Questionable Medical Advice

By Cameron J. Kirby

There are certain times in your life when you look back and recognize the exact origin of your current misery; the poorly made decisions that eventually flourished. The chickens came home to roost… or in my case: turkeys.

We were camping along one of the many tributaries of the Columbia River, hoping for salmon but settling for carp, whiskey, and loud nights filled with terrible music.

Since the fish weren’t biting, I decided to try my luck further upland. 

The next morning, I donned my camo, grabbed my decoys, and started hiking up the verdant canyon to my turkey hole. Like many great turkey habitats this one was littered with oak trees; I found a solid trunk with some cover and settled in for a day of calling.

The unfortunate thing about oak trees is that their shoots resemble another Northwest native: Poison Oak. This spot had both the former and the latter in abundance, which I didn’t realize until well after I threw my saturated camo on my sleeping bag, pillow, and clothes. 

It started out in small patches that eventually kept expanding outward like a brushfire. Crimson splotches traced from my crown to my feet. Eventually, after three weeks, I heeded my wife’s advice and saw a Doctor. She asked if I was running through the woods as God made me. I told her it was my best attempt at channeling my inner Sasquatch.

I used the prescriptions, calamine lotion, and everything else I could think of… until I read about an old folk remedy, and this is where the questionable medical advice comes into play. The only reprieve I experienced was using border-line scalding water on the afflicted areas. 

I’m not a doctor, and my research was limited, but from what I read the heat somehow releases the histamine all at once and prevents the strong sensation to itch. In my experience the break lasted for three to four hours.

The best way to describe the instant relief was orgasmic. I don’t know if it helped in the long term, but when I’m feeling especially masochistic I miss having poison oak, just to feel that respite again. 

Silver linings are everywhere; sometimes you just need to scald yourself to find them.

Cameron Kirby

Cameron Kirby

is a native to the Pacific Northwest who enjoys exploring the wild places with his family and friends. As an avid outdoorsman and naturalist, he enjoys hunting, fishing, a good book and an even better whiskey.