Thursday, August 13, 2009

And now, to convince you all I am crazy

Growing up, I did not wear sunscreen.

Suntan lotion, sure. SPF 4, I think, most of the time, when I was laying out or going to a theme park with absolutely zero shade for the day. Tanning oil, just as likely, because that stuff made you look all bronzey and sleek like you lived on the Riviera.

And yes, I am half Italian, but only half. I had a tendency to tan, but never get really dark, and I would burn on occasion, but generally just across the bridge of my nose, once or twice a summer. It was just no big deal.

Then sunscreen became CRUCIAL, according to everyone with any voice at all.

If we weren't using sunscreen we were CRAZY, right? We were going to get all wrinkly, and get skin cancer. Right? And God forbid you not slather your kids in the stuff every hour on the hour.

OK, so I did it. I became a sunscreen fanatic, just like everyone else.

Maybe 7 years ago, I noticed: I was burning EASY. At first I blamed it on a course of antibiotics I took. But then I wasn't on antibiotics anymore, and still burning to a crisp whenever I was in the sun for more than 20 minutes. I switched to SPF 30. No difference.

I blamed it on the famed hole in the ozone layer. I increased my SPF to 45. I continued to burn.

I blamed it on being Over Thirty-Five. I lost the ability to tan in any attractive fashion--any exposure to the sun for more than half an hour meant I would burn, no matter what, and probably get funky, irregular tan patches that looked more like dirt than the Bain de Soleil lady of my youthful memories.

Slather, slather, slather.

Then about 6 months ago my doctor discovered I have a severe Vitamin D deficiency.

Remember Vitamin D? The "sunshine vitamin"? Yeah, that one. My doctor said she is surprised to note that many of her patients are rather deficient.

She put me on prescription levels of Vitamin D. And I started ignoring the sunscreen, for the most part, and going out into the sun. On purpose. For an hour or two, in the middle of the day, with no sunscreen and no hat and no sleeeeeeeeves, even.

And I got a little sunburn, at first.

And then I started to tan. Kinda evenly, even. And I'm not really burning anymore, except, you know, at the edge of my clothes if I wear something closer-cut than usual.

I'm still on the prescription D, because even after all that AND a full course of the stuff I still test out as severely deficient. But I think I have pretty much given up sunscreen. And you know what? I feel better than I have in years.

Going out in the sun feels great. It makes me feel better physically and emotionally. I think I've been starving myself of Vitamin D and it has done me no good, only harm, all these years.

So, hey, maybe you should check your vitamin D levels.

Due dilligence: let me confess that there is no history of skin cancer in my family or hubby's, so I am not worried about any of that for me or the boys (who are thrilled that I no longer nag them to wear more sunscreen than they choose on their own). If I earn myself a few more wrinkles in my later years, I figure it is a worthwhile trade-off.


Sue said...

Et tu?

Any time I wear sunscreen I burn faster. I forgot all about Vitamin D. Shall remember this.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm ... vitamin D is a main thing in milk. I wonder if there is a link. My daughter and I are VERY fair. Even with sunscreen she can burn. I just don't go in the sun any more. I've already had pre-cancerous growths removed and I'm not out any more. My daughter has stopped drinking milk so heavily and gets a little more pink now. Very interesting. Oh and you need to put the sun screen on 30 minutes before you go outside.

Rol said...

You can't win, eh?

Fortunately, we don't get enough sun over here for it to be a problem. Chance'd be a fine thing. I'm probably severely D-ficient.

ALF said...

I love being tan. I know it's bad for me but I can't help it. And I figure it's better to be addicted to being tan than, say, to be addicted to heroin.

Christine said...

Sue- SEE? I knew it couldn't just be me.

Knot- Yes, I've been trying to remind myself to have a glass of milk now and then, too. And I understand about putting the sunscreen on long before you venture out. For you Pink People, might still be good, but I will swear at this point that I was burning MORE with sunscreen.

Also, some of my longstanding health problems are very common among women (but not men) in the most conservative areas of the Muslim Arab world...and I do not share any Arab genes...but I think I have been smearing liquid burqa on myself. Not gonna do it anymore. For people with no real predisposition to skin cancer, well, I bet we need all the sun we can get.

Rol- Maybe your natural pallor is well coordinated to the amount of sun in your native land...I'm thinking, half of me thinks I should be laughing it up amongst the olive trees.

Clearly I need to move south.

Christine said...

ALF- Yes, you look a lot better than a heroin junkie. So far. And they don't live long enough to get leathery, anyway.

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

That's really interesting about the vitamin D connection. I think they just discovered new info about vitamin D and decided that we need way more than they previously though. So a lot of people have been deficient for a good while I guess.

I have vitiligo, so my mom was slathering on the sunscreen way before sunscreen was popular. I do wonder though if it isn't six of one, half a dozen of the other. I mean, how good for you can it be to slather yourself in chemicals every gosh darn day?

Sue said...

Jill makes an excellent point. What exactly is in this sunscreen stuff anyway?