By Matthew E. Milliken
Sept. 14, 2016
Friday, Sept. 2, brought hours and hours of rain to Durham thanks to the outer bands of Hurricane Hermine, which was then sweeping up the East Coast. I put on sneakers before going out that afternoon, which was a mistake — they were soaked after just a few minutes of walking.
My feet were cold and wet for much of the night, which I hate. They were also itchy. These sensations irritated me as I watched a mostly enjoyable Stanford football season-opening victory over visiting Kansas State.
That evening — or maybe it was the next one? — after a long day, I removed my socks and sneakers and starting rubbing foot cream on my dogs. As I did so, my fingers detected a bunch of small, evenly shaped and sized bumps near my left index toe.
What the heck…?
I was too tired to take a close look, so I finished rubbing the cream, pulled on my socks, washed my hands and went to bed.
The next day, the bumps were still there, and so was the itchiness. I sighed and went about the awkward process of taking a close look at my feet.
Sure enough, there was a little rash on the top of my left foot, mostly concentrated in a patch at the base of my index toe.
I stared. I’ve gotten poison ivy before. Heck, I got a bad case of it in January 2013 after doing some volunteer work at a former nursery that was being converted back to a habitat for native flora. But I couldn’t remember ever getting it on my feet and only my feet.
In fact, I couldn’t even fathom how I might have gotten poison ivy on my feet. I don’t walk around barefoot outside. The only time I wear anything more revealing than socks and sneakers is when swimming (or, very very rarely, kayaking) is on the agenda , and I haven’t set foot near a body of water suitable for either activity since July.
Heck, although I like walking around my house barefoot, I hardly do it because I’m my clumsiness makes me much too prone to breaking my own toes accidentally. So I just couldn’t figure out where this rash originated.
A few days later, after trying vigorously to ignore the itching atop my right foot, I took a look and noticed that I had a smaller patch of poison ivy there as well.
I was worried about the outbreak spreading. But fortunately, all of the rashes dried up and disappeared by the end of the week.
Good riddance, too — even though the mystery of how I came into contact with poison ivy remains.