Everyone hates Mondays, but for Emily Petrozza this particular one stood out as being especially awful. Yes, she woke up to find that she’d managed to get poison ivy into, of all places, her eyes. The effect on her face was as horrifying as it was hilarious. And like any good sibling would, Emily’s sister wasted absolutely no time in sharing the photos online.
21-year-old Emily hails from Newington, Connecticut, where she lives with her sister Lauren, who’s four years her junior. Lauren is currently studying at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, while Emily trained in dental assistance at Tunxis Community College.
As sisters so often are, Emily and Lauren seem pretty close. And like all siblings, they’re not afraid to take delight in each other’s discomfort – something that would, on this occasion, end up working out in favor of Lauren.
One of Emily’s favorite activities is looking after feral cats in her hometown. In fact, it’s something that she does nearly every day. And in early June 2017, along with her friends, Emily spent an entire weekend fishing and frolicking outside with wild cats.
This time, however, Emily’s fun and games were to have an unforeseen consequence. Indeed, that Sunday night, she realized that she had a poison ivy rash on her arm. Coming into contact with the poisonous plant – also known as “Toxicodendron radicans” – usually results in this rash, which can be itchy and even painful.
The rash results from poison ivy’s sap, which contains a clear liquid called urushiol. So while plenty of animals actually eat the plant, it’s usually best for humans not to come into direct contact with it. Indeed, most people see it as a weed to be removed.
Nevertheless, Emily wasn’t overly worried about the rash on her arm – at least not at first. After all, she’d experienced them before and nothing too serious had ever come of it. This time, however, something was different.
After removing her contact lenses, a series of red lumps began to appear around Emily’s eyes. Upon seeing her sister’s face, Lauren quickly grabbed a picture of the damage and posted it to Snapchat before the girls went to bed. Emily’s suffering didn’t end there, though.
Yes, the next morning things had only gotten much worse. The swelling around Emily’s eyes hadn’t subsided. In fact, overnight it had grown a lot severe, and now her eyes had swollen almost completely shut.
“I didn’t recognize myself,” Emily later told BuzzFeed News. “I could see a little bit but my eyes were so swollen that it hurt to keep them open.” It was clear, then, that Emily required urgent medical attention.
Luckily, one of Emily’s friends was free and able to take her to a walk-in clinic for treatment. However, before she was attended to by a medical professional, Emily sent a picture of her swollen face to her sister. Amused by the hilarious photo, Lauren then dutifully uploaded it to Twitter.
According toEmily’s mischievous sister, the pictures were so funny that she just had to share them online – and social media seemed to agree. Her tweet now has over 35,000 retweets and almost 65,000 likes. Moreover, a follow-up tweet from Lauren noted, “40K people are laughing at my sister.”
Despite her apparent viral humiliation, however, Emily thankfully saw the funny side. “I want people to know I’m not mad at my sister for posting the picture in the first place,” she told Fox 61. “We always joke around with each other and neither of us ever expected it to turn out like this.”
One of Emily’s friends also posted a video of the 21-year-old to Twitter, captioned “the aftermath.” Record after the the worst of the swelling had gone down, the clip appears to show Emily laughing at her plight. Yes, while her condition certainly still looked uncomfortable, she at least appeared to be taking her ordeal in her stride.
Meanwhile, the reaction to Lauren’s tweets went beyond just retweets and likes. Indeed, plenty of people responded by drawing comparisons to similar cases of facial swelling. One post, likened Emily’s puffy face to that of Will Smith’s character in the movie Hitch after he experiences an alarming allergic reaction.
Another compared Emily to the faun in the 2006 Guillermo del Toro film Pan’s Labyrinth. One Twitter user, meanwhile, even went as far as editing so that Emily resembled Maz Kanata from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Thankfully, Emily was able to receive medical attention to reduce the swelling around her eyes. And after a couple of days of taking her prescribed meds and drinking Biba – a soda packed with electrolytes – she was apparently feeling a lot better.
Emily had also swiftly sought medical attention. Indeed, the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Dr. Jeff Pettey advises that anyone who manages to get poison ivy in their eyes should immediately visit an ophthalmologist. “The only way poison ivy, poison oak, or any other oil-based irritant can get inside of the eyeball is if there is an injury to the eye that creates an opening,” he told BuzzFeed News.
If there’s any positive for Emily to take from the ordeal, then, it’s that other people will hopefully learn from her mistake. Indeed, she hopes people will always remember to wash their hands after doing any outdoor activities.
While Emily’s situation was horrifying for her personally, it certainly provided much merriment to the thousands of people who saw the images that Lauren had posted online. And, of course, it can now also act as a warning to anyone else unlucky enough to come into contact with poison ivy.