Coronavirus quarantine? No such drama

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With some merely state-wise but not U.S. Constitution-wise civil disobedience proceeding in our little parish, what with the full Mass and Adoration and Confession schedules, everything was then cancelled on the schedule, but not because of any law enforcement intervention, not because of any cases of Coronavirus of anyone in the parish. In fact, my own Covid-19 test result (negative) was just reported to me minutes ago by the head doctor of the Cherokee County Health Department.

A very kind parishioner in the backsides of the beyonds in far western Graham county offered not only to fix up Jenny the Jeep as a “woods-truck” (what with her burnt out electrical system and smashed up steering gear box, etc) …


… but he’s also kindly offered to supply the rectory with a wood-stove.

Meanwhile, another kind parishioner was taking down some trees next to the church and offered me a cherry and a hickory for the would-be wood-stove to come. I asked whether the ivy covering the hickory was poison, and he said that he thought it was kudzu, but not anything poisonous as far as he knew.

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It turned out that 99.9% was English Ivy, you know, the innocuous kind that covers old ivy league institutions like Cambridge and Harvard and Yale. But 0.01% was poison oak. It was hiding. The tree guys dropped off the logs at the rectory and spent days cutting up the logs to stove-length while removing the ivy, putting the ivy in piles, and burning the ivy, all the while oblivious to the poison oak. Here’s the difference with the two, the poison oak having wilted immediately, while the English Ivy is staying quite fresh:

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The bare forearms were scrapping against the rough bark of the logs, and that’s what I thought the rash was on Thursday and Friday and Saturday, but then by Saturday it was all too much. By that time the arms were leaking and I had to admit something was amiss. I got some advice and bought some things at the pharmacy, including a bag of Epsom salts and some Calamine lotion. But the eye’s also went crazy:

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The leaking on the arms was so exaggerated that it washed the Epsom Salts right off. We didn’t have poison oak up in Minnesota when I was a kid, and the poison ivy is only really in bush form where I was from. My situational awareness for the unexpected is obviously suffering a bit. It must be all the double negatives so common here…

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My primary care doctor is unavailable until mid-June, so I made an appointment with the Cherokee County Health Department. “The worse case I have ever seen,” said the nice doctor. I was given an 80 mg shot of Methylprednisolone and given the simultaneous usual six day tapering off course of tablets also of Methylprednisolone. I asked about a prescription cream for the itching, but considering the oozing and how deeply rooted it was, she said that creams would do “nothing.” So, I got a prescription for Hydroxyzine tablets. It’s all working pretty well. It’s still a bit like a hair shirt…

Meanwhile, a very kind neighbor who is not susceptible to poison anything offered to remove the ivy for me. How good is that?! Great!

Meanwhile, because of all the steroids, I was told to self-quarantine, not because of any Coronavirus, but because I now have entirely zero immune system. To have even a temporary immunodeficiency during this time of Coronavirus is not good.


I’ve not been able to find anything on the half-life of the steroids, that is, when it seriously starts to weaken. So I looked up the calendar effectiveness of Methylprednisolone. By some accounts it looks to be five days for poison ivy. For other conditions it’s two weeks, or for some things three weeks. I want to get out out of my self-quarantine ASAP. But when will that be safe for me? I also don’t want to be in an exaggeratedly vulnerable position, get Coronavirus but with no symptoms, and then spread it about to my vulnerable parishioners. So, does anyone have a good estimate of the timings for my re-entry into societal contact?

Meanwhile, the nice doctor at the Health Clinic said that we will be getting serology testing in another week or two and I can come down for that test. Not that it necessarily means anything – as there are so very many variables – but at least it is something even if only an occasion for overconfidence.


Filed under Coronavirus, Medicine

14 responses to “Coronavirus quarantine? No such drama

  1. Prayers going up immediately! Our Lady undoer of knots please undo this for Fr. George.

  2. pelerin

    No wonder you were not able to blog recently Father. A couple of years ago one of my sons cleared some ivy away for me from a garden wall and later came out in a burning rash all the way up his arms. He was not wearing gardening gloves at the time although of course gloves would not have protected his arms. As an English countryman might say ‘There be dangers lurking in them there gardens!’ I do hope it clears up soon.

  3. Joisy Goil

    The poisonous oil in poison ivy and poison oak (urushiol) can cause lung damage if inhaled in the smoke. I’m sure the Dr. checked this out for you – but please be careful – because now, I believe you are compromised healthwise and need to extra cautious. I’ll pray to St Rocco for you. How are your eyes? Has the swelling gone down?

  4. Catherine

    Chaplet of Divine Mercy for you Father George. Praying for your complete healing and protection.

  5. Aussie Mum

    What a mess that poison oak made or your arms and face Father. It must have been so painful and difficult to do anything. I hope your return to health is speedy and your immune system rebuilds quickly. I have no idea how long that will take but taking a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement might help. Good levels of vitamin B complex plus C and D3, and the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc are said by some to be essential for a strong immune system.

  6. See if you can get hold of a product called Zanfel. It’s a scrub that has removed urushiol from my skin before. A tube is pricey, around $30, but it works.

  7. There’s a product called Zanfel, that comes in a tube that costs around $30. I have used it to scrub urushiol from my skin before. Unlike most products, it still works even when the stuff is no longer fresh.

  8. elizdelphi

    Just awful. I hope and pray you are getting so much better! Seems like the kind of things that happened at the hermitage but at least you are in closer proximity to medical care.

  9. Michael Sanford

    I am someone who cannot take any steroids either injectable or by mouth. I have had steroidal injections in my back and joints for arther, but other than that, steroids cause me great neuro toxicity with hallucinations and other aberrant behavior. The half life is about a week, providing you didn’t or haven’t been on large doses. Large doses are taken by DosePack which you start out with a large dose and then taper off with less doses over ten days. My daughter had to take DosePack for her poison Ivy and she suffered for it. I’ll pray for you.

    • Father George David Byers

      80 mg injection simultaneous a six day dose pack tapering down each day… So far so good…

  10. Maryb

    “Once a doc always a doc (marine, priest…)” So I asked my retired ER doc hubby (health+age prevents him from being in there with a medical team doing battle with this virus) if he has any thoughts for you, after showing him your pics and reading your post to him. Here’s the gist: if it’s working (your meds) don’t mess with success; if you stop improving, get seen right away– you might need more meds, might need another shot, etc.; re your question about when to stop quarantining, he says he’s shooting from the hip, ’cause he’s not had experience w this virus, that his guess is you may need at least a week after your meds. May this be of some help? Praying for your health and discernment of what to do, and your doctors good judgement!

    • Maryb

      Amending the last part, about timeline for meds to be out of your system, and your immune system to be back online; my hubby followed up later saying ones immune system can be affected for months after dosing; that it can depend on the dose and on how your system handles it. So I’m back to prayers for your discernment and your doctors’ good judgement on this issue! Hope you are healing well!

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