July 16th, 2019
Have you ever noticed that landscapers and lawn service people wear long pants and long sleeved shirts? Maybe I've noticed mostly because we have a lawn service to take care of our yard so I see the guys right here, hard at work while I'm watching, with no small amount of guilt, from the air conditioned inside. We aren't the only folks who hire out their yard work, almost everyone here, for whatever reason, hires a company to do most of this hot, dirty job. And I see these people out in the Florida heat wearing long sleeved shirts, long pants, hats and gloves. I always wonder how they tolerate that much coverage in the hot, humid Florida summers.
I assumed (though one should never) that it was for sun protection. After all, these hard working people spend their entire working lives outside, exposed to the sun and therefore potential sun damage. It not only makes sense, it is the smart thing to do.
I always wear sun screen and no matter how much I put on, if I've been outside for awhile walking or working or playing, eventually the power of the sunscreen will wear off or get sweated off resulting in some pink skin. I know we are supposed to re-apply sunscreen every..what two hours or something?...but that isn't always possible or practical.
As it turns out, while protection from the sun is part of the reason for the long pants/long sleeves thing, it isn't the entire story.
Over the weekend while Tim was hard at work on another project, I decided to do some tree & shrub trimming. Oh I know, if I wait long enough the yard guys will get 'round to it. But they have their own schedule of what gets done when and there were a couple of things that had been bugging me. And it was a pretty weekend for a change, not a rain cloud in sight. While it was warm it wasn't hot and not horribly humid either. Perfect weather to get out there and get some yard work done. Good Physical Labour! It's good for the soul.
Armed with my favourite chomper tools, a pair of gloves (because I'm not a total idiot), sneakers instead of sandals and some older shorts and a short sleeved tee-shirt, I set to work. The shorts and tee-shirt were probably not the smartest decisions I've ever made. Sadly, I honestly thought I was being smart by choosing older clothes. The shorts already had one tiny bleach stain and the tee shirt was probably in the 10 years old age frame. Both cotton, so easily washable and nice and cool for doing hard work outside. I did have on sun screen, so I did one thing right.
So there I am whacking away at things with absolutely no knowledge of whether or not I am doing it correctly. I chopped off excess branches of things all over the yard, front, sides and back. I even dug up a couple of things that had clearly died (not a leaf to be seen). And because we have all sorts of different kinds of greenery, most of which I do not know the name of, it was an interesting collection of a wide variety of trees and shrubs.
I did all of the cutting first. That seemed the most efficient way of handling it. And once I had beaten everything into submission, then I cleaned and put away my tools, and finally, collected all of the branches and carried them 'round the side of the house to a pile for the lawn guys to take away on Wednesday. That's the day they always come by.
It took me a few hours to get it all done, but I felt quite accomplished. The photo of the pile above doesn't nearly do it justice. The pile is longer than I am tall by quite a large margin and comes about to my knees. It's a significant accomplishment. I was good and sweaty when I was done. But the important thing was that it was, in fact, done. the yard looked better, the trees and shrubs look healthier and hurrah, Good Job, Sam! I patted myself on the back before coming inside to shower.
It was while I was in the shower that I noticed it. There was an especially furious itch all down the inside of my left arm. Just the left one. So I looked. The tender skin on the delicate inside of my left arm from right where the short sleeved shirt ended to my hand, was bright red, bumpy and itched like I had been attacked by fire ants. Except that I had not been attacked by fire ants. When I stepped out of the shower into the cooler air of the room it went from itching like mad to itching and hurting. Not fun at all.
The photo above by the way, I took the second day so you really cannot see the severity of the rash because by then it was improved but it is, at the very least, a nice visual of my chubby little arms.
I checked out our Over-The-Counter medicine stash for......something. Anything. And came up with exactly nothing. Ratz. I asked Tim to help me look and he quickly located some Benadryl Cream. We slathered that on liberally but the nerves in my arms were now so jazzed that even places that had no rash at all were beginning to tingle and itch. Dang! I tried applying ice packs, I took some Alleve, nothing was helping. so okay. " Try to not think about it", was my next plan. "Give the cream some time to work" I kept telling myself.
But it didn't help much. It was better than nothing but it wasn't much. I suspected that the correct course of treatment here was going to be Benadryl topical AND oral. Once it gets systemic, I knew we had to treat it outside AND inside. So off we went to Target.
About two hours after taking Benadryl capsules and reapplying the cream I began to feel some relief. AHHHHHHHHH. Soooo Much Better. What it is about an itch that is so awful? I would rather feel pain than itch. I can eventually compartmentalize and ignore most pain but an itch demands to be heard.
I have long suspected that an itch is at the very least a close cousin of pain. And it turns out that I am correct. The exact same areas of the brain that are activated through pain are activated by an itch. Aha! I love it when I'm right.
The rash remained through the weekend and only a small bit of it remains today, thank goodness. But my lesson was learned. When doing yardwork, long plants/long sleeves are definitely required. And maybe a Hazmat suit.
The clothes I wore for this project by the way, are irredeemable. Covered in tree saps that several washings and pre-treatings refused to impact at all. So I suppose I now have one perfect yard work only outfit. Just what I always wanted. (not)
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Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.