Unhealthy Thoughts

Upon seeing a new post from me today you might assume it’s one about Father’s Day or our 14th wedding anniversary (which will be tomorrow). Maybe an addendum to multi-installment posts from last year at this time, which were about my solo trip to Boston to meet up with several bloggers?

But it’s none of those. What else could I possible add to what I’ve said in the past about Father’s Day or our anniversary? And my East Coast trip will always be a wonderful adventure.

Instead, I need to talk about how this summer has started off as a rather rude slap to the face. I’ve always looked forward to this time of the year as a vacation, regardless of how much I was working. Evenings were spent on the deck sipping lemonade (which may or may not have been infused with vodka) and I would spend the weekdays hoping the weekends were going to be sunny and hot so I could go to the pool, water park or the lake.

Last year, after years of putting it on my wish list for the family, we finally bought an annual membership to one of the small private lakes nearby. We spent several evenings last year on the sandy shores…actually more often in the shallows of the lake trying to keep Aitch from walking in over head with fearless abandon; and I remember thinking how this year it would be even more relaxing with the kids just a little older. I could sit in a chair and soak up the sun’s rays, acquiring a healthy, golden glow that had come so easily in the past. I loved seeing the tan lines of flip-flops on my feet symbolizing freedom, vacation, warmth, and care-free days.

Even though I’ve had nine months to get use to the idea that my summers will never be the same, it’s been a harder-than-expected adjustment now that the temperature has finally warmed up. I almost can forget the seriousness of being diagnosed with malignant melanoma until someone asks about my scar. When I tell them what it’s from, they get a pitying look on their face and almost always have a story about how their neighbor, uncle, co-worker, or cousin died from it. It’s then that I’m reminded with a thud that I can’t just walk out into the yard to pull weeds or water my new trees or mow the grass without hesitation, without preparation, without protection.

We installed an umbrella on the riding mower and I bought a full-coverage, long-sleeved swim top. Cans of sunscreen are tucked away by the exterior doors, garage, and in my van, just an arm’s-length away when I need them. I’ve bought a few hats for those times I expect to be in the sun for an extended period of time: parades, picnics, farmers market, antique fairs… and of course, the lake.

Even though I feel I’m pretty prepared, I’m not enjoying the first summer-like days of the season very much. When I got back from a late afternoon trip to the lake with the kids, I noticed faint lines on my feet from my flip-flops. What made me feel so happy before, now makes me nervous. I wore sunscreen and stood in the shade as much as I could while staying within close range of Aitch who still is fearless in the water, and we were out there for less than an hour. And last night, Sparring Partner and I set up the pool, and each time I wasn’t immediately needed to help SP with something, I stood in the shade of the house envious of my husband’s lack of stinky and sticky sunscreen and obvious sock tan-lines.

I hope that this first summer will be all I need to adjust to this lifestyle change. I also hope that I’ll get at least 40 more in case it isn’t.

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5 thoughts on “Unhealthy Thoughts

  1. It is so unbelievably hard to stay out of the sun. My skin cancer was in a spot that NEVER even got sun exposure. Then, I found out that I have a “thing” (can’t remember the term) INSIDE my eye. The eye doc said that since I had skin cancer,that I must always wear sunglasses or the “thing” could become cancerous too.

    From the age of about 12 till 25 I baked in the sun with baby oil. I am Irish with freckles, so actually I fried instead of baked. There is such a draw to sunshine…it really pisses me off that it isn’t good for us.

  2. I’ve never had skin cancer, so I can’t know exactly how you feel. However, I can relate to your efforts to protect yourself. I have become obsessed with sunscreen and avoiding the sun. Both because of the risk of cancer and the aging affects. I used to live for the summer sun and I know a lot of the damage is already done. It’s really hard to be diligent about it though and I also cringe when I see that I’ve got a tan line anywhere!

  3. Well I didn’t have the heart to wax nostalgic this year about either my son’s BD or Father’s Day; it’s just been too weird around here.
    This reminds me to schedule my long-overdue derm checkup – even though he lectures me sternly about stronger sunscreens (I DO try my best!) & hands me sample tubes of Retin-A… I even got a reprimand from my endocrinologist last summer about “showing up at a cancer center w/a tan”! (Hey, I had just gotten back from NM. ;-)

  4. Well, you’ll probably just turn into a big pussy like me who refuses to go into the sun because “it’s too hot in the sun!” Never pass up an opportunity to whine, I say. :)

    I really don’t do all I should to protect myself from the sun, and thinking about all I should be doing gives me the shudders. But it eventually, it will become routine. Maybe it would help to think of it as a lesson in how to prevent this from ever happening to your children. Because even if it doesn’t become routine for you – if it always feels like an imposition – you can make it part of the going outside routine for Doodicus and Aitch. What better motivator exists than that?

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