On behalf of all dumbasses out there, I would like to accept this insignificant award of Dermatologist’s Worst Nightmare…
I spent the past weekend with my mom down in Daytona Beach. Ready to soak up an extra dose of Vitamin D and get a nice little glow to my ashen white winter skin, I hit the beach around 10:30, and quickly turned my nose up at the offer of sunscreen. Bad, bad idea. I am currently contending with the absolute worst sunburn of my life. Ever.
In my defense, I have never been a burner. I’m a bit sun-promiscuous; I have been sun-kissed all over the world. I learned that the closer you get to the equator, the more intense the sun and to protect my skin accordingly. Or not at all…. Hell, when I was younger, I even used to coat my skin with baby oil to intensify my tan. I told you I was a dermatologist’s worst nightmare.
The breeze was cool and the sun was warm; this was a deceptive ploy on Mother Nature’s part. My usual personal attentiveness was thrown off by my perception of how warm the sun really was. That, and the excessive amount of alcohol I was consuming to drown out the catty conversations of the females lying next to me on the beach. Let’s be honest… the alcohol was probably my biggest debacle.
Around one o’clock in the afternoon, I figured that I had flipped and flopped and baked accordingly, and that it was time for some sunscreen. Too little, too late…. The burn was painful, but the continuous consumption of alcohol the rest of the weekend apparently numbed it sufficiently not to bother me all that much. Flying home to soberness and the clear-headed hour and a half drive home, however, caused me to start questioning my well-being.
My skin was crawling. The fabric of my shirt and jeans grated my skin; my undergarments almost unbearable. My legs were swollen – I was always under the assumption that being sunburnt meant simply a reddening of the skin. I was shaky and cold and felt like I had a touch of the flu bug. Worst of all, I was swelling up like a freaking balloon. My feet, ankles, and calves all started to blend into each other. I didn’t have cankles; I had fecankles.
My oldest daughter called me on my drive home from the airport. After describing the intense pain that I was in, Alaina immediately got online to research all of the home remedies for sunburn. What a sweetheart… she is going to make a great doctor someday. She must have forewarned my other two kids, however. As I pulled into the driveway, Alaina and James came bounding out of the garage to greet me. MacKenzie on the other hand, was sheepishly peering around the door. When asked why she didn’t want to give me a hug, MacKenzie replied that she “didn’t want to catch on fire and burn up”.
After quieting Jameson’s laughter at my pained walk, and explaining to the three-year old that a sunburn didn’t mean I was going to spontaneously combust, I went inside and drew myself a cool bath. Armed with several home remedies, I dumped a half-gallon of apple cider vinegar, several tea bags, a dish towel full of oatmeal tied with a rubber band, a handful of solidified coconut oil, and twelve drops of lavender and four drops of helichrysum essential oils in the tub, and cut two large leaves off my Aloe Vera plant. I apologized to my plant for chopping her beautiful leaves off, but I was desperate. The water was torture; it wasn’t cool enough to not sting my skin, and not warm enough to be comfortable. I was shivering and burning at the same time, and lasted a mere 15 minutes before getting out.
Standing naked in my bathroom, while attempting to slather layer after layer of aloe and lotion onto my radiating skin, all while trying to keep my teeth from chattering out of my head, my oldest daughter strolls in and starts snickering. She goes into detail, describing my backside as a sheet of white paper against a lobster-colored background. Stop staring at my ass, kid. And stop laughing!! Whatever dignity I had left just went down the drain with the vinegar-oatmeal-tea-coconut-oil-lavender-helichrysum water.
My husband came home from work; I warned him that I was going to be a whiny baby with this whole sunburn thing. He really has been wonderful, even offering to coat my inflamed body with Aloe Vera every night. He also created a little game, despite my anguish: “Touch Only the White Parts”. Nice babe, real nice. Everyone’s got jokes.
It’s been five days since the searing of my skin. My burnt lips have bubbled. The obsessive application of lip balm to attempt to soothe the painful blisters has left what looks like two big boogers on my bottom lip. The pain over the majority of my body is slowly subsiding, but with it comes the incessant sloughing of my epidermis. I itch. I am snowing skin flakes from the neck down, and am constantly reminded of Goldmember in that Austin Power’s movie. I will be sure to stay away from any crime scenes in the near future; I would dump enormous amounts of DNA that would most likely result in an unanimous conviction, despite my rock solid alibi.
Most importantly, I will be chalking this one up as another lesson learned…. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!!