Going to the beach is fun.
I like the beach.
Except for sand, because sand gets everywhere and itches.
Oh, and that pesky little detail in which I am allergic to the sun.
In case you’re just joining me, I have Polymorphous Light Eruption (PMLE), etiology unknown, which is a really fancy way of saying that if my skin is exposed to sunlight for any particular length of time, I end up with a bright red, swollen, sometimes hivey, and/or blistering rash and no one can tell me why.
So, you know, super fun.
After being formally diagnosed last summer and treated with steroids for my latest outbreak, I had to get down to business in trying to figure out how to live with such an odd quirk.
Ok, so calling it a quirk is totally minimizing the situation, because the more reactions I have, the more severe they get, and there was that one time where, in addition to my face turning bright red, my throat started swelling up when I was exposed to some seriously bright lights at the Clinique counter. See previous blog post entitled “That time I polymorphous-light-erupted at the Clinique counter.”
But, really, who wants to go around like a curbside prophet with an “The END is Nigh” sign when describing their symptoms? Not me. That would be depressing. Besides, PMLE isn’t going to end me any time soon as long as I continue to respect its strange and terrible power, so sure, let’s call it a quirk.
I’ve got a lot of those; it’s in good company.
Back to the story.
There’s a lot to do at the beach, and coincidentally, it all tends to happen outside. What exactly is a Chronic girl to do?
Suit up, of course.
My avoiding-the-sun-super-suit is as follows: Hat (baseball style or floppy wide brim); thin, long sleeve shirt; cooling towel wrapped around neck (dual purpose of being cold and covering vulnerable back-of-the-neck area; I had a pre-cancerous mole removed earlier this year from that area, so I feel the need to say CHECK YOUR MOLES and PROTECT YOUR SKIN); long compression running tights; socks pulled up over ends of running tights so ankles not exposed; sneakers; sunglasses.
The only skin you can see is my hands, nose, and mouth. I tend to tuck my ears under the baseball cap to keep them safe.
Want to experience pain and suffering? Polymorphous light erupt on your ears.
*Shudders at the memory*
So yeah. If I am at the beach and I am going out, this is what I look like. The backpack is a Camelback knockoff that holds 2 liters of water.
It’s a good look, don’t you think?
I have a policy of not posting pictures of other people on my blog, but I wish you could see how adorable my older sister looks standing next to me. I cropped her and her adorable teeny bikini-wearing bod out. Her Malibu-Barbie tan is evidence of her lack of PMLE, lucky duck. The full non-cropped version of this photo is actually pretty funny looking-her in her suit, me in mine.
I concede. The great lengths that I go to in order to hide from the sun do not make for super attractive beach attire. I get that.
Thanks for staring, fellow beach goers, just in case I didn’t.
I mean it.
I think that a huge marker of becoming a grown-up is when you have reason to believe that other people are judging you/making fun of you/looking at you funny and you just don’t care.
I have said before that Vanity is my personal deadly sin, and I mean it. I like to look good and I tend to feel self-conscious easily.
However, I like to take care of myself more.
So, I had to get over myself right quick this beach vacation, because I was not about to spend one extra moment inside feeling bummed about my Victorian-era level of cover-up while everyone else went out and had fun.
We rented bikes. I never really learned how to ride a regular bike, but the bike rental place had what they called “low-rider” bikes, which were essentially tricycles for grown-ups. Meaning of course that they are now my favorite thing ever.
Let me tell you, Chronic Readers, I was a sight to behold, covered head to toe, blazing down the boardwalk on my trike bike.
Go on, picture it. Giggle, because it was in fact the most HILARIOUS thing ever, and I laughed more than anyone else because I was having So.Much.Fun and taking care of myself at the same time.
Sometimes being Chronic cramps your style. You can choose to let that ruin your day or your beach week or whatever, or you can choose to let it go and have fun anyway.
I think from now on, I’ll always choose the latter.
Nic Note: Yes, in the above picture on the bike, I am wearing capri-style pants, and yes, I did soon regret them as I polymorphous light erupted in a perfect rectangle on each shin by the time our ride that day was finished. However, it wasn’t a particularly traumatic eruption and steroid cream is keeping it in check, so I’m all good! Some lessons you have to learn the hard way- long pants are an absolute must. So what if they get wet when you walk along the ocean later? Wet pants < PMLE shins. Now I know.