It is hard to imagine what leads to a 46-year-old woman like me to be sitting in an extra-large adult diaper watching Patriots News. Fate is actually the thing that got me here. I am now convinced that the Universe aligns to bring such occasions into my life. I had a pretty long stretch of incident-free living, but now it is official that I can’t really help myself. The poison sumac or oak that I ended up wiping myself with, was destined to find me.
It is the third time I have had some sort of reaction to poisonous vegetation in my crotch. When I was about ten, I wiped myself with poison ivy out in the woods. One would think I learned my lesson, but I managed to squat in poison ivy for a pee at age 25. Those were two major and memorable times of severe discomfort in my life. I learned to identify poison ivy and have stayed clear of it for a couple of decades. Clearly it should never have happened again.
As part of my training for the New York Marathon, I ran about 17 miles last Sunday. On my many pit stops, I carefully selected leaves that looked friendly. I am usually a fern girl, but some of my faves had gone brown and crusty during the last cold spell. While there was plenty of foliage to work with, somehow I got a hold of something sketchy. A couple of days later when I landed in Pennsylvania to speak to Bucknell students, the discomfort started to show up.
Before my workout in the little gym at the Lewisburg Hampton Inn, I had some itchiness to contend with before I got on the treadmill. I hoped there were no hidden cameras. I thought it was just a wedgie. It didn’t seem like a beasty yeasty infection, but something was going on. By the end of my workout, my vulvic territory was on fire.
I decided to drop into CVS to acquire some itch relief in the “feminine product” aisle. As the time for my presentation to students got closer, it got worse. I took one last visit to apply some product before I got on stage in front of 500 students. I had some outrageous attacks of itchiness during my talk, which somehow struck me as ironic since I was talking about vaginal respect, pride and health throughout the talk. I found a way to rest on one leg to position the seam of my pants to give me a little itch, but that only made me want to really give it a go with ferocious scratching. The response to my talk was the best I have received despite the distraction of my itchy undercarriage.
On the way back to the hotel, I stopped into a pharmacy to get some Monistat just in case it was a yeast infection. It was late and dark. I pulled in and immediately started to itch. Before I knew it, I was at it with a vengeance and could not be stopped. There was no relief, but I could not keep my hand away for more than two seconds before I would be grinding in there to battle the heinous sITCHuation. I pulled myself together, went into the store and washed up in the bathroom before I went shopping. I ran into the Bucknell Director of Women and Gender, which gave me a good chuckle.
That night, I had very little sleep and crazed itching fits between catnaps. Hideous. By then, catastrophic thoughts were brewing: cancer, toxic shock syndrome, some peri-menopausal disease that makes your bits drop off, bed bugs, STD contracted from the sheets that may not have been changed before I arrived.
My products and I were close buddies all the way back home to NH. Bathing, creams, mindfulness and and deep breathing could not make the itch subside. My youngest kid got word from Bruce about my situation. He announced to his sister when they picked her up at soccer, “Mom has a YEAST INFECTION on her vagina.” I hadn’t seen my kids in three days, and they burst through the door quizzing me on my itchy vagina situation. Privacy isn’t a strong suit in our family.
When the rash moved around my thighs and lower abdomen, I finally remembered all the leaves I was working on that long run. Clearly I had chosen the wrong plant. Facebook yielded many great suggestions: cortisone shots, over the counter power creams, oatmeal paddies and the inside of banana peels. Being an earthy gal, I decided to start with the natural approaches. The banana peels gave some short stretches of relief, but sitting on a plate of cooked oatmeal in the bathtub felt great. However, I had a lot to get done around the house.
Of course, I ran into several friends in CVS. I explained the situation to a couple of them, and I just let the rest guess at why I was buying big girl diapers. I attempted to run my idea about putting the oatmeal in the diaper by the woman who was helping me. She had no words for me. Not one word came out of her mouth. I was on my own with this plan. She was so undone, she didn’t advise me to get the right size and didn’t ask me for my CVS card. I paid an extra $3 for X-large diapers without realizing it.
My kids almost dropped to the floor when I pulled out the first diaper. These babies would fit Vince Wilfork, the 325-pound nose tackle for the New England Patriots. My daughter insisted on putting one on over her clothes for a photo. Once I had a half patty of cooled oatmeal lined up in there and the sides rolled down for a snugger fit, my world changed. I was doing laundry, cooking a meal and comfortably planted on a stool watching Comcast Sports Tonight, and it was a delight.
I made it through the difficult days. Some itch remains, but it is bearable thanks to oatmeal. My kids refused to snuggle me when I was toting oatmeal, and they insisted that the diapers be put away when their friends came over. Fair request. Years ago, I had told them that there would be a day when I would be in diapers. I don’t think any of us expected it this soon. For me, it was good training for the future. I know the aisle well at CVS, and I am now tuned into appropriate sizing. For those of you storming along in your years like I am, do not fear diapers. I even saw an ad for men’s gray Depends in Sports Illustrated. Not only are they darn comfy, but they are also getting sleeker and more stylish.