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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

“Culprit in skin damage is exposure to sun”


So, while reading the newspaper this morning my eyes fall upon this headline. I find it ironic since that very sun is what is plaguing me today. It is a beautiful summer day in West Viirginia and this evidently is praying on the minds of a group of my teacher colleagues who are getting together next week for a day of fun in the sun. We are to meet at a swimming pool in a neighboring town for some laughs and visits and then off to a popular watering hole for dinner and drinks. It sounds lik so much fun. I used to partake in these randezvous quite often in my early teaching days. The memories flood my socially hungry brain and I see myself young, lean, tanned and ready to play with my pals.

Sure, I reply to the FB invite. I’ll be there!

Then I step outside and am instantly slammed to the ground by  the heat. My legs get weak and my head spins. And that is on the shady premises of my back porch. What will it be like at a swimming pool in direct sunlight? I panic. I really want to see my buddies and I really, really want to have somefun. But I know that will not happen. I will make all of my excuses and be seen as Lisa the Party Pooper once again.

And I begin to think about Mother Nature’s hand in my disease. I spent most of my youth in the sun. I life guarded my way through high school and college. I dreamed of living on the ocean and training to guard on the beach. I was one of those fools who slathered baby oil and iodine all over my body in order to sizzle away all of my healthy skin cells. I loved the heat.

After reading the article in the paper, I took a better look at my skin. Yes, the signs of sun damage were apparent on my dry, wrinkly body. Even with generous use of lotions and oils, there is no reparing  the damage done to my skin. That’s history and nothing can be done to fix it now. I actually really do not care that much. I had a blast growing up in the  sun. That was another distant chapter in my life. Unfortunately, what I did to myself then is catching up to the way I live now.

Because MS is such a mysterious condition, I must pose the question. Did my extreme exposiure to the sun’s rays have anything to do with my diagnosis? I doubt it, but the great sun gods are paying me back now. I have become that old cat lady who  prefers to lounge in the comfort of my air conditioned house, looking out at the day rather than participating in it.

The article says that our skin undergoes a number of changes throughout the years and with age it looses essential moisture and oils that cannot be thoroughly repaired. The skin becomes less elastic, much like a rubbver band. Gravity “tugs on the skin”, and instead of bouncing back, the skin begins to sag. That is when fine lines start to appear and areas of the body hang down. The article goes on to say that the single biggest cause of damage to the skin is not aging itself, but exposure to the sun. Of course we are preached at about this all of our lives; but, there are folks like me who prefer to turn a blind eye and grab as many rays as we can. So, I get to suffer the consequences now; but that’s okay. I’ll live with it.

What I do not partidularly want to live with , though, is the absence of the sun in my life. Just thinking about exposing myself to the heat of the day is exhausting and is a real killjoy. I have absolutely no desire to hang out at a pool knowing what I do about the diverse  effects that will most likely follow. No amount of drinking water or cool clothes will repair what I know will happen to me after laying out in the sun or even floating around in the pool. Because I have to get out of the water at some point, right? Out of the refreshing pool water and back into the proverbial frying pan.

My head will spin, my face muscles will slacken, and I will most likely start to slur my words and become somewhat incoherent. My drop foot will totally drop off and there will be no walking for me. Which is bad, since my drop foot is also my accelerator foot and will make driving extremely uncomfortable as well as a little dangerous. Sure, I could hitch a ride, but that will not eliminate all of these other symptoms and fears.
I still have several days to conquer my fears and make acceptable plans about the day; but right now I feel that it is not in my best interests to attend. MS has made me such a fuddy duddy. I don’t like this part of me and I do not like the unwelcome attention it gives me. “Oh, Lisa can’t go because the heat is bad for her.” “No, Lisa won’t be there. Y’know, she has MS.” Of course I rarely give such honest excuses. It’s not fair to make my friends and colleauges uncomfortable with the ill effects of my disease. They understand it as much as I do, but at least I was invited. Right?
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