DIY Is Full Of Danger: A Cautionary Tale

posted by on 12/14/2012 | 18,140 comments (leave one of your own)

I am extremely honored to have read this post at the BlogHer ’13 Voices Of The Year keynote in the Humor category, pretty much securing the fact that I will forever be known as that chick that gave herself poison ivy all over her entire face. You can watch the video here.


I’ve always wanted a decorative wreath for our front porch, but I never found anything that said “BUY ME”. This past December when we pulled out the Christmas decorations from the garage, I noticed that we had a few of those fake, plain green wreaths and I decided to make a jazz it up.  If there is one thing we have an abundance of in Colorado, it’s pinecones.

The kids and I went outside and gathered pinecones from the woods around our house, we were crafting off the land. It was pretty much just like Little House On The Prairie except no one was blind.

I had no plan, no directions, just a glue gun and sheer determination to make my vision come to life.  I started gluing the pinecones on the inside edge of the wreath working my way around.  I ran out of pinecones quickly, I kept going back out and I filled a box up three times. I glued, glued, and glued some more.  It was like a gigantic pinecone puzzle, you know, if puzzles were sharp, pointy, and gave you splinters and burns all over your fingertips.

It turned out lovely and totally free. All the supplies that I used I had lying around the house and in the woods and free makes my wreath a gigantic win.

Pinecone Wreath

But as we know, all magic comes with a price.

The next day, the back my right hand developed a weird rash.

A few days later, the rash had spread to my face, ears, and neck. I figured it was a reaction to something I had eaten.

I called my doctor’s office and they told me to swing by.

My doctor mentioned the rash did not look like it was brought on by food or drink and proceeded to ask all sorts of questions. He was certain it was some sort of reaction to shampoo, detergent, lotion, or perfume.

I’ve used the same shampoo since high school, I make my own detergent, I don’t use lotion, and I’ve worn the same perfume for at least five years.


He then brought in his doctor co-worker friend and this guy was all, “Well, I don’t think it is shingles and probably not scarlet fever. If it was lupus, the rash would be located on your joints.”  HUH.

They told me to go home and take some allergy medication for my hives and to call them if anything changed.  I was concerned for the well being of my face, but I felt confident enough to put my hives on blast via Instagram because everyone finds hives amusing when they aren’t happening to you.

This is the face of poison ivy.

I should have titled the photo “Bitch, you don’t even know”, as this was just the beginning.  Later that evening, my entire head was bright effing red and on fire. I stayed up all night with a cold washcloth on my face, consulting Dr. Google, convinced that I was suffering from a rare medical condition and about to receive the cutting edge diagnosis of being allergic to my husband.

After a full night of being miserable and not sleeping, I was inspecting my red, patchy, burning swollen face in the mirror and noticed there were tiny blisters forming on the rim of my lower eyelid.

I called my doctor’s office AGAIN freaking out because Hi, no sleep and because Mary went blind on Little House and they were all, “Please come to the office immediately, we are concerned for your vision”.


Twenty minutes later, I am back in the exact same exam room from the day before.  My doctor informs me my skin is blistering and it looks like my lymph nodes are swelling. He inquired if I could have possibly somehow been exposed to poison ivy.

Oh, you mean like maybe when I went into the woods and picked up 200 pinecones by hand?

Pinecone Wreath

And then painstakingly glued those 200 super speshul FREE pinecones to a tacky wreath with nothing but my glue gun and a dream?

Pinecone Wreath

He informed me that even if the poison ivy dickface of a plant is dead it could still infect you for up to a YEAR with its super demon plant powers.

So, I picked up pinecones lying in field of dead, poisoned plants, came inside, glued said infected pinecones of death to a wreath, touched my iPhone a whole bunch of times while making the wreath, and then used the said contaminated phone like a boss while working the next day and gave my entire head the worst case of poison ivy my doctor has ever seen in the history of his practice.

I was prescribed steroids to prevent my eyes from swelling shut, my face looked like it was sunburned to a itchy, infuriating crisp that I absolutely could not scratch, and I had blisters all over my entire head, even in the creases of my ears.

While the best things in life are indeed free, apparently they can also rage and disease your entire face with their poison oils. My free wreath cost me two doctor office visits, $16 in drugstore relief, a co-pay for my prescription, and my dignity.

I straight jacked myself up all in the name of crafting.


After my family offered their love and support in the form of laughter, my sister pretty much summed up this entire experience up with one sentence:

No truer words have ever been spoken.

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