19. Burn

I’m writing this here partly as a confession and partly a warning to those wishing to hop on the nearest and most direct series of flights to come to Australia.

First I’ll start off with the context. I wear sunscreen on my face almost every single day. I’m almost a proud owner of a large floppy sun hat. I’m hyper vigilant about wearing sunglasses to avoid squinting.

And I’d be lying if I said that was sufficient.

The sun in Australia is very strong. Regardless of my precautions and the jokes friends poke at me, I seem to be the one who’s waking up in the middle of the night in agony.

Yesterday was Australia day. I had my hat, sunglasses (prescription and gag ones), and liberally applied sunscreen. Went in the water a couple of times, dried off, got water, listen to a podcast, relaxed.

Several hours later, my top of my foot started to hurt. We took it as a sign and headed back home.

I haven’t been burnt this bad since I was a little girl.

There seems to be some shocking research suggesting every sunburn larger than a person’s palm puts them at a greater risk of skin cancer. I already have family members who have been treated for skin cancer. And that’s why this burn in particular, where the total surface area is about five of my palms, turns my stomach over.

The joke with my friends is I’m not a beach person. I get sand everywhere and with all the sunscreen I’m hot, sticky and uncomfortable. Going forward, I’m switching from a “not beach” person to a “can’t beach” person. I can’t keep putting myself through this much pain and wasting my week recovering. Lying on a beach isn’t my ideal day off anyway.

Here are my new rules:

1. Don’t go to the beach and lie in the sun for four hours.

That’s it! Easy, right? Until it’s not. Strong beach culture here. And I do want toearn to swim and surf and snorkel in the ocean. So then what? Here is the plan:

  1. No longer than 2-3 hours at the beach, period
  2. Hat all the time
  3. T-shirt all the time (to purchase)
  4. Drink plenty of water
  5. Sunscreen (and reapplying, trying new brands)
  6. Bring your own shade (dab)
  7. Just not go.

It sucks my friends can get away with one sunscreen application and don’t have to take as many precautions as me. But they aren’t me. So here I am, burnt to a crisp on my feet, back, and legs. And it’s not happening anymore.

Stay safe kids.

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