The land of the lost

The land of the lost Since 10 am this morning I have been sitting in the emergency room at UNC Hospital. They are so backed up with patients I heard one doctor call it “the land of the lost.” That’s not a bad description of how it feels to be installed in a room and then ignored for over an hour. I can’t decide if this is better or worse than 2 hours in the waiting room with the TV blaring. Fortunately, I didn’t have to decide – I got both.

You may be wondering why I am here. I have somehow managed to get poison ivy AGAIN. I just had it 5 months ago, 5 months before that, and about a year before that. It appears that my front and back yards are both blessed with the evil weed, and I tend to get infected after doing major yard work, like liberating my catus from a nasty, thorny vine.

Having been through this so many times lately, I know exactly what I need. Only steroids can give my skin the strength it needs. Special soaps and ointments don’t help. Waiting doesn’t help. By tomorrow it will be so swollen that I will barely be able to walk. I need some prednisone, stat.

Unfortunately it takes weeks to get an appointment with any local dermatologist, and that’s if you’re lucky enough to snag someone else’s cancellation. So here I am in the E.R. for 3 1/2 hours now and still haven’t seen a doctor. There has to be a better way!

14 thoughts on “The land of the lost

  1. Oy! Ruby!

    This my second attampt to post … but yes, please get outta there!

    You don’t need a dermatologist for prednizone. Two recommendations:
    1) The Family Doctor – Urgent Care at Ram’s Plaza 968-1985 (Walk-in, no appt)

    2) “Doctors Making Housecalls” – Run by Dr. Alan Kronhaus, an old friend (tell him I sent you!). He’ll come to you. 932-5700


  2. Thanks for the advice, y’all! Here’s an update:

    After nearly 4 hours at the hospital I was briefly visited by Dr. Shah and supervising Dr. Miller. Immediately upon looking at my legs, Dr. Miller decided that I was allergic to the ointment that I had been putting on them. This sounded like bull at first, but I’m starting to think maybe he had a point. I washed my legs as soon as I got home just in case.

    Neither doctor showed any interest in the small black hole on my knee which may or may not be related to the poison ivy. I have no idea what it is.

    Anyway, the important thing is: I got the drugs! I’m starting to feel better already, but I’ll probably keep the walking to a minimum for the next few days anyway.

  3. Now that you have your drug, you should get some Roundup for that poison ivy. A few diligent applications can get rid of it for good. And Roundup is safe for humans and other animals. It’s basically just a salt. Another alternative is Tecnu. It is great for poison ivy prevention. You can get an expensive small 4 oz bottle at REI or for twice the price get a huge 32 oz bottle from Duluth Trading company –

  4. Jean’s suggestions are excellent. I’ve been wanting to do a health care in NC blog, and Jean’s just given me the impetus to start that.

    Ruby, sounds as if your yard needs a community clean up day. I’m not as allergic to poison ivy as you (my cousins can handle it with bare hands with nary a rash), and I’ll help clear your yard some day. Just say when. I’m sure there are others who will help, too. Cold beer would be nice.

  5. Anton … I’ll happily contribute war stories of misdiagnosis as well as some no-holes-barred advice for docs who need to learn a thing or two about l-i-s-t-e-n-i-n-g to the patient.

  6. Hey Ruby Darling —

    I hate to disagree with someone on your blog comments, but Round Up is not the solution. I am not one of the Carrboro hippies that says all applications of toxins are bad, but more to the point, the Super Strand of PI we’ve got around here laughs at Round Up (even the new Extended Remix for PI Edition). The stuff simply has to be ripped out by the roots as far and complete as possible. (Round Up can be a good & effective after-treatment, however, to prevent re-growth).

    I’ve dealt with this in Chapel Hill and I’ve dealt with this in Carrboro. That sh*t ain’t playin’. Also, I am so highly allergic that I don’t even attempt the removal anymore. I hate to give you the yuppie response, but you need a Tactical Lawn Crew to come in and rip it all out in a few hours.

    (Yeah, like the few hours you spent in the ER suffering. I know, you’d rather keep your $$$ and do the honest work yourself, but at some point we’ve got to admit to ourselves — “I can’t do *everything*!”)

    Much love. I hope you fully recover soon. It usually took me two full months to get rid of PI infections (they get systemic on me and pop up all over where you didn’t even think you were exposed).

    Oh, and since it ain’t been mentioned yet. Taking those drugs (Cortisone, Prednisone, whatever) on any type of regular basis ain’t good fer ya. It just ‘taint.

    dave 😉

  7. At the advice of a doctor on call, I went to the ER in the middle of the night a month ago and waited so long (like 2.5 hours) that I ended up leaving and going to my family doctor when they opened. UNC Hospitals try to bill for $95 when I never even saw a doctor or a nurse (aside from the entry nurse who only took my vital signs). I am in the midst of disputing their charges on the basis that I received nothing that I would classify as “treatment”.

    I hope you get better!


  8. Hey Ruby–

    PI is a PAIN. Listen, next time you plan to work in your yard follow these instructions. BEFORE YOU START–make cetain you have a small bottle of Dawn for Dishes in your shower. It has a surfactant in it that strips urushiol (the active ingredient in PI that most people react to) from your skin. When you finish your yardwork, come inside:

    1) Strip into the washing machine (if you don’t have one, strip into a bag of some sort and keep it separate from the rest of your laundry and wash them in a separate load at the laundromat) wash those clothes in HOT water and do an extra rinse cycle. UNDERTHINGS TOO!

    2) Toddle off to the shower. In water as cold as you can stand it (luke warm is as cold as I can stand it) wash with the Dawn–starting at the top of your head and working your way down. I jsut use Dawn and bare hands. rinse twice.

    I haven’t had PI in 15 years…not since I started this regime. And I live IN THE WOODS.

    Good luck!

  9. Okay, one more product pitch on the PI thread. 😉

    Melanie gives good advice (and quality instructions) on how to beat an Urusiol Oil infection. One more truly amazing (and truly expensive) topical solution is Zanfel. Most pharmacies either have it or can order it.

    $40 for a one ounce tube, but if you are suffering from PI (or just want to be protected) this stuff is like heaven. It has a “grit” to it that helps soothe the itching.

    Zanfel can be used each time you come in from doing yardwork, to clean the spots you think were contacted by Urushiol Oil. (This is the recommended use, so you don’t get full-blown PI infection).

    It can also be used after the fact to soothe itching and help the infection go away a little bit faster. There is no miracle cure (I’ve tried them all), but this product can bring sanity back into your scratching life.

    I am in no way connected to the company or product. Just a mindless convert.

  10. Thanks so much to everyone for your advice and concern!

    Yesterday, I took my last prednisone dose. I am really looking forward to my brain returning to it’s normal, relatively-less-addled state.

    Hopefully I will remember the soap (and long pants) next time I tangle with the evil weed…

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