"Woohoo!" was what my children said, last month, when they found out we were going camping with my sister and her family.
They've known no other greater joy since birth. We had sold our camper, though, a couple of years ago and were going to be 'roughing' it, as they call it, in an 80's pop-up given to us by someone who was looking to rid his yard of the eyesore. It was ok. We called it a tent on wheels. After all, it didn't matter what we slept in, we were going camping again! Camping was fun!!
I spent a week cleaning it and packing it. We brought the dog and enjoyed the outdoors with family and friends. My sister and I (girl scout leaders, mind you) took all the kids on a 'journey' through the woods. As I uttered the words, "leaves of three, leave....them.....be", we realized it was already too late and we were all standing in the middle of a poison ivy party. We backed up slowly, hands in the air, like we were being held at gunpoint, and directed the kids to the nearest outdoor shower, washing their legs, feet, and arms (and, thus spreading it like wildfire). Nonetheless, the camping trip was fun!
Trip over, the phone rang and I could barely make out my sister's voice over the scratching sound. My niece had something too and we all wondered how MY family could have been so lucky to have avoided the awful ivy. I was wrong.
The ticks came first, days after our trip. My dog was scratching (that can never be a good thing) and my middle daughter informed me that there was something near Bailey's paw. I gasped when I saw them. Not A tick. Not two ticks. Hundreds of ticks. It looked like someone opened a jar of poppy seeds and thought my dog was a bagel. I spent two days picking the ticks off of her. Even the vet was in awe. All in all, I removed over a thousand ticks from my dog and three ticks from my youngest daughter. But, nonetheless, camping was fun.
It hit us a few days later, that sneaky ivy, my children needing treatment first. But then it got me. I woke up on an early Sunday morning and drove directly to a clinic, children in tow, telling the doctor that, if he couldn't give me immediate relief, I would drive to the hospital and ask to be put in a medically-induced coma. I don't know why he was laughing; I was serious. Poison Ivy, along with children whining and crying, as I always say, should surely be used along the perimeter of correctional facilities or mental facilities, or anywhere we want to keep people from leaving their designated area without permission (I'm thinking high school here too, who's with me?).
So, we started the steroids; my youngest daughter completing two rounds with no relief. I got a shot - and not in my arm - that day and followed it up with more steroids. Everyone else was pretty much healing, but my little one got worse. It was an unbelievable rash. We went to urgent care, one night, and were told it didn't even look like poison ivy. We followed up the next day with the pediatrician, seeing every doctor at the office, and staying for hours. They'd walk in, talk, look, walk out, and make a phone call. I told them if they were going to keep us here so long, they should be offering coffee and cake.
Hours later, they had us driving to the Infectious Disease Department at Schneider's. Not one of those glove-and-white-jumpsuit-wearing doctors could diagnose it. The doctors on call couldn't diagnose it. I even asked the volunteer, offering coloring books, what she thought of it. A Dermatologist finally visited us that night (in my mind he has a halo above his head) and, the following day, did cultures and took pictures. He said he wanted to document THE rash that he's never seen in all his years and in all the hospitals he visits. Oh, Doc, I bet you say that to all the girls.
Diseases and ailments flew around for weeks, and school became a distant memory for my daughter. She was even treated for chicken pox. In the meantime, we were all out of whack, me forgetting to pick up my middle daughter from the bus on the same day her journal entry was about me; her amazing mom. It was like a knife in my chest. No lesson learned, apparently, because I forgot to put her ON the bus the next the morning.
The following week, my youngest had a biopsy, coring a piece of her out like she was an apple. The results didn't lie. The rash was, without a doubt, 'tick-related'. Ok. There's an answer. Now we know. The end. We just won't visit the campground that gives away a thousand ticks as a parting gift, leaving us with prescriptions to test for lyme disease. All the days of missed school and all the 'home' work only proved I could never home-school my kids. All the worry, oh, the worry. Well, at least camping. was. fun.
After the last trip, but before this whirlwind dominated our lives, we actually ordered a new camper (stupid, I know), direct from Michigan. It now sits in my driveway, glistening, calling my name, and, who knows, I may only use it while it sits right here on the asphalt. I do know, though, that we will not go 'camping' anymore, but instead go 'glamping' as I hear it is so much more fun!