My grandparents are from Italy and Venezuela (maybe Argentina but I’m pretty sure Venezuela). My brother is very dark skinned and although I’m kinda olive toned, I’ve NEVER had an issue with sunburns or not tanning nicely. I rarely lather on sunscreen, I never wear sun hats and I have yet to experience sun poisoning.
On Wednesday, the high was mid 70’s and the sun was out but mixed with clouds. I invited two friends over for some poolside hangs and was so elated to just relax and have some downtime and enjoy the vitamin D therapy. We sat around for maybe an hour before we were warm enough to embrace the barely tolerable, ice cold pool water. Once in the pool, after our squealing and whining subsided, we chatted for another 30 minutes or so. Our afternoon of fun was over, we had things to do and adult life to return to.
I noticed a severe burn line form my bathing suit and sent a text to my friends stating, “don’t worry, it will turn to tan by tomorrow.” Confident in my statement because I had never seen a burn on me that didn’t turn to tan and I was sure my 90 minute sun exposure wasn’t enough to kill me.
The next day, my burn was still evident, no brown tones had set in, my shoulders were tender and my chin felt burnt. I’m not talking about hot, but actually burnt. I felt perplexed but continued to believe (with slightly less confidence) in the tan tones coming shortly. I began applying home remedies of lavender and oils and lotions and creams in an attempt to coerce my skin into tanning. At minimum, I was hoping to alleviate the redness and bumps that were beginning to form.
Enter Saturday night…. I woke up to itching skin, bumps all over my chest, neck, face. I wanted to rip my skin off. I was placing ice packs on myself. My face had a similarity to an orange peel and my chest was on fire. I couldn’t sleep (which is somewhat a regular occurrence these days) and began scouring the internet for sunburn rash websites.
I found myself wondering what had happened? My skin had never been so unpredictable. Was I now so sensitive to the sun that I couldn’t adventure without sunscreen? I mean, maybe I’m dumb for even thinking that but when you experience minimal to no issues for 38 years, it’s definitely confusing to suddenly have your body react in a totally opposing manner.
I ended up being put on steroids to reduce the inflammation and rash and had to spend Memorial Day hiding out from the terrors of UVA/UVB rays. I’m bathing in aloe and drinking water obsessively. I’m itchy and red and irritated but most of all, I’m aggravated with myself. Why did I care so much about wanting a tan? Why did I ignore everything and person that suggests sunscreen is important?
All of this got me thinking back to my ankle and how I knew my right ankle was weaker before I broke it. I had right knee surgery 11 years ago and have had trouble activating my glute on the right side for a little while now. My right leg has been my less stable, weaker side ever since my surgery in 2007. I have known this and seen it as a problem anytime I do single leg exercises. I started seeing a therapist for my right knee maybe six months before I broke my ankle. I was doing my therapy exercises but pretty lazily, not with a huge level of commitment.
After breaking my ankle, I HAVE TO FIX MY RIGHT LEG ISSUES. If I don’t activate my butt and track my knee/quad correctly, my ankle hurts where my plate is. Maybe this is too technical talk but the point is, I could’ve been proactive and possibly fixed this issue a long time ago and maybe, just maybe, avoided an ankle breaking. So why didn’t I? Why was I not fully committed to proactive care of myself? Why did I not take it seriously? I see this all too often with my clients also, they come in with an ache or pain and we discuss a protocol for fixing the issue yet the true motivation for change usually doesn’t come until they’re desperate and non functional.
I have found myself full of gratitude for these forced behavior changes even though they come with some extreme discomfort. I’d prefer to learn from these experiences and become better at taking care of myself BEFORE I’m broken and itching and on medication or in the hospital. Yes, it would be nice if I could just magically be healed or if I could function better without any effort but the line says, “get up, pick up your mat and walk!” There’s an active part involved in our healing. I am to partner with my God whether that be in prayer and faith or in tangible behaviors like putting on sunscreen and doing physical therapy exercises. Whatever it is, whatever it looks like, I play a part, or it’s better if I participate.
So tonight, I am grateful for my sunburned rash and itching skin and my butt that doesn’t fire well because they are going to be my motivation and reminder anytime I want to be lazy or irresponsible. And any other thing I want to accomplish in my life, will be better because I will know that I ALWAYS have a choice to make smart decisions and I am never truly a victim to circumstances. I challenge anyone reading this to trace backwards something in their life and find the areas that could be improved and just maybe, see how life is trying to discipline you to be the best version of yourself. And then be grateful for those broken bones and failed attempts because they are way more of an asset than liability. ❤️
Oh, and here’s just a magical picture of my dog playing in the snow.