stressed out and—on my craziest days—maybe a leeetle crabby.

The poison ivy actually has come in handy as an appetite suppressant, 'cause it's been making me feel nauseous (though I do not really recommend it as a weight-loss method). Also, this morning, I had two train seats all to myself because a man went to sit down next to me, took one look at my arm and moved on. Gotta love the leprosy look!

So, do any of you have a case of DIY-itis? And if you have ideas for treatment beyond hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion, bring 'em on!

Photo/Martin LaBar


  1. Ellen, don't fart around--get some TECNU and you'll be over that poison ivy in a snap! Follow the instructions carefully...

    Otherwise, you'll be itchy, scabby and miserable for a couple of weeks--you have to get rid of ALL that poison ivy oil. And be careful you don't get a secondary exposure from the clothes/gloves you were wearing or the tools you were using.

    Keep some of this stuff on hand for future exposures--it does the trick!

    The only thing I want to DIY right now is to make an impression on my bed! Long day today!

  2. We just finished our fence, and our now redoing our deck (to be fully wheelchair accessible!) by ourselves, with plans for an couple of accessible patios and sidewalks in the works.

    Guilty as charged.


  3. Jess, that is pretty darn impressive!!! Felicia, TECNU sounds good to have around, you have to put it on the area within 8 hours of exposure. Not sure I can use it now that it's been a few days. This stuff is evil—I woke up this morning with a whole bunch of new (and attractive!) little bumps.

  4. When I was a kid, my parents would dap straight-up beach on our poisin and them let us jump right into the pool because it stung so bad but it zapped poisin ivy in a second! That may be considered child abuse these days, uh? ;0)

  5. We're moving soon. New rooms. New opportunities. LOTS of things to DO! Is there any cure for DIY-itis???

  6. The TECNU will even work on "old" poison ivy oil, which can hang around, well, forever--those new bumps are caused by either incomplete removal of the oil or "re-infection," (you bumped up against those gloves again, for example, or your cat/dog did and then snuggled up to you) as it were. Absent that, if you have any mineral spirits in the house, go over your exposed part with them, and then rinse, rinse, rinse!!! Then do the calamine thing!

    And Mo is right about the bleach--it does work (and it does sting).

    I HATE poison ivy and its evil cousin, poison oak! To quote an old reprobate-hero, Ah feel your pain!

  7. Oh, one more thing--CHANGE YOUR SHEETS! The oil could have rubbed off on them!

  8. The broadleaf yard weed called common plantain. You can chew the leaves and apply to the rash. It is edible so safe to chew. Alternatively, you can cut it up and grind with mortar and pestle, but it is said that the addition of saliva actually helps. Here are pics and diagrams of common plantain.

  9. If you can't find TECNU get Zanfel (be prepared, its $50 but it's the best $50 you ever spent). It's a scrubby cream and you scrub scrub scrub yourself with it in the shower until you stop itching, and you can do it I think 3x/day. I really does work, and even if it didn't I'd use it b/c the scrubbing feels sooooo good. I follow that up with a few sprays of Ivy Dry, which will burn a bit after the Zanfel.

    I also keep a bar of Ivy Dry soap in my shower (next to the tube of Zanfel) and use it immediately after I do yard work. It will remove the poison ivy oil, which regular soap won't do, and will prevent an infection.

    Your next step is a cortisone shot, and if that doesn't work, a course of Prednisone. Misery! Be sure to get a week's worth of sleeping pills to go with it.

    Good luck, I itch for you.

  10. FYI the Zanfel will help even if it's not within the "window of exposure."

  11. Just reading this make me feel less itchy. Well, almost. Going to see which of these remedies I can find near me.

  12. Total DIYer here. I'm not sure if it's because I'm cheap or curious but I'm always getting myself into big projects. Next up is tearing out all the old paneling and drop ceiling in the basement.

    The last time I had poison ivy (2004ish) I ended up at the DR for topical steroids because the woozy feeling and rash wouldn't go away. I hope you find some relief soon!

  13. your blog is awesome da.. i pray for you,god will help you to own more knowledge

  14. I'm no doctor, but I recommend a benedryl if you haven't taken any. They make me sleepy, but they are helping my awesome bug bite collection. :)

  15. Definitely struggle with this! I am constantly telling people I don't need help when I really do. Why do I do that? Hope the poison ivy is gone by now!


Thanks for sharing!

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